Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 15, 2011

Why Does INDYCAR Make It So Difficult To Be A Fan?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Being forced to accept repeated slaps to the face is no way to reach out to your fans. A few items have surfaced over the past week that reinforces a notion that fans do not really matter to INDYCAR. First, the so-called ‘lucky dog’ rule made headlines because INDYCAR casually floated the idea that it would be added to the package. Fans overwhelmingly lined up against it citing the certainty of even more contrived, choreographed racing that would no doubt benefit only two or three teams and turn the purity of the racing into a twisted sideshow.  Just when it appeared INDYCAR got the message loud and clear a few owners indicated they wanted it anyway, fans be damned. The end result is that the decision is pending, and if I had to bet money I would most certainly place my bet on owners.

It is somewhat comforting knowing Randy Bernard has the stomach to do the job he is being paid to do. It is difficult for most to imagine having to make the number of tough choices he is called upon to make. Another item that continues to carry a residual stench is the Firestone PR fiasco. Almost from the moment Firestone announced their intent to vacate the series after the upcoming season the due diligence that had been in progress to find replacement(s) was no doubt ratcheted up. But hang on…the owners, many of whom whine about poverty nearly continuously, somehow found the will to agree to pay much higher tire bills to keep Firestone around for an additional year.

I wish the sport had just one credible journalist left covering it that does not care about continuously kissing the back sides of those they cover or taking a paycheck from them who could fully document the entire Firestone story. I used to think Robin Miller could be that guy, but his general lack of professionalism and track record excludes such consideration. Something stinks to high heaven but we’ll never know the full story.

Arrogance associated with the dumping of all live streaming content is stupefying. Not only was a large domestic following left hanging on short notice but whoever made the call slammed the door on anyone compelled to follow outside America. The only official word any fan has received is ‘it’s out of our hands.’ That is just not good enough. It was in your hands when you just gave away the rights.

EVERY other major sport offers some sort of easily accessible online presence that features content and streaming packages. If INDYCAR just allows that facet of product distribution to remain dormant the series deserves to fail. If Versus or ESPN is unwilling to facilitate a streaming component then INDYCAR needs to take back the rights and offer it.

I understand Versus is evolving and that an NBC presence is potentially great, but what about large groups of fans who cannot see INDYCAR at all because it is on a largely inaccessible channel or because they happen to be outside the country? We do not even know who the on-air talent will be for the first race in less than two weeks. That is, at best, irresponsible. INDYCAR fans have spent the last dozen years watching ESPN try to kill the entire brand. We cannot allow Comcast disguised as NBC Sports to do that too. Not having a significant online presence will most certainly harm the brand.

INDYCAR, if you truly care about your fans please can the lip service and put your money where your mouth is. If broadcast and cable partners will not carry practice or qualifying (as they do for NASCAR both live and repeated throughout the following rest of the day and week) please ensure the product is offered online. People will even PAY for it. Haphazardly pulling the plug on such streaming insults the fan base. Stats and pictures on Flickr are just not good enough. You can do better, and now is the time to kick it into gear.

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