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Did some googling, and in March after Comcast decided to ditch the "Versus" name and call the station NBC Sports Network, ratings dove 22 percent across the board. (Story.) Not saying those two things are related. Just saying that was the timing of the dive. Ratings for the Olympics were higher than expected on NBC and its affiliated stations, including NBC Sports Net. The Mighty New York Times did a story in mid-August about how NBCSN hopes to ride better-than-expected ratings for the Olympics to more viewers for it's network. Story here. Now a hockey lock out threatens to "Freeze NBC's sports momentum" per the Chicago Tribune (story here.) If 0.2 is "momentum," ah, well, not so good.
Since ABC owns the broadcast rights to IndyCar, it's not going to be on NBC broadcast TV for several years, so put that hope out of your mind. I wonder if IndyCar could negotiate online rights back from NBCSN and try some nutty stuff like streaming races, etc. Get out in front of the techno curve. Lots of people think TV and Internet are converging more and more all the time, so maybe get in front of that wave?
Of course they'd have to have the infrastructure need to do that first, and not hype streaming races and then have a contract with Jimmy's Servers which can handle "upwards of 19 viewers at one time!!" CRASH. Major brand damage. I've been really really slow to blame NBC Sports Net for the the abysmal ratings -- and they by no means are the only issue -- but when 0.2 is your big show, that's a problem.
Bitching about NBC Sports Network All the time is Wack -- I just did it! I just bitched about NBC Sports Network. So I'M WACK! I'm a wack hypocrite! It's a festival of wack. Here's the deal: yeah, the ratings on NBC Sports Network are abysmal. Yeah, the ratings for IndyCar are toilety. But if you think that's the ONLY reason that IndyCar has issues, you too are wack. That's just one of many, and many of them still sit with IndyCar. So it's really easy to toss NBCSN under the bus -- call it NBC Scapegoat Network -- but even at the halcyon (for IndyCar) 0.6 days on Versus, at the end of the day, albeit halcyon, 0.6 don't make the network much.
PLUS, it's not like NBCSN went to the moon when it became NBCSN. It's still in roughly the same place on my Dish dial (actually 159 instead of 151). I think it's still in the same number of households and the same tiers as Versus was (plus or minus a few, probably). If IndyCar fans who tried the product back on Verus were mega enthralled by what they saw, there's no way in the world they shouldn't be able to find it on NBCSN. Packaging and shelf positioning play a role in product sales, but end of the day the product drives 85% of the deal. So if I love the race, I go to IndyCar.com. I see the schedule and it's on NBC Sports Network and I find it because it's either in the exact same place as Verus or close to it. And I loved the racing in 2011. If "going to IndyCar.com" derails your fans, you're product ain't that awe-inspiring.
And always remember, there isn't exactly a line of networks that want to carry IndyCar. Actually there is no line. You got ABC/ESPN who is mainly intersted in the Indy 500 and then you got NBC Sports Network who enherited a TV contract from Versus. After that you got ... crickets. So, again, before you bail out of a functioning airplane, make sure you have a parachute. Drivers, teams, fans (and me, today) who bitch about NBC Sports Network need to consider it's still superior to the alternative (that being zero or super crashy online video).
Finally, I'm no Harvard Business School brad, but screaming "YOU'RE SHIT!!!" at someone and then turning around and saying "how can we work together to get these ratings up" is a less-than-effective way to collaborate.
The Stewart Butt Grab Thing is Wack -- OK, seriously, what is up with that? Tony Stewart grabbs DeLana Harvick's butt for luck. Here's a story with video from The Mixer (Bob Pockrass).Turns out Tony grabs a handful of buttcheek frequently. Stewart and the Harvicks, including DeLana's husband Kevin, are good pals! Apparently they are, since he gets to grab her thusly. DeLana had no issue with it, Kevin had no issue with it, so I guess I have no issue with it. Except it kind of looks a little untoward. Not quite pervy, but kind of uncouth. Improper. Irregular. Not that Stewart cares what stuff looks like. That's Tony's style ... does what he wants. His fans love him for it. So why was it news? Video of a celebrity athlete like Tony Stewart grabbing a married woman's ass on the grid. Who's seriously shocked that it generated headlines?
Chase is Underway! -- I couldnt' tell you who is leading right now. Again, tough for me to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup races since I don't have the spare four hours. BUT it was good to see Chicagoland much fuller than usual last weekend. Relatively full. Still not full, but closer. The place holds 75,000, so it's a pretty big barn. I heard there were 60,000 to 65,000 ish there. And TV ratings continue to be up.
Sounds like Chicagoland got busy and worked on its traffic flow situation to provide better customer service. Yeah, America. They retweeted several complimentary tweets from customers after the race. I think I'm heading to Chicagoland for the race in person next year. I miss the track big time. IndyCar put on some breath-taking races there. That style of racing in IndyCar is gone for ever (I guess), so everyone has moved on. Although maybe the magical New Car (!) that made other tracks safer and/or more intersting could save Chicagoland too. Still, it will be good to get back to the scene of my first in-person IndyCar experience ever even if it is to watch Fendered vehicles.
Shake Up at JR Motorsports -- The Eurys -- Tony Jr. and Sr. -- are out at JR Motorsports. It's ALL DANICA'S FAULT!! No, it's not. Haters want it to be, but it's not. It may be that Danica (and her sponsorship money) moving to NASCAR Sprint Cup next year that has something to do with it though. Nate Ryan had a great analysis of the breakup here. Nate's got skillz. And he's a snappy dresser.
In that story Nate talks about what happens next year when Danica and GoDaddy are elsewhere. Tension! So very much in racing these days revolves around money, so I would not be shocked even slightly if the moves to cut the Eury's lose didn't come down to cash, specifically the company's attempt to generate more of it.
I enjoyed listening to Eury Jr. work with Danica in her Nationwide ride this year via the online scanner. He made a few brilliant calls during some of her races. I can't speak to how well he sets up the car. End of the day, personnel changes are usually not personal. I've been Euryed (let go) a couple times in my life, and it actually turned out for the best. It sounds like the Eurys will get handsome parting gifts (buyouts), so weep not. Maybe they start their own teams or go to another team like Darrian Grubb and have success. WHAM. That would be cool.
HEY, gotta go. Beer to be drunk. Dogs to be walked. I'll try to get up to speed on the NASCAR stuff more now that IndyCar has gone into its six month hybernation. Check out the Kentucky schedule at NASCAR.com and tune in. October 20 I'm inbound Kansas Speedway. Me and TJ Patrick are gonna have chips, salsa and margaritas* (*TJ Patrick has no idea who I even am.)