Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

September 11, 2009

Indy Car on TV…Network at Any Cost…A Great Cable Partner…Both…??

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:16 am

Yesterday’s blog that poked fun at panic stricken malcontents who continually predict doom for Indy Car year after year instead of actually enjoying a sport they claim to enjoy hit a couple of nerves with many who are obviously intellectually and emotionally challenged, but I remain content to point out such pointless screeching whenever it surfaces if for nothing else than to get a few chuckles.

One of the wails de jour among those so hysterical is the decision by DirecTV to drop Versus because Comcast wants to charge them ESPN-level rates. Which makes Comcast appear insane. That particular game of chicken does not prevent fans from being screwed.

ESPN Cannot Suck EnoughComcast Sucks As WellThe mistake most people make is the insistence that Indy Car be on a national over the air network. That may make sense for the next two or three years, but probably not for the long term. That ten year deal Indy Car signed with Versus will make sense in a short while provided Comcast pulls their corporate head out of their arse. Robin Miller made a suggestion in his latest bitchfest on Speed’s web site that perhaps the Indy Car folks ought to exercise any potential out clause in the event the foolishness between Versus and DirecTV continues. He loses credibility when suggesting they put together a champcar-style time buy on a network.

A time buy would be unnecessary. I propose that a case could be made against ESPN/ABC for neglect of the franchise. ESPN/ABC definitely does not deserve the right to broadcast the cream of the Centennial Era given their unprofessional treatment of the franchise over the past ten years. Now that Tony is deposed, perhaps the head bean counter can selectively do away with the type of loyal sentimentality that allowed ESPN/ABC to continue to squat even as they tried to kill the brand. I say propose the entire package to NBC for three years at ABC rates. Versus gets to keep all non-race programming and re-airs all races in prime time. NBC has a proven history of revitalizing neglected properties who were lucky enough to leave the Disney sports television fold.

NBCIn three years network television will be far less relevant than it is today, and by that time Comcast will have either spun off Versus to someone else or merged with some other entity. Losing millions of households now, however, given the actions of Comcast and DirecTV is not acceptable and business is business despite the excellent work Versus has done.

It is time to grow the brand, and it will not take much effort. Things are tough all over and it could be worse. Indy Car does not have as much to lose as other bigger entities. There was another merger in the ‘stock’ car world today between Petty and Yates. The NFL is worried they may have a record number of local TV blackouts this year because ticket sales are way down. So are corporate sales and suites. That is probably all Tony George’s fault though. 😉

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6 Comments »

  1. I think they already shopped themselves to the other broadcast networks before doing the VS deal. NBC wasn’t interested, and neither were the others. All any of them want is Indy. The deal they did with ABC was the best they could do, and The Mouse wanted cash to air any more races on ESPN.

    Why would NBC be interested now?

    The problem is ESPN. You can’t replace it. The IRL is hoping that VS realizes their business plan of becoming another ESPN of sorts, but that seems a long way off right now.

    The reason you can’t replace ESPN is because they have a large number of viewers, and they’ll show the races live. If you buy time on NBC, your races are going to be shown tape delayed like the ALMS races are. Start times might even be determined by local outlets. “Yeah, we’ll show the Indy race, right after we get done running this infomercial for Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice.”

    ESPN is a virtual monopoly right now. The IRL and VS are trying to break that monopoly. VS believes that if they keep adding properties (Tour de France, Indy Car, NHL, etc) they will eventually gain momentum and start to roll.

    Let’s hope.

    Comment by Boo Boo — September 11, 2009 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

  2. I was not aware that ESPN wanted money to air races. From what I have heard, that was not the case. I think it was Arute who told me that ESPN still wanted the IRL on their network. I was not given the impression it was a pay deal. Sounded like it was more of a substancial reduction in fee. I could be wrong.

    “Why would NBC be interested now?”

    Because they may see that with a little effort they can turn this into a win win situation. That’s not out of the question. With the IndyCars, the action is there as are a few popular names. But unlike ABC and ESPN, the Network or partner has to be there as well.

    ESPN was never there for IndyCar. In essence, the IRL was not given a chance, a full legit effort on the part of the partner to properly promote the programming and give satisfactory effort to the actual production.

    One’s throw away can be another’s treasure. It’s not like NBC stands a chance of landing ‘monday night football’. But they can take a fixer upper (ie IndyCar) and make a go with it. Again, it’s not out of the question.

    Comment by Mike Miller — September 11, 2009 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  3. 2 words.

    Champcar. Spike.

    Comment by Speedball — September 11, 2009 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  4. More words.

    To paraphrase one marketing guru, if you don’t have fans, you don’t have a sports league. You have a hobby.

    To paraphrase another, first you get fans, then you keep fans, then you grow them.

    Out, clones.

    Comment by Speedball — September 11, 2009 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  5. It’s guys like Jack Arute that have caused many to abandon the IRL races on TV, the guy reminds me of our local drunk, I would like to buy him for what he worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth

    Comment by Rosco — September 12, 2009 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  6. I think ESPN, or TNT would work as well as a network TV station. NBC and TNT could be worked together. The issue is I think before signing the Vs. deal Indycar problably looked at the other options, and they weren’t good enough, will they be better now?

    Comment by dylan — September 13, 2009 @ 9:26 pm | Reply


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