Rossi vs Lorenzo - Dorna Shows That Very Occasionally, They Get The Internet

Dorna, the body responsible for organizing, promoting and marketing the MotoGP series, has traditionally done a fantastic job in selling the series to television broadcasters, making the series the second biggest form of motor racing on TV, behind only Formula One, with TV viewing figures not far off the numbers for F1, and hundreds of millions of TV viewers watching the sport online. Unsurprisingly, Dorna has come to think of its job as selling TV broadcast rights.

The tragic consequence of this concentration on old media is that they have singularly failed to grok the internet, as the expression has it. To Dorna, the internet is a threat, a force they can neither understand nor control, and what's worse, a medium without an obvious method of generating an income from. Exacerbating the problem is the rise of peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent and video sharing websites like Youtube. Torrents of MotoGP races appear online within minutes of the events finishing, while clips of the most exciting and controversial parts of MotoGP races likewise flood onto Youtube almost immediately after they happen.

Youtube, in particular, has been a target of Dorna, the site's reputation for taking material subject to copyright claims down first, then asking questions about it later - effectively reversing the burden of proof - making Dorna's job a lot easier. Videos of MotoGP footage on Youtube tend to disappear within a few days of going up, with Dorna firing off takedown notices at a vast rate.

The reasoning behind the heavy-handed action is simple, and to some extent understandable. Dorna earns many millions of dollars in revenue from TV broadcasters, who do not take kindly to seeing the material they paid so heavily for being available online for free. But what is interesting about the blocked videos on Youtube is that the copyright claims are all issued by Dorna, rather than the companies actually broadcasting the material. Footage can be found on Youtube from the German broadcaster DSF, the Italian broadcasters Italia 1 and Mediaset, the BBC, Eurosport, in its many national incarnations, but each time these videos are removed, it is always at the behest of Dorna, not the broadcaster.

This heavy-handedness is pointless, foolish and self-defeating. The pointlessness of taking down the videos is obvious from the fact that despite the long and growing list of takedowns issued, a 1 minute search turned up 20 other versions of the race still online, from radio commentary versions with stills, videos of people's home TVs showing the broadcast, high-quality wide-screen versions of the last few laps, and even a clip of the big screens at the track showing the final laps.

That was just on Youtube. In addition to Youtube, the full video of the race is available on a host of torrent sites such as the Pirate Bay (still operating, despite the conviction, currently being challenged, of its owners). There are also a host of new forms of P2P video sharing, some even live, such as Vimeo, Blip.tv, Justin.tv and TVAnts, which are almost impossible to monitor and shut down. This is truly a losing battle which Dorna are trying to fight.

It is even self-defeating. Video of that last dramatic lap at Barcelona immediately hit Youtube and motorcycle forums all over the world, and the reactions were delirious. Former fans who had given up on MotoGP after the recent processional racing, and newbies who had never even considered watching the sport before were instantly converted: Those two minutes of visceral action made more new converts to bike racing than any marketing action has done in a very long time. They were the best advert for the sport imaginable, and came with two likable, vivid personalities involved.

But instead of leaving them up as a marketing exercise, Dorna has done all in its power to have them removed. All that free publicity is gone at a single stroke. The many millions of dollars which Fiat, for example, pours into the sport is less effective, with all that advertising for their product gone.

Dorna's failure to get the internet is not restricted to video, however. As with all sports, any media outlet wanting to send representatives to cover an event must send in a request to the promoter, in this instance Dorna. Unlike other promoters, Dorna does not just judge requests for media accreditation on their merits. While applications from TV, radio and print publications are issued for free, and based on the publication making the request - a specific number of places allocated to international media, another number allocated to local media, yet more to TV and radio broadcasters - applications from online publications are granted only upon payment of a fee. The generous of spirit may regard this as one way of sifting out the serious applications from the closet fans, keen to get a glimpse of the series from the inside without providing any meaningful publicity for the series.

But it is not just small and unknown online publications who are asked for money: Any application from internet news outlets is considered subject to a fee. That includes media accreditation requests from some of the biggest names in online motorsports publishing, as well as respected motorsports websites. If the measure is aimed at deterring fans from trying to get into the races for free, then why ask some of the very biggest names in motorcycle racing journalism for money, so they can report on the series for websites. And before you ask, I am not referring to myself here in an act of disguised hubris, I am referring to the household names that any race fan is likely to name if asked.

And yet this week, Dorna have shown that they really do understand where their assets lie. All this week, the MotoGP.com website has been screening a set of exclusive videos showing special footage of that last lap between Lorenzo and Rossi at the Catalunya MotoGP race. The series has included a free highlights reel, onboard footage with both Rossi and Lorenzo, special overhead footage, and even a highly entertaining view from inside the pit garages. Most of the extra videos are only available to paying subscribers to MotoGP.com's video package, but are well worth the season ticket, just for these videos.

For this is where Dorna's strength truly lies: They have unlimited amounts of footage which never gets seen, disappearing on the cutting room floor under the harsh eye of the editor. And yet thousands, if not millions of fans are crying out for this kind of material, of seeing the action from a million different camera angles, and reliving the excitement of the races.

Race fans are no longer happy just to watch what the director decides to show them, and the internet has bred a generation of fans who are increasingly used to being their own directors, and making their own decisions about how they will see an event. The future of TV is increased user involvement with the viewer deciding which camera angles he'd like to watch and when. Devices such as Kangaroo.tv's hand-held TV, which allows users attending a sports event to choose which of the available camera feeds they'd like to watch, are both a boon to the fans at the circuit, and point the way to the future of the TV viewing experience. Digital TV has made TV a far more interactive experience, and the combination of user-selectable camera angles and digital technology has the potential to explode the popularity of MotoGP - and many other forms of motorcycle racing.

MotoGP.com's Rossi vs Lorenzo specials have shown that occasionally, Dorna understands the potential of the internet. Tragically, those occasions are still very few and far between.

Comments

You are right on with this.

I sent the Youtube link of Rossi v Lorenzo to several non GP fan friends just after the race and the reponses were (initially) astonishing, people couldn't believe that there were people capable, much less willing, to race that close and that hard. They're now VERY jealous that I just got my tickets in the mail yesterday for Laguna. Some of the folks I sent the link to have had no reaction, they waited too long and the link I sent was taken down.

Doesn't Dorna have somebody under the age of 50 working for them that can explain that;

A. Their website sucks.
B. Free advertising is probably not ever a bad thing.
C. NASCAR is so, so much smarter than they are.
D. WSBK creates so much more buzz than it used to and I don't think GP can just sit back on their laurels as being the "Premier" two wheeled racing series.

Well spoken.

Total votes: 41

Thank you

First of all, I love your headline, it sums it up quite perfectly.

I think you've addressed the problem of Dorna vs. YouTube on this site before and still I can't help but agree with you. As the rights holder for the sport, they are definitely shooting themselves in the foot by consistently taking down what is essentially free advertising for the sport they earn money with.
Regarding the official website it would definitely be wiser for them to offer more of the footage that is not seen on TV, like what they do with the Rossi/Lorenzo battle. Because what you basically get right now is the races plus highlights plus interviews, but almost all of it is stuff that's been shown on TV as well. Then an additional interview with every rider after the weekend, one technical feature and that's about it. But as you say there are many fans who'd like to see more from behind the scenes. Personally I'm already over the moon when they manage to post up the complete afternoon pole position press conference once a year and generally any press conferences uncut. But that can't be all.
And seeing that the official website is, as the previous commenter pointed out, not exactly cream of the crop - neither content-wise nor in terms of news speed - it is even more annoying that they "hassle" website journalists so much who intent to report from a GP directly. I just made the experience myself, but from what the circuit press officer told me, this is not necessarily aimed at keeping fans from getting a press accreditation, but rather because Dorna doesn't want other websites to post up news faster than the official outlet - which honestly isn't that hard anyway. That's why they don't let any website-only reporters in to the GPs or will make it at least very hard for them when they don't have an associate magazine, newspaper or TV affiliation to show for.

Total votes: 48

hmm not convinced.

Well I think they do get the internet. But only where their pockets are concerned.
They don't 'get' the free advertising for the sport. They don't 'get' that the hundreds of on line clips and videos help the sports teams and sponsors.

However they do believe that if they spend time and money making sure that freely available clips and videos are taken down then they can expect more people to pay them money to see the footage on their website.

In truth they probably have the best footage and as you said it's probably worth paying to see some of it. However I could easily believe that the money it must cost Dorna to police the internet for free content will outweigh any additional income they get from subscribers.

If they leave the free content up there it will help the sport, the teams, the sponsors and themselves. It will whet the appetites of new and existing viewers and if they spent the money and effort they use for policing instead on improving their online services and promoting their 'exclusive' footage then they will still get more subscribers.

Total votes: 43

Remember that incident last

Remember that incident last year where Colin Edwards made that amazing save by pushing the bike back up with his elbow? I posted a 90 second clip on YouTube. In 3 weeks it got over half a million hits, and 250+ comments, pretty much all saying "wow", "amazing", a few even saying "wow, I gotta start watching this!" etc...

Suddenly, it was removed and I get banned from YouTube (no warning) all due to a complaint from Dorna... Simply made no sense what so ever. The interest and totally free publicity it generated was huge...

By the way, the best angle to see that final corner pass (which Dorna can't remove as it was shot from the stands) is here...

youtube.com/watch?v=HKDAQflkvrU

Total votes: 36

Great video!

That is a fantastic shot! Here's a clickable hyperlink:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKDAQflkvrU

And here's the video itself:

Total votes: 43

just noticed a funny bit

thanks for doing that with the links Kropotkin, I wouldn't have a clue how to do that.... Just noticed in this clip how you hear someone (obviously a Lorenzo fan) shout "noooooooooooo!!!" in despair just as Rossi passes him. Poor guy must have been gutted!

Total votes: 36

Why doesn't Dorna just start

Why doesn't Dorna just start their own Youtube channel, with every feed from around the world available right after the events are broadcast in each market? Plus all the pit-lane and behind the scenes shit all us rabid fans love...

Then they can turnaround and maybe add a surcharge to be paid by their advertisers in each market based on the number of hits. Pretty damn simply if you ask me, but no one does, especially not Dorna.

Total votes: 42

Well actually...

They have a youtube channel- http://www.youtube.com/user/MotoGP
They have had it for a while, just don't realise what it is fans want to see.

The annoying thing with Youtube is that instead of just removing the video, they very quickly remove the account alltogether. Which in my case meant losing videos that were not in any way MotoGP or even motorsports related thanks to Dorna getting in a huff over 3 videos posted not so much for the racing but for the hilarious commentating by Jules&Toby at that point.
I felt physically ill when I had to pay MotoGP.com this year just to watch the 125 and 250 races live!

Total votes: 36

Good article

I canceled my motogp.com subscription because Dorna do not understand the internet. I know they are trying to protect revenues, but I reject the argument that youtube videos impair the news media outlets who report on the day's proceedings. News media should also have exclusive content to peddle, and Dorna should provide them with some exclusive content (especially un-aired video) for the fee they pay.

Though I have an intense dislike for Dorna, I think most public derision they receive is undeserved. Dorna do not plot against the fans of the sport. Sampling Dorna's operating procedures reveals that most are borrowed or stolen from a similar business model. The way they police intellectual property is no different.

Dorna appear to be defending their intellectual property much like major music labels or hollywood studios. Unfortunately, Dorna should be following the model used by TV mini-series producers who use company webspace to offer seemingly unlimited amounts of free content in a bid to attract fans and raise advertising revenues. TV series also provide their content for purchase at iTunes. I know Dorna don't benefit immediately or directly from increased add revenue, but Dorna could relax content restriction without injuring their customers.

I'm happy that they have FINALLY used the website to show un-aired footage. This a major step in the right direction for them. If they add all practice sessions (including WUP) for all classes, I will happily pay the $100+ for a motogp.com HD package. It will be worth every penny and more.

Total votes: 39

Now this is interesting

While Dorna have arranged to have most of the YouTube clips of Catalunya pulled, interestingly there is right now an operating link to the last two laps accessible from the Times (of London) F1 blog site to an Italian commentary version still available from YouTube.

Now, how does that square with hitting all the 'little guys'?

Total votes: 39

At least they have a working site

Whereas WSBK have Geolocked their website for me. Although I get WSBK via Foxsports, I love my WSBK and would love to watch any videos on their site. Heck, I'd even pay, but no. Not allowed. And Foxsports is the only channel in Australia showing WSBK, so no paytv, no WSBK.

Motogp.com used to be shite. I have their streaming packages so I can get all the good bits that Fox don't/can't show, but last year, at times, it was appalling. Sent them a little email, got a stroppy reply back. So this year, was reticent about stumping up the money to do the same, but relented. All was well for the first couple of races, but then I watched QP in one event and it stuttered and buffered all the time. Sent another stroppy email, this time recieved a totally different response. I was asked to provide traces, test the performance of the local Akamai server, run other tests and then at one event use a different and slightly more delayed feed. Their response to me was fantastic and in total contrast to last year which was 'your isp is slow...'.

Total votes: 45

While it is true that the

While it is true that the owners of TPB were convicted, none of the charges actually involved any punishment having anything to do with the site or tracker itself. MotoGP is trying but here in the US Speed's motorcycle racing coverage is terrible. Why would anyone want to wait days to see one race and then sometimes as in the case of WSBK wait another day to see race 2. Speed would rather show midget cars racing on a dirt track with 20 people in the stands than a live MotoGP race. I refuse to watch the races on Speed and if all possible not on BBC(Eurosport is way better imo).

Total votes: 43

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