Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Couple Of Thoughts On Versus IndyCar Coverage

Dear Versus,

Here’s a few thoughts from a pretty loyal viewer of the Versus IZOD IndyCar Series coverage:

-I love the fact that I can tune in early on a Sunday and watch the Lights race, as well as a comprehensive pre-race show. An IndyCar race should be an “event”—not a two-hour contractual obligation that barely joins the race before the green flag. If I tune in a half-hour before the flag drops, I want to see Tony Kanaan being interviewed or last week’s race being recapped—not an infomercial for a Veg-O-Matic or Miracle Bra.

-I know a lot of folks are down on Robin Miller, but he’s been insightful and well-behaved on the broadcasts. He adds a deep knowledge base, an insider/familiar feel with many of the drivers, and a bit of humor besides.

-In fact, I really think your entire broadcast team right now, from Kevin Lee to Lindy Thackston, is really doing a great job. I love it when Dan Wheldon jumps in there—he’s an absolute natural.

-If Wheldon isn’t available, it was sort of neat when you brought Graham Rahal in after his early crash to do some commentary. I know you can’t always do that, but it is nice hearing that driver point of view.

-The “Professor B” segments are excellent, and I hope you keep them around.

-Speaking of Miller, I love the Grid Walk/Grid Run, but it needs more time, and the back-and-forth of two hosts. Allot a solid 4-5 minutes for it, and work on going back and forth between Miller and Wheldon or another individual.

-I think the series is doing a pretty good job of just not focusing on the same 4-5 cars, but it would be nice to see 1-2 backmarkers highlighted or interviewed a bit more now and again. It is time for sponsors, helps show the diversity of the series, and can create some underdogs for folks to cheer for.

-I hear that some new graphics are perhaps in the works, but I’d like to see the segment times in qualifying, F1-style. I’d also like the graphic of when Race Control is looking at an incident. I’m no big F1 fan, but it’s two things they do quite well.

-Don’t shy away from showing the IndyCar legends. We got to hear from A.J. Foyt this past Sunday, which was cool. Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Jr., Johnny Rutherford, and other legends have a place in or around the series. They might be occupied with their other jobs, but it’s nice to make that link to the glorious past and the present/future.

All in all, I appreciate the job you’re doing—there’s still kinks and some production snafus, but I think things are on the right track. I know that people look at .39 ratings and scoff, but the point is, INDYCAR has a dedicated broadcast partner, and one that’s doing a bang-up job overall. Best of all, the ratings are going up. Now they just need to keep doing so.

Bottom line? I love IndyCar, and love that it feels like your broadcast team does, too.

Keep up the good work, Versus.

1 comment:

  1. Look, as a fan of the NHL AND IndyCar, I'm obviously watching more Versus than your average person. But I don't accept the "At least IndyCar has a dedicated broadcast partner" as a legitimate argument for how WELL they are doing with the broadcasts. If it wasn't them, it would be somebody else.

    The broadcasts are enjoyable because IndyCar is (mostly) enjoyable to watch. Other than that, it's an absolute trainwreck out there. The camera views available to them (especially on road courses) are so bad that they literally have no idea about lead changes, or who crashed 3 minutes ago. They're afraid to criticize obvious gaffes by IndyCar officials or say anything too negative about drivers for fear of offending them. If I'm a viewer, I want the broadcast team to give me questions to the obvious, burning questions that a person in my position is likely to have. For example, "why did IndyCar/Holmatro leave the giant, bright yellow piece of carbonfiber wing from Beatriz's car in the middle of the track for about the last 40 LAPS of the Edmonton race?" This was obvious to the viewer, but the broadcasters couldn't even speculate.

    I think it's obvious from having Wheldon in the booth (and to a lesser extent, Rahal) that you put a person with no history of broadcasting but lots of knowledge and insight about RACING in the booth, and they just blow the doors off of this cookie-cutter broadcasting team. I realize IndyCar probably isn't a super-lucrative contract, but I wish they could do better with the coverage.