10 May 2013
BBC to BT 'is like 500cc to MotoGP'
“500cc was fantastic for decades, but there is a moment when you need to move to other possibilities” - Carmelo Ezpeleta.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta thanked the BBC for its MotoGP TV coverage over the past decade, but says the sport needs to move on, just as it did in switching away from 500cc machinery.
The BBC has broadcast MotoGP since 2003, gaining exclusive UK rights from 2009 onwards.
However, despite the BBC submitting a 'competitive bid' to continue, Dorna has decided to move MotoGP from free-to-air by signing a five-year exclusive contract with BT Sport.
“The BBC has been very good for us. The UK is a mature market and now with the possibilities we have in our TV production, BT Sport can give to us what I think the British fans and everybody needs,” said Ezpeleta.
“I want to say thank-you very much to the BBC. They helped us to grow in recent years. But now is a new moment. It is the same as when we changed from 500cc to MotoGP.”
The premier-class used 500cc two strokes from its inaugural 1949 season until the end of 2001, when the new four-stroke 'MotoGP' machines made their debut.
“500cc was fantastic for decades, but there is a moment when you need to move to other possibilities. Exactly the same,” continued Ezpeleta. “We think right now, in the UK, we need something that can grow with us. We saw from the beginning in our conversations with BT Sport that they are committed…. We are very happy [to move to BT Sport]. But we always say thank you to the BBC who has helped us a lot in the past ten years.”
BT is yet to launch its new sport channels, which will be free for its broadband customers and cost £15 a month for non-broadband customers. Nevertheless, Ezpeleta has no qualms about the quality of the future coverage.
“We think we are making the right move. We are so committed with this sport to do as much as we can. They [BT Sport] will do the same,” he said. “This is a big corporation. We are not talking about a small broadcaster! They are with the Premier League and the Rugby as well.”
Like the BBC, British Eurosport currently has access to live race weekend coverage, with the exception of the MotoGP race. The satellite channel also looks to have been left out in the cold.
One question unanswered during Thursday's announcement was the identity of BT Sport's MotoGP presentation, commentary and analysis line-up. Some of the existing BBC and Eurosport members are tipped to be signed, while BT made clear it wants at least one former racer on board.
“I'd say it's pretty key,” confirmed Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail. “I can't guarantee anything. We're going to look at all possibilities, but clearly from our announcements around Football, Rugby and Tennis you can see we look at people who have played at the highest level.”
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