Follow thejudge13: Why not follow thejudge13 by email. Click on the button at the top right of the page to receive an email when (and only when) a new article hits the interweb.
I have now put 2 RSS feeds at the bottom of the right hand bar for those of you who know how to use them for updates.
I was chatting to one of the operational directors of FanVision in Monza this year and whilst I won’t bore you with the entire minutia of the conversation, there were some pertinent items that are worthy of note.
In 2012 FanVision’s portfolio of sporting series included NFL, US College Football (often attracting 40-50,000 fans to a game) NASCAR and F1. The pictures and sound are put out locally at each venue via traditional methods of transmitting on radio frequencies.
Of course F1 venues present unique difficulties for such a localised broadcasting network not experienced at an oval bowl – whether for cars or America’s version of rugby ;). Maths was not my strongest subject and so I can only guess that at Monza for example, the ‘acreage’ the 5793m long track but it must be a few square kilometres.
Mrs Judge and I used FanVision at the Italian GP last year and found there was little or no coverage from Curva Grande (turn 2) through the 2nd chicane (Roggia), both Lesmo’s and half way down the following straight (Curva del Serraglio?) to the point where the modern circuit passes underneath one of the old tracks banked corners.
Even though Monza is flat, it is set within a Royal Park with mature forestry that impedes the TV signal. The FanVision representative was explaining to me the fairly substantial incremental investment they had made in 2012 at a number of the F1 circuits to improve the coverage and the fans enjoyment.
Spa had additional transmitters and specialised equipment installed because the track elevation change of several hundred feet which causes additional local broadcasting issues unique here and not problematic at other F1 venues. I had sound and picture completely as I walked the entire track on the Saturday.
Modern Spa circuit elevation from the air
Of course the news that has upset F1 fans across the world last week is that FanVision couldn’t agree terms with FOM for a new contract and there will be no broadcast available this year at any F1 venue.
I had another interesting conversation this weekend and apparently the problem was not merely the over the amount of money FOM required from FanVision, but the length of contract they were offering. These agreements in the past have been multi-year contracts, allowing FanVision to invest in their infrastructure and improve the service to F1 fans.
It may be that FanVision have taken the position that they are not prepared to put in the extra investment for an agreement that lasts for only 1 year. Having said that, the equipment from 2012 and the service was good enough to be rolled out for another year without FanVision having to invest further in 2013.
FOM does have a proposition in the pipeline for fans to have the ‘world feed’ pictures, commentary and other interactive services when attending an F1 event, but it was not to be launched in 2013. Clearly this is the case as FanVision would have been informed before January 2013 that this was the end of the road and FOM would be bringing the service in-house.
We would also now know about the FOM’s offering that replaces FanVision but we have heard nothing. Whether FanVision were being churlish knowing they were to be excluded soon and refused to contract for less than 3 years we don’t know.
However, I believe it is still incumbent on FOM to ensure the fans experience is protected. If they have no replacement offering for 2013 that has been properly tested and can be delivered to give a better service than currently is on offer, then FanVision should have been given a ‘sweetner’ to their service is delivered until the FOM are ready with an alternative.
It just feels like FOM and the FIA have a ‘policy on the hoof’ and wheeler dealer’ culture evident in this story and other matters we’ve been discussing recently, and from a global multi-billion dollar a year sport it is not unreasonable to expect something better.