Dan Parisi Interview – beIN SPORTS
As TV viewers, most of us are not privy to the inner-workings of a production; we see the result, and judge it based on the quality we perceive. I certainly am one of those viewers; as long as I’m able to watch motorcycle racing, without any interruptions, I’m content.
We recently had a chat with one of the individuals behind the scenes of BeIN’s TV production, Dan Parisi, the Senior Motorsports Producer at beIN SPORTS. beIN has helped the world of motorcycle road racing in a big way – the channel has effectively become a home for those who want to watch MotoAmerica, World Superbike and MotoGP all in one location – and with live coverage.
Parisi has been involved with bringing motorcycle related programming to the homes of millions over the years, with an extensive career in TV that has centered on motorsports. Following are a few words from a fellow enthusiast, one who happens to be pushing all of the buttons to make sure you’re getting beIN’s racing coverage.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. If you could, please explain your role at beIN Sports.
Dan Parisi, Senior Motorsports Producer. I oversee all of the production for beIN Sports as it relates to all of the motorsports properties that we have, and everything that we’re working to develop.
UM: Sounds good – What kind of personal connection, if any, do you have with the world of motorcycles?
DP: I don’t know too many little kids that don’t think motorcycles are cool, haha. So, I always wanted a motorcycle. Of course, as most mothers are, my mom was like “You’ll never own a motorcycle living under this roof.” As much as I fought that, I didn’t own a bike until I went away to college, Towson State University. One evening, I came home late from being out with some friends. I turned on the TV at two or three in the morning and MotoGP was on ESPN2, Scott Russell was racing and I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world.
I knew of motorcycle racing but I had never seen it. From that point, I was hooked. My senior year of college, I bought a motorcycle. I took it home with me when I moved back after college, my mom was not happy but after about a week she asked when I was going to take her for a ride. That whole experience was how I first got exposed to motorcycle racing.
Then I wound up owning three or four motorcycles, graduating from smaller displacement to larger displacement along the way. Then I took a position at a little cable network called Speed Vision, back in its early days. At Speed Vision I was one of the only production person there that actually paid attention to motorcycle racing. I was so fascinated with what I’d seen back in ’95, it kind of sparked the whole thing for me and it’s been in my blood since then.
UM: That’s awesome. Oddly enough, Speed Vision introduced me to the world of racing as a kid. Many people might be curious about the progress that beIN has made with its racing coverage. Have the results been positive, now that you’re providing MotoAmerica, WSBK and MotoGP coverage, all under one roof?
DP: Yes but I’ve only been with beIN since February, so I can only speak for the current season or current year. What I can say, when I started back in February, a few weeks before the first World Superbike race, there was some concern about the ratings and the investment that beIN had made. Early on, I think the viewership was less than what they wanted but once we got the word out, and people started talking, and of course publications started taking notice that beIN had, not only WSBK and MotoGP but MotoAmerica – it all came together. Since then, viewership and ratings have been constantly increasing all season long and the numbers have been fantastic.
UM: For 2017, are we going to be seeing the same level of coverage?
DP: Yes, you will. Along with our own racing focused shows.
UM: Good to hear. You became a fan of racing and started in TV during the 90’s, so can give any insight as to how the TV market for motorcycle racing began to disappear into the early 2000’s? If you remember, we had a decent amount of racers moving into the world leagues in the 90’s, so it wouldn’t seem to fair to say it was from lack of involvement. How is beIN working to reinvigorate the interest that Americans had in road racing?
DP: This is just my opinion but I think a lot of that, as far as American racers developing here and moving onto the world stage, a lot of that was impacted by the economy. Here in the US, in regards to MotoAmerica which was formerly known as AMA Superbike; as the economy tanked, a lot of manufactures pulled out. They were no longer offering big contingency funds and things of that nature, so everybody needs money to race and it depleted that pool of talent. People went off to find other things. As the economy began to come back, we saw an increase in manufacturer involvement along with sponsors showing back up. The economy looks like it’s on a bit more steady ground these days, even though it’s been a number of years.
Everything seems to be increasing. I know that the marketing department, and I can’t speak to what they’re doing exactly but they’re working with MotoAmerica to develop their program, along with the production. Basically, they’re working incredibly hard to raise the quality of the presentation when at the track. The quality of the TV broadcast is being improved upon every time we’re out. We’ve got a lot of potential sponsor interest in motorcycle racing and beIN’s involvement with MotoAmerica has become a big priority here at the network.
UM: A lot of the manufactures are focused on getting the next generation of riders into the market, are there any initiatives to garner the attention of younger generations, which are often criticized as not being interested in motorsports in the least bit.
DP: One of the ways that we’re going after that demographic is through the digital platform. Everyone these days, kids especially – you’re on your phone. Everyone needs instant information, instant gratification. I mean, I misplaced my phone this morning and felt as if I was detached from the world for that 30 minutes. These devices are integral components to our lives these days.
One of the strengths of beIN is that we have a department dedicated to social media outreach; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. We’re creating palpable bits of content on those digital platforms, and releasing it. With all of our programming that we’re working on with motorsports, we’re attempting to fill all of those little niches with exciting moments. Whether that be an exciting pass, a great podium shot, and of course, crashes. Everyone loves the crashes, except the racers and the producers. Things like that open people’s eyes to the world of racing, that’s what we’re working towards.
UM: You had mentioned that beIN will be introducing some original shows, can you tell me a little bit about those?
DP: Yeah, we have our weekly, Tuesday evening show called Pitlane which we launched a little while ago. We’re actually getting ready to tape an episode in the next hour. Do you remember Speed Channel?
UM: Yeah, I do!
DP: I kind of equate it to a show that I used to produce on the Speed channel called Two Wheeled Tuesday. That was a half-hour magazine/highlight show. Pitlane is a similar program, it’s a news, highlight and feature driven program. The idea is to get the viewer a different perspective of motorsports, introduce them rather – just getting them into the world of motorsports. Everything from auto racing, to boat racing, to plane racing; if it has a motor and they compete, we’re covering it.
For example, we’re covering lawn mower racing out of England this week (laughs). We have interviewers with pilots, drivers, riders, etc., and we get some insight with technical information. Nothing over the top but enough to give viewers a bit of background as to what their watching and of course, pique their interest.
It’s a pretty cool show. When we do the news, it’s not only race highlights. We don’t do the standard: Start, pass, crash, finish highlights. We try to deliver it in more engaging way. It’s just a different perspective of a race – we want to focus on the key moments that created the victory and what led up to those situations presenting themselves. So if it was a pass or even more recently, with MotoGP and the rain races, we’d show a highlight but focus more so on, “This is how Marc Marquez or Cal Crutchlow won the race.” We try to analyze and do highlights in that fashion, giving a unique perspective – analyzing the rider’s thought processes and choices, for better or worse.
UM: Awesome. With the MotoAmerica season is coming to a close soon – are there any specific plans for the final round?
DP: We’re working on doing something really special, we can’t release anything as of yet but in my opinion it’s going to be the best motorcycle racing coverage that we’ve done all year long. I mean, we’re going to crown two champions that weekend of September 10th and 11th. We got a lot of things we’re working on, so it’s going to be an enhanced weekend.
On that note, this year has been hugely beneficial for me and beIN. I’ve been working closely with a lot of the DORNA directors which has helped a ton. We’ve had Enrique who is the director for all of the MotoGP events and races. He directed a couple MotoAmerica races with me sitting next to him. Then there was Enriq who directed the Spanish championship, then Frank who directs the World Superbike races – it’s been phenomenal working with these people because they’re absolutely world class, it helps elevate the sport. I produced AMA Superbike for four years and a half years when I was at Speed Channel. It’s nice to come to beIN and see the investment into racing that the network has made; not settling for someone who knows how to direct but getting the insight from world class directors inside DORNA.
Those broadcasts have been so much fun in the TV truck. It’s just a different world from where I was working with in the past, it’s just been such a blast.
UM: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, we appreciate it.
DP: No problem, take care!