May 6, 2018: I'm sure many endurance racing fans, like me, were confused and apprehensive when recently they found out that the World Endurance Championship Series (including the Le Mans 24-hour race) had signed on with the US-based channel Velocity (by Discovery) to provide limited coverage of the WEC races in North America going forward.
The deal is that Velocity will carry broadcasts of the first hour and the last hour of each WEC race – except Le Mans and Sebring which will have flag-to-flag broadcasts. The announcement from the WEC promised that this service would be available in Canada as well – presumably on the so-called 'Discovery Velocity' channel.
I was a bit sceptical about this when I received no reply to my query from the WEC's television media representative – and when every source of scheduling info for Discovery Velocity I know of failed to show the race broadcast from Spa while the US Velocity channel schedule did show the times for the broadcast of this race on Saturday, May 5.
I did check with my television service provider, Cogeco, and I was told that it would cost me an addition $7 per month to add Discovery Velocity to my channel lineup. I declined
The other possibility was to sign on for a subscription to Motor Trend On Demand (motortrendondemand.com), a streaming service that was supposed to be ready to provide a full-race live broadcast of all the WEC races. The cost of this service is $5 (US) per month but I was able to sign on for a two-week free trial, which I did.
Initially, I had trouble reassuring myself that I would be able to see the race via MT but by the time Saturday rolled around, I had found and watched their online broadcast of Friday's qualifying session and assurance that the race would be broadcast – and indeed it was come Saturday morning.
I was able to watch the race on my computer monitor (others may have more sophisticated ways to view the online video). I have a two-monitor setup and I pulled up the live scoring from the WEC website (fiawec.com) on the other screen and , with printouts of the entry list and the starting lineup at hand, I could approximate the experience of being in one of the modern windowless-bunker-style media centres that they have at Spa and so many other race circuits these days.
Motor Trend OD does have a lot of other live and taped race content – especially race series from Europe – which you might be interested in. For my money, I prefer the content lineup on Motor Trend's service to that on Discovery Velocity – and it's at about the same price point.
Given that there are only four remaining WEC races in 2018 – each in a different month, you might be able to save money by signing up and then cancelling just in time to see each of these four races.
Given the disappointment – at least so far - of Velocity's failure to live up to its promise to broadcast in Canada at least part of each WEC race, I am worried about the recent announcement from IMSA that their races will all be broadcast on one or other of the NBC family of channels in the US. We only get the main network NBC channel here in Canada and IMSA is only promising that three races will be shown on that mainstream channel, most of the rest on NBCSN. Unless some deal is made, perhaps with FOX Sports Racing to carry these IMSA races, it looks like we will only be able to see the three NBC races on our televisions at home. Currently, IMSA.tv does stream free broadcasts of the Continental Tire series and the WeatherTech races. So, it this continues to be available to Canadian-based race fans, this may be the answer. It might be worthwhile for you to send a comment to IMSA reminding them that they have a fan base in Canada (and a Canadian-based race event at CTMP) which they should not ignore when their broadcasts migrate to NBCSN next year.