Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
A note from Robin: Counting The Indianapolis Star, ESPN, SPEED and now RACER.com, I’ve been writing the Mailbag for almost 30 years, and this week’s is the angriest group of fans I’ve ever encountered. I read over 100 emails Monday from Canadian fans that vowed to quit watching or attending IndyCar because of this year’s television package with Sportsnet. By contrast, I received less than 20 about the season opener at St. Pete. But instead of trying to answer each person, I decided to print some of the most passionate letters and let a lot of loyal supporters have their say. I’m going to forward them to IndyCar’s front office, because I don’t think most of these people are bluffing.
Having said that, this will be the last forum in this space for bitching about the Canadian TV deal, because I’m not spending week after week trying to answer the same questions, so please don’t waste your time writing any more letters about it. I’ve always championed more races in Canada, be it Montreal, Mosport, Mont Tremblant or Calgary, because our neighbors to the north are some of IndyCar’s most passionate fans, and I wish we had two or three races in Canada. We know the eight NBC races will be available to everyone, but I also wish there was a way IndyCar could find some kind of a streaming solution like NBC Gold ($50 a year) that was more reasonable, and I hope they will down the road. As always, thanks for contributing, reading and caring. ROBIN MILLER
I have been reading all the hype and praise lavished on NBC as a boon to IndyCar. I ignored all the blather about the races being on pay channels. I have a slew of Canadian pay channels where I have watched every race for the past many years. I’d assumed that would continue. I sat down all pumped for the season opener this afternoon, only to discover that those sports channels don’t now carry the race, and that I must pay an extra $18 a month for NBC’s special sports channel. Well, I won’t! IndyCar just lost a long-term hardcore fan for half the season. I’ll be at Indy and the Toronto race, but will be able to see only eight races on NBC. I’m pissed! Buddies paying extra for cable sports are as well. How is it in any way good for the sport to alienate the hardcore fans that have supported it for decades?
Blah, blah, blah! You paid $100 plus for the Chili Bowl. We are not all interested in the Chili Bowl, nor do we all make as much money as you. Will you support me in calling for Robert Mueller expanding his collusion investigation into NBC Sports, and NASCAR’s collusion in interfering in the growth of IndyCar? I believe there is overwhelming evidence that with NASCAR’s demise and IndyCar’s growth, the NBC Gold Pass is a conspiracy into the death of the IndyCar growth spurt. Why should true IndyCar fans be punished and have to pay for things that were free in the past? The free live practices and qualifying on YouTube and other sites was what helped IndyCar grow. If it’s not a collusion/conspiracy, explain why NASCAR is listed on the NBCsports.com website as a major sport but IndyCar is not. Also, why would NASCAR not require a Gold Pass? Typical collusion if you ask me! Is this several of the first nails into reduced viewership of IndyCar? Don’t even get me started with the poor quality and bad broadcast that froze up!
I spent a few hours Saturday figuring out how to get televised coverage. Got on the Sportsnetnow website, signed up for the plus package, went well there. PC is too old to play the content, so fired up my 8.1 laptop and after a few browser tries/updates, a failed Java update, a couple of browser and windows crashes, and another crash simply from plugging HDMI into my TV, I finally got it working, and it worked actually pretty good. As a bonus, my laptop now doubles as a forced air furnace and will help heat up my basement office. Paid about $29 CDN for the monthly plan. Will just buy for the months required, since I don’t do stick and ball. IndyCar is great now, and I’m happy to have some access even if it’s quirky. Hoping for a better TV deal.
All Canadian IndyCar fans have been shafted big-time on TV coverage. Sportsnet is the only broadcaster here for IndyCar and its greed and incompetence is already at government levels – and I haven’t even seen the first race. You have to subscribe to Sportsnet on a new channel (Sportsnet World), which isn’t even available for the first race, or live stream it through Sportsnet Now. I tried to live stream qualifying on Sportsnet Now, and could not receive any coverage. Sportsnet tech support is, to put it accurately, s****y. It took close to an hour to get any response online, and it was a complete waste of time.
The cost per month to live stream is $20.00. If you want to go with the new cable channel it is $17.00 per month, but you must sign up for a two-year program with your cable supplier. There are a lot of IndyCar fans in Canada, and I believe a great many are really ticked off being treated like this. Mark Miles needs to intervene and get it straightened out. It’s a horrible deal. I would love to use the NBC online app, but no can do. Thank God some of the races are on the NBC network which is available in Canada – that is unless Sportsnet doesn’t blackout coverage, as TSN has done in the past. Someone should tell Sportsnet to pound sand and give us Canucks the NBC deal. Haven’t we suffered enough with Justin Trudeau!
With all of the great things that IndyCar has been doing in the offseason to improve the product, folks like myself on the other side of the northern border of the United States have been all but frothing at the mouth anticipating like many around the world for the start of the 2019 schedule. However … in the article IndyCar secures wide-ranging international broadcast deals on RACER.com, all of the races will be broadcast here in Canada on Sportsnet World and SN NOW+. That means that I need to spend an extra $20-25 a month for the regular coverage that I used to get last year. This doesn’t even include the added value advertised for the ‘Gold’ NBCSN content.
Here I am now trying to figure out whether I spend the dollars on the upgraded TV package, that other than the IndyCar races, I really don’t want. Or, do I aggregate the dollars and buy a fabulous pair of tickets for the Toronto race? That is assuming that I’m still interested in the sport by the time that July 14th rolls by. Frankly, it will be a little hard to follow and stay interested if I’m just reading the articles following the race.
If IndyCar is trying to build brand awareness and brand value for their product and sponsors, they need to make sure that the product is easily accessible and in the hands of those who support them. The mistake that IndyCar has made is that now I, like my many fellow Canadian IndyCar fans, are left measuring the value of IndyCar instead of simply making time on the weekend to watch the race.
We now need to decide: is the product worth the extra $175+ for seven months of coverage, considering it was inclusive in regular TV packages last year? To some it might be, to the rest it won’t be. That’s a big risk to IndyCar and their sponsors. If they need a marketing executive, tell them to give me a call!
Keith, Toronto, Ontario
I’m a longtime reader and IndyCar fan (about 45 years), and first-time writer to your Mailbag. As with many fans I stuck it out during the split, siding with CART, held my nose during the first few years after the merge. I was excited by all the positives that have happened – full fields, sponsors coming back, cars that look like IndyCars again. Over the winter I was greatly looking forward to the first race.
I would like you to convey to IndyCar my profound disappointment in the Canadian TV package. I have two choices. Pay an extra $18 per month on top of the $140 I already pay for six Sportsnet channels, or $27.99 per month to stream. At the 11th hour, Sportsnet showed the first race for free on their website via streaming. I attempted this today. The stream crashed three times in the first five minutes, and when it was working, the resolution was poor and there was a slight lag between the video and audio. I’m not paying $27.99 a month for this. It saddens me to say that I might be done as a fan – it’s just too hard. As of now I will only be able to watch the races that are on NBC. Perhaps IndyCar would consider posting the races on their website so the Canadian fans could watch after the fact?
Thank you for all the good work you do.