Sunday, May 19, 2013

IndyCar Has To Improve Relationships With It's Television Partners

If you follow me on Twitter (@4TheLoveofIndy) you probably saw my critical comments of the situation with NBC Sports Network's Pole Day and Preakness Stakes coverage. Let me first state that NBC Sports Network is a great partner for IndyCar and have tremendous coverage but when things go awry sometimes you have to be critical. It would not be fair of me, a guy who blasted ABC/ESPN last year when the Belle Isle race was moved to ESPNEWS and was not available on WatchESPN or to let NBC Sports off the hook.

Yesterday was not the ideal situation for NBC Sports, IndyCar and the Preakness. Had mother nature held off we aren't having this conversation. With the history of rain during the month of May at the Speedway, especially during qualifying days, both IndyCar and NBC Sports dropped the ball when it came to a plan B. IndyCar should have made sure that coverage of Pole Day would have been moved to a fellow NBC Universal property. CNBC has been a suitable home for the Stanley Cup playoff when there are multiple game on at one time and other NBC Universal properties including MSNBC and USA Network broadcasted Olympic events last Summer. Yesterday, CNBC was showing a infomercial, MSNBC an episode of Caught on Camera on from 2008 and USA an episode of NCIS from 2009. If there was breaking news or a direr situation, it'd be one thing to not move Pole Day coverage to CNBC or MSNBC but that was not the case yesterday.

IndyCar must have better communication with NBC to make sure another NBC Universal property is available should a situation such as yesterday arise. Either that or make sure the NBC Sports broadcast is available online or on NBC Sports Live Extra app. And that's another bone I have to pick with NBC. The WatchESPN app features events that aren't even on one of ESPN's cable television channel and can only be found on the app or online. For NBC Sports, it's only available on the app or online if it's on television. Is this just another example of NBC's style of old practices of sports coverage such as showing Olympic events taped delayed, hours after they happened and with almost everyone knowing who won? Probably.

My question is what happens next year and I'm not talking about only Pole Day. Today is not only Bump Day but the final day of the English Premier League season which features 10 matches all kicking off at 11 a.m. ET. What happens next year on Bump Day? The NBC-EPL deal starting this August makes it sound like NBC, NBC Sports, CNBC, MSNBC, USA and all other available outlets could feature an EPL match. What will happen to Bump Day coverage? All EPL match should be over around 1 p.m. and if Bump Day coverage were to start at 1:30 p.m. it wouldn't be the end of the world seeing as there would be four and half hours until the final gun. But IndyCar has to improve communication with NBC Sports NOW so IndyCar isn't swept under the rug come 2014. There has to be more dialogue and IndyCar should not settle for television coverage being abandoned. Relocated? Sure, as long as the fans can find it.

Yesterday was really the first time in the NBC Sports/Versus era of IndyCar coverage the ball was seriously dropped. NBC Sports has been a great partner and the Pole Day coverage was fabulous. The inclusion of Will Buxton (who in my opinion is the best pit reporter in racing and maybe the best pit/sideline report in all of sports) and Gil de Ferran benefited the broadcast and they meshed well with the core lineup of Diffey, Beekhuis, Lee, Snider and Miller. The product is fine but both IndyCar and NBC Sports should make sure the coverage of Pole Day 2013 is not repeated.