No I’m not talking about Will “brain fade” Power’s third hero to zero appearance on the Gold Coast. (although if the shoe fits… yada yada yada)
No, I’m referring to the IndyCar series completely blind-siding a good chunk of their fan base by redirecting their online video feed two hours before the green flag to ESPN360.com, thus shutting out Canada, Europe and a good portion of the US from their only means of seeing the race live.
Many of us out here in interweb land depend on the online feed throughout the season for our live coverage due to channel availability, tape delays or national proximity.
I personally have had to provide most of my coverage on OpenWheelWorld.net this season in this manner due to the fact that I live in Canada and am subjected to the whims of F-TSN and their “we’ll air it when we damn well please” attitude towards American open wheel.
Now granted, this was an add on, non-points, non-championship event for IndyCar, so I’m sure it was low on the “lets get this right” priority totem pole.
But still, there was a lot of interest out there, and consequently a lot of disappointment and anger as the green flag crept ever closer.
In addition, this was a marquee event on the now defunct Champ Car calendar. If you, IndyCar, are still interested in capturing the disenfranchised Champ Car fans, and you should be, then this was a bad move. (somewhat akin to not ensuring Paul Tracy had more than a token show pony ride this season… but I digress…)
What made this bait and switch even worse is that for two days leading up to the race, we were treated to live (albeit poor video quality) coverage of all the sessions, even some non-IndyCar racing, and hours of interviews and hilarious commentary by the local event hosts and guest host, Indy Lights driver James Davison, who did a stellar job talking up both series and the league all weekend. Something that all went to pot around 8pm last night. I am curious if anyone from the league actually followed that coverage, because if not, they missed out on the perfect “how to keep the fans interested 101″ lesson.
(I’m still convinced it was just a webcam pointed at a tv monitor in the booth at the track but I don’t care because at least it was something, and it was entertaining, and I felt like a participant in the event, even from thousands of miles away)
Funny… there was no issue with switching to the ESPN feed for qualifying. It just switched over and switched back to the local coverage. Simple. And while disappointing if only for the colourless colour commentary we were subjected to thanks to the droning of Scott Goodyear, it was seamless.
Fast forward to race time, and those of us that didn’t have exactly the right street address, internet browser, ISP, service provider combo, were left scrambling, and forced to “listen” to the race via IMS Radio Network (who, don’t get me wrong, I adore and give massive kudos to every race weekend as my preferred announcers) Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, they were suffering with technical issues of their own for the first half hour, and the T&S from the site, was slightly ahead of the commentary, which made you feel like a psychic knowing what was about to happen and wondering what the reaction of the commentators would be.
Those of us that were savvy enough managed to find random internet streaming feeds to get our “visual” racing fix. (I personally watched the race in Italian courtesy of some lad in Europe who streamed his television feed) (thanks again to Jo for her detective work!)
As a fan. I’m pissed.
As a transitioning fan, it’s just another sock in the gut in what has already been a difficult year to “grin and bear”
As a motorsports writer, I can’t help but shake my head at the constant fodder provided me to tear a strip off this broken machine.
As someone looking to be gainfully employed in racing, specifically in open wheel, I’m incredulous at the stupidity of what was a totally avoidable situation. This is not the way to market your product and gain the interest of the casual fan or potential sponsors, or keep your current fanbase interested and dedicated, all of which are vitally important, especially in this precarious and dwindling economy.
Marketing 101: Word of Mouth is your most valuable marketing tool, and potentially your most dangerous adversary.
So what does the league do? Piss off probably the most loyal and dedicated faction of their fanbase , and those who’s word of mouth ratings are at the top of value pile.
This is NOT how you wanted to go into the off-season.
This should have ended on a high note, leaving us wanting more…
I want more alright. Only now there is a negative connotation attached to that sentiment.