Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How Mid-Ohio Could Have Been On NBCSN

This weekend's Honda 200 from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be on CNBC and not NBCSN because of the race going head-to-head with the NASCAR Cup Series race from Pocono.

Head-to-head races happen from time to time and while they are avoidable, sometimes they aren't. Sometimes, two races are just going to have to go head-to-head and with IndyCar and NASCAR sharing a television partner, that will mean one of the two (most likely IndyCar, nine times out of ten) will have to draw the short straw and go to the less desirable destination, which in this case is CNBC.

However, the Mid-Ohio IndyCar race could have been shown on NBCSN if some schedule rearranging occurred.

First, let's look at the current schedule for this Sunday on NBCSN. NASCAR qualifying from Pocono will be re-aired at 10:30 a.m. ET and air until noon. NASCAR America Sunday will follow for one-hour with Countdown to Green beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET and running for a half hour. The actually Pocono race broadcast is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET with green flag occurring shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET. The Honda 200 will be aired on NBCSN immediately after the NASCAR race from Pocono.

Now, let's look at Mid-Ohio's schedule for Sunday. Pro Mazda leads off on Sunday at 8:50 a.m. The IndyCar warm-up session is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. ET. Indy Lights follows at 10:30 a.m. ET with Pirelli World Challenge occurring at 11:50 a.m. ET. The Honda 200 is set to go green at 2:07 p.m. ET.

So how could the Honda 200 been shown on NBCSN? Well, the schedule from Mid-Ohio could have been altered. The Pro Mazda race could still lead off the day but the first change would come in the second slot of on-track action. IndyCar could have decided to ditch the morning warm-up (which is an unnecessary session to begin with) and ran the Indy Lights race at 9:45 a.m. instead of 10:30 a.m. The Indy Lights race is scheduled in a hour and five minute window to complete. Last year's second Indy Lights race from Mid-Ohio took 53 minutes to complete. Instead of giving Indy Lights a window from 9:45-10:50 a.m. to complete their race, they could have given Indy Lights a 50-minute window and ensured the race would be over by 10:35 a.m. ET.

NBCSN could have rearranged their schedule and instead of re-airing NASCAR qualifying, they could have shown NASCAR America Sunday from 10:30-11:00 a.m. The IndyCar broadcast could then follow NASCAR America Sunday with the Honda 200 going green at 11:05 a.m. ET. The race would fall nicely in that brunch window. Since the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio increased to 90 laps in length in 2013, it has take an hour and 43 minutes and an hour and 52 minutes to complete. Let's say it takes an hour and 47.5 minutes (the average of the last two Mid-Ohio races) to complete this year's Honda 200. With a green flag time of 11:05 a.m., the race would finish at 12:52 p.m. ET. NBCSN could give IndyCar until 1:00 p.m. but be open to give them a few more minutes to make sure the winner and the top three are interviewed before leading into NASCAR coverage. Worse case scenario would be IndyCar goes a little over and the NASCAR green flag occurs a little closer to 1:45 p.m. than 1:30 p.m.

The Pirelli World Challenge race could take the 2:00 p.m. spot originally set-aside for IndyCar and close out the Mid-Ohio weekend.

It would be a crowded schedule with one race leading into the next but I don't think that would be a bad thing for IndyCar, NASCAR or NBCSN. It would be non-stop action. One minute, a person could be watching a side-by-side battle between Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden into turn four at Mid-Ohio and a half hour later they could be watching Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski battling into turn one at Pocono. The good news would be everyone would get to be on NBCSN without having to be farmed out to CNBC.

But it's not going to happen. IndyCar will be on CNBC this weekend, head-to-head against NASCAR on NBCSN. It's not the end of the world. It was somewhat avoidable but it is understandable that these races are going to be head-to-head. This doesn't mean IndyCar should leave NBCSN for greener pastures. If anything, IndyCar should stay because sharing the same television partner as NASCAR means that NBCSN will have little interest having races go head-to-head and will do all they can to limit occasions of head-to-head races. This is just one race on CNBC. The good news is the final two races of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series will not have any competition and will be on NBCSN.