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Nine Network

SpeedSeries has returned for another new season that started today at Sandown Raceway in Victoria where a few categories have came back, while some have came into the fold for the first time on what is going to be a huge year ahead – including the Bathurst 6 Hour during the Easter long weekend, as well as the TCR World Tour drivers coming back again to take on the Aussie field this November at Eastern Creek (Sydney Motorsports Park) & Bathurst (Mount Panorama Circuit) respectively.

But there’s also a change of broadcaster too as Seven has returned replacing Nine & Stan Sport as their broadcast partner for the next two years. Yes, the shift of having most of the stuff behind the paywall including elements of free-to-air content didn’t work out for the majority. Although if they did add the three-hour Sunday races on top of the three-hour Saturday coverage including the Bathurst 6 Hour race, then it wouldn’t be bad. However, it was the change of hands from Australian Racing Group back to Motorsport Australia that led to Nine/Stan leaving the series also after two years when ARG brought them here exactly two years ago. Before that, Seven first broadcasted the competition in 2021 (the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID) before the split paywall experiment while SBS aired the inaugural TCR Australia season for one year in 2019.

Now most of the broadcast graphics including the leaderboard haven’t changed much except the SpeedSeries logo being moved from the bottom right to the bottom left. Same goes with the broadcast team like Chris Stubbs (he will still be on Stan’s grand slam Tennis coverage throughout the year as he’s freelance), Matt Naulty, Richard Craill & Greg Rust. Although one new face have now come onboard front & centre in Sarah Burt as a few will be moved on. We won’t be seeing ex-Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard & Rally legend Molly Taylor back again. So does Matt White, who not only appeared on Nine for the first time over the last two years as host after he spent so much time between Seven & Ten, but he also returned to commentary for a bit towards the end of last season in the Trans-Am alongside Naulty due to Craill having to focus on the TCR World Tour’s Australian leg with Rust and Paul Jeffrey.

Another thing we won’t have to put up is Nine’s inability on not wanting to use the Wide World of Sports watermark as seen with the SpeedSeries’ free-to-air broadcasts last year where Seven & even Ten and SBS has presented it so nicely when it comes to their motorsports coverage. But I doubt it won’t go away anytime soon since they barely broadcast any racing until Stan Sport was born back in 2021 when Nine will get to air a bit again Live during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with parent streaming subsdiary Stan still holding the rights there alongside IndyCar, Formula E, Rallying, Motocross & the World Endurance Championship. So there goes your SpeedSeries broadcast guide this season other than Supercars being on Seven for half the time as well as Fox Sports who holds all of the races including Formula 1, NASCAR & MotoGP & both Australian Grand Prix events will stay on Network 10. And that is that for now as we wish SpeedSeries all the best going forward in growing the competition towards better milestones for Motorsport in Australia.

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We didn’t see this coming when there was an update today by V8 Sleuth that Nine and Stan Sport won’t be back covering SpeedSeries next season after two seasons thanks to the recent change of media rights control back to Motorsport Australia, not Australian Racing Group who brokered the deal with Nine/Stan at the beginning of last year.

Yes, Stan will continue to show IndyCar, Formula E, World Endurance Championship, World Rally Championship & Motocross next season as per promos during the Bathurst International weekend, but there’s no SpeedSeries on this list which has the main reason as to why these question marks has been raised. But then it would also be complicated for Motorsport Australia to keep Nine & Stan onboard covering SpeedSeries when the rest of their sanctioned competitions are covered by Seven. We don’t know how the coverage will look like going forward but we expect to see more free-to-air coverage since it will either be on Seven or SBS who both don’t have their own streaming arms, although a paid component will still be the crucial (expecting to be Fox Sports & Kayo) likewise with the Nine/Stan deal in order to keep the $$$ going for all participants involved.

As said, glad SpeedSeries is growing as seen with both TCR Australia & Trans-Am competitions as well as some International flavour with the help from TCR World Tour guys over the last two weeks including the way how the coverage is spread out by having a balance of both free and paid content, which is in a better place now than it was the start of last season. Let’s hope it stays that way going forward while Nine should finally have the WWOS logo on-air if they do air live Motorsport again.

It was also great seeing Matt White covering back Motorsport over the last two years here including his recent return commentating the Trans-Am races with Matt Naulty. He too finally appeared on Nine for the first time during Nine/Stan’s debut coverage with SpeedSeries in February last year after spending half the time out of his three-decade TV career at Seven & Ten. It remains to see where he will end up next after the Nine/Stan exit other than his daily sports radio job. For now, we wish SpeedSeries including its respective categories via its teams and drivers as well as the broadcasting talent the best of luck in the near future!!

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First of all, I’m glad that SpeedSeries –  which showcases a range of categories from TCR Australia to Trans-Am & S5000 single seaters – has improved their free to air coverage this year with every race live throughout the season during Saturday afternoons. That way, if you like how the coverage and racing is like, then you can watch the rest of the weekend’s events including a full suite on-demand content only via subscription on Stan Sport.

When Nine came onboard to replace Seven at the start of last year by having most of the content behind a paywall via their own streaming arm at Stan Sport, it was initially just the opening round weekend at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tassie live on free-to-air with the rest being mid-week & next weekend two-hour replays. They even promised to put the mid-week stuff on prime time at one point to get the best out of the channel’s advertisers as well as the series itself.

But then their free-to-air highlights schedule was inconsistent & all over the place at the time while they didn’t show the Phillip Island round live at all. So to respond to that issue, they went on air the rest of 2022 with just the Saturday afternoon races Live in a two-hour window between 3-5pm. Now it’s gone from two to three hours per round with the amount of time allowed on free-to-air between 2-5pm where they showed more than just TCR Australia, Trans-Am & S5000s. Plus, their following week’s two-hour replays has improved consistently as well that starts on a Friday at noon followed by a 2nd showing either late on Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday AM.

I’m also glad to see some International flavour when it comes to seeing the world’s best TCR drivers come here v the locals (TCR Australia) as part of the two-round TCR World Tour Australian leg here over the course of last weekend in Eastern Creek and also this weekend at Bathurst’s famed Mount Panorama Circuit. There is still one more day to go where the next day’s activities tomorrow is only on Stan Sport before the eight-round TCR Australia & SpeedSeries is done for 2023.

The only negative still out of this improved free-to-air coverage is the way Nine uses their logo which isn’t the usual Wide World of Sports watermark, although Stan Sport has made good use by showcasing their logo for the all the sports they got including Motorsport. Instead, they gone straight off 9Gem/9Go with the Live tag below it which isn’t uniquely WWOS & more like a copycat coverage of Seven or Ten, who airs racing way long enough & very well than Nine. I have also emailed my concerns to Stan about it a few months ago & although they took note of it but then they never listen. Maybe that’s because Nine & Stan are only showing it on the air & not have complete control in-house, which is under SpeedSeries itself.

There is also talk about next season’s broadcast lately since Motorsport Australia will now handle the media side of things rather than the Australian Racing Group, having taken half the control of SpeedSeries ARG that began at the start of 2023. Maybe the exit of Supercars Media running the production with the TV trucks control & graphics before the 2023 season started has probably caused Nine to revert to the 9Gem/9Go logo rather than the WWOS logo which was previously used for most of last year except Round 1. Now there is a chance that Nine as an exclusive rights holder may not be back next season.

If they’re really coming back, then great. If there is plenty of SpeedSeries articles up on the WWOS website which happens regularly, so why can’t this be extended on TV? Let’s hope it finally happens if Nine/Stan stays on. If not, we could see SpeedSeries go to Seven & Fox Sports or Ten/Paramount +. Regardless of that, the balance of having both paid & free content is here to stay that needs to cover the $$$ back to all types of participants involved as they will be back to set even more breakthroughs in 2024.

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Well, it has been a while when watching white-ball International Cricket on Free TV, but Australia’s 2022 T20 World Cup campaign defense kicks off tonight at the Sydney Cricket Ground v New Zealand aka Black Caps.

And the Nine Network is onboard once again alongside Fox Cricket as the ICC’s Australian Free TV partner to bring you all the action with Australian games, a couple of other Super 12 games, two semi finals and the final to round off such a great next few weeks ahead of T20 World Cup on show.

I’m glad that Roz Kelly is onboard as the host who knows cricket so well, thanks to her husband who was also really good back in the his day with his fast bowling for South Africa in Morne Morkel. She also hosted Network 10’s Big Bash League coverage in the past before the rights were taken away by the Seven Network in 2018. But again, great to see Roz get the opportunity to present cricket on Nine after she came back here at the start of last year to host Rugby Union, Tennis, reading the sports news for Nine News Sydney (Fridays & Saturdays) and Sports Sunday.

It’s also good to see former Opening Batsman Mark “Tubby” Taylor provide his insights on the game once again as Nine’s primary cricket expert, even though they no longer hold the home summer matches anymore. But he’s still well liked here for over two decades since his retirement from the game, especially when he pops up on Sports Sunday for most of the year with Roz.

Although there isn’t any ex-Nine cricket faces currently hired on Seven and Fox Cricket these days following the tragic death of Shane Warne (Fox Cricket) earlier this year – as well as Michael Slater (Seven) whose life gone has upside down not long after Seven dismissed him over the past year due to budget constraints – but Nine will have two new analysts for this tournament in former spinner Steve O’Keefe and former batsman Callum Ferguson.

And oh, Michael Clarke may not have been picked up by Seven or Fox at all since Nine no longer airs the summer of cricket four years ago, but he will be on the world feed commentary nonetheless alongside Fox Cricket regulars in Mark Howard, Mel Jones and Adam Gilchrist.

It will be interesting to see what the cricketing community here will say about this commentary team in the next few weeks. I’m sure they will enjoy having a female presenting the coverage in Roz including Tubby and two fresh faces, before Nine will be back on the crease next year with The Ashes in England (Mid June-August) & the next Men’s 50-Over World Cup in India (October-November).

Then we’ll wait and see if Nine will get some help from Network 10 once the current domestic deal expires in 2024, so Nine can hopefully get Test Cricket back & 10 picks up the rest with the Big Bash & white-ball International Cricket – while keeping the Australian Open Tennis which has been working for them so well since they shocked Seven and the Australian sporting community in 2018/2019.

For now, enjoy the next few weeks of T20 World Cup Cricket. Plus, shout out to Ian Chappell who recently announced his retirement from commentary at age 78, after a illustrious spell for over a few decades following the end of his playing career with Nine and other International TV/Radio outlets.

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It’s been a bit over two months when we last had SpeedSeries at Eastern Creek with the TCR Australia, Trans-Am & S5000. Although the main S5000 portion may be done, but SpeedSeries is back at Queensland Raceway (Ipswich) this weekend for Round 5 of 7 in the 2022 season.

There’s plenty of exciting headlines to look ahead when we’ve got a jam-packed Trans-Am grid of 29 cars alongside a couple of debutants from Tom Hayman (Aussie Racing Cars), Jack Sipp (Super2) & Brodie Kostecki (Supercars).

Plus, TCR Australia will make up their half-century milestone at 50 races during Race 2 this Sunday. And it has been a long time since the TCRs last raced there in QLD three years ago when the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID, while this track wasn’t selected out of the shortened five-race calendar last year.

This is one huge event you don’t wanna miss as Nine will once again put Race 1 of the Trans-Am & TCR Australia this Saturday afternoon on their free-to-air channels via 9Go (NSW/QLD/ACT/NT) or 9Gem (VIC/SA/WA), with the whole weekend’s activities being a Stan Sport exclusive. Then as usual, Nine will showcase a two-hour highlights package the following weekend (August 13-14) on 9Gem/9Go.

You can sign up to Stan Sport for a seven-day free trial right now to watch every race live, as well as, full event replays & highlights. It only costs $20 a month to keep your fix of motorsport at any time, anywhere within Australia, such as, Formula E, IndyCar, World Rally Championship, Motocross and many more.

I would love to watch another SpeedSeries race live on free-to-air, having watched the season opener earlier this year at Symmons Plains in Tasmania. But I will be leaning on Club Rugby with Shute Shield regular season finale at North Sydney Oval at the same time between Northern Suburbs v Eastern Suburbs; That game will be live on 9Gem in NSW and ACT as well.

I will continue to keep a close eye though on the SpeedSeries from QLD within the next few days, while the Rugby Championship with the Wallabies & Australian Superbike Championship are back on my sports viewing fix also this weekend.

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Swimming has returned to Nine’s Wide World of Sports for the first time since 2008 ahead of this year’s World Aquatics Championships beginning on Saturday night our time in Budapest, Hungary.

Although, they did show some swimming when Nine broadcasted the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Great Britain, a decade ago.

We first heard that rights capture back in January this year when Nine previewed their wide range of sports coverage content for 2022 while we watched the Summer of Tennis during the Australian Open warm-up tournaments.

This upcoming event was slated to take place late last month in Fukofuka, Japan, at the time; the place where Australia topped the medal charts during the 2001 World Championships just over two decades ago.

However, FINA postponed the Fukafoka hosting rights to next year a few weeks later before they called in Budapest as this year’s replacement host.

Nonetheless, Nine will still be covering it where they will put the swimming live on their free digital channels via 9Gem & 9Go that can be streamable on 9Now – while the other aquatic categories such as Open Water Swimming, Synchronised Swimming, Diving and Water Polo will also be a live & free streaming exclusive to 9Now.

We’ve gotta say that this is the perfect time right now to cheer them on when the Australian Dolphins Swim Team was simply outstanding at the Tokyo Olympics last year in 2nd behind the US with 9 gold, 3 silver & 9 bronze at a total of 21 medals.

They also bounced back also in 2nd just behind the all-dominant US champions three years ago when the last World Swimming Championships were held in Gwangju, South Korea; 5 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze.

It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins can end Team USA’s long-running stranglehold up top over the next week, before the rest of the aquatic sports decide the overall result.

And shoutout to Ray Warren aka Rabs who just retired recently following a decorated 55-year career behind the mic.

He used to call some memorable moments there when Nine first covered swimming back in the 1990s to mid 2000s alongside his usual rugby league commentary up until his final game at the NRL Grand Final last year – including Susie O’Neill’s world record in the 200m butterfly at the 2000 Olympic trials.

It just won’t be the same without him as we will see a couple of new faces for studio coverage over the first week, as well as either using their own voices or just taking the world feed commentary.

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This year’s Bathurst 6 Hour at Mount Panorama Circuit was extraordinary to watch, even though the start time was pushed back by half an hour to 11.45 AM AEST due to the fog, where 63 cars fought for every track position across multiple categories.

The No.40 BMW M4 trio of Karl Begg/David Russell/Aaron Norris launched this race from pole position instead of Tom Sargent/Cam Hill in the No.147 BMW M2 following a post-qualifying infringement during inspection (ride height). However, it doesn’t mean their chances of winning are near impossible for the No.147 Tegra Australia team when they made their way from very back to the Top 3-4 as it goes on.

Then we saw a couple of yellows via a series of spins, mechanical failures & wrecks came up that gave the No.147 BMW team some confidence ahead of these restarts; but at the same time, it was a blow for the No.40 Btuned Euro BMW M4 when the pole sitters forced to stop the car on the start/finish straight. Although we saw a couple of competitors escape some twists and turns that almost bit them out of the race, which was lucky to survive & continued racing at the Mountain.

But the big storyline of this race has been the BMW front row battle; it’s just Brad Carr/Tim Slade in the No.8 Car Mods Australia-backed M3 model; against Sargent/Hill in the No.147 Tegra Australia M2 Competition machinery. Both competitors shared the overall race lead thus far before we witnessed the winning move of this Bathurst 6 Hour race with 20 minutes to go on the clock. Slade & Hill went side-by-side before Hill nudged past Slade on the outside line at Brock’s Skyline (Turn 11 of 23) & eventually held off top spot for the win, which led to an overwhelming reaction back in the No.147 team’s pit garage.

How great was it when Tom Sargent/Cam Hill conquered the Mountain from the very back of the grid!

It’s also good to see Garry Rogers Motorsport’s TCR Australia driver Dylan O’Keeffe take home the A1 class win in 4th overall with Mike Sheargold in the No.45 Mercedes AMG for RAM/GWR. And the same goes with TV personality & reigning Dancing with the Stars Australia Champion Grant Denyer, who won the A2 Class in 8th overall with co-driver Tony Quinn in the No.7 Local Legends Ford Mustang.

If you want to relive the 6-hour race both in full length and bitesize, watch it on ad-free Stan Sport right now at any time if you haven’t already got a subscription. Otherwise, Nine will be showcasing the weekend’s ARG SpeedSeries event from Mount Panorama in a two-hour highlights package via their Free TV Channels on Saturday AM from 11.30-13.30 (9Gem) & Sunday Afternoon from 13.30 to 15.30 (9Go).

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I’ve tried to tune in to 9Gem this morning & watch a bit of the two-hour Round 2 ARG SpeedSeries highlights package from Phillip Island. However, I saw normal repeated programming instead, such as a quiz show named Pointless and a classic TV drama.

I don’t know what happened as to why Nine chose to remove from their schedule so late, but it’s still a lack of promise for the fans to those who don’t have the money to subscribe to Stan Sport.

Yes, it’s frustrating not to watch every ARG SpeedSeries race live like it was last season and 2019.

However, the need of $$$ to keep the series afloat amongst teams, drivers and organisers across several categories ARG runs for 6-7 events a year, has to be necessary at the end of the day, as well as benefitting an increase of genuine TV production coverage.

It’s these times we have to get used to it from now on where the good ol’ heydays of watching free-to-air motorsport non-stop are over.

Now I see two more viewing opportunities to watch the Round 2 highlights this Saturday (12.30-2.30pm) and Sunday afternoon (1.30-3.30pm) on 9Go.

But we already know the results from a week earlier by then as this isn’t a great idea to reach out to new audiences like that, especially when most of the content now is behind a paywall.

It’s better to go for a 90-minute highlights package of every other round on Tuesday night at 7.30 pm on either 9Gem or 9Go, as suggested last week.

That way, it’ll be a perfect time to help introduce a casual sports viewer to have a first look at this series, or a die-hard motorsport fan, who may not have a Stan Sport subscription, but can relive these moments from the weekend’s event.

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I just checked the TV guide today via the Foxtel website, where the free-to-air highlights of the 2022 ARG SpeedSeries season will be on Wednesday, March 23 at 10 am-12 pm on 9Gem.

Speedcafe reported before the season began last month that the ARG SpeedSeries highlights for the remaining six rounds on 9Gem throughout the year would slot during midweek on prime time, as a way to grow the series’ fanbase, as well as increase exposure to competitors, teams and advertisers.

Unfortunately, it’s going to play on a daytime morning which means most people would have to miss out due to work, with no on-demand content to view afterwards on the free 9Now streaming service.

Perhaps, it would be best slotted for 90 minutes between 7.30 to 9 pm on a Tuesday via 9Gem; that way, it would be a perfect time to help motorsport and causal sports fans reflect the high and low moments from the usual race weekend.

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I just had the chance to watch a bit of the IndyCar highlights today on 9Go, where I took a few shots of Sunday’s season-opener round (Monday morning here) that was held from a street circuit in St Petersburg, Florida.

Hats off through a fantastic drive from Kiwi & 3 x Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin, who sealed his first IndyCar race win for the No.3 Penske Chevy, during Race 1 of 17 in the new season. Not only he dominated final practice and qualifying, where he started from pole but also on race day, having fended off a fiercely competitive battle against reigning champion Alex Palou in the No.10 Ganassi Honda, who hails from Spain.

And once he got into the podium/victory lane, we loved how he reached out to those back in Australia during the post-race interview, where they are experiencing a tough time right now with the ongoing floods over in Queensland and New South Wales. He also mentioned how he missed seeing his parents by his side from Cambridge, NZ, who were unable to attend his races or see their son in person right now for over two years due to COVID. Glad to see them chat once again via facetime, as McLaughlin not only hopes to bring home the famous Indy 500 in late May but also the series’ title.

Great race to reflect with Australia’s own Leigh Diffey calling the shots for NBC Sports, which is the host commentary feed we get for IndyCar globally.

This series is moving onto an oval layout now at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Round 2 of 17, as the next race will be on Monday, March 21 (Sunday, March 20 over in the USA) at 3-4 am AEDT via paid streaming service on Stan Sport. You can either try out Stan Sport on a seven-day free trial or pay $20 a month on top of the basic Stan package. Otherwise, 9Go will be back airing highlights of Race 2 from Texas free of charge at 2-3 pm on Thursday, March 24.

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