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Nov 20, 2012

Chet Burks Confirms He's Working On TV Deal For 2013 AMA Pro Road Racing Series

Industry veteran Chet Burks is working on a new TV deal for AMA Pro Road Racing. Here, camera crews videotape racer Elena Myers at New Jersey Motorsports Park in September.
Chet Burks, who has been involved in the production of television coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing since the early 1990s, confirmed today that his company, Chet Burks Productions, is working on a TV deal for the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Series.

"We're working on a lot of different avenues," Burks said when asked about rampant rumors that there would be no TV coverage of the series in 2013. "There's a lot of stuff going on that people don't understand and they need to keep quiet and do what they do best, which is build their motorcycles and get ready to race."

Sources at SPEED say that the channel is planning on covering the AMA Pro road races at Daytona next March, but that everything else is up in the air.

Complicating matters is a planned makeover of SPEED--which is owned by Fox television owner News Corp. and reaches about 82 million households--into an all-sports channel that competes directly with ABC-owned ESPN and includes coverage of mainstream sports like baseball. The channel now known as SPEED may be re-named Fox Sports 1.

For whatever reason, what is now called SPEED will not carry Formula 1 car races in 2013, and one operating theory is that if SPEED isn't carrying F1 car racing, motorcycle road racing has little chance of being shown on SPEED. Yet SPEED is likely to continue to carry MotoGP and World Superbike racing as well as Grand-Am car racing and various NASCAR races and related shows.

While Burks would not discuss specifics and emphasized that he doesn't pay attention to online speculation, the AMA Pro Road Racing Series obviously has options. The AMA Pro Motocross Series (officially known as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship), for example, is covered both on the 90-million-household NBC Sports channel (formerly known as Versus and before that Outdoor Life Network, or OLN) and on the 65-million-household FUEL channel; the first 250cc moto and the first 450cc moto from each event are shown on FUEL, while the second 250cc and the second 450cc moto are shown on NBC Sports. In addition, three rounds of the series are shown on the main NBC broadcast network. AMA Pro Motocross races are also live-streamed (and archived) on the Internet for easy access by viewers on computers or mobile devices; in 2012 one 250cc and one 450cc moto from each event were live-streamed, but for 2013 both 250cc motos and both 450cc motos will be live streamed at www.allisports.com.

NBC Sports will carry F1 car racing in 2013 and will continue to also carry IndyCar racing.

There are other potential options, including MAV TV, a 40-million-household channel owned by Lucas Oil Products and now in the process of rebranding itself into American Real TV; and Velocity (formerly known as HD Theater), which has shown some motorcycle road-racing related shows and reaches about 32 million households.

Reached by phone (in the middle of his honeymoon!) and asked to comment, AMA Pro Director of Communications Gene Crouch said, "The 2012 TV package for GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing was a one-year renewal of the previous TV deal. At face value, the 2013 TV package will not be the same as the one that we had in 2012. Nothing is off the table at this time though, and we have a few new options for 2013 that we are pleased with. We're working very hard to finalize our plans and hope to have negotiations wrapped up within the next 30 days."