Fans Expected More From NBC

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It took a while, but we finally watched all of the archived broadcasts from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg over the weekend. One thing I learned is that I liked James Hinchcliffe on the broadcast better than I was led to believe I would. Those that I spoke with right after the race didn’t have anything really negative to say about Hinch’s debut in the NBC booth – they just didn’t say anything real positive either.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. I had read a few complaints about this last week, but I never really paid that much attention to the comments. I just chalked it up to some random IndyCar fans complaining. But when I saw what they were talking about, I felt like they had a legitimate gripe – especially since it could be easy to fix, or so it seems.

While it is a big plus to have fourteen of seventeen races on Big NBC, one of the downsides is that we no longer get the long post-race show we had grown accustomed to. When races were on the now defunct NBCSN, we not only saw the winner’s interview from Victory Lane – we got extensive interviews from most of the Top-Ten or any other driver of note that may have finished far worse than expected.

We didn’t get that from NBC last Sunday. We got an interview with race-winner Scott McLaughlin…and that was it. We heard from no other drivers, no car owners or race strategists. There was not even a wrap-up segment or any dialogue from the pit-lane reporters or the guys in the booth. We were watching McLaughlin give hugs and high-fives, and then suddenly Leigh Diffey was telling us goodbye.

It’s not like the race ran way over. There was only one caution for eight laps, when David Malukas had contact in Turn Three. Surely one eight-lap caution period didn’t knock out the post-race interviews. I wanted to hear what Alexander Rossi had to say about finishing twentieth. I would have liked to have heard what Kyle Kirkwood had to say about his fist IndyCar race. Sometimes the post-race comments from drivers just after they step out of the cockpit can be golden. We got none of that from NBC on Sunday.

I am very fortunate that I was in the Media Center after the race, when the Top-Three finishers are brought in for a press conference. As I reported last week, third-place finisher Will Power was in rare form during the press conference. It was more like a comedy routine and the usually stoic room was laughing hard at practically everything he said. These are the kind of nuggets we missed from the race broadcast.

I don’t really know anything about televised sports, except that I watch a lot of it. From an outsider, this seems very easy to fix. If NBC cannot allot any extra airtime on Big NBC, why can they not throw it over to Peacock just after the Victory Lane interviews? We’ve seen it done hundreds of times on ESPN. They just inform viewers that if they want to see a press conference or player interviews – they just send them over to ESPN News. As soon as you change the channel, there’s your event with continued coverage.

With Peacock being a streaming service, there are no programming conflicts. Countless live events are shown on Peacock at the same time, in addition to all of their on-demand programming. Now that races are shown live on Peacock, I plan to watch all races on Peacock instead of my local NBC affiliate. I find that the picture is just a little sharper and I know there will be no local scroll at the bottom for what counties are under a severe thunderstorm watch.

I also see this as a good way for NBC to entice viewers to subscribe to Peacock. We are fortunate that since we have Comcast, we get our Peacock subscription for free. It’s part of our package. Even if we didn’t, I would still sign up for it. I always thought the NBC Sports Gold was a good deal, and our subscription was strictly IndyCar. The non-racing programming is excellent. For example, by March 28 – all four seasons of Yellowstone will be available. Through our Peacock subscription is how we discovered that show.

With all practices, qualifying and now races on Peacock, there should be no reason to not have an extended post-race show on Peacock, as well. IndyCar always says they want fans to get to know their drivers better. This is the way to do it. They have interview sessions on the Peacock broadcasts following each practice session and qualifying, they should also have them after the most important part of the weekend – the race.

I thought NBC did an excellent job of covering the entire race weekend. The pit reporters were all on their game after the offseason, and I thought the booth guys did a good job. I also was very impressed with the debut of James Hinchcliffe. It’s a shame they shortchanged fans at the end of the race, with only one interview, when they had a perfectly good method of delivering a post-race show that fans expected and deserved. Hopefully enough fans have complained, their voices will be heard and we will get a good long post-race show after Texas, on NBC or Peacock. It’s there. Why not use it?

George Phillips

8 Responses to “Fans Expected More From NBC”

  1. When the Global Survey results were presented to the media, something was mentioned about the vans wanting more o\f a postrace. SJ said they were going to do that. I’m not sure what happened.

  2. OliverW Says:

    I completely agree however only if the drivers actually say what they think and not a whole load of sponsor names, team did a great job, Chevy/Honda did a great job etc when they just finish in the bottom half.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:

    I hope that it is not a Long Next 3 Years, as I felt NBCSN was the Omnibus in keeping IndyCar on NBC and I would have felt Penske would have taken a look at the TV Deal and the Presentation when NBCSN went dark.

    • Dan tonelok Says:

      I agree. I went back and forth between NBC and Peacock coverage. This year there is really no difference between the two. Peacock cut off the same as NBC after the McLaughlin interview. The sound (if you re interested in more than two channels) is way better on NBC, Peacock is only 2 channel sound. I was really disappointed with Peacock last year it was so much better.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    While I often apologize for the TV networks in regards to Indycar because it is a very expensive sport to cover and it draws niche sport TV ratings, I do agree that throwing post-race coverage over to Peacock when the NBC time slot has run out does not seem to be too burdensome for NBC. In fact, I expect that NBC will do exactly that (or maybe they will run it on CNBC) once their portion of the NASCAR schedule ends, as they often moved additional post-race coverage over to NBCSN in years past.

  5. “Why not use it?”

    money.
    ratings.
    bandwidth.
    advertising.

    lots of possible answers
    and combinations of them.

  6. Mark Wick Says:

    At least the race coverage did not cut off while the guys in the booth were still talking. That happened on Peacock for all the practice sessions and qualifying. I think it was the first practice section which suddenly cut off just as all the cars were leaving the pits for one last lap. I was reminded of the Heidi AFL game, also on NBC, but then the network had a promoted movie to start on time. The decision was actually made to keep the game on to completion, but communication back then was quite primitive to what it is today and the person in control of the of the button to make the switch didn’t get the message to leave the game on. The storm of complaints form viewers forever changed now the broadcast networks deal with games that run long. Maybe NBC will learn from this as well and follow the suggestions here.

  7. One thing I like about Peacock is that I do not have to remember to set it up to tape. The coverage for St Pete was really good and I agree that James was a great addition to the broadcast. Now, if we can just have a post-race show on Peacock. I think it should be part of the subscription benefits.

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