In the run-up to last season, the WEC took the vast majority of its fans by surprise by introducing a paywall to its online streaming coverage. With the full race coverage free of charge via online video platform Dailymotion leading to conflicts with television broadcasters, the ACO decided to impose a fee for live streaming of WEC races. Today it was announced that this model will remain in place for the time being.
With the new WEC season just around the corner, rumours have been gathering pace over the new broadcast concept and the potential of the paywall on full race-long online coverage being lifted. However, today the organisers of the WEC announced that the existing live streaming model would stay in place for the next three years.
A new partner has been found for the global marketing of the series’ media rights in the shape of Infront Sports & Media, whose portfolio also included exclusive distribution of TV rights in Asia for the FIFA World Cups in 2010 and 2014. The contract with the Swiss-based company is valid for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 season. Under the agreement, Infront will be responsible not only for the live broadcast of the races in HD quality, but also the production of circuit videos, driver interviews and an hour-long season review programme. A new addition to the WEC’s broadcasting will be a new magazine-style show, summing up the latest news in the endurance series.
In today’s announcement, the ACO and FIA said that they aim to improve WEC coverage across the board. Infront is now the first port of call for all channels around the world interesting in showing the WEC; these channels then conclude agreements with Infront to broadcast the series in a particular country or region. In Europe, Eurosport’s current deal to show the last hour of each WEC race and the 24 hours of Le Mans in its entirety expires in 2016.
The coverage offered by the live stream will remain the same for the 2015 season, and is due to cost €19.99 for a full-season pass comprising all seven WEC races. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be subject to an additional charge. However, the price model may be subject to changes before the season kicks off at Silverstone. One key change in the works is the opportunity to combine usage over multiple devices, something that has not been possible in the past. User accounts could only be registered for either browser-based viewing or viewing via the WEC app, not both.