Here’s a move we didn’t expect: MotoGP has announced it is going to offer free video content through the Roku Channel.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re seeing racing bodies go to great lengths to keep fans engaged. Whether it’s offering free viewing of historic races, hosting e-sports championships, or other online attention-grabbing activity, race organizers are trying to entertain fans, even without any track action.

Whether these are all good ideas, and whether they’re working, is another question. In an age where motorcycles are proving far less popular than video games, is it smart to be steering more riders to virtual reality? It seems doubtful. But, it’s also probably MotoGP (and also World Superbike et. al.) are losing fans they’ll never see again.

Whatever the case, MotoGP realizes it has to do something, and that’s why we have the deal with Roku.

The Roku Channel is a free streaming channel that’s offered on Roku devices (smart TVs and other digital media players). It’s also available online through the Roku website. There’s no charge for using the channel, as it’s ad-supported. The channel has movies and television shows, and now, MotoGP content.

According to MotoGP’s announcement, the partnership with Roku will start with the release of MotoGP’s feature-length documentaries on its champions. There’s more content promised in coming weeks and months; MotoGP says this is “Just the start.” And, the announcement made special mention of American fans, saying this program was “a start to bringing more American fans into the Championship.” Does that mean Roku will stream racing? MotoGP certainly hasn’t said as much.

This is an interesting move, but even moreso when you consider MotoGP announced a multi-year deal with NBC Sports only a few weeks ago, after years of a partnership with BeIN Sports. How these two deals will work together is anyone’s guess.

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