Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 14, 2011

INDYCAR Fans Prepare To Take It In The Shorts Again…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:09 am

Leave it to the Einsteins at INDYCAR to attempt spinning the loss of most online live streaming of INDYCAR content as ‘enhanced coverage.’ That not only displays arrogant contempt for potentially paying customers but insults the collective intelligence of the entire fan base as well. It is as if open wheel racing leadership will not be satisfied until everyone has been run off.

Network television contracts contain clauses related to streaming of practice and qualifications (as in ‘it is not allowed’) that heretofore have not been enforced. Now those clauses will be enforced. As a result and as of now, live streaming video of all practice, qualifying and races will not be available this season except for Indy in May.

That would be the most significant step backward in the last twenty years of INDYCAR promotion. Absolutely nothing positive can be spun from this. Existing and potential INDYCAR fans are potentially screwed completely. If you want to see Formula 1 practices and qualifying that content can be easily streamed. If you need to see one of the NASCAR series practice or qualifying sessions, that content can be streamed as well.

It would be one thing if previously free streaming evolved to some sort of subscription-based streaming. That is not the case. It is going from free to no streaming at all. No one has a choice at this moment at any price. Randy Bernard himself indicated this was in the original contract with Versus and that IndyCar was in violation of the contract from the beginning so his hands are tied.

The purpose of this enforcement is presumably to drive traffic to Versus. There are two problems with that notion. First, Versus does not show practice sessions and most qualifying on their air. Second, Versus is still not in as many households as even ESPN2. How is a network that has insufficient coverage supposed to attract traffic? Will ESPN/ABC all of a sudden become model partners and carry additional INDYCAR programming? The answers to those questions are fairly obvious.

The next logical question is whether either Versus or ESPN/ABC will stream INDYCAR practice or qualifying sessions either free or via subscription. So far no one has indicated anything even remotely indicating that might happen.

At a time when INDYCAR is more actively reaching out to potential fans than at any other time the removal of any online streaming is the worst possible thing that could happen, particularly in the demographics they are attempting to capture. Who will fight this battle and when does it get underway? Fans do not want to hear ‘my hands are tied.’ Fans want to hear that this will be resolved quickly and satisfactorily. It is also my hope that any streaming will not get tied to the ‘INDYCAR Nation’ fan organization because as of today it is as disorganized as ever.

How do we resolve this issue? I suggest using the same type of people who no doubt caused this mess in the first place. Lawyers. Common sense is rarely a trait widely shared in that profession. Either Randy Bernard and crew need to hire lawyers who can get the job done, or concerned fans who are having even more taken away need to find some sharks and go class action on this.

Not having live streaming of content outside races is NOT acceptable under ANY circumstance. This must be resolved NOW. Either INDYCAR needs to stream its own content as it sees fit or partner networks must be forcefully compelled to offer such content. Randy Bernard needs to fight and win this war at any cost.



  1. Agreed that this clause is stupid but it was your boy Tony George that signed the deal. Maybe he didn’t read the fine print or he didn’t care……………either way this happened on his watch and is something he signed for. True Story.

    Editor’s Note: There is very little wrong with the Versus deal from a television standpoint; the problem is Internet streaming. Blaming Tony for the problem is as stupid as blaming Tony for the cart boycott. Besides, I am not interested in what was…I am interested in what IS.

    Comment by swaze — March 14, 2011 @ 3:35 am | Reply

    • Tony George signed the deal did he not? This was part of that contract.

      Being in that Tony George signed a binding contract with Versus wouldn’t you think that he should have reviewed all of the fine print and details (like this one)? Like I said in my post above maybe he did and just didn’t care but either way he signed the deal so it’s his fault.

      If it’s in the contract Randy’s hands are tied unless Versus/NBC want to turn the blind eye like they did last year. It’s pretty stupid and petty that they would put this in the contract to begin with and then want to enforce it but that’s why Tony should have made sure something like this was not in there to begin with.

      Editor’s Note: Once again, you are missing the point. Tony George no longer matters. Let’s stay focused on the important issue. The important issue is current and potential INDYCAR fans have no way to stream live content from any source at any price. That is inexcusable. That is a problem that must be rectified NOW.

      Comment by swaze — March 14, 2011 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

      • I’m not missing the point. Tony George (the guy you defend to no end) signed this deal. It was his job to make sure stuff like this wasn’t in that contract and he blew it. It’s bad enough that he handicapped all of the teams on a network that has a hard time drawing a 0.3 for a rating but when you add this ‘no streaming’ policy on top of it, the Versus contract looks like even more of a blunder on his part than it already was.

        Yes I agree that it totally sucks.
        Yes I agree that Indycar fans are getting screwed.
        Yes I agree that Versus/NBC are being dicks about this and disrespecting the fans.

        However it all starts with Tony. He doesn’t allow that clause in the deal and we are not having this problem.

        Now you want it fixed? Problem is how do you fix a legally binding contract if Versus doesn’t want to change it? The answer is you can’t. That’s why you get it right the first time when you sign the damn thing……duh winning!

        Editor’s Note: The end of this story has not yet been written, but simply blaming Tony George for perceived sins of his past is simplistic, stupid and pointless IMHO. I suspect it was lawyers who were not paying attention, but even that is unimportant at the moment. They just need different lawyers.

        Comment by swaze — March 15, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  2. Everybody acts like this is INDYCAR’S choice. Like they’re doing this just to screw people in Canada or something. The more important Indycar becomes, the less likely their network/cable partners will let them send out stuff for free.

    Is it unfortunate? Yes. Is it–as people infer–a reason to stop watching anything affilated with INDYCAR ever again the rest of your life?

    Probably not.

    Comment by redd — March 14, 2011 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  3. It’s in the contract. IndyCar/IRL signed the contract. Just because Versus hasn’t enforced the contract clause in the past, doesn’t mean they can’t do so in the future. Black letter law. End of story.

    ‘Concerned fans need to go class action’? For WHAT? A class action requires that that class must have suffered a common injury or injuries. What is the aggrieved party going to claim? That IndyCar should continue to violate the existing contract by broadcasting things that they are not legally entitled to broadcast? That somehow they are entitled to receive streaming for free? That Versus should be obligated to provide it? Please. If any lawsuit comes out of this, it’ll likely be going the other way. IndyCar streamed content they contractually didn’t have the rights to. Essentially, they stole it.

    Milton Friedman once wrote ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ Versus just decided to make you pay for the Pork Tenderloin sammidge.

    Editor’s Note: Please pay attention to the point of the piece. I do not give a sh!t who was/is responsible, and I do not give a sh!t what the letter of the law says. Here is what is important: Potential and actual INDYCAR fans are not allowed to view ANY content online. That is utterly outrageous in this day and age. I do not care who delivers the online content, but it needs to be delivered. Not having online content available is well beyond stupid. The job of those in charge is to ensure online content is delivered in some way, shape or form.

    Comment by Steven Kornya — March 14, 2011 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  4. My guess is Tony had to take the Versus contract as is due to they were left scrambling to find a tv partner and Versus was the only one to make an offer. Sad but true.

    With regards to the current situation I agree they should do whatever possible to get it streaming again however it may be easier said than done. Maybe next year though.

    Comment by Gary — March 15, 2011 @ 1:29 am | Reply

  5. I went and fiddled around on the indycar.com site for one day and this morning and realized that I am not going to be watching any Indycar events this year except the Indy 500. I am in Canada… can not even get Versus. what a bunch of crap. for me, there will be no coverage of practice, qualifying and most of the races. what a bunch of crap. Indycar is screwed. Less coverage – what a bunch of a**holes.

    Comment by philipjames — March 26, 2011 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  6. So, Starting next week. WILL practice be streamed? I keep hearing that May is not part of the ban. Let me know!

    Thanks, Larry


    Comment by Larry Carta — May 11, 2011 @ 4:56 am | Reply

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