Craig Murto

Craig Murto

American Supercross is headed south in 2019, and by that I mean it’s headed in the wrong direction.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has the most popular form of motorcycle racing in the United States in Supercross, a nd for years fans have been able to watch the races live on Fox Sports.

But now the series has moved over to NBC Sports as a broadcasting partner. And what does NBC Sports do? It delays broadcast of seven of the races in 2019.

Bad move NBC. This is a way to kill the golden goose. Fans who stayed up to watch the races live are not going to stay up until 3 a.m. to watch a delayed broadcast that starts at 11. It’s bad enough that the network’s coverage of American Flat Track racing is often delayed by weeks, but to delay the most popular form of motorcycle racing in the country mistreats the fans, and certainly will kill ratings.

Why would you invest in a property like AMA Supercross, only to mismanage it so poorly? Maybe it’s because you’re using it to promote streaming? Yes! That’s it!

As if your cable bill and subscriptions to various streaming networks aren’t high enough, you can dish out an extra $75 and watch all of the Supercross races live online!

This is similar to what has happened in the Science Fiction world. CBS has a new Star Trek show, Star Trek Discovery. But you can only watch it if you subscribe to the CBS streaming service. Star Trek fans are split between those who cough up the money and those who absolutely refuse and feel betrayed by the franchise and CBS.

This is exactly what is happening among Supercross fans. Good luck with that, NBC. And way to go, AMA. We had a wonderful ride on Fox Sports, and loved all of the live racing coverage. Either the AMA secretly hates its fans, NBC actually hates motorcycle racing, or they think the fans are suckers worth exploiting.

As popular as Supercross is, it’s not that important. NASCAR discovered this the hard way; there are too many things people can spend their time on to be entertained. People want to know what they’re getting, and when they’re getting it.

Now, Supercross takes away some live coverage and NBC wants to milk fans for $75 in order to see those events live. There’s a movement going on among a lot of households to drop cable and satellite services and go to a la carte services, so you only pay for what you’re going to watch. The idea is to save money; $75 extra for seven live races does not save money.

Time will tell what will happen to AMA Supercross now that it has a new broadcast home. I predict that the AMA and NBC both will find that fans can do without the delayed broadcasts. And at the end of 2019, AMA Supercross will not be as popular as it is today. Just look at the popularity of NASCAR racing; when you try to fix something that isn’t broken, you usually find a way to break it.

Supercross begins its season Saturday in Anaheim, California.

It’s a new year, so if you enjoy motorcycle racing, vow to see some local racing. Amateur road racing happens at nearby Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, just across the state line near Berryville. In fact, if you haven’t been to Summit Point at all, you’re missing out on a beautiful road-racing facility that hosts motorcycle and automobile racing.

As we head into 2019, make a New Year’s resolution to visit some local and regional tracks you haven’t been to. Make it a point to broaden your motorsports horizon and attend events you may not have attended in the past. Instead of spending extra money to watch an event from your couch in the living room, actually go to an event and have an experience. Motorsports are always best when seen live and in person.

AMA Supercross may be headed south (as in the wrong direction), but you can head south in the right direction by attending racetracks and events for the first time. Make 2019 your year of motorsports exploration. There are a lot of tracks and events only a few hours away.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.