Ok, a warning here – this is gonna be what @pressdog calls a Grand Mal froth.
In a tacked-on paragraph at the bottom of an Indycar.com article, we read this:
“Because of network TV contracts, live streaming video of practice (outside of the Indianapolis 500), qualifying and races won’t be available this season.”
This is NOT OKAY.
Versus is not in enough households yet to warrant what we suspect is a “protect-our-share” move by NBC. Besides, the type of fan who will go out of their way to watch practice and qualifying online (especially with the spotty stream we’ve had in the recent past) is the sort that will be glued to their couch for any IndyCar product the Versus/NBC machine cranks out. Rumor floating around of a weekly IndyCar show on Versus is fantastic, but we also want to see what is happening RIGHT NOW when cars are on the track.
This development is a real blow to several camps:
- Those who cannot get Versus because no entity in their area offers it.
- Those who cannot afford the upper tier packages Versus sometimes is a part of if they DO have it in their area.
- Bloggers who take their work seriously and can’t afford to pay to go cover every race. Online streaming helps these folks stay on top of what’s happening so they can be better free publicity and virtual column-inch providers to the series.
- Dedicated fans who can’t get enough.
- Friends and family of participants and sponsors who can’t attend every race.
- Fans in other countries who have no other outlet for any IndyCar coverage.
The number of people this hurts far outweighs whatever this might protect at this point in IndyCar development. To further limit access to something that currently has so little attention paid to it makes no sense. Especially practice coverage, which I can’t believe there would be any reason to broadcast on TV until such time as IndyCar reaches F1 status in popularity. (We can all agree that won’t be for a while…)
All we can say is that we’re supremely disappointed, pretty steamed and now even more grateful for @tracksideonline, because they’re the only media entity we know of that has had a presence at every race the last few seasons. It’s just gotten a lot harder to be an IndyCar fan at a time when the sport can’t afford to lose us…