Written by Barbara Toombs
For a quarter of a century now, collector car aficionados from far and wide have been watching Barrett-Jackson auctions on television, creating a multi-generational fan base for which the company is incredibly grateful. It all began in 1995, when Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson took the reins of the company with a vision to bring the incredible world of collector cars into the living rooms of homes across America through live national television coverage. That very same year, Roger Werner and Bob Scanlon started an auto enthusiast-specific television channel called Speedvision. Jackson reached out to see if they’d be interested in covering the auction, and in 1996 television history was made as same-day tape-delayed highlights of the Scottsdale event were broadcast on the new network. The response was so overwhelming that live coverage of the Scottsdale Auction began the next year, changing the face of the car collecting hobby forever.
Speedvision evolved into SPEED and later became Fox Sports1, but the Barrett-Jackson live auction coverage remained and grew through these changes, continuing to thrill millions of collector car fans across the nation. In 2015, coverage grew even further with the automotive-centric Velocity and Discovery Channel providing more than 100 hours of both national and international live coverage.
Now, Barrett-Jackson is honored that FYI and HISTORY – part of the A+E family of networks – have selected The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions as part of their programming lineup. “I was very excited when A+E approached us about broadcasting Barrett-Jackson auctions on FYI and HISTORY,” said Jackson. “It means a lot to have a partner like this. It is a much more effective way of spreading the passion of car collecting to others than we could ever achieve by purchasing blocks of broadcast time or advertising on a network. This will bring an even broader awareness of the collector car industry to a new and ever-growing audience.”
From A+E’s standpoint, Barrett-Jackson will be the ideal complement to FYI and HISTORY’s “DRIVE”– a block of programming curated specifically for auto enthusiasts. “We’re super excited about Barrett-Jackson coming to DRIVE,” said A+E Networks Head of Enthusiast Brands Christian Murphy. “We’ve spent a few years now building an auto enthusiast audience and we believe it will be a perfect fit within that world that lives on both HISTORY and FYI, alongside many other complementary auto shows.”
Now reaching more than 380 million homes worldwide, HISTORY (formerly The History Channel) was launched in 1995 and is the leading destination for award-winning series and specials that wrap historical knowledge in entertainment. Originally launched in 1999 as The Biography Channel (later simply Bio), FYI came into being in 2014, bringing together in one place a range of enthusiast lifestyle genres, from cars to all things home, the great outdoors, the amazing stories behind collectibles and much more.
Fans can expect a new look, new excitement and a new perspective going forward, with not only live auction coverage, but also premieres as well as short-form and original Barrett-Jackson specials.
“We’re going to be doing more leading into each auction,” said Jackson. “We’re going to be giving the auctions similar treatment to sporting events, with ‘pre-game’ and ‘post-game’ shows. We’re working on developing more ancillary programming to share knowledge about car collecting as well.”
“In terms of the current live format, we’re obviously lucky to be taking over custodianship of something very successful,” adds Murphy, “but we are looking to broaden its appeal to bring in even more viewers. One of the areas we’ll be focusing on creatively is how we can infuse the show with more stories and entertainment, and try as best we can to give viewers the real ‘experience’ of a Barrett-Jackson auction – which is going to be very tough, because you really have to experience it in person to believe it!”
Viewers can expect to see some familiar faces hosting the coverage – as well as some new surprises. The planned programming will place an emphasis on storytelling, which likely will incorporate features and interviews with fans, families, buyers and sellers, all talking about their experience, their cars and their love for the automotive lifestyle. New elements will also include an interactive fan experience (still under development at the time of writing). An enhanced live stream of the Automobilia and Collector Car Auctions on Barrett-Jackson.com will complement the telecast.
“I’ve always been passionate about sharing the excitement of our auctions with enthusiasts,” said Jackson. “Our new agreement with A+E Networks is a wonderful next step in the evolution of our vision to give enthusiasts not only a front-row seat to our four exciting auctions throughout the year, but also a more in-depth look into what makes the collector car hobby so very special.”
“Barrett-Jackson LIVE” will debut on its new television home beginning with the special 2020 Fall Auction at WestWorld of Scottsdale, airing on FYI and HISTORY and also distributed globally by A+E International.