A staple of the Month of May is missing from many IndyCar fans lives this year.
Previously watching practice for the Indianapolis 500 was appointment television/streaming for the die-hard fans. It was something to put on in the background while you were getting your work done. Or you’d rush home and throw the YouTube stream up on the TV. It gave you a chance to see who was going to have a good May or who was going to have a dismal one. On top of that, it let you watch race cars on the track and that’s all racing fans really want to see.
That all changed this year.
NBC took over the broadcasting rights for the IndyCar series this season. While this was a welcome change amongst the IndyCar faithful they did one thing that has infuriated the fan base.
NBC Sports Gold.
A paid subscription platform that allows you to watch all practice and qualifying sessions throughout the year. That’s fine and dandy, not many people are watching FP1 from Barber. People do however make a point to watch Indy 500 practice. It allows us to see who is having a good May and who is having a dismal one. It was something you could put on in the background at work, or throw up on the TV when you got home.
Previously the series would stream sessions for FREE on their YouTube channel. This season NBC and IndyCar decided to put sessions behind the NBC Sports Gold paywall. For $40 you can watch what you previously watched for free.
Listen, this isn’t about the $40. That’s nothing, it’s not about the money. It’s about the principal of paying for something that you shouldn’t have to pay for. We already pay a cable bill, internet, and the sports package to get NBCSN. Now we have to pay to have an add-on package? No.
There’s a line for everyone and NBC Sports Gold is that line for most people. Twitter is flooded with complaints about practices behind kept behind the paywall. It’s just not worth $40 to watch practice sessions.
On top of all of that it has to have hurt the casual fan as well. Previously an unsuspecting YouTube user may have stumbled across the stream and thought this is badass. Then they tuned in on Sunday to watch. The number of times that happened is likely very small but it’s still something that could have happened. Not now.
This is undoubtedly taken away from the excitement of May. We’re left looking for clips of what happened on track and NBC/IndyCar are slower than Ho Pin Tung at getting them up. Obviously for a reason. We’re still headed to the speedway this weekend but the excitement hasn’t been building like it has in the past.
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