November 18, 2013

The 2013 US Grand Prix went precisely as you thought it would.

Steve Etherington/LAT Photographic. AGPCF1/Flickr

Vettel took off from turn one, Webber got a bad start, Alonso struggled but by the end of the race pulled himself up a bit, Lewis was not happy with the tires, Maldonado crashed.  Vettel won by a comfortable margin and did some donuts.  People cheered.


Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic.AGPCF1/Flikr

And while we have to give full marks to Circuit of the Americas as a venue (love that they have lots of open seating, not just bleachers), it was hard  not to be appalled by the lousy coverage from NBC.
As longtime US based F1 fans, we've come to expect a low bar as far as coverage but NBC, which just bought the rights and hyped the extended coverage through web sites all over the internet, failed spectacularly in Austin.

It was not just the endless commercials which seem to get inserted precisely at key moments when something actually does happen or the incessant, disconnected dribble from Mr Diffey. It was a huge technical fail when NBC completely missed the podium ceremony at the end of the race.    Stunning after they way they butchered the re-broadcast of qualifying where they casually went to commercial halfway into Q2 and rejoined as Vettel was getting out of the car after setting the pole lap.  Incredible.

You would think a US network renowned for their sports coverage would put the United States Grand Prix in the hands of a producer who understands the sport and would not, for example place the hosts somewhere OUTSIDE the track!  

Yes, F1 is hard to cover for a commercial network, races can be dull but every race has a flow and there are story lines that develop as it unfolds,  there has to be an understanding of strategy and the background of the sport beyond offering vomit inducing giant donuts to Sebastian.   This will be more crucial next year and one wonders if anyone at Speed in the past or NBC now has ever bothered to study Sky Sports coverage.    Americans love baseball, a sport all about strategy, I'm sure they can handle tire and fuel plays.

There's more to it than donuts and F1 really needs to have a subscription service model going forward.


  1. I was outraged with the qualy debacle. I sent a tweet at NBC F1 and then got chided by twitter commenters for not doing better at setting my DVR. Really? If you're promoting F1 in the States and it's the American race and you're trying to get viewership up it really shouldn't be that difficult to show qualy correctly. Speed wasn't great but they look great compared to NBC coverage. I even sent a tweet at Matchett where I happened to use a curse word (oh my!) and he responded to me saying he wouldn't be communicating with my anymore since I used "such vile language." Grow the F're broadcast was least own up to it.

  2. I'm pretty miffed at F1 for this crap coverage. Completely turned off by NBC I tried going to an old streaming service I've been using since 2008-ish to catch live races and managed to get a nasty little search virus (conduit) that still lingers after spending most of the night chasing it down. Not NBC's fault directly but...
    At any rate, I tuned in at the very end of the race(despite my promise to myself not to) to discover the NBC audio was lagging a second or two behind the video. Really didn't do the broadcast any credit when the camera shot was already onto something else by the time Diffy started screaming. Hobbs was...mumbling, Matchett was ONCE AGAIN trying to explain the difference between the prime and option - this was with less than 5 laps to go. To think, when I first started watching F1 seriously, as an adult in 2003, I loved the way they called races compared to NASCAR garbage. They used to have to down much better than they do now. And, all due respect to the man, Andretti was fumbling around on the podium...In the future I hope they write down the interview questions they intend to ask before stepping in front of the world. I couldn't bear to watch the whole thing.

    A guy wonders what could have been, had USF1 not been stillborne, had 'he' not left the mic for a team destined to fail. Peter Windsor was a solid, knowledgeable voice that balanced the old squak of Hobbs and kept Matchett in his place. SMH.

    Very telling that NBC refuses to admit they need to do something drastic to change the quality of their broadcast. Even at our home GP they only got passes for Buxton (hey, buddy, get rid of that 'stache, mmkay? You are not a newscaster, you are not a cop.) . Bad day for F1 on American television. vurry, vurry bad day.

  3. WoW sorry for you guys. that is a shame that in you local grand prix the cover is bad.
    We don't have the best commentators here with FOXsportsla but the videos and coverage is decent.

    we don't have the level of Sky broadcast with multiple cameras!!! I would pay without hesitating if the service is available online.

    Going into the race... not much action.

  4. I'm sure the stache is a thing but, hey, I'll take caffeinated Will over all of them any day. OH and BTW he confirmed, during FP2 the bit about Alonso's hit not being 28G as we wrote here, so he's good :)

  5. its time for bernie's intervention :) only he can save this crappy coverage in US.

  6. Here in Australia it's on a regular commercial station too but they tend to be apologetic about the ad breaks and will briefly discuss events (that took place during the break) before returning to the SkyF1 team for the commentary. I still have an internet live stream running on the computer to view during the ad breaks but on the whole OneHD (part of the ailing free-to-air Network Ten) do a pretty good job just by caring about the sport and it's fans.

  7. I made the HORRIBLE mistake of disconnecting my computer from the TV (was streaming the SkySports feed because i'm not a pedestrian racing fan) and tuned into NBC to catch the podium ceremony. Yeahhhh that was an utter failure. NBC had audio issues they couldn't figure out and took commercial break after commercial break. When they did come back the moment had passed. The podium was totally over. Granted they showed it to use NOT live but for us in the know it was such a maddening moment. I remember they cut to a shot of fans entering the track and the clock at the top of the timing tower showed 3:04 I look down at my watch and it was 3:14. Horrible. I'll take my fuzzy, pop up laden, SkySports feed any day over NBCSN. I really feel bad for Buxton because he seems like a standup knowledgable guy. The other I could do without.

    You know. It wouldn't be soooo bad if NBC had an option to pay extra (a lot extra) to be able to have the raw feed (with minimal commentary) available to us. Say $200 a season to catch all Practice, Qualifying and Race sessions from all 18-20 races WITHOUT commercial interruption. I'd totally pay that.

  8. I think I caught the tail end of that. Didnt they reply with "hey we broadcasted it live... what more do you want." or something to that effect

  9. I saw that scolding too and that is when NBC, Will Buxton and gang lost me as a fan. I have every single race from 2000 until today saved from my Tivo to a DVD and in a case stored away. I have been doing it for 14 years now and do not miss a single race.

    To be told I am not a true F1 fan because I could not keep up with all the moving of the broadcast channels around was insulting to me even though it was you they were scolding.

    The reason I choose to Tivo all my races? Honestly? Because I cannot stand the commentary and the dumbing down of the sport by them. I do not need to hear 100X about DRS or KERS or option and prime tires. Are all the rules an nuances of Baseball or American football explained at every singe event? NBC, stop pandering to the 2% of the viewers you may have for 10 minutes odf the race each weekend. Bring up your level to where a true fan is and let the casual person tuning in take some time to learn about the sport. Stop trying to convert and just do a good broadcast. I use Tivo because I can fast forward through all the commercials and watch an entire race in 1/3 the time it actually takes to race it. Which is just sad and pathetic.

    As much as I love the sport, I am, for the first time in 14 years, considering dropping the service and just reading about it on Monday instead. I was so miserable and pissed off after missing my first qualifying in 14 years and then the endure that crap they called coverage on Sunday...... then to have to watch 15 minutes of commercials before they played a taped delay of the ceremonies... only to break for MORE COMMERCIALS!!! Why not do away with them and get some interviews in........

    Forget it, I can go all night, I hope someone from NBC reads here and gets an idea of how they are actually driving away the hard core fans in America.

    I am trying to find a stream next weekend to watch instead of NBC so I can see if there is a way to get around the miserable coverage.

  10. I think enough has been said about the poor coverage. Now let's get to the real reason why F1 is unwatchable with even Brundle...because it's terribly boring. "Yawn" basically describes it. I can't handle losing two hours to watch 3 good passes anymore. I like Vettel and respect Newey, but the combo is making F1 less exciting than golf (okay, not that bad, but almost). Kudos to this site for the excellent executive summaries. I love how it frees up my Sunday for football and friends.

  11. Atrocious weekend on NBC from start to finish. The boring race really didn't help matters, especially the network, who probably would've gotten less abuse if it was more interesting.

    I think it would be wise for NBCSN to take a step back and listen to what people are saying. I read countless angry comments on forums and Twitter throughout the weekend and was surprised that there was little apology on their behalf.

    The network came out guns blazing at the start of the season and it's gone downhill since. Anyone notice how they moved into a smaller studio about midway through the season?

    Some changes should be in order for the broadcast team and that would be the easiest place to start. I don't really see what Diffey adds? He's a broken record most of the time and that interview with Vettel was cringe-worthy at best. I wonder what the feeling is of NBCSN throughout the paddock? They didn't make a very compelling case for themselves having the team in some tower outside of the track for their home race. Buxton is the network's only saving grace and they should give him a lot more airtime than he currently has.

    I don't know about the rest of you but I pay about $18 extra a month to get NBCSN. So far I haven't gotten my money's worth, completely unacceptable.

  12. yeah I was impressed when he first showed up on FOX/SPEED but he alone cannot buoy the rest of the production. He doesn't even get a proper camera crew, as the odd outtake shows. He also doesn't get much respect from the other TV crews, nor the teams. If his mic didn't have a logo on it I'm thinking he couldn't get even basic interviews. I almost feel sorry for the guy, until I remember he's got full access to the F1 pitlane. I'd make a go of it if I was in his shoes.

  13. DO NOT USE FIRSTROWSPORTS for a stream. Their site has been taken over by malware-stuffing 'applications'.

    I suggest waiting for a few hours after the race has run instead, and picking up a SKY or BBC torrent. They're usually in HD and have all the pre-and-post-race stuff the US broadcast sorely lacks. Those feeds do have some commercials during the pre-race, but the good torrents have them edited out.

    Good hunting.

  14. A good broadcast can overcome a boring race. The kind of segments over on SKY and BBC that include interviews with real hero material makes a world of difference. This year for a few races they did a special on Ayrton Senna, featuring the man who interviewed him, taped conversations, and all the contextual sort of stuff that we simply do not see elsewhere. It also helps when the commentary team doesn't insist on beating you over the head with the most basic, fundamental crap (how many times does one need to have DRS and KERS explained to them?).

  15. And here I am yelling at my dvr for screwing up when I should have been yelling at nbc...psshhh. I was noticing the dumbed down commentary, I'm fact I remember turning to my wife and making a comment along the lines of wishing they weren't doing this for the 2% that were new viewers that honestly probably didnt even care...make them do some research! if they are interested enough they will. I don't mind too much of the commentary during the race, in fact I enjoy some of Hobbs entertaining comments and Matchett seems very knowledgeable, it's just the same shit every week. Nothing new. Buxton being the exception. It has to be the people behind them that aren't allowing a lot of effort be put into the show. I mean I get more info from sites like these, and every week I'm surprised that they don't touch many of the great headlines and drama surrounding the sport.

  16. Not as bad as golf?? Really?? I've never watched a golf tournament where the leader started out 10 strokes below par, and ends up winning by, gasp, 10 strokes. Third graders playing soccer offers 100 x's more drama.

  17. C'mon, be a real high rolling F1 fan and GO to the race. BTW, getting those 2% somewhat interested is the only way network coverage is going to get any better.


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