The Auto Channel's Vision For "Matter-of-fact" LIVE Video Streaming Proves We Were Right, Not Crazy
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Originally published March 3, 2020, just when the China virus hysteria was starting to spread out of control
The unfortunate eleventh-hour cancellation of one of the world's great expositions - the Geneva International Motor Show - may have a lasting effect on all automotive expositions (and many other types of expositions) in the years to come.
A large number of auto manufacturers were literally left "all dressed up with no place to go" when the producers of the venerable Geneva Motor Show pulled the plug on this year's event. Frankly, it was probably a wise move given the concerns and unknown potential of Coronavirus. But, because the automotive industry is still so important to hundreds of millions of people and nations around the world, the show had to go on.
The solution was to stage a "virtual" Geneva Motor Show, with manufacturers staging their planned unveilings and press conferences near or at their respective headquarters, and presenting the shows via live streaming video. Streaming video is no longer anything new, and live streaming video from the exhibit floors of conferences is nothing new. However, it was brand spanking new in 1996, when TheAutoChannel.com pioneered the entire field of streaming video and demonstrated to the world the shape of things to come.
Then, in January 1997, we used the technology from a new player, Vxtreme, to broadcast live Internet video of the Los Angeles Auto Show. We presented live press conferences, live interviews, and even live video of a 'game show' that we played with attendees at our exhibit space in the West Hall of the LA Convention Center. When Bob Gordon and I were subsequently interviewed by newspapers and magazines about what we were doing, we predicted the day when people might not have to go, or even want to go, to distant conferences and expositions. Some people laughed at us; some people shook their heads at us. But we were right on.
So far (today is what would have been the first of two Media Press Conference Days at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show), TheAutoChannel.com has presented several complete virtual-Geneva press conferences, with more on the schedule. The presentations look great, the video and audio quality is excellent, and while it's not quite as exciting as shooting and streaming from the floor in Geneva, it's a whole lot less expensive and less tiring than schlepping equipment halfway around the world and from stage to stage. In addition, since there's a finite audience that can attend the Media Days presentations, every one (auto journalists, auto enthusiasts, and consumers) gets the same seat. It's what we have always said: Our PRESS PASS COVERAGE makes it as if you are there.
In 1987, when Bob Gordon and I first founded The Auto Channel, our belief was that someday all computers would be linked around the world; that we would have not a 500 channel TV universe, but an unlimited universe of programming and information sources. We believed that every TV set would be a computer monitor, and every computer monitor would be a TV set.
When we launched our syndicated broadcast TV series in 1989, we touted the coming of a time when consumers at home would be able to watch a show about automobiles (or any other subject) and be able to push a button that connected them with a local car dealer to schedule a test drive.
We congratulate all the 2020 Geneva Motor Show participants for providing such great coverage, and we give special thanks to all those special people who helped make it happen for The Auto Channel:
List Of Auto Channel "Firsts" Published 1998
By aggressively seeking out and putting to use the latest Internet technologies, The Auto Channel demonstrates the capability to do what others only talk about. This intrepid management philosophy has allowed TACH to become an early adopter of many of the Internet's most dynamic and newsworthy innovations. The practical application of these tools have brought a vigorous look and feel to The Auto Channel's on-line presentation, and have given it the mechanical means by which to present some of the Internet's most unique and compelling content. TACH's history making Internet accomplishments include:
• The first use of real-time streaming video clips by an auto related web site new vehicle video reviews and Camel Trophy video news release - March 23, 1996
• The first live audio coverage of a major motor sports event - the Indianapolis 500, May 1996.
• The first live automotive radio talk show carried on the Internet - AUTO TALK from the Talk Radio Network, June 8, 1996.
• The first live audio coverage from a European motor sports event - the LeMans 24-Hour Endurance Race, June 10-11, 1996.
• The first live audio cybercast of an automotive journalist event - the Motor Press Guild's Automotive Design Forum, June 23, 1996.
• The first live audio coverage of a NASCAR Winston Cup event - the Brickyard 400, July 31-Aug. 3, 1996.
• The first live audio coverage of a motorcycle race - the McGraw Insurance AMA California Superbike Challenge, August 23-25, 1996.
• The first live video & audio introduction of a new vehicle - the Jaguar XK8 from the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, October 3, 1996.
• The first live video & audio coverage of a motor sports event - the NASCAR Kragen 151 Craftsman Truck Series Race, October 5, 1996.
• The first live video & audio cybercast of an auto industry tradeshow - Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas, November 5-8, 1996.
• The first complete live audio cybercast of a driver-to-pit crew radio transmission - Jeff Gordon's Winston Cup team during the NASCAR Napa 500, November 10, 1996.
• The first live video & audio coverage of all the month long festivities surrounding the Indianapolis 500 - Over 150 hours of live interviews, press conferences, and the rain delayed main event, May 3-27, 1997.
• The first live video & audio cybercast of an auto auction - The Summer '97 Newport Beach Classic Car Show & Auction, July 12-13, 1997.
At the conclusion of the 1997 Indianapolis 500, David B. Hederich, General Motors Director of Motorsports Marketing, wrote the following in a letter to Tim Considine and Jim Murphy, The Auto Channel's Indy 500 on-air correspondents:
"I finally got around to going to The Auto Channel...and as I told my wife, Judi, "This is the future". I was really astounded to be able to follow all the (opening) ceremonies, i.e. hearing Tom Carnegie's voice,
watching the parachutists, listening to the military band, etc. I also enjoyed the pieces that you guys did, (and) I really, really enjoyed listening to the raw feed interviews of the drivers after qualifying.
This part is truly better for fans than being at the track...I can see the type of programming that you are providing becoming extremely popular. I had no inclination to turn on the TV as I felt that I was getting
much more content from your programming. Great job!"
In June 1997, The Auto Channel took the next giant step towards achieving its goal of creating an interactive broadcasting network on the Internet, by adding six additional TV and radio shows to its regular weekly schedule.
The TV shows, RACELINE and FAST TRACK, are traditional 30 minute programs produced and syndicated to television stations around the country. Using the latest technology available, TACH cybercasts these shows in their entirety. The other four shows are radio shows, three of which are also produced and syndicated to traditional radio broadcast stations: AMERICA ON THE ROAD, THE C.A.R. SHOW, and IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT. These six shows (and now others) are presented exclusively on the Internet by The Auto Channel. While each show runs on TACH in virtually the same fashion they do through their broadcast outlets, there is one significant difference, each show is also archived on The Auto Channel and available for immediate playback anytime, one minute or one year after the initial cybercast. This capability is one of the most incredible features of the Internet - random and on-demand access to a bottomless pit of information.
What critics said about The Auto Channel
"This virtual garage of car information houses almost everything you can think of...The site is exhaustive and very well designed, so pop open a brewsky and dive in."
"We are frankly in awe of the breadth and relentless high quality of this all encompassing multi-media rich automotive resource...you'd be wise to tune into The Auto Channel."
"If the new AUTO CHANNEL site were a car, it would be a hot rod. This site is definitely worth taking for a spin."
"There's more to this site then the main areas listed at the home page. The Auto Channel is an extensive, content-rich site that should keep car enthusiasts tuning in regularly."
McKinley's Internet Directory
"You can practically smell the fumes and hear the engine roar because The Auto Channel allows you to view their site in a multi-media capacity. This is your one- stop shop for auto news on the net."
"An enormous site that is a must see for all automotive aficionados."
“The Web's monster site for car buffs...If cars, trucks, or anything else with wheels are your thing, you'll flip for The Auto Channel...This is one exhaustive (and exhausting) site."
SMART MONEY INTERACTIVE
"The Rolls Royce of car buying sites is The Auto Channel."
"Finally, a site serving both the car consumer and the car fan. A true multimedia site. Most auto sites disregard the audio and video possibilities of the web. But these folks take advantage."