Did the NASCAR Cup Series end its season for that? Seriously? Without the Simone Biles saga and France’s elimination of the United States team in the opening game of men’s basketball, how many people would care about the Olympics? After all, NBC shows almost everything offline.
NBC has a lot of money invested in the Olympics
Tokyo is part of the exclusive NBC 10-Olympiad broadcast package that crosses Brisbane in 2032. The network has owned the rights to the summer competitions since 1988 in Seoul and the winter competitions from Salt Lake City in 2002.
Before the internet and smartphones made streaming and instant updates a thing, cable TV was the biggest threat to grab the attention of viewers. Even the failure of the “Triplecast” concept, a pay-per-view experiment in collaboration with cable companies, in 1988 did not derail NBC.
The Olympic Games in Atlanta (1996) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) eased the interest of viewers during the summer, as NBC was able to broadcast key events live. The same was true in winter in Salt Lake City and Vancouver (2010). The network will also capitalize on this advantage in Los Angeles in 2028.
The New York Times reported that NBC paid $ 12 billion for the package. This does not include the costs associated with producing massive businesses spread across multiple sites. It also doesn’t reflect the cost of on-air promotion for months before the opening ceremonies and then cutting prime-time programming for 17 days.
NBC is also anticipating daytime programming for the Tokyo Olympics. This includes NASCAR on hiatus the last two weekends. The Cup Series resumes Sunday at Watkins Glen.
NASCAR Cup Series start times are at the mercy of Fox and NBC
When NFL fans wake up on Sunday, they know the first game of the Fox Sports and CBS doubles shows will kick off at 1 p.m. ET. NBC’s weekly game begins at 8:20 p.m. When MLB fans wake up, they know the first ESPN pitch is at 7:00 p.m., with a few exceptions.
Life is not that easy for NASCAR Cup Series fans. Sunday afternoon races start between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Plus, the nightly races and the occasional Saturday events keep everyone on their toes.
There’s no question that Fox Sports, which covers the first half of the season, and NBC, which picks up the remaining races, are the tail wagging the dog. If it was just inconsistent departure times, that would only be seen as an annoyance.
However, Mike Neff of Frontstretch.com makes an interesting observation: some of the late afternoon start times potentially affect the integrity of the races, as even a brief delay of rain on a track without lights can force everyone to face the light of day which is fading.
The drivers experienced this scenario in New Hampshire in the last race of the Cup Series before NASCAR took off on two Sundays. Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 started at 3:40 p.m. in light rain that turned the corners into ice rinks and almost immediately resulted in an accident that knocked out several cars.
It took a long time to clean and then dry the track. As darkness set in, officials cut the race short by nine laps.
NASCAR lacks time to correct its recurring mistake
No two NASCAR season schedules are the same. Executives move tracks in and out of their rotations and change dates to avoid conflicts with other nearby events competing for hotel rooms.
We will know the dates and locations from 2022 in the fall. In a Perfect World, we’ll also hear an announcement from NASCAR that its Sunday afternoon races will start at something like a consistent start time, preferably before 2 p.m. This would eliminate all of the more extreme rain delays from the equation.
While it’s true that NASCAR is beholden to Fox and NBC for the fees they pay, the networks are relegating more than half of the races to their cable siblings, Fox Sports 1 and the future NBC Sports Network. In light of this and the fact that the Cup Series provides a reliable audience every week, NASCAR executives should be pushing for these consistent start times.
It’s not like Fox has something in the spring or NBC has something in the summer and fall that is a higher priority. This Sunday, NBC Sports Network is broadcasting recorded Motocross at noon, the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen at 3 p.m. and the IndyCar race live at 5:30 p.m.
If the rain and / or the red flag warnings prolong the duration of the Cup Series race, IndyCar enthusiasts will be the losers. Wouldn’t it make more sense to throw the Motocross tape in between the two live events and join it in progress if Watkins Glen lasts long?
NASCAR must now sow seeds like this in the minds of television executives, before it is too late for both sides to adjust their 2022 schedules. Racing fans would not need to see a flag in the sky. checkerboard to see themselves as winners if such common sense sets in.
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