Race Weekend Central

Inside IndyCar: A FOX in the Henhouse?

Last week ended on a particularly sour note, on the news broken by The Indianapolis Star that FOX has emerged as the clear favorite to pick up the broadcast rights for INDYCAR events.

This would be an unmitigated disaster that would drive the overall value of the NTT IndyCar Series down. And that’s before the consideration that the series would have many more cable races than they do currently with NBC.

That includes events on FS2. I never thought we’d be back to what would be essentially the old Versus days, but here we are. Races exclusive to Peacock would actually be preferred over anything on FS2, because people don’t even know that channel exists. Many don’t have it. People at least know Peacock is a thing now.

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But let’s walk away a bit from just the availability of these broadcasts. There would be a clear step down in broadcast quality.

NBC is very good at their job in shooting races. They know exactly what to shoot and when, and they are able to convey excitement while also giving plenty of information out there.

FOX is just bad.

No, like really, really bad.

Zoom in on how bad it gets.

Now granted, there is one bad aspect to NBC, and it’s Townsend Bell. He actively makes IndyCar broadcasts worse and at least he won’t be-

“Sources also suspect James Hinchcliffe or Townsend Bell would be a likely holdover in a Fox switch to help bring some continuity and recent IndyCar racing experience.” (From the IndyStar)

It can’t get any worse. Could it?

“Jamie Little, who worked ESPN and ABC IndyCar broadcasts as a pit reporter from 2004-14 and has covered NASCAR in a similar role since 2007, has also been mentioned as a potential booth candidate after her work in recent years calling ARCA and NASCAR Trucks races,” The Indianapolis Star reported.

So, I understand the importance there is of having women represented in any role in a sports broadcast, not necessarily just as a competitor or as a sideline reporter. Having young girls see women in those roles and potentially being inspired to follow in their footsteps or even just to see equal representation is a crucial aspect to all sports going forward.

With that said, Jamie Little is not a good booth commentator.

Could you imagine a call like that to end the Indianapolis 500? Between getting basic facts wrong and delivery like she’s watching a round of golf, she hasn’t gotten any better at all since moving into the booth. It’s now been years of her up there, or more accurately in the studio half the time. And yet, she’s still trying to call races.

And this is not all a knock on Little. It’s her boss’ fault for putting her in this position to start with.

The reality is that they have no idea what they are doing. I and others at Frontstretch write columns and post online about this constantly. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. And yet, the production keeps getting worse and worse.

It is an absolute embarrassment that NASCAR on FOX broadcasts are obviously worse than broadcasts from the ’80s and ’90s. Nobody watching football or hockey or baseball will seriously claim that their broadcasts from that era were objectively better than the broadcasts of those sports today, outside of nostalgia. And it’s not just “stick-and-ball sports”; Formula 1 broadcasts have never been better than they are now thanks to technology.

FOX has somehow taken that new technology and made the race broadcasts so much worse. We have more cameras than we can count today, but because of direction, the broadcasts of yesteryear with one or two were dramatically better. Go watch an old Martinsville race from 30 years ago on NASCAR Classics and be amazed at just how much better it is than the glop FOX fed us this past weekend.

And just to be clear, the solution is not “fire director Artie Kempner.” It’s not “fire this guy” or “fire that guy.” The FOX higher ups, the same ones trying to acquire and oversee IndyCar broadcasts, apparently like how this all looks. They’d just replace them with more people that are instructed to have the broadcasts this way. Because they don’t know what they’re doing.

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So, this is a completely different column if FOX were offering up big money – serious money. Enough money to where the damage done by terrible coverage can be outweighed by everybody getting rich in the process.

But that’s not the case. FOX is not offering $200 million to broadcast IndyCar.

Nor $100 million. Not even $50 million. No, INDYCAR is seriously considering destroying their brand for reportedly $30 million, just $10 million more than NBC’s current offer of $20 million.

It would be an incredibly short sighted decision by a management team that has made a number of very serious blunders recently. Between the video game, the schedule, everything with Thermal, the botched hybrid implementation, and the initial charter offers reportedly asking teams to throw a million dollars at INDYCAR for no equity in return, it’s getting harder to trust them to do the right thing.

This is something where they just have got to do right. All of those other mistakes would pale in comparison to this one. Outside of the obvious cases of serious injury and/or death, I really don’t think there’s been a situation since the Split that would be worse for the series than a move to FOX.

So please, Mark Miles, don’t do this.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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3 Comments
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Tom

Honestly IndyCar should stick with NBC. Fox Sports would be a disaster. Maybe CBS could come in too if NBC has conflicts. But I think it’s best Insycar has only NBC to broadcast races.

Steve

I don’t know much about the Indy Car broadcasting situation, but I’m damn glad your writers are finally addressing how bad the current tv product for Nascar is. Its unwatchable most of the time. The Xfinity races are called just as bad as Cup and Trucks, so Adam Alexander’s luke warm call of the action and late calls of incidents shouldn’t get a pass either.

Jeremy

PLEASE, GOD, NO!!!

Fox will turn Indycar into an unwatchable clown show just like it has NA$CAR. At least NBC knows how to put on and broadcast that focuses on the race without distracting gimmicks, graphic overload and irrelevant BS.

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