Formula 1 – Grading NBC Sports Network

KimiAus2013The first race of the 2013 Formula 1 campaign has come to a conclusion. Here in the States, it was the first race of the new NBC Sports Network era. After over a decade of the Fox run Speed TV, NBC won the bidding war last season to host the races. For those not familiar with NBC Sports coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was a pretty big change in presentation.

NBC worked hard to keep the core of the broadcast very similar to what we had on Speed. Hobbs and Matchett were very good as always. Leigh Diffey worked hard to make the switch from sports car to F1 for the fulltime and did a great job as always. I thought the broadcast job was very good truth be told. There was not a lot of annoying intro to F1 moments. F1 is a very niche market in the US and it seemed as though NBC realized that and injected minimal F1 101.

There were still a few hiccups in the truck. I noticed at the end of the race when recapping the top 10, Romain Grosjean was promoted to a race seat at Ferrari (fat chance). I know it is early and still their first race, but when you take the reins like that, you have to get the attention to detail right.
In my opinion there were also too many commercials during the race. It had a very “ABC IndyCar” feel to it. Go 5-7 laps and have and advertisement. I did enjoy the chances we got to see side-by-side feature. For us who tune into the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage, that is a feature we get. It worked well in capturing some key pit stops from the leaders. The one thing I will say about the commercials we did have, they were relevant for the most part. I didn’t get the late night advert package that Speed offered in the wee hours of the morning. I got commercials that I actually cared about. I wish there were no commercials at all, but it is what it is.

I REALLY enjoyed the F1 Extra post-race show. I thought the NBC studio looked very professional and the coverage from Will Buxton with the interviews was very well put together. I wasn’t rushed away for NASCAR coverage, nor did I have to share the race with Speed Center or any of that nonsense. It was analysis and relevant interviews which gave it just a good overall feeling.

Overall I give the opening weekend coverage an A- grade. I think the attention to detail was a negative as was the number of commercial breaks. Of course I give high marks to the broadcasters as they were rockstars as usual. Buxton gets good marks as well for his work on pit road. I enjoyed how NBC took the chance to promote the season opening IndyCar event that is next weekend. Overall I was very happy with the coverage and can’t wait to watch Malaysia!
What did you think of the coverage? Be sure to join the discussion in the comments section!

6 comments

  • I agree. I thought the broadcast was very “Speed”-like-of course it helps that the broadcasters all worked for Speed so that clearly came through. The only thing that bothered me-not much but a little-was that there were a few “intro to F1″ moments as you described them. Hopefully, that will decrease as the weeks go on.

  • Edward,

    I think it was the same broadcasting presentation as we were used to with a much cleaner and crisp graphical/product presentation. I understand we are trying to get more fans on board with the F1 train here in the US, but when I first started watching the races back when I was a younger kid, I didn’t have many “F1 101″ statements in the broadcast. When you watch the Sky service as I have been lucky to see this season as well, they don;t even waste their voice on such topics. All of the content is focused analysis on some driver or chassis performance. NBC had a great start though and I look forward to the midle of the season when the coverage is even more polished.

  • good job by nbc

  • I was rolling my eyes when Hobbs explained the term “drag” to us.

  • The commercials early on were a bit annoying like you said, but they front loaded them and came back or showed multiple replays if something happened. But towards the end of the race, because they front loaded their commercials they were able to run long spans without commercial breaks which I think is a better way than more even throughout the race.

    • Good point Dan. They were a little less at the end and we did get like the last 15 laps commercial free. I enjoyed the product and obviously while there can always be polishing, it was a good first hack at it.