Broadcasters snap up MotoGP's Virtual Race offering
By Susan Lingeswaran
A number of MotoGP's international broadcast partners have signed up to show the motorcycling series' new virtual race in a bid to fill their depleted schedules during the coronavirus pandemic.
MotoGP has partnered with videogame developer Milestone to organise the virtual race among top riders after been forced to suspend its events.
It follows similar moves by US stock car racing series Nascar and Formula 1 motor racing in launching esports competitions as an alternative to live events.
MotoGP already has an esports competition, the annual MotoGP eSports Championship, which it launched in 2017 in partnership with Milestone.
The Virtual Race is scheduled to begin on 29 March on the virtual Autodromo del Mugello, with six laps around the digital track and a five-minute qualifying time to decide the grid.
It will feature a number of notable riders from the MotoGP series, including Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins and reigning champion Marc Marquez.
The event, including qualifying, will be broadcast on MotoGP’s official website motogp.com and its esport website esport.motogp.com.
Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holder for the series, told Sportcal the media rights have been offered to all the MotoGP broadcasters, adding: "The responses have been very positive from all of them."
"The main ones, but not the only ones taking the virtual race, include NBC, ESPN, DAZN in Spain, Servus, Canal+, BT, Sky Italia, Fox Australia, Ten, Fox Asia, Eurosport and SportTV Portugal."
The event will also be shared across social media platforms, including MotoGP’s official YouTube channels, MotoGP and MotoGP eSports, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
In addition, while live racing is put on hold, MotoGP will be making all its content on its premium digital platform motogp.com free to access.
Fans will be able to access all races, interviews and documentaries, stretching back to 1992 and up to the 2020 Qatar Grand Prix.
The series will also be increasing its digital output on Facebook and its YouTube channel, and will show classic races on Facebook Live several times a week.