The Gawker Network website Jalopnik published an article today written by The Daly Planet about “How NBC and Comcast are killing IndyCar.” The article spans out to make some valid points but glazes over some important facts. The reason people aren’t watching IRL spans far beyond the television network.
Everyone knows (or you should realize) that VERSUS is being used by NBC to do battle with ABC/ESPN. Being involved in a huge multi billion dollar pissing content can only help the likes of Formula Drift. Before I get too involved in this story let’s visit a topic that happened back on June 22nd, 2011. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced a new name or rebranding is going to happen with VERSUS. Rumors have been spreading in media circles something like “NBC Sports” will be the new name for the channel. If you notice the VERSUS website already redirects to NBC Sports micro site on MSNBC (source).
The branding of NBC within the sports channel network should make huge waves inside the community of supporters, teams, and advertisers of Formula Drift. The channel gets 80,000,000+ homes currently and slapping the words NBC in front of the channel is a statement that could help it grow to 100 million+ quickly and get sponsors taking a second look at team proposals.
Indy has one marketable driver that is a household name in Danica Patrick. She is also rumored to be heading over to NASCAR full time in 2012 leaving Randy Bernard and the Indy team in a huge pickle. They are looking for all kinds of gimmicks to ramp up the end of season. I don’t see how they can blame the television network on poor ratings when the series hasn’t been the buzz of anything in a long long time.
All it takes is a quick look over to sports like the NHL who love the NBC deal they struck and have received record ratings in the last season. The networks are going to do battle for sports supremacy over the next few years and frankly ESPN is chalked full of American football and baseball. After watching the MLS Game of the Week on ESPN we were sitting in a living room among friends and the television was left on.
Next thing I knew they were making predictions about college football rival matches that were ages away. Other than a rare soccer match (most of it is on FOX Soccer) I never tune into ESPN like I did back in the day. It lacks sports variety and actual sporting events. Most of the time they are just talking about these sports and not showing them.
The only other real option is SPEED channel but they have a one track mind for NASCAR that is beyond healthy. Recently they opted to not show part of a Formula 1 weekend to air something worthless like a RE-AIR of a Nationwide NASCAR practice. How they determined anyone would watch that instead of live Formula 1 racing is beyond me? So let’s not let IndyCar’s poor choices and $37,000,000 operating deficit over the last two seasons cloud the reality of why they have bad ratings.
So let’s not sound any false alarms as we get geared up for Formula Drift Seattle. The television network is going to be under a new name that can only do good for our sport and the sports television wars is a winner for all programming involved. NBC has rights to the Olympics for a good time period after winning a huge bid over rivals such as EPSN as well. The show can use some improvements and I think we all realize that but that is another post for another day.