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Returned Supercars TV king’s grand plan

RESPECTED Supercars television chief Nathan Prendergast has shared his vision to elevate the championship’s broadcast to the next level.

Prendergast returned to the head of broadcast role in January after nearly two years away, and he has quickly got to work on formulating a grand plan.

“First thing’s first, the full foundation was there. It didn’t need a full rebuild, in my eyes it just needed a polish and a tune-up,” he told V8 Sleuth.

“It was a very strong foundation, the product was always strong, the people behind it were always strong.

“What I wanted to try to do was come back and inject a little bit more showbiz and jazz hands into it, and also bring the motorsport side back into it. I was motorsport before I was television and I feel I have a very good read on some of the things that need to happen on a motorsport level.

“So for me to come back, it was really about taking a product that was already strong and making it the best motorsport broadcast in the world.”

Delivering more of what fans crave is key – and that goes for content across the board.

“I want to make sure we are giving the fans what they want, both in the broadcast and holistically over our whole video ecosystem,” Prendergast explained.

“So I’m going to have a lot larger say in all of the content that comes out of Supercars across all of our platforms; digitally, YouTube, Instagram, everything past broadcast. I want to give the fans the content that they’re looking for.

“I want to dive into the archive more, I want to deliver more lead-up footage celebrating the stars and the heroes of the past whilst a massive feature and focus for me is more driver focus and giving the guys a lot more face time.

“Being able to spread that across the broadcast a lot more, and across all of our channels for that manner, to start building the young stars and celebrating the existing ones.”

Making the next wave of stars household names has been a common suggestion amid a changing of the guard as the likes of Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup have moved on from full-time Supercars driving.

“It’s funny, Will Davison at the media day said to me, ‘everyone is talking about young guns but I’m only 41 and I want to kick their arse’,” said Prendergast.

“I said, ‘I want to give you the platform to say that. We want your personality. The fact is you are still super-fast and you should be taking it to the young guys’.

“I absolutely love that we have that balance. We have got these young, dynamic, super-fast guys in an extremely even playing field, up against some seasoned campaigners – I mean we have all seen how fast (David) Reynolds was at Bathurst and the like.

“To have that dynamic of the young guys coming through and the superstar original guys still in there, that’s the story I’m trying to push more.

“And I want these guys to feel safe to engage more, to bring their personality out through the broadcast and all of our channels and basically give them two things: exposure and opportunity.”

Rather than a dedicated behind-the-scenes series as has been trialled before in Supercars and as has become prevalent in global sport, Prendergast feels the more effective option is regularly available short-form content.

“There is definitely going to be more behind-the-scenes, shorter form digital content but not in a traditional series base,” he said.

“Anywhere we can utilise and work with our partners or even just having access to these guys to help tell a story more, we’re certainly going to be delivering that more through our digital channels.

Supercars broadcaster Jess Yates interviews two-time Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert. Pic: Ross Gibb

“But no, there won’t be a regimented-style behind-the-scenes series.

“One, the costs are prohibitive; two, it’s been done to death, let’s be honest. I would love to say let’s find ourselves $5 million and go and make it. That’s not on the cards at the moment, no.”

And what about the on-air talent?

There were signs of trying new things at the Bathurst 500, where Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton at times got out and about while Chad Neylon and Garth Tander made appearances in the commentary box. Is that a sign of things to come?

“We’re going to continue throughout the year for all of our talent to do new things and also build the skillset of our up-and-comers,” said Prendergast.

“I think it showed with some of the fantastic extra stuff we got out of Neil Crompton at the top of the hill. We’re going to do more of that with Garth moving around, Mark Skaife is going to get further opportunities to showcase his extra abilities outside of the commentary box.

“My plan is to not reinvent the wheel – I still feel like our two flagship callers do a fantastic job. But yes, we will definitely be providing further opportunities for everyone all year.”

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