Monday, March 14, 2011

An Online Motorsports Disaster


There used to be no better example of a professional racing series that offered an outstanding online streaming version of its events than IndyCar. Practice, qualifying and races were all made available worldwide on the sanctioning body's website in 2010.

While major sports like the NFL, MLB and NHL all have sophisticated online streaming packages available to fans, motorsports has lagged behind. The biggest reason is the complicated world of programming contracts that often result in a clash between television and Internet rights.

After being unceremoniously chopped into pieces by ESPN several years ago, the remaining IndyCar television package took refuge at VERSUS. At the time, that obtuse network was a chaotic mix of sports, paid programming and reality TV. Now, things have changed.

The network's owners, Comcast, have essentially bought NBC Universal. Suddenly, IndyCar is in a whole new world. Comcast brought in some heavy hitters as executives for NBC Sports, the Golf Channel and VERSUS.

Back in the original contract, IndyCar gave VERSUS both the TV and online rights to the 12 races that the network carries. 5 other races are on ESPN/ABC. At the time, IndyCar was over a barrel with nowhere else to go. Essentially, IndyCar gave global online video control of the majority of the races to an American cable TV network owned by an American cable TV provider.

Needless to say, VERSUS has lowered the boom. There will be no streaming of any content from the 12 events on VERSUS in 2011. No practice, qualifying or races. Currently, there are no published plans for the other five races to get any online exposure from ESPN.

IndyCar is an international series featuring drivers from all over the world. The fan base is truly global. VERSUS does not even distribute its TV signal across the border into Canada or South America. Reaction has been swift.

"This would be the most significant step backward in the last twenty years of IndyCar," said the Disciple of IndyCar blog.

"The main problem is how it affects international viewers, especially in Canada, the UK, and Australia. That’s a serious issue and I honestly don’t know what the solution is," said the Triple League Racing blog.

"Way to kill the fairly big international audience the series has. I used to watch every session when I had the chance. Now I have to miss practice and qualifying and watch an illegal stream of the race. My passion for IndyCar just dropped by a mile," said Miguel from the Netherlands on TrackForum.com.

While the NBC/Comcast senior management team says this move is designed to drive viewers to VERSUS and raise ratings, that statement flies in the face of reality. It's not the potential erosion of American fans who choose a laptop over VERSUS that is the issue. It's the international fan base and ultimately perhaps the very survival of the series.

Comcast/NBC lawyers may be well within their rights to force this move, but VERSUS does not carry a significant amount of the content that was being streamed live. In fact, VERSUS and NBC have not even suggested that any IndyCar online content might migrate to an NBC-owned website on a subscription basis. Instead, it is simply being ended.

In 2011, this is a tremendous example of the clash between the traditional American television model of sports programming and the reality of online streaming. IndyCar races on ABC or ESPN other than the Indy 500 drew less than one million viewers. The numbers from VERSUS were nothing short of pathetic. Less than 400 thousand viewers per race.

Instead of seeing the online environment as a problem, the only pathway for IndyCar is to use the existing online fan base to spread the IndyCar message on a global scale. VERSUS and NBC have no stake in IndyCar. It's up to the sanctioning body to get across the table from the TV folks and determine what Internet strategy can benefit both parties.

Perhaps, just one more season of online streaming as the new VERSUS executives settle in and get a feel for the racing landscape may be a workable solution. Better to count the legal viewers worldwide on an official live stream than force international fans to resort to illegal Internet sites for the races.

It would be a crying shame to have part of the new VERSUS legacy become the death of IndyCar. Unfortunately, that is a very real possibility if the current distribution plan stays in place. It's time for some crisis management and folks with knowledge of the bigger picture to step-up and save the day.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

41 comments:

KoHoSo said...

As a big IndyCar fan, this is very sad news. The series has been doing so much good lately in trying to revive itself from the dark days of "The Split." Personally, I believe that any ratings gains by Versus strictly by making this move will be no more than one-tenth of a point (although I expect modest gains for other reasons). Meanwhile, Comcast/NBCUniversal loses the ability to actually count those watching online and, maybe best of all, send them targeted advertising that could pack more of a punch than what is given to a broader audience over television.

This situation with NASCAR and now IndyCar strongly reminds me of the enormous blunders made by the music and movie industries when they ignored the Internet in the late 1990's. The TV networks will certainly end up paying a similar price if they do not provide what the people want...because other infamous "alternative means" sites certainly will.

earl06 said...

Just when you thought IndyCar was on the right path...

I can't see why this has to happen. The webfeed was usually just a track camera with the IMS radio network audio. Not real crisp, but it allowed one to follow along. Now, it will be more time people won't be thinking about the series.

Most times, people get greedy about things worth being greedy about. This move is a bit pre-emptive. Or perhaps, this is a look ahead to what we can expect down the road, IF the series ever becomes popular again. Neither is encouraging.

IndyCar shouldn't believe it's own hype. Every fan they turn off now is another 10 they could have in a few years.

bevo said...

So much for the bull riding guy being a genius. I was an open-wheel fan first as a little kid growing up in the land of AJ Foyt and Johnny Rutherford. It never ceases to amaze me how happy Indy Car is to willingly shoot their own foot repeatedly.

The only thing I can do as a fan is not watch the races at home so they don't get my Tivo ratings. I'll either catch it at a bar or on an illegal stream.

Vicky D said...

One step forward, two steps back for IndyCar and racing fans in general. I think it's a real mess now because I enjoyed the online coverage. Of course, we all loved the tv side-by-side racing that will be the next thing to go probably.

GinaV24 said...

Wow, what a major blunder this is -- sounds like a typical comcast sort of move.

I'm in the US and don't follow a lot of Indycar but for the folks living outside the US who were a big part of the fan base, this stinks big time.

The cable companies need to come into the new reality which is that a lot of people are cancelling cable and using their computers to "watch" programming. Instead of saying it's our way or the highway, maybe it would be better to embrace it and find a way to serve the customer AND make money.

Christopher Leone said...

I'm going to copy and paste the same comment I've been leaving everywhere. Ready? OK:

I don't think NBC/Comcast would have made this decision if they weren't planning on doing something with the streaming rights themselves. Keep in mind that neither has a bigtime streaming sports site of their own, and with this merger, both are probably looking to build NBC Sports into an ESPN rival. It only makes sense that they would then reclaim all of their assets in order to be better prepared for when that theoretical (but altogether necessary) streaming network is established.

This is a TV decision, folks. It signifies that the broadcast company has an interest in the property. As I understand, there are few instances where a league is able to stream its own games - I think the MLB is the exception to the rule, and that's partially because there are so many of them - and this almost NEVER comes for free. I guarantee you that the privilege we enjoyed - free streaming of race broadcasts - contributes to a bush-league perception. The way the system worked had to go, as much as we all loved it.

And how many times do I have to reiterate that this decision LIKELY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH RANDY BERNARD? Come on, folks, I know most of us have little experience with the broadcast business, but come on...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Chris,

1 - Comcast said no to streaming. The reason was to drive viewers to VERSUS. Please see my comments about why that is a ridiculous statement.

2 - As I said clearly in my column, this is a legal decision. While Comcast has forced VERSUS into homes as part of digital sports packages, the viewership is tiny.

There is simply no opportunity to use a small 12 event package like IndyCar to drive viewers to VERSUS. It cannot happen due to the simple fact that much of the IndyCar audience is outside of the US.

Reminder: VERSUS does not distribute programming in Canada, South America, the UK or Europe. There are currently no plans to do so in 2011.

The issue of the streaming being free in 2011 does not come into this equation. Setting up a subscriber network or offering video as a part of the current online paid offering is not an option. Comcast said no.

My column specifically does not target Randy Bernard for that reason. There is no indication that he is at fault for this issue.

JD

Tony Joseph said...

Hate to say it Christopher, but it looks like you have false hope. One of versus.com's bloggers, Roy Hobbson, twittered yesterday that the website will soon eliminate all of its internal coverage of INDYCAR. I guess they will just regurgitate INDYCAR PR once the change takes place. As another piece of proof, during the "Golf Channel on NBC" broadcasts over the past few weekends, there have been a slew of Kentucky Derby/Triple Crown commercials (including Versus showing the early races) but no INDYCAR on Versus commercials. Once again, they are pushing the better performing May event instead of doing anything to help INDYCAR grow its fan base starting in April on Versus.

Make no mistake about it. The new Comcast/NBC has looked at INDYCAR and, so far, sees the best way to profit is to cut expenses instead of investing more and helping it grow larger. That always could change and it's still early in the game. However, with much more popular, better producing projects taking precedent within the new NBC Sports, don't count on it.

Gymmie said...

Very disappointed to hear this :(. I loved the online access & being able to do in-car/dual cars/etc.

I hope they change their mind but not holding my breath :(.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

I believe this is an online inconvenience,not a disaster,, but that's not important. I agree that INDYCAR has a lot more to lose than others, the streaming sports world is not quite as easy as you think. 3 of the big 4 U.S. sports do stream, but for a subscription fee.NFL streams to sprint phone holders, NHL to Verizon. I also did a quick check and as an American i cannot get a stream of English Premier soccer or Formula 1 racing. So while we all want thing, and i appreciate your efforts to improve motorsport coverage, there is less free live online content out there that we may think. Again thanks for all your coverage.

Adam Wood said...

One of the major issues I have with VERSUS is where it is placed on my TV package. On DISH Network, VERSUS is on the Top 250 package or the most expensive package before you get to movie channels and such. I for one cannot afford to go up to the Top 250 package. If VERSUS was in the Top 200 package, where SPEED is located, I think it could get a lot more viewers.

Anonymous said...

LoL... if you took a much-needed reality check, you'd realize this is being blown way out of proportion.

Back in July 2009, during a 'mid-season update' press conference, the head of IMS Productions, Charlie Morgan, quite proudly admitted that online viewership for IndyCar 'races' was UP from the previous year. Would you like to take a guess at how many people worldwide were watching IndyCar races online at the time? Go ahead.. 'cos now I'll tell you..

QUOTE (Charlie Morgan, July 2009 talking about the success of IndyCar's FREE online streaming product): "..it has shown good, solid growth as a result of that, and we had about 12,000 people using that product in May and Indy, and we average around 3,000 users on every IndyCar race."

AGAIN: That was just 3,000 online viewers per IndyCar race, and just 12,000 peak average for Indy500-related coverage.

And it's not like this was 'emerging technology' that few IndyCar fans knew existed in 2009. Online streaming was available to IndyCar fans on a pay-basis in 2008, and more to the point, Champ Car had introduced a similar online streaming product called 'Race Director' way back in 2004.

How much sudden dramatic growth do you guys think it got in the 1 season since Charlie Morgan's statement? Especially when Versus was *already* showing up to 7-hours of IndyCar coverage on tv every week?

Chris Sheridan said...

I'd be watching the streaming video of the Barber open test right now. A big disappointment and, yes, perhaps a disaster. Really, only loyal fans are the ones watching live streaming practice and quals...not people trying to subvert the cable/broadcast companies. And guess what? We also watch the TV feed! More makes more so let's have both. Bring back streaming video and keep the core fan base. C'mon Randy, I thought you wanted to grow the series. Or, have you been in secret meetings with Tony George. This sounds like something he would come up with.
ps. How about an iPhone app? No, there's not an app for that. Can you hear me now? Anyone, Bueller?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:28PM,

Spoken just like an American viewer with VERSUS available on cable.

It's all about perspective. Those old numbers are meaningless.

Formula Drift had over one million online viewers for it's final event.

VERSUS is an American cable TV network. It has no distribution outside of the US. You simply can't eliminate the rest of the world from seeing IndyCar and somehow justify that everything is OK.

In addition, VERSUS does not have a mandate to cover practice or qualifying even to its tiny US audience.

This is a crisis that could end the series IMHO. Check around the Internet to see how fans feel. They are not asking for a freebie, but simply for access.

Establishing a subcription service for this online content would be a way to assure availability and perhaps even drive some revenue for both parties.

In 2011, to somehow try to justify cable TV only distribution for a motorsports product is ridiculous.

NASCAR already has TruckBuddy for the NCWTS races. You can bet in the next contract NASCAR will be offering every single lap of practice, qualifing and racing online.

JD

GinaV24 said...

JD, "Establishing a subcription service for this online content would be a way to assure availability and perhaps even drive some revenue for both parties". I quoted you here because I remember signing up for some specific service so I could watch the ROC races over in Europe - when Gordon was a participant.


And boy oh boy, I sure hope you're right about this one! "NASCAR already has TruckBuddy for the NCWTS races. You can bet in the next contract NASCAR will be offering every single lap of practice, qualifing and racing online."

Rambo M. said...

I still cannot believe the nitwits who arranged this deal with Versus didn't leave any form of affordable exit clause in the contract. Versus is suicide for Indycar and I rather doubt NBC renaming the channel in their image will help matters any. You can slap lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig!

Ironically, Speed seems to be substantially more enthusiastic about reporting Indycar news than either ESPN or Versus! Why shouldn't it be possible for the series to go grovel over to NewsCorp (necessary evil though they are)?

Robin Miller has mentioned a few times that the only other incentive the series has to stick with Versus is that they're paying Indycar up front for the priviledge. Seeing this incident and how lovely Comcast's business practices elsewhere are, perhaps they ought to rethink how much that money is worth...

Steve said...

John,

You play this doom and gloom game with just about every article/blog you post. The IRL will not fold because there is no online streaming. That's a ridiculous statement. And if the figures that have been provided are correct, online streaming represented less than 1% of the viewing audience. (3,000 streamers/400,0000 fans watching = .75%. Did you ever think that this isn't enough interest to make it worth their while to do this?

This issue you have with online content and Showtime is way overblown. The end of the world will not come because NASCAR and IRL don't have streaming. Would it be nice to have? Absolutely. But give it time folks. Technology is moving forward so that most everything will be streaming. Its not quite here but I'm confident it will get here sooner rather than later.

Of course I know this post won't see the light of day on your site since, I don't agree with your views, so I'm probably wasting my time here anyway.

Tim in Independence said...

Thanks for shedding some light on our indy car problems JD, it won't be the death of are sport by any means but it is a pretty big problem when 3/4 quarters of the field is foreign and you cut the access those driver's fans bring from all over the field. This was written in the contract originally as not being allowed but VS permitted it. With new ownership all that went out the window. RB got Firestone back when it was supposed to be dead, RB helped get manufacturers into the field when it wasn't supposed to happen, I will be very curious to see what he's going to do here

Anonymous said...

@ Daily Planet Editor 1:42pm

First line: wrong on both counts.
Not American, don't get VERSUS. Bonus: I don't even watch IndyCar, even though I could.

I was trying to act as a non-biased voice of reason, but you apparently ignored the facts I had to share with you and continued to react emotionally.

AGAIN: 3,000 avg online viewers for IndyCar races WORLDWIDE in 2009.

AGAIN: the 3,000 was for a FREE service, and it was UP over what it had been the previous year when it was a pay-for-service product.

AGAIN: The lack of online streaming is OUT OF INDYCAR'S HANDS - IT'S NBC/COMCAST'S DECISION.

.. AND, you have TONY GEORGE to thank for signing the 10-YEAR DEAL with them and signing away the online streaming rights.

NBC/COMCAST/VERSUS does NOT care about people halfway around the world. FYI: NBC's streaming online content isn't even available to Canadians (who get US NBC broadcasts on cable)let alone people from any other country trying to access it. Do you honestly expect them to make an exception for 1 sport? And an unpopular sport, at that?

NBC/COMCAST/VERSUS 'establishing a subscription service' (as you suggested in your reply to me) for qualifying, practice and races IS NOT (for just Americans, or for a worldwide audience) COST-EFFECTIVE. You've got camera people to pay, director, producer, audio audio, video & graphic techs to pay, computer gurus AND at-the-track network hook-up costs, server costs, AND bandwidth costs.

Tony Joseph said...

Just a note to Anonymous:

Aren't all of these reactions taking place here because of how Comcast/NBC is reacting to the numbers you quoted? Before questioning why we are reacting like this, perhaps you should get an answer on that from Comcast/NBC first. How can questioning their overreaction be an overreaction by us?

longtimeracefan said...

Online vs TV, young vs old. Neither side listens to the other much.

Just as with NASCAR and Turner's ongoing online conundrum causing fans of streaming races fits, now INDYCAR's low key announcement last Friday: "Because of network TV rights/contracts, live streaming video of practice (outside of the Indianapolis 500), qualifying and races won’t be available this season.", was enough to push some forward thinking folks to the brink.

Online fans want streaming, some are even willing to pay for it, but please don't say that out loud, let's go for ads on the page first. Streamers don't want a feed of the TV broadcast, just great images, track/fan sound, a live leaderboard, maybe a feed of the track announcer. Basic stuff really.

TV fans usually don't care about online streams, they have invested a lot of money in their equipment and pay dearly for their programming. The online fans are sorely outnumbered, for now anyway, but only in the short run. Because . . .

It's going to change. Online delivery of entertainment/sports is in it's young rebellious phase now. But change is a comin', oh yes it is. It will take time but it's going to happen. Yep. It always does.

Versus saw significant increases last season in INDYCAR ratings among the prime young male demographic, even with its limited number of viewers. That is very encouraging, and has not gone unnoticed. But for the media exec's to really capitalize on those kids with all those gizmos, they need to get their heads together and come up with a way to meet the demands of the 21st century. Click.

J.D. and this site is a perfect example of the effectiveness of the online community. It's real and it's powerful.

The good news is that Indy practices will be streamed, according to the statement. Online fans can only hope that will not be the last that is seen on their screens this year.

Come on guys, you can do it. Give em what they want, not what you think they need.

.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Steve,

Understand me clearly when I say that I believe you are wrong.

Streaming video is not some plaything for nerds. It is where billions of dollars of ad revenue is heading and in this scenario, it is the only source for international viewing.

Sophisticated sports leagues are well into highly integrated online offerings of not only live events, but long-form programming.

VERSUS is nothing short of a disaster on the air. There is going to be very little opportunity to increase US viewership this season.

The opportunity for global viewing under the current scenario is zero.

Where is the upside?

JD

Tripp (now in Florida) said...

Traditional media, TV, Cable, Radio, et al, cannot come to terms with a new metric of monitizing their content. Cable clings to the linear, channel based delivery mechanism that dates back to the beginning of terrestrial radio when you and I live in a non-linear, content-on-demand reality. I was wondering how NBC's ownership change would manifest and here's an example of how they've moved nearer the shallow end of the gene pool.

None of this surprises me as Comcast is the company that in southern New Hampshire includes Turner Classic Movies in the... wait for it... sports package with Speed and ESPNU. Clearly Comcast lives in a universe devoid of logic.

Another way to view this is that Comcast runs their business from the inside out. By that I mean they make their business decisions based upon what appears to be best for them with little regard for the customers. Unfortunately in this case the injured parties are not just the viewers but also the IRL. The tail is wagging the dog here.

Finally, for those needing a reality check consider this. Most terrestrial radio stations stream online too. A friend, who's well versed in the business of radio with 35 years experience in it, said there's a major market adult contemporary FM station who during the business day have more people listening via their internet stream than listening to their over the air signal. I don't know about you but that says something very loudly and clearly to me.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:20PM,

One of the most popular emails I have gotten today is the suggestion that IndyCar break off with VERSUS and move everything online like the ALMS.

Let VERSUS go to court to get the twelve races back.

JD

Photojosh said...

Drive people to Versus eh? Well that's a fail from where I'm sitting. I don't get Versus, don't care enough about any other programming on the station to pay for it, and thus, absolutely will not be watching any Indycar races this year.

Just like Earl06 said, "Just when you thought IndyCar was on the right path..." Oh well, I'll take the trucks streamed online over the Indycars anyway.

Too bad for open wheel racing though. Indycar had a really good opportunity to capitalize on some general distrust and disgust with NASCAR to win some racing fans back. But this sort of move is the exact opposite of "smart".

Ah well, perhaps we should all watch the American LeMans series. After all, they figured out a way to get the 2011 races streamed online at ESPN3.com.

Tripp (now in Florida) said...

@longtimefan

Whilst you might be right in certain cases, I think that there are more older folks getting into the on-line viewing habit. My 82 year old father would ditch FIOS for TV and view everything online if he could watch his golf live and in HD. When that happens, watch for him to bolt to Web only viewing.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to argue with this move. Yeah, we'd all like motorsports to be streamed, but who's going to pay for it? Especially when there is no revenue stream attached to free streaming.

And "biggest step backwards for IndyCar in 20 years"??? How about splitting your league into two separate entities? I'd venture that the CART/Indy split was significantly more damaging to US open wheel that the loss of streaming qualifying runs.

Finally - is there any doubt that Indy is suffering way beyond the website? Last year the season finale at Homestead, which saw Dario win a second straight title in a super-close points race... the stands were empty. And I don't mean NASCAR-empty, but really truly EMPTY.

Anonymous said...

IndyCar has one (and only ONE) thing going for it: The Indianapolis 500.

Beyond that signature event, which most of America watches out of habit more than genuine interest, Indy has nothing. They have barely any fan base. They can barely muster ratings or live attendance despite a great crop of drivers. They don't know how to leverage anything.

You take away the Indy500, and I think the NASCAR Camping World East series would probably be considered a bigger deal.

longtimeracefan said...

Tripp, exactly my point. Us older folks are not dead yet. But the young ones are the future, hence they are the focus now.

I used to live in Sarasota, loved it. Older folks rock. Online is the future.

Charlie said...

I have Charter cable and Charter has changed their basis internet download speed form 5Mbps to 15Mbps in the last few months, at no extra charge. I believe Charter upped their speeds because people that had the 5Mbps were getting a lot of buffering when watching on-line and they complained.

I know this isn't about Indy but it does show that Charter is aware that more and more people are using the net to watch video.

uncredentialed said...

I'm putting myself in the "this is no big deal" camp. I think it's stupid to pull streaming of practice and qualifying if it's not going to be on TV. But few people watch it, and for the die-hards who actually do, it's not like they'll stop watching the races on TV because of it.

Now this does impact the international viewers who did depend on the online feed for races. That again is a small audience, but can be solved by setting up a stream that is blocked in the U.S., but still viewable abroad (many other sports leagues do this).

Ir42nate2bhere said...

I'm 51 and though i spend a ton of time online, i decided to take a spin to see what i'm missing I went to those "sophisticated sports" sites along with a few others to see what it's like out there. All the major sports sites have very good websites, full of info and archived video to view, highlights and self produced features. But to watch an EXHIBITION baseball game needs a subscription to MLB.TV. Hockey on Versus, but online only on subscription to Center Ice.NBA onESPN, simulcast on ESPN3, but no other NBA without league pass. MLS starts this week, no live stream package. Live tennis on tennis channel, a stream on ESPN3, but to view the enhanced package needs a subscription. WOO, subscription for future events. Big 10, subscription to see minor sports, no feeds of football or televised B-Ball. I also visited the 3 cable news sites, and only CNN streamed, and that was THK worldwide feed of Japan. So maybe i'm not an old fuddy duddy missing it all. It ain't there. I'm ready when it arrives.

Anonymous said...

This is soooooooo sad! :( I'm from Argentina, and I watch ALL the races online... I don't know what am I going to do now...

Charlie said...

I just got an e-mail from INDYCAR Nation and this is what it said about live streaming.

* * * *

There will be some changes with Race Control this year. Because of network TV contracts, live streaming video of practice (outside of the Indianapolis 500), qualifying and races won't be available this season. We are disappointed with the changes as well, but can promise video coverage of race extras like live streaming of press conferences, special events and more.

In addition to real-time Timing & Scoring displaying full running order, lap time/speed, laps since last pit stop, etc., track maps will have overlays of data points that display the position of each car on track. Also, a Twitter feed for fans to input their comments and the IMS Radio Network broadcast will be integrated.

Lastly, we'd like to thank you for your patience as we work through some transitions and growth pains. INDYCAR is experiencing such positive momentum and we are all very excited for 2011. Thank you for being loyal fans of our Series!

The Truth said...

The IRl doesn't have the fanbase to support a subscription service. It don't have the fanbase so that tracks will open on Friday and Saturday for practice/qualifying. NASCAR has 1.4 million 'friends' on facebook, whereas the IRl has 4,500. Oh, and RB had nothing to do with getting Firestone back, it was the car owners.

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment... I had already noted the times of when the live streams would start for the race in St. Pete. I was looking forward to following the entire Indycar season. Now I'll have to settle for live timing, race reports and whatever's posted on YouTube. Regards from a disappointed Indycar fan in Europe!

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

What killed Indianapolis car racing? The CART/IRL split and the Indy 500 changing it's qualifying in the late 90s. A lot of big name drivers still drove in
CART in the late 90s and The indy 500 as a result had no name drivers in the 500 and the ratings and interest declined as a result.

Tony George got greedy and Indianapolis Car racing has never been the same since.

Any thoughts JD on the acrimonious CART/IRL charade.

Daly Planet Editor said...

sbtf,

IndyCars on ovals are like playing the piano with one hand. It still makes music, but you can only get so much out of the piano.

The idea originally was to offer a healthy mix of street courses, classic road courses and ovals. That is the mix that made sense.

Now, the series is at rock bottom with less than 400K TV viewership for the races except the Indy 500, which was also down substantially.

Randy Bernard's challenge is to redefine the IndyCar legacy and start down a road that makes sense for the sponsors, media and fans.

Eliminating all Internet live video is crippling. Despite any PR mumbo-jumbo from VERSUS, this is a brutal company (Comcast) enforcing a contract and thinking only of itself.

Izod better step-up and make some noise fast before this series is done. Three teams are already reporting financial trouble and possibly may be folding.

Bottom line: Last chance.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

JD

So in other words they are trying to kill two birds with one stone.

Thats not going to work, it never does.

Tony George has damaged IndyCar oh so very badly. He sold out the fans for money by changing the qualifying procedures for the Indy 500 years back so much so very few big name drivers competed in the Indy 500.

As a result the Indy 500 has had declining attendance and declining viewership and ratings.

Tony Hulman must be turning in his grave.

CART has also sufferd because after awhile they defected to IRL b/c the big names wanted to do the Indy 500 and the merger took place years later. CART was such a good Indianapolis car series that got ruined by greed by Tony George, BZF's ugly cousin.

Indy Car racing is suffering a slow death and Randy Bernard is trying to revive it. He has impressed so far but he has a mountain of ineptitude to overcome.

Sophia said...

Just read Robin Miller's mailbag excerpts & was told RADIO of Indycar races online will continue. Not much I know but better than nothing.

Also via email, RM told me when your viewers are only 500,000 a race you want all eyes on Vs & online viewing can hurt. But he didn't address lack of access for other countries to WATCH the race.

I've not seen this elsewhere online except at a message board that had my tweet from Monday, but yes it's true. Robin Miller will have Tuesday night show on Versus to help promote Indycar in anyway he can. Will be on 30 wks.

Others wonder about conflict w SPEED. I can't answer that either. Robin didn't mention & I didn't want to bug him again in email. He's always been responsive, kind, grateful & a class act to me. Will even apologize if it takes him a few days to answer! Like he's not busy enough.

I can't believe I'm the only person he told in email about this & he did NOT tell me to keep it to myself, either. It's not like we are friends or something. Another person said Randy B did want Vs to have a weekly show on Indycar so perhaps this is it & Robin will announce later.

NaBUru38 said...

Let me add that ESPN will broadcast only five more races this season in Hispanic America (the same that ABC will show in the US). Supposedly, Speed has taken over the others, but their website shows nothing about IndyCar. Also, it's a much less viewed and accessed and much more expensive channel than ESPN. So at least for this weekend, Argentinians, Uruguayans like me, Colombians, Mexicans, Venezuelans and lots of more people won't watch Barber as we wished.