Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


The NASCAR/IndyCar overlap at places like Texas might eventually lead to the two series working more closely together. Image by LaBounty/LAT

Q: So, I’m thinking that the optimum number of IndyCar races would be 20 per year. I’m also thinking about where the additional races could/should be held. I’m wondering if, with IndyCar’s current rise in popularity and NASCAR’s current drop in popularity, there might be some reluctance on the part of NASCAR and partner tracks to grant dates to IndyCar and support a rival series? I realize that there is a certain animosity between International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports Inc. and that ISC is effectively owned by the same owners as NASCAR. I also realize that SMI owns Texas and NASCAR owns Iowa (directly, not through ISC), so there’s already that precedent, but what about future dates at other tracks? It would seem that SMI would like to grant dates just so as to aggravate NASCAR. So is there a conspiracy by NASCAR-affiliated tracks to deny dates to IndyCar, or is it totally a business decision? Does SMI risk losing NASCAR dates if they book more IndyCar?

Rick in Lisle, IL

RM: Jay Frye has said 20 “strong” races would be his desire, but IndyCar is still quite a ways from that number. As for NASCAR conspiring against IndyCar, not now, not when both sides are scrambling to fill seats at ovals and with Jay’s contacts and friendships, plus the NBC affiliation for both, an IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader could be in the cards down the road. It’s all about good business right now for SMI, NASCAR and IndyCar and NBC has preached togetherness, and I think all three are buying into it.

Q: Now that NBC Sports is covering all the IndyCar races, what are the chances they have a nightly show or even a weekly show like they do for NASCAR? It would be great to have Paul Tracy, Townsend Bell and yourself being the host, and they could call it, IndyCar Tonight or IndyCar Weekly! Just an idea, and I know you can make it happen!

Brian Lancaster, West Lafayette, IN

RM: I think the plan is to have IndyCar segments periodically on the nightly NASCAR America show (Townsend Bell was on last week to preview the season opener), but no plans for an IndyCar show at this time.

Q: I’m assuming that NBC are the ones who are actually providing the cameras, personnel and equipment to actually record the races? If that’s the case, is it also fair to assume that they therefore hold the rights as to how and who their broadcasts gets rebroadcasted too? Or does Indy have ownership of the actual ‘media’ of the race? Lots of complaints about “not on YouTube” and “no one gets that channel” or “that’s a $30+ online only option.” I’m guessing that NBC has to approve and get paid for another broadcasting company who is unaffiliated in another country to use their broadcast of the race, correct? NBC isn’t just going to give that away for free if it costs them to distribute it.

It also doesn’t make sense if NBC is spending the time and money to make a production of practice and qualifying to just put it up on YouTube for free. Nor does it make sense for IndyCar to give away or pay out of pocket to get the race broadcast somewhere else. While IndyCar is growing quickly, it isn’t as huge as F1 or NASCAR, and even less so outside the US. Partners who not only want to broadcast races but also pay IndyCar/NBC for the rights to broadcast them don’t grow on trees. Am I on point in my thinking? Any insight would be most welcome.

Tyler, Milwaukee

RM: My understanding is that it’s a partnership between IndyCar and NBC, and the former sets the table and both share in the revenue. Not sure who controls the rights to replays, but I imagine IndyCar would own them after a year. Neither want to gouge the diehard fans, so the $50 Gold Pass is about as reasonable as you can get in this day and age – it’s just too bad Canada isn’t eligible. NASCAR is kept alive by its monstrous TV deal and, to your point, IndyCar doesn’t have that luxury so you are spot-on in your analysis.

Q: It is hard to believe how badly IndyCar has bungled the international television package. They want to go back to Surfers, but Australia can’t even watch the races this year. Almost every international market has worse viewing options in 2019. What happened here?

Justin in Indy

RM: I’m not quite sure, but obviously IndyCar needs a dedicated TV person for all its international deals (there is a person in London, Heather White, employed by IndyCar that handled the Sky Sports contract) because the deals, or lack thereof, have created a firestorm in Canada and Australia.

Q: Emergency, Emergency. The IndyCar season opened, and all of us Aussies have been screwed over by the international TV rights. A one-hour highlights package per race! Are you kidding me? We have had over 20 years of uninterrupted live/replay of races, and now we go back to this. Now I understand that this is not all IndyCar’s fault and that most of it would lie with our monopolized pay TV provider who has utter disrespect for their customers on a lot of levels, but please let the people in charge of IndyCar know that we would prefer other options – NBC Gold Pass, YouTube, hell put them on delay on Netflix for all I care. Just don’t give us the half-assed version we are getting. We need help, Robin. You’re our only hope.

John, Newcastle

RM: Not much I can do except print some letters from passionate fans like yourself and make sure IndyCar sees them. Mark Miles said they can’t make TV networks/affiliates take their races, and lots of times you’re at the mercy of a new CEO that has no interest in auto racing. Or they get greedy. It’s complicated and maddening because IndyCar can’t afford to lose people that want to see the races.

Q: What happened to the live TV coverage for IndyCar in Australia this year? Somehow it moved to Fox Sports from ESPN International, and Fox are only going to give us a one hour highlights show the day after the race. This is terrible news! That’s only 35 minutes of racing action at best, and a day late at that. How could IndyCar drop the ball on this when they are trying to get the Surfers Paradise race back on track?


RM: I can’t answer that because I don’t pretend to know the landscape of Aussie TV or the politics, but I do agree it’s a terrible scenario and certainly no way to get Surfers back on the schedule.

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