As Barrett-Jackson’s TV partnership transitions from FOX to Discovery and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead, one can’t help but look back at almost two decades of broadcast milestones. Two of the visionaries who started Speedvision in 1995, Roger L. Werner Jr. and Robert Scanlon, identified the need for an auto enthusiast-specific channel and grasped at the opportunity. Around the same time, Craig Jackson had taken over the leadership of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company following the untimely death of his brother Brian. Craig had a vision as well: to broadcast collector car auctions on national television. He reached out to the Speedvision team and a groundbreaking deal was struck in 1996. For the first time, enthusiasts experienced the thrill of a Barrett-Jackson auction from the comfort of their living rooms.
Coverage that first year consisted of Speedvision broadcasting taped highlights of the Scottsdale auction. The enthusiastic response prompted the network to make the unprecedented move of televising six hours of live coverage of the event the following year. That coverage changed the car collecting hobby and Barrett-Jackson was cemented as a staple in Speedvision’s programming lineup.
“My goal was to bring a broader awareness to car collecting,” remembers Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “Our shows have pulled phenomenal ratings ever since. Live coverage of the auction added an entirely new dimension to Speedvision’s programming.” The coverage brought real value to the collector car market as well.
After completing a buyout of Speedvision in 2001, FOX Entertainment Group re-launched the network as the SPEED Channel in 2002. The transition was seamless, and Barrett-Jackson auctions continued to be broadcast to millions of fans. During the Speedvision-turned-FOX years, numerous milestones were achieved, and the collector car auction landscape would be changed forever. Live coverage grew from six hours in 1997 to approximately 100 hours each year starting in 2012. In 2013 SPEED was rebranded as FOX Sports1. Though the change was bittersweet for those who loved having a dedicated automotive channel, the drama and high caliber
excitement of the Barrett-Jackson auction coverage continued to thrill millions of automotive enthusiasts
across the nation.
Craig Jackson looks back with gratitude for those forward-thinking visionaries at Speedvision who took a chance on an entity previously unknown to television audiences, and with appreciation for the team at FOX who continued to produce stunning, in-depth live broadcasts of every Barrett-Jackson event year after year. “FOX provided unprecedented access to their viewers,”
Jackson says, “Together, we repeatedly pushed the limits of collector car TV programming.”
“The contributions made by SPEED and FOX to the collector car hobby are extraordinary,” says Steve Davis, president of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, remembering the countless moments of automotive history captured on the networks.
Now, as a new chapter of Barrett-Jackson’s television history begins, Jackson is eagerly looking forward to this new partnership. Velocity and Discovery Channel will broadcast more than 100 hours of live coverage beginning in 2015, and Discovery International will bring Barrett-Jackson to audiences worldwide. With Velocity, the partnership returns Barrett-Jackson to an all auto enthusiast channel. International distribution is an
unprecedented step forward, and Scottsdale 2015—the first Barrett-Jackson auction to be broadcast on Discovery and Velocity—promises to be a blockbuster. Barrett-Jackson will debut on the Discovery channel with the sale of the Ron Pratte Collection.
“Barrett-Jackson is the number one automotive auction brand in the world and will be the crown jewel of our live programming lineup,” says Velocity General Manager Robert Scanlon. “The cars you’ll see during the more than 100 hours of live coverage on Velocity and Discovery are works of art. We’re excited to connect the Velocity and Barrett-Jackson brands, and to continue delivering the very best of the automotive world to our viewers.”
“I am extremely excited about the synergies and endless opportunities our relationship with Velocity and Discovery Networks offers us,” says Craig Jackson. “In addition to joining forces once again with Bob Scanlon, we are thrilled to broadcast on a network
dedicated entirely to automotive enthusiasts, not just nationally, but to millions of international viewers
through multiple viewing opportunities. I look forward to beginning this new partnership with our Scottsdale 2015 auction.”
Whether at a sports bar, private party or in the comfort of their own homes, viewers worldwide in the coming years will continue to watch the excitement and emotion unfold before their eyes as incredible automobiles cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block — a tradition that began on the television screen almost two decades ago and will undoubtedly continue long into the future.