Observations of the week:
The track Rusty Wallace built in Iowa is a thing of beauty. Last year was the inaugural Indy Racing event. As races go it was only so-so and many people at the sold out race had a hard time getting out.
This year may be better. Firestone has been seeking the right compounds and the Indy Racing folks have been trying to find the right package. That track is wide enough for wide open racing, and there will probably be more of that this weekend. It should be fun! It should be a welcome change for folks who have dealt with considerable bad weather there.
Attention those who hang on my every word for media pontificating: Sports broadcasting can still be lucrative IF presented by taking advantage of all available distribution channels. There is a moral here; more about that in a moment. I like auto racing and believe it is the most exciting sport on earth in a general sense. Personalities are also important. That is basically why NASCAR, despite relative slowness, is so popular.
Here is your case study: Golf’s US Open. This past Monday the overtime round made ESPN, NBC and NBC.com a lot of money. ESPN carried the playoff from noon to 2pm, and it earned a 4.2HH rating with 4.7 million viewers. At 2, the coverage moved to NBC. It ended just before 5pm and drew a 7.6HH overnight rating. NBC hasn’t had golf ratings that high since 1978. Tiger Woods was 3 then.
Here is where it gets interesting: The USGA claims it delivered 2.5 million streams to 3.5 million unique visitors. NBCSports.com recorded 9.14 million views and attracted over 2 million uniques. They claim more than 1.5 million streams, with each averaging 17 minutes, were delivered.
Those numbers are exactly why a comprehensive multimedia strategy is essential. The moral? Given the continuing neglect bordering on outright abuse of the Indy Racing franchise by ESPN as a direct result of their obsessive fawning over everything NASCAR, NOW is the time for Indy Racing to take the next step.
Leave the abusive dysfunctional relationship their unfaithful, cheating partner of 40+ years has screwed up. NBC offers class, professionalism, an extensive multimedia network and, most of all, respect for the brand. It is time. All roads lead to Indy. If NBC can generate those kinds of numbers across multiple platforms for golf, imagine what they can do for something that actually is life and death and goes much faster? ESPN fell in love with the fat girl, and now is the time to make them sleep with her every night.
I don’t mean to pile on to NASCAR. God love ‘em, but they certainly make criticism easy.
Before the sparsely attended (relatively speaking) Michigan race last week, Mike Helton did his best impression of Chinese government to try and stop dissidents from spouting off, mostly about how badly the drivers believe the ‘car of tomorrow’ is (the one with the tuner-wing-looking thing in the back sort of like an Indy Car). This is after Brian France didn’t express dismay about the racial allegations in that big lawsuit, but instead expressed dismay the lady who filed the suit did not follow the NASCAR procedure.
Anyway, with regard to the gag order on drivers, instead of dealing with their own quaint little issue some, like Kevin Harvick, offered criticism of something they know little about; basically lumping the ‘car of tomorrow’ to his impression of the Indy car of today and not liking it: “Well, that’s never been what NASCAR racing is all about. If they want something they can hold wide open, they need to go race IndyCars and ride around in a pack like that.” Kevin should either stick to driving ‘stock’ cars or climb into an Indy car. He, like most others of his breed, would no doubt find the SAFER barrier in a short amount of time.
This week the Cup series ventures to a road course. Let’s see whether the transplanted open wheel road racers like Montoya move to the front this week for a change.
Have a great racing weekend!