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The Circuit

F1 coverage jumps into future with track TVs

  • Story Highlights
  • $100 hires a hand-held Kangaroo TV for the three-day race weekend
  • Device provides channels of audio and video from the on-track action
  • Quebec-based Kangaroo TV also supply McLaren with exclusive handsets
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By CNN's Neale Graham
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- More often than not, sport is best experienced by being there. But Formula One is perhaps one of the rare exceptions -- you get the best seat in the house by watching on TV.

The world of F1 is available in the palm of your hand at each of the 18 grands prix in the 2008 season with Kangaroo TV.

Now there is a best-of-both-worlds solution, combining the atmosphere of a live grand prix with an armchair fan's convenience.

It's called Kangaroo TV and it's revolutionizing the way F1 is watched trackside.

For around $100, race-goers can hire the wireless hand-held device for a three-day race weekend and get on-demand access to coverage on its 3.5-inch screen.

Kangaroo TV provides the official broadcast plus a choice of in-car camera shots, driver-to-pit conversations, multi-language commentary and timing data -- all of which can be replayed at the touch of a button.

"About 90 per cent of TV coverage produced over a grand prix weekend doesn't get broadcast," said Alain Charette, general manager of Kangaroo TV Europe.

Kangaroo TV is a Quebec-based company, whose handsets can be seen in the stands at NFL games, trackside at Le Mans and NASCAR races and in the golfing galleries of the European Tour and the Players Championship.

They also supply their handsets to the McLaren-Mercedes team, who give them out to their corporate guests, in an exclusive deal worth a reputed $100,000.

Kangaroo TV is now into its second full season of covering grands prix and its deal with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management runs until the end of the 2013 season.

But only seven years ago, it was merely a good idea, dreamed up by former racing driver Marc Arseneau, who is now the company's CEO.

"Marc was at a grand prix in 2001 and found the experience lacking," explains Kangaroo TV spokesman Nadia Petrossi.

"He was used to scanners, monitors and timing results in the pit lane, so he knew there was so much more information available which could make the racing more interesting and entertaining."

Arseneau, who had a background in video transmission, got chief technical officer (and brother) Jean as well as Charette on board and Kangaroo TV was born.

Its product was developed and then honed in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series in America.

More improvements are in the pipeline for its grand prix coverage, with extra channels providing behind-the-scenes coverage.

"There's been interest in Kangaroo TV from cricket, tennis and even camel racing in the Middle East," added Petrossi.

"There's also talk of doing the Olympics, which would be a perfect application with so many events going on simultaneously, but where spectators are forced to choose which to attend."

For now, though, F1 race-goers can be grateful they can be spared that paradoxical feeling of missing out while being there.

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