Some Questions Regarding NBC Sports Gold

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It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since we learned that NBC would be the exclusive home of the NTT IndyCar Series. Had you asked me before I looked it up, I would have said that we learned about it sometime last summer. I would have been wrong, as it was March 21 of last year when the announcement was made.

On that date, we also learned that some of the content that we were used to getting for free would be made available for a fee through NBC Sports Gold – NBC’s Direct-to-Consumer online service.

From what I recall in the announcement; practices would be available only through Sports Gold. But we also heard that the races would be available on-demand shortly after the live race broadcast (perhaps one day later). We also learned that all of the Indy Lights races would be streamed live via NBC Sports Gold, along with ancillary IndyCar programming and even archival races and content.

For such a package, I figured the price would be around $90 for the full season. Sure I’d rather keep the $90 in my pocket, but compared to other expenses that we fans endure, I figured it could be worse.

Imagine my surprise yesterday morning, when the pricing and details for IndyCar Pass on NBC Sports Gold were announced yesterday morning at $49.99. That’s the Early Bird price. It remains in effect until March 10, which is the day of the season-opener at St. Petersburg. After that, you’ll pay $54.99 – which is still much lower than I was expecting.

There are several ways to watch NBC Sports Gold. You can watch it on your desktop or laptop computer, but probably how most will watch is through an app on either your phone, tablet or streaming device. Most newer streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Firestick, Google Chrome or Apple TV will be able to download the NBC Sports Gold app. I know I had an older Apple TV that could not download apps, but Susan gave me an Apple TV 4K for Christmas, just so I could download it. It was the first app I downloaded and my account has been set up just waiting for yesterday’s announcement.

I signed up for IndyCar Pass first thing yesterday morning, as soon as I saw the details had been released. When I got home from work last night, the first thing I did was go to my Apple TV to make sure it was there. It was.

Most of their content, so far, consists of thirty-minute highlight shows (IndyCar Fast Forward) from the 2018 races that NBCSN covered, as well as a one-hour recap of the 2016 Indianapolis 500. Quite honestly, it was more than I expected at this point. But they need to get their terminology right on their captions for each selection. For Road America, it says Wisconsin. Barber is labeled Alabama. Phoenix was called Desert Diamond.

The production value for even the practices is to be equal to the races we’ve gotten used to watching on NBCSN over the last several years. The practices will feature the same camera angles and replays that we’ll see in races, along with the same announcing crew for races on NBC

But I do have questions.

I am almost certain that I read or heard last March that all IndyCar Qualifying would still be shown via NBCSN. Yesterday, it looked as if all qualifying would be available only on NBC Sports Gold. The best I could find was somewhere I saw some non-committal statement saying that some Qualifying would be shown either live or delayed on NBCSN. If you’re able to afford or access NBC Sports Gold, that’s fine – but many can’t. It’s not like you can go into a sports bar on a Saturday afternoon and ask them to turn a TV to NBC Sports Gold to watch Qualifying. If you don’t carry your phone or iPad around with you in sports bars, you’ll be out of luck. That’s a bit of a bummer if most Qualifying shows are on the app instead of cable.

Most releases I saw yesterday promoted “Live Practices, Live Qualifying and On-Demand Races with no commercial breaks”. So will Qualifying be available On-Demand? It didn’t say, but I would think so…and hope so. Many times we are doing other summertime activities on a Saturday afternoon, so we set the DVR and watch qualifying either Saturday night or Sunday morning before the race. I can’t set the DVR to record through the Apple TV. Will I be able to watch Qualifying on my time, or do I need to be tied to their schedule?

On the sign-up screen, it touts that all is available On-Demand, but it didn’t say that on other places I saw yesterday. Since this is on the very first screen where NBC is trying to entice you to sign up for NBC Sports Gold, I’m going to assume it to be true…but I still wonder.

So there are still some questions about NBC Sports Gold and a slight disappointment if most qualifying is not carried via cable. But at $49.99 for the season that goes from February 7 through Jan 31 of next year. That comes down to $2.94 for each of the seventeen race weekends. That’s a pretty good bang for your buck. You can get more information and/or sign up here.

George Phillips

13 Responses to “Some Questions Regarding NBC Sports Gold”

  1. I put it on my phone. I hope I can use it to follow practice and road course qualifying closer with it. A decision about year two Will come in September

  2. The one huge issue for me is all of the 500 practice days that we used to get for free are now on Gold. I am lucky enough to have a job where I could have it playing in the background while I worked. I would have probably got it if the 500 stuff had been free but this made the decision an easy one.

  3. BrandonWright77 Says:

    It boils down to $4.17/month, the cost of a Starbucks coffee, less than a pint at the bar. It’s very affordable, especially when you consider World of Outlaws charges $40 for just one month of streaming.

    George, I don’t think there was ever any concern about qualifying not being shown in the bar. Other than the Indianapolis 500 I have never seen any IndyCar coverage in a bar around here (and I live in Indy). Heck, the only motorsports I ever see on bar TVs is NASCAR.

    I would presume everything will be available OnDemand, though it might be for a limited time only. I know both the ESPN app and the NBCSN app would have all the F1 and IndyCar replays available for at least a week or two after the race first aired. I am presuming this will be how the new app works and all sessions will be available as replays. I do find it odd that the actual races are not being shown live on the app, seems like if we’re paying money that should be the one thing we can count on being available. I am looking forward to checking out the “archives” for old races.

    Based on information revealed to us this week by Susan, I don’t think any of us are buying this “Many times we are doing other summertime activities on a Saturday afternoon” excuse. 😀

  4. I would probably purchase if it was available outside the United States, however IndyCar seems content to promote all their international sponsors and drivers but forget their international fans when it comes to availability of programming. They haven’t even announced a Canadian TV partner.

  5. So its $ 50 to watch practice, qualifying and Indy Lights? No thanks

    • BrandonWright77 Says:

      It’s $4/month, I can usually scrounge that out of my couch every month. I’ll gladly pay that to have quality coverage for the practices instead of having to listen to the IMS Radio crew interview random CEOs the whole time with audio that doesn’t match what we see on the screen. Just my opinion, of course, I have no issue tossing a few dollars to the groups that bring me my favorite sport.

      I recently ditched cable and switched to DirecTV now, still get all my channels but for about $100/month less than what I was paying so even with $4/month going toward IndyCar I’m still way ahead. 🙂

      • Bruce Waine Says:

        When & if you become disenchanted with your current satellite provider, I would suggest DISH.

        We switched to DISH and have been more satisfied than when we previously used its competitor.

        Let the season begin ! !

        • BrandonWright77 Says:

          It’s not satellite, it streams through the internet and costs way less than standard dish or cable. And doesn’t lose signal in heavy rain. 🙂 I’ve been on it for about six months now and I’m supremely satisfied with it.

  6. I’m not going to get it because of lack of time to watch all the content. As a husband and father of two young boys my weekends are usually pretty full (no complaints, just the way it is) and I really only have time to see the races. I can’t see spending extra money on something I likely won’t have time to use. Maybe in the future. I’m impressed how affordable it is, however.

  7. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    When I first heard about this, I knew I would buy it, but I also misunderstood what would be included. I thought it would be something similar to the version of the IndyCar App that was only available to Verizon customers. I’m looking for some added features like in car cameras, exclusive interviews, etc.

  8. For me it is not the cost, but the fact that I want to watch racing on my TV and not on my phone, tablet or PC. I am spoiled that I have access to the ESPN app directly on my TV and can see F1 (for free right now). I am willing to pay for F1 access when it becomes necessary.

    I resent the fact that now I will have to also buy another device to hook up to my TV since the NBC app is not one that is available even for a price on my TV. And this TV is not an off brand, but a Sony!

    • BrandonWright77 Says:

      You don’t have to watch it on your phone. There’s any number of devices you can get to plug into your tv that allow you to watch live streams on your big tv (Roku, AppleTV, FireStick, Chromecast). I have the FireStick from Amazon, it’s $30-40 and it lets you stream everything, from Netflix and Hulu to YouTube and NBCSN/NBC Gold. Ok, it’s a small one-time cost but it greatly improved my tv consumption, to the point I rarely even watch regular tv anymore.

      And since I ditched terrestrial cable and switched to the streaming DirecTV Now I now watch everything through my FireTV. No cable boxes, no contract, I can watch it on any tv in my house, any computer, or any mobile device. The icing on the cake is that I’m saving over $100/month compared to what I was paying for UVerse and I still get all my channels and even some DVR space. Saving all that money makes paying for NBC Gold a total non-issue for me.

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