As the SPEED channel transitions into FOX Sports 1, Barrett-Jackson will gain the largest audiences car collecting has ever experienced.
SPEED is being rebranded as FOX Sports 1, with plans under way for the new network and other platforms in the FOX family to continue airing the Barrett-Jackson auctions. The goal is to present the same high-caliber live coverage of Barrett-Jackson’s four annual auctions to the millions of fans who relish the drama and excitement of watching the auction action right as it happens.
Barrett-Jackson’s inaugural auction at Hot August Nights in Reno Tahoe, Nev., is another milestone, yet it will bring a bittersweet moment: the first Hot August Nights auction will be the last one broadcast under the auspices of SPEED in the United States after 17 years of auction coverage.
Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson chairman and CEO, said the transition from SPEED to FOX Sports 1 will be seamless for the TV viewers but is another milestone moment in the long relationship between the auction company and its television partner.
“I’ve loved SPEED for all these years; it’s bittersweet to see these changes,” Jackson said. “It makes great TV and it’s been a great partnership. But the heart of SPEED will still survive in FOX Sports 1.”
For Canadian viewers, the SPEED brand will remain, and the new FOX Sports coverage of Barrett-Jackson will be broadcast on the network as usual. The transition of another FOX network, FUEL TV, to FOX Sports 2 will also happen in August and will play a role in future Barrett-Jackson programs.
The first-ever agreement to broadcast a collector car auction was forged in 1996 by Jackson and cable-TV pioneer Roger Werner, who had recently started up a new automotive and motorsports network called Speedvision.
Coverage that year, which marked Barrett-Jackson’s 25th anniversary, was fairly low-key, with Speedvision taping the highlights of the Scottsdale auction for broadcast. The show was a resounding hit, so much so that the following year, Speedvision took the unprecedented step of producing six live hours of the event.
Such a thing had never been done before, and others in the collector car world thought it was not the best move, but it struck a powerful chord with viewers, and the coverage was soon ramped up and became a staple program for Speedvision. And in doing so, it changed the very fabric of special interest car collecting.
“My goal was to bring a broader awareness to car collecting,” Jackson said. “I wanted to reach more people and bring it into people’s living rooms so that they could experience this hobby.
“It’s pulled phenomenal ratings ever since. Having sales on the auction block happen live adds a whole other dimension to the programming.”
Speedvision was bought by FOX parent company News Corporation, and in 2002, its name was shortened to SPEED Channel as it continued to broadcast the live auction coverage to millions of fans. As Barrett-Jackson grew rapidly and added more auctions to its docket, SPEED has continued to produce stunning, in-depth live broadcasts of every Barrett-Jackson event. There are currently four Barrett-Jackson auctions per year: Scottsdale, Ariz.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Las Vegas; and now, Reno Tahoe, Nev.
The TV network has expanded the hours of live coverage – now about 100 hours total for the four events – and introduced such unique features as the popular Fantasy Bid game. During the 2013 Scottsdale auction in January, SPEED broadcast 40 hours of live programming, as well as streaming additional content on the SPEED.com website.
With the live TV programming, not only are viewers treated to the spectacle of Barrett-Jackson auctions, but also off-site bidders buying by telephone or via the Internet can participate as the action unfolds. And for bidders on the scene, what could be more exciting than being on TV, watched by millions, as they vie for the prize?
“It’s like a sporting event, but one where you can actually step onto the field yourself,” Jackson said. “Just get up there on the block and you’re in the game. You’re playing in the game on live TV.”
SPEED executive producer Rick Miner, who heads the massive effort to televise every Barrett-Jackson auction, said the same intensity will be dedicated to the coverage under FOX Sports as it has been with SPEED.
“We’ve grown dramatically together,” Miner said. “There’s no question that we helped Barrett-Jackson grow, and Barrett-Jackson helped SPEED by giving us programming that appealed to a wider base than the pure motorsports programming.”
The SPEED programs have gone from simply covering the bidding activity to producing a multi-dimensional show highlighted by in-depth video features, on-the-scene happenings, celebrity interviews and other highlights, he added.
“The coverage has grown tremendously,” Miner said. “From technical innovations to interactive games and social media integration, everything about the Barrett-Jackson programming is bigger and better than ever.”
Jackson noted how SPEED’s crew has grown its footprint at the events, going from “one truck and just a few cameras to a mini city.”
“Miner and FOX have taken it to another level,” he said. “I think it’s an excellent production. It is more than just watching cars go over the auction block. You get the excitement and the emotion. And we try to teach people about car collecting while making it entertaining.”
“It’s amazing how many people watch. It’s a phenomenon. And how many parties spring up. Car museums will put big screens up. It’s playing in sports bars. Like Super Bowl parties, they have Barrett-Jackson viewing parties. When I travel around the country, I can’t tell you how many people recognize me and tell me they watch us on SPEED.”
The changeover from SPEED to FOX Sports 1 can only add to the exposure, Jackson said, as well as drawing new fans to the broadcasts.
“I see a great advantage in moving to this new, larger platform,” Jackson said. “It’s a broader market we’re going after now. To have a Major League Baseball game or a (NASCAR) Cup race that leads into and out of a Barrett-Jackson broadcast could bring many more viewers to us than I could have ever dreamed of coming to us strictly through SPEED.”
Miner noted that the first-year coverage of the Reno Tahoe sale should be challenging but exciting, with lots of great possibilities coming from the monumental car event, one of the biggest in the world with an estimated 800,000 people attending in 2012, according to Hot August Nights officials.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Miner said. “From a television point of view, it’s great because there’s so much for us to talk about. It’s challenging because you don’t want to miss the auction, but at the same time, you have to give credit to Hot August Nights for what it is.”
Jackson said that during the Hot August Nights auction, he plans to address the crowd about the changes happening at FOX. “When we sign off SPEED in Reno, I’m going to let everybody on TV know about these changes and some of our other plans for television coverage in the future.”
Some of the exciting new developments for future coverage of the four annual Barrett-Jackson auctions on the FOX family of networks will begin next month, he added.
“Beginning with our Las Vegas auction in September, television viewers will be able to find us on several of the networks within the FOX family,” he said. “Our Vegas coverage will appear on the new FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 as well as on the National Geographic Channel. With this groundbreaking mix of coverage, Barrett-Jackson programs will be seen in more homes than ever before.”
Jackson is also excited because having multiple networks available means that more auction action can be delivered live to viewers, replacing some of the tape delayed coverage offered by SPEED in the past. “This means viewers can enjoy more uninterrupted live coverage now with a simple change of the channel.”
“When FOX Sports 1 launches on August 17, it will be available in 90 million homes. National Geographic Channel is available in 85 million homes. These numbers represent a greater reach and a wider range of demographics than for any other collector car auction programming in history. The addition of National Geographic is particularly exciting,” he added. “With a tradition of award-winning original programming appealing to a very broad audience, National Geographic will be a great addition to our television mix.”
The evolution of the relationship between Barrett-Jackson and FOX Entertainment Group will continue to take shape as company leaders prepare for the 2014 auction season.
“All in all, having a much larger on-air footprint will open car collecting to even more people.” Jackson said. “Stay tuned for an exciting future of groundbreaking firsts with FOX.”
The Start of a New Era
20 Hours Of Live Broadcasts
On Three Networks For
The Las Vegas Auction
THURSDAY September 26th
FOX SPORTS 2
FRIDAY September 27th
2pm – 4pm
FOX SPORTS 2
4pm – 8pm
FOX SPORTS 1
SATURDAY September 28th
Contact your television provider for updated channel locations and programming packages available with your service.
Speeding Through The Years…
1996 Speedvision launches its first coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, taping part of the event under an agreement between Barrett-Jackson head Crag Jackson and Speedvision founder Roger Werner. Barrett-Jackson celebrates its 25th anniversary, at the same time mourning the death several months earlier of Craig Jackson’s older brother, Brian, who had led the auction for a number of years. Longtime auction participant, car-show organizer and auto enthusiast Steve Davis is hired to help operate the auction. 1997 After a highly positive response to the taped auction coverage, Speedvision opts to present six hours of live coverage of the Scottsdale auction, an unprecedented move in the collector-car industry. Ratings soar. 1998 FOX Cable Networks Group buys an interest in Speedvision. The Scottsdale auction reaches $17 million in sales and, significantly, 115,000 visitors to the auction site for the four-day event. 1999 The Scottsdale auction is again televised in real time by Speedvision, becoming a resounding success in TV viewer ratings. The auction moves up to $22 million in sales and 125,000 visitors, many of them lured from around the country after watching Speedvision’s live broadcasts. 2001 FOX completes its buyout of Speedvision. The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company marks its 30th year with a $26.7 million Scottsdale sale. Attendance rises to 150,000. Automotive professional and longtime Barrett-Jackson participant Gary Bennett is hired as senior automotive specialist. 2002 FOX changes the name of Speedvision to the SPEED Channel as the cable TV network commits to continuing and growing its live coverage of Barrett-Jackson events, with the broadcast of the Scottsdale auction boosted to 10 hours. 2003 Barrett-Jackson launches the West Palm Beach auction, which reaches $6 million in sales. In conjunction with SPEED, the auction company launches the “Barrett-Jackson Bucks” sweepstakes, in which the winner receives $50,000 to bid on any car at the 2004 Scottsdale auction. 2004 Barrett-Jackson and SPEED produce a 26-episode reality show, “Barrett-Jackson Car Search.” SPEED increases its live coverage at Scottsdale to 15 hours, while attendance rises to 185,000 and sales reach $38.5 million. The SPEED coverage is a hit in the Nielsen Ratings. 2005 Bolstered by strong sales results and SPEED coverage, Craig Jackson announces another unprecedented move: Barrett-Jackson auctions would be changed over to 100 percent No Reserve. The reasoning behind this plan was to raise the excitement of the live TV coverage, as well as add more transparency to the bidding process. 2005 SPEED increases live coverage at Scottsdale to 25 hours as a fifth day of bidding is added. SPEED and Barrett-Jackson launch the Fantasy Bid game. Another groundbreaking show is produced, “Life on the Block,” which went behind the scenes at the auctions. 2006 The City of Scottsdale erects a gigantic “permanent” tent that, when combined with Barrett-Jackson’s movable tents, is nearly a quarter mile long, making it the world’s largest tent structure. The 35th anniversary Scottsdale auction boasts 1,100 cars for sale, sales of more than $100 million, 225,000 attendees and 33 hours of coverage by SPEED, which gains the highest ratings in the channel’s history. 2007 The Scottsdale auction hits $112 million for 1,271 collector cars, which still stands as Barrett-Jackson’s highest sales total. The auction also sees the record sales result for a single vehicle, Carroll Shelby’s own twin-supercharged 1966 Super Snake roadster, which went for $5.5 million. Steve Davis is named auction president. 2008 Barrett-Jackson adds its third auction in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, complete with SPEED coverage. 2009 A fourth auction is added, this one in Costa Mesa, Calif., which becomes known as the Orange County auction. SPEED adds the new event to its TV schedule. SPEED broadcasts 39 hours of the Scottsdale auction. 2011 Barrett-Jackson launches a yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary. SPEED broadcasts 40 hours of live coverage from Scottsdale, 23 hours in West Palm Beach, 16 hours in Orange County and 19 hours in Las Vegas. 2012 The SPEED Social Garage adds a new level of interactivity to Barrett-Jackson. Fantasy Bid participation hits 180,000 players who place 1.6 million bid estimates. About 100 hours of live broadcasts are produced by SPEED during the year at the four auctions. 2013 Barrett-Jackson announces a new auction in Reno Tahoe, Nev., that coincides with the highly popular Hot August Nights custom-car event. The Orange County auction is closed down after encountering logistical problems and scheduling issues with SPEED. The Scottsdale auction hits a remarkable high note with the sale of the original Batmobile for $4.62 million. 2013 The Barrett-Jackson auction at Hot August Nights becomes the last one broadcast under SPEED in the U.S., with future live coverage airing on several new and larger platforms within the FOX family of networks. Canadian viewers will still have the SPEED Channel, which is preparing to carry the FOX coverage of Barrett-Jackson.
— By Bob Golfen