Speed (TV channel)
|Launched||December 31, 1995
July 3, 2005
|Closed||February 5, 2012
November 5, 2012
August 17, 2013
February 19, 2015
(Canada / Caribbean)
|Owned by||21st Century Fox|
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
480i (SDTV/16:9 letterbox)
|Slogan||The Motorsports Authority|
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Formerly called||Speedvision (1996–2002)
Speed Channel (2002–2005)
|Replaced by||Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports Racing
(Canada / Caribbean)
Fox Sports 3
Speed was a sports-oriented cable and satellite television network that was owned by the Fox Sports Media Group division of 21st Century Fox. The network was dedicated to motorsports programming, including auto racing, as well as automotive-focused programs.
Although the channel was based in the United States (its headquarters were located at University Research Park in Charlotte, North Carolina), Speed ceased being available to most American viewers as a standalone network with its own original programming on August 17, 2013, when it was replaced by the general-interest sports network Fox Sports 1. An "international" version of the network, now known as Fox Sports Racing, concurrently launched in Canada, the Caribbean and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico to replace the domestic feed, airing archived Speed programming and live simulcasts of motorsports events carried by Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 in the United States that would be otherwise unavailable to international viewers.
When it originally launched in 1995 as Speedvision, the network carried a lineup featuring programs profiling the automobile and motorsports industries (including individual companies, vehicles and teams), how-to series, and coverage of various domestic and international racing series (such as the Formula One World Championship, Rolex Sports Car Series, and the American Le Mans Series). After it was acquired by News Corporation in 2001 and relaunched as Speed Channel, the network's programming became increasingly NASCAR-oriented; prior to its shutdown in the U.S., Speed's lineup consisted mostly of automotive-themed reality shows, NASCAR-related programs (including coverage of practice and qualifying sessions, and full coverage of the Camping World Truck Series), along with news programs focusing on motorsports. Most of Speed's live event programming was carried over to Fox Sports 1 (or sister network Fox Sports 2), and is simulcast on the Speed network that remains available outside the U.S.
Due to contractual changes associated with the relaunch, Fox was expected to temporarily distribute a version of Speed (separate from the international version) to fulfill contracts with providers that had not yet signed deals to carry Fox Sports 1, airing a loop of the network's past reality programming. Many of the programs once found on Speed can now be found in the United States on CBS SPorts Network, MAVTV and Velocity (such as Gearz, My Classic Car, Chop Cut Rebuild, and Dream Car Garage as well as live coverage of racing events).
The network originally launched as Speedvision on December 31, 1995. It was founded by Roger L. Werner, Jr., E. Roger Williams, Nickolas Rhodes, and Robert Scanlon; the network's original ownership included cable providers Cox Communications and Continental Cablevision, and AT&T Corporation.
Speedvision's initial lineup featured various automotive programs, including various documentary-style series focusing on prolific vehicles, manufacturers, and racing teams (such as Victory by Design and Legends of Motorsport), series focusing on classic automobiles (such as Dream Car Garage, coverage of Barrett-Jackson's auctions, and My Classic Car, which moved to the network from TNN), an AutoWeek-branded television series, along with MotorWeek and Autoline Detroit – two programs respectively syndicated from PBS member stations in Maryland and Detroit. Speedvision also carried coverage of various minor and professional auto racing series, including the Sports Car Club of America's World Challenge series (of which it also acquired title sponsorship of in 1999, becoming the Speedvision World Challenge).
Fox acquisition and NASCAR push
In the summer of 2001, the Fox Entertainment Group (then a subsidiary of News Corporation) purchased a 30% ownership interest in Speedvision. In August of that year, Fox negotiated a deal to acquire the stakes held by Cox and Comcast, thus giving them majority control of the network. Since Fox Sports had recently acquired broadcast rights to the first half of the NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup Series in a six-year deal, Fox planned to leverage Speedvision as an outlet for supplemental NASCAR programming. To coincide with that year's running of the Daytona 500, Speedvision was relaunched as Speed Channel on February 11, 2002; the network's operations were also relocated from Stamford, Connecticut to Charlotte, North Carolina (where NASCAR and the majority of its teams are based). In the following years, additional NASCAR-related programs were slowly brought on to the schedule, ranging from news programs (such as Totally NASCAR, rerun from Fox Sports Net), pre-race programs Trackside and NASCAR RaceDay, and the post-race NASCAR Victory Lane. Speed Channel also added a weekly call-in show in 2003, WindTunnel with Dave Despain, which featured interviews and discussions relating to news and events in auto racing.
In later years starting in 2003, Speed began to carry NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series (after buying out the remainder of ESPN2's contract for the events), along with coverage of practices and qualifying races in NASCAR's main national series, the Gatorade Duels qualifying races, and the Sprint All-Star Race. In 2005, the channel's name was shortened to simply Speed. Until late 2007, Speed also aired coverage of International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation events over the winter months – including bobsledding, luge and skeleton. Its winter sports coverage also included an annual charity bobsledding event organized by NASCAR driver and bobsled builder Geoff Bodine, which featured participation by various NASCAR drivers. Universal Sports acquired the rights to FIBT events beginning in the 2007-08 season.
Speed continued to maintain coverage of other professional racing series, such as the Rolex Sports Car Series (including the 24 Hours of Daytona), the American Le Mans Series (along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans), the newly renamed Speed World Challenge until 2010, and the Formula One World Championship. By the late 2000s, these came along with an increasing number of reality series (such as the street racing-inspired Pinks, Unique Whips, Chop Cut Rebuild, the drag racing game show Pass Time, American Trucker, and Hard Parts: South Bronx, along with reruns of the MTV series Pimp My Ride). By 2008, Speed was carried in over 73 million households. In 2010, Fox launched a TV Everywhere service known as Speed 2, which features coverage of additional racing series not broadcast by Speed, along with video on demand access to archived Speed programs. The service was shut down in 2014.
In 2011, Speed began carrying Australia's V8 Supercars series; it also aired live coverage of the Gold Coast 600 (where major international drivers compete in teams alongside Australian drivers) and the Bathurst 1000 featuring Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy, Leigh Diffey, and Calvin Fish on-location. The move was met with praise from series organizers, who felt that the series could benefit from the additional exposure it would receive from American coverage—the series would also add a U.S. event at Austin's Circuit of the Americas for the 2013 season.
On October 12, 2012, Fox Sports announced that it was unable to renew its contract to air Formula One racing on Speed after the conclusion of the 2012 season. Two days later, NBC Sports announced that it had reached a new four-year deal to broadcast F1 races beginning in the 2013 season, with the majority of its coverage to be carried by NBC Sports Network. Three days later, Fox Sports reached an agreement with NASCAR to extend the network's broadcasting contract through the 2022 season (maintaining its rights to the first half of the Sprint Cup season and the full Camping World Truck Series season), along with the addition of online streaming rights beginning in 2013.
Shutdown of Speed and relaunch as Fox Sports 1
On March 5, 2013, Fox Sports announced that Speed would be permanently shut down, and Speed programming would be carried over to Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 on August 17, 2013. Fox directly positioned the networks to be major competitors to ESPN: studio programs featured on the network include the daily sports news program Fox Sports Live (which competes directly against ESPN's SportsCenter), Crowd Goes Wild (originally titled Rush Hour), an early-evening program hosted by Regis Philbin, and Fox Football Daily (a companion program to Fox NFL Sunday). The network began carrying Major League Baseball games and coverage of select post-season games beginning in 2014 (with the Fox broadcast network airing significantly fewer games as a result); select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races moved to the network in 2015. College football and basketball games from the Big East, Big 12, Conference USA, and Pac-12 conferences, soccer matches from the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and CONCACAF Champions League, along with rights to the Men's and Women's FIFA World Cup tournaments, and Ultimate Fighting Championship events and live fights are also featured on the network.
The last ever program to be broadcast by Speed in the United States was a replay of qualifying for that weekend's Sprint Cup event, the Pure Michigan 400, which was soon followed by a statement from Fox NASCAR play-by-play announcer Mike Joy marking the end of Speed's operations in the United States:
|“||For 18 years, it’s been our honor and privilege to present motorsports and automotive-related programming to you on the network that began as Speedvision, became Speed Channel, and is now known as Speed. From the visionaries who started this network, from maintenance to management, from the talent to the truck drivers, we’ve shared your passion for motorsports over lo these many years. We love that you care as much about your cars as family, God and country. And so do we. But now, it’s time to switch off the ignition and turn in the keys. This is the end of Speed in America. We hope you’ll follow us on our new journey to Fox Sports 1 because all your favorite live NASCAR programming and much more is coming along with us. So now, it’s goodnight and farewell to America’s motorsports authority, Speed.||”|
|— Fox's Mike Joy, at the moment Speed was relaunched as Fox Sports 1|
Although Fox marketed the shift to Fox Sports 1 as a re-launch of Speed, Fox was required to re-negotiate carriage deals with providers for Fox Sports 1 due to the changes in its nature of service. There was uncertainty over whether Fox Sports 1 would have sufficient carriage at launch, as it had not yet reached deals with three of the four largest pay television providers in the United States (these being DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable) with only a month before its launch. However, all three finally agreed to terms to carry Fox Sports 1 three days before the scheduled launch. For any remaining television providers that did not reach a deal, Fox offered a "watered-down" version of Speed (which consisted of a loop of the network's reality programming and no live events) to fulfill existing carriage contracts until they reached a deal to carry Fox Sports 1. In international markets such as Canada, a Speed-branded service was maintained (now known as Fox Sports Racing) running an automated loop of Speed's previous non-event programming, and simulcasts of motorsports programming carried by Fox Sports 1 or 2.
North America (outside the United States)
Speed became available in Canada shortly after its U.S. launch. As Speedvision, Speed was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to be added to its list of foreign cable networks approved for carriage on Canadian cable and satellite providers in 1997. As such, Speed is carried by most Canadian television service providers. Prior to August 2013, Canadian viewers saw a largely identical schedule as the U.S. channel, although some programming, particularly live Formula 1 events, were blacked out to protect TSN, which holds domestic broadcast rights to F1 events (under CRTC rules, foreign services must own Canadian broadcast rights to the content they air). However, this point became moot when NBC Sports Network obtained rights to F1 events beginning with the 2013 season, as that network is not available in Canada.
In Canada, as well as the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, Speed was not converted to Fox Sports 1. The exact reasons for this have not been confirmed, although in the case of Canada, it is not clear whether Fox would have had the ability to make such a change given that Speed's Canadian authorization was based on it being a motorsports-based network. The version of Speed available in these areas continues to carry various NASCAR and other motorsports events, as well as related studio programming, mostly simulcast with their U.S. broadcasts on Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2, but does not otherwise originate any new programming of its own. During hours when the network is not simulcasting FS1 or FS2 coverage, it carries repeats of past events and Speed's previous reality and documentary programming. The international feed does not carry commercial advertising: commercial breaks consist solely of promos for Speed programming and other Fox-owned channels (such as Big Ten Network), with no outside advertising aside from promotions inserted by local providers.
In early 2014, major Canadian service providers including Rogers Cable and Bell TV began to drop the service upon the expiration of their carriage contracts. Cogeco dropped the Speed Channel on July 15, 2014. Shaw later announced they will drop Speed on April 1, 2015 within their cable and satellite system (a.k.a. Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct). Reports indicate that Fox had attempted to raise the channel's carriage fees significantly, despite the major reductions in original programming for international viewers, and Rogers suggests Fox was unwilling to allow Speed to be moved to a more specialized package in light of the programming and cost changes.
On February 19, 2015, Fox announced that the international feed of Speed would be re-branded as Fox Sports Racing, and announced that Rogers had reached a deal to add the rebranded network back to its lineup.
Speed launched in Australia on November 1, 2010 on Foxtel in both standard and high definition. After months of negotiations and controversy, on March 25, 2011, Speed and Speed HD launched on subscription television provider Austar. Among other racing events, the Australian network airs NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, V8 Supercars and Superbike World Championship. The network also has its own version of Speed News. Unlike the U.S. version, it is owned by Fox Sports Pty Limited, a subsidiary of News Corp Australia – which is no longer directly connected to 21st Century Fox due to its inclusion in the split of News Corporation. Speed closed on 3 November 2014 and has been replaced by Fox Sports 5.
The Latin American version of Speed carried live coverage of the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Rolex Sports Car Series, American Le Mans Series (including 24 Hours of Le Mans), Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and the Camping World Truck Series. It also aired delayed coverage of the World Series by Renault and NASCAR Mexico. Other programming included highlights shows including British Formula Three Championship, the Argentine TC 2000 and Turismo Carretera, and the Colombian T.C. 2000 and delayed highlights of Australia's V8 Supercars, FIA GT (airing on a few months delay), AMA Supercross and Monster Jam, as well as non-motorsport programs such as Grand Prix On Track, Grand Prix Story, Unique Whips, Tuner Mania and Pinks.
On February 5, 2012, the Latin American channel was replaced in Brazil by a domestic version of Fox Sports. Beginning in 2012, the network broadcast Formula 1 free practices and live and delayed qualifying events and races, as well as live races from the GP2 Series and GP3 Series. On November 5, 2012, Speed Latin America was relaunched as Fox Sports 3.
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