The Internet is filled with people who not only type things but also fancy themselves experts on every type of sports business subject that arises. This behavior is most prominent when the subject involves IndyCar and any type of ratings or media. To those of us who actually make a living in the media business most of the opinions are not only without merit but are laughable in a ‘how-could-one-person-possibly-be-so-clueless’ way.
Here are some recent examples: The movie Turbo. By and large it has gotten great reviews but is not pacing as some thought it might at the box office. I am certain DreamWorks released it when they did envisioning a summer blockbuster. It has not been that, but the box office is steady, there is a comprehensive merchandising plan, and an offshoot television series is already committed. The media pundits also forget the overseas numbers are actually considered strong. Here are the automatic Internet conclusions based on headlines and carefully mined quotes: A) IndyCar is DOOMED. B) Anything associated with IndyCar is poison to whatever it comes into contact with, like a movie. Usually the critics are in the group that supported the series on which ‘Driven’ was based. If we applied their twisted, selective ‘logic’ on a similar scale we could say that based on the movie ‘Senna’ (a widely praised work but far from a money maker) Formula One is doomed and that the association was poison to the movie based on the box office.
The most recent example of internet panic is the announcement this week by NASCAR and NBC that beginning in 2015 NBC channels will be taking over the ESPN and Turner portions of the NASCAR schedule, featuring 20 Cup events (7 on NBC) and coverage of 19 Nationwide events and some practice and qualifying. Predictably the IndyCar-obsessed have been shrieking about how bad this is for IndyCar. Many have recommended fleeing to ABC/ESPN. Again my reaction to this hysterical bleating is, essentially, laughter. It is far easier to use my brain. Here are some things the Internet experts might want to ponder:
-ESPN and ESPN on ABC would not solve anything except making IndyCar even more obscure. The management there has little interest in or respect of IndyCar, and that has been obvious based on their actions for well over a decade. They may believe the marquee is great, but have done little to accentuate it. They have almost managed to kill off other sports as well, including horse racing, which NBC eventually saved and enhanced.
-Those who advocate moving the entire IndyCar kit and caboodle to ESPN forget that it already has a glut of primarily stick and ball fare and other diverse events such as hot dog eating, so when NASCAR leaves they will be rather distant from having any sort of programming void to fill.
-Remember what happened the last time NASCAR excluded ESPN? ESPN pursued NASCAR like an obsessed stalker. Even though for a while they were not even allowed inside race tracks they camped outside gates and used still photography and model cars for coverage. Even though IndyCar was its only motorsports ‘partner’ they treated it like an ugly girlfriend and kept it under wraps. Even their web site accentuated NASCAR and buried IndyCar. Given the management and editorial ignorance of those who produce the product why would anyone believe anything would change sans NASCAR?
-It is easy for the ignorant to chide NBC Sports Network about low ratings, especially 12+ overnights that are used as the basis for most of their ‘arguments.’ Most Internet television executives advocate IndyCar buying their way out of the contract. These individuals should stop and think for a moment. NBC now has ‘the big three,’ NASCAR, F-1 and IndyCar, on the same channel. The opportunity for meaningful cross promotion exists, and NBC is not as editorially ignorant as ESPN. Granted NBC’s enthusiasm of IndyCar is less, but that is primarily due to ignorance and IndyCar’s long term inability to effectively disseminate effective product messaging or promote itself in a modern way. As for low ratings, everything on NBC Sports Network gets low (or no) ratings. This is well documented. If NASCAR can improve the overall impression folks have, why would that be bad?
The Internet is a very entertaining destination if you are interested in observing primitive behavior.