It’s Pointless to Gripe About the Future

Last Thursday night, I put up a post on Twitter and Facebook that generated a lot more discussion than I intended. I thought I was just making a point of irony. Instead, it turned into a spirited but civilized discussion.

The issue I commented on was that the NFL had awarded the rights to the Thursday Night Football package to Amazon, to stream across their Amazon Prime Video platform. The games will still be shown to the two local markets each week on traditional over-the-air television, but the rest of the country will have to be a subscriber to Amazon Prime in order to see the games.

My post was simply; “Beginning tonight, the NFL will be showing all Thursday Night games streaming on Amazon Prime. I’m not hearing any NFL fans screaming. Why are IndyCar fans still griping about practice and qualifying streaming on Peacock after two years?”

There wasn’t a ton of reaction on Twitter, but on Facebook – there was a lot of back & forth. Thankfully, it was all discussed in a civilized manner – but I have an idea a couple of people got their feathers ruffled.

I am still baffled that two seasons into the Peacock Era, fans are still griping about practice and qualifying being shown exclusively on Peacock. I am still convinced that many fans don’t even know if they get Peacock for free or not. If you are a Comcast Xfinity subscriber, you automatically get Peacock Premium for free. It’s already in your package. I also think the same holds true if you are a Charter Spectrum customer.

Even if you have to pay to access Peacock, it costs $4.99 per month. That is such a better deal than having to pay for the old NBC Sports Gold platform. With Gold, you paid roughly $50 per year, but you only got the IndyCar related content. If you wanted to watch Motocross or any other sport, that was another fee to unlock their content.

With Peacock, your $4.99 gets you access to ALL of their content. You get movies, all of NBC’s sports catalogue – including Olympic coverage, NASCAR, IndyCar, NFL, along with current TV shows (like Yellowstone) and older TV shows (like one of my favorites – Two and a Half Men).

Fans keep complaining that IndyCar should find a new TV partner. Seriously? First of all, tell me who else is interested. Even if ESPN/ABC wanted the package back – we’ve seen how they treat the series. They never offered a way to watch qualifying, much less practice. NBC is the network that introduced qualifying coverage to fans. Until NBC Gold came along, fans had to watch practice on You Tube, with stationary or remote controlled cameras and commentary provided by the IndyCar Radio Network. Now Mark Jaynes and company do an excellent job, but sometimes their commentary did not necessarily match up with what we were looking at on-screen.

Now, do I like streaming? Not necessarily, but it does have its advantages. If a race is going long, as is often the case – it is a built-in safety net. You know the race won’t be simply cut off in favor of an NFL game (or as was the case last weekend – Harry Potter). It may move to CNBC or at worst, Peacock. Streaming offers a lot of flexibility, since a streaming service does not have a set schedule it must adhere to.

But I would be lying if I said I actually like streaming. I am lucky that our Comcast Xfinity already has our streaming services loaded into our cable box. It eliminates a couple of extra steps, but it is still more trouble than going to another channel. We own the latest version of Apple TV, but rarely use it – even though the picture quality is better. Going through the cable box is just easier. Our smart TV has the ability the download the streaming apps directly into the television – but then we have to grab the separate TV remote and go through a lot of steps. Going through the cable box is much easier, but it requires more steps than turning on the TV and flipping channels.

And while we’re talking about flipping channels, for get that with a streaming service. The trouble with a streaming service is you pretty well need to already know what you want to watch. There is no going through the cable guide to see what college football games are on, or going through the movie channels to see if there is anything you want to watch. Some people only turn their TV on when there is a specific program they want to watch. In our household, the TV stays on and we figure out what we want to watch. That’s a troublesome experience with streaming services.

Like it or not, streaming is the way of the future – and there is no point in griping about it. It’s like complaining about the weather. Although we still pour money into our local cable company, and like the convenience of old-style channel surfing; cable companies are going the way of the powered-wig. They did this to themselves, charging an arm and a leg for cable, and not giving customers a la carte services. I like my sports, news and movies, but I never watch probably 75% of the channels we have – and resent having to pay for them.

One of these days, I will sit down and figure out how much it will cost to have every streaming service I need and compare it to what I am paying for cable. We already pay for Netflix and Hulu. Peacock comes with our cable, and we had Amazon Prime long before they offered video services to Prime members for free. But I would have to add Peacock to my expense if we booted Xfinity. But I’m too lazy to figure that out, then have to go through the extra steps to change a channel (or platform).

But getting back to present day, Peacock offers IndyCar fans a way to stay up to the minute throughout every race weekend. NFL fans don’t seem to be grumbling about having one game per week on a streaming platform. Since IndyCar started having content on Peacock, only one race has been on Peacock. The rest have been on either network or cable TV. This season alone, we have seen fourteen of the seventeen races shown live on network TV. I can never remember that happening in my lifetime, even in the so-called glory years of the early nineties.

Do you want another reason to be glad Peacock exists? This past weekend, NASCAR’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 was scheduled to run at Daytona on Saturday night. Unfortunately for race fans in the Daytona area, the Tampa Bay Bucs happened to be playing at the Indianapolis Colts at the same time. Guess who the local NBC affiliate in Daytona decided to carry? Yep, the Bucs. The race was bumped over to CW18. Of course, it ended up being a moot points rain pushed the race to Sunday morning and it was finally completed Sunday afternoon. This was not the only NFL conflict on an NBC affiliate. The Baltimore and Phoenix markets all opted for their NFL pre-season obligations versus the very important NASCAR race. But Peacock or even offered race fans a platform to watch the race live.

Back in the nineties, I missed two to three Long Beach races because our local ABC affiliate chose to run the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. While that is a worthy cause, I was none to happy to see tear-jerking moments, in place of the race cars I had been expecting to see. I had no alternative but to wait and watch for highlights on ESPN that night. Streaming always offers the alternative.

I get it that it seems like everyone has their hand out these days. If you chose not to pay the $4.99 per month for Peacock, that is your right. Although it has gotten tiresome after two years, it’s also your right to complain about it. But I haven’t heard any NFL fans griping about the Thursday night package moving to Amazon Prime. I truly feel like if you think you are hurting NBC or IndyCar by boycotting Peacock – you are really only hurting yourself.

George Phillips

6 Responses to “It’s Pointless to Gripe About the Future”

  1. It still amazes me that there is any discussion about this. Having just returned to the UK after attending the Music City GP in Nashville, I just wish a glass of Good People IPA in Five Points was $4.99…. Peacock is a straight up bargain.

  2. Change is hard, I get that. We have settled in to a certain way of watching racing over the past 30 years, paying for a cable subscription that gave us access to a tremendous amount of racing (and other) content. Being asked to change in a relatively abrupt way as we have is not easy, and the view that Indycar or NBC (or both) are greedily asking for EVEN MORE money on top of our cable subscriptions is understandable even as that is not really what they are doing.

    That said, we should enjoy the days on inexpensive and ad-limited streaming while they’re still here. Streaming will all but surely get pricier and more ad-cluttered in the very near future as cable subscription numbers continue to shrink. Outside of Apple and Amazon (maybe), the streaming service owners will need to show investors that their services can turn a profit and/or grow considerably (or, in Netflix’s case, generate positive cash flow). Everyone (networks, content producers, talent) wants to make the kind of money they made in the cable-dominated era. That may not be possible, but if you don’t think they’re going to try everything they can to squeeze that money out of us then I have a speedway on the west side of Indianapolis to sell you…

  3. Joel Goldfarb Says:

    Peacock is the best thing going. I can watch practice and qualifying and races live or at my convenience. I was a Gold subscriber and pleased with that. Peacock is a bargain and I’m grateful to have that option. Whether it’s on my phone, my computer or my TV, I can watch on my schedule which is great. It’s not difficult to figure out how to use the app.

  4. I purchased Peacock exclusively for IndyCar. At $4.99/mo it is a bargain compared to the majority of other streaming services. They also have IMSA racing which has been a pleasant surprise. My wife and I have also found some TV/Movie content that we watch.
    Now that the races are also shown on Peacock I’m ecstatic as I do not have cable or satellite TV.

  5. If there are people out there complaining about paying for IndyCar content it’s because they still haven’t come to terms with the fact that IndyCar is a niche sport, more on par in overall popularity with rugby and lacrosse than football and basketball. It’s nothing short of a miracle nearly all the races are broadcast on national tv. Do they really think NBC or cable should broadcast practice and qualifying too? For who? The million or less fans here in America? I live in a town with a little over 100k people, and I know like 2 other IndyCar fans in my city. Not trying to be negative. Like the rest of you here, I love this sport. But let’s be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of us out there. We should be grateful for the quality of coverage Peacock provides for IndyCar fans. $4.99 a month is a steal. Your daily Starbucks costs more than that.

  6. $5 per month for IndyCar and IMSA is a bargain and all that I need.
    I pay for nothing else on television.

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