After many years of Formula One coverage on Speed TV, the series now embarks on a new TV station for American viewers. NBC Sports Network outbid Speed for the broadcast rights to air Formula 1 in the United States and while that announcement was made last fall, since then little has happened, NBC has published its broadcast schedule, but that’s about it. Other than a video preview of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
It’s a disappointing start to the new coverage. While retaining three of the four announcers (Bob Varsha, sadly, remains under contract to Speed), lead race announcer will be Leigh Diffey — who will call both F1 and the vastly different IZOD IndyCar Series this year – and the NBCSN site is essentially empty. There’s a Motorsports Talk page that aggregates posts from all racing series, not boting unique to Formula One. Yes, it takes a lot of work to develop content, archives and broadcast graphics, but this is rather sad. NBC is treating F1 like NASCAR, except with prettier grid girls and WAGs. As Negative Camber commented for F1B:
Formula One is already a brand and doesn’t need social media branding like a Gen Y in a relentless stream of duck-faced selfies on Facebook ripe with 110% personality and 0% character. NBC Sports should treat Formula One with the respect it deserves and approach the fans with the respect they deserve. Rehashing NASCAR market activations rebranded for F1 won’t work and neither will an adolescent approach to this pinnacle of motor sport. Attaching current nomenclature, nuance and digital brand messages around the “cool, dude…it’s F1 and has women with breasts and rock stars and is fast and you should watch it” type of message is insulting. It’s not an “extreme sport” live from Aspen Colorado with athletes performing while the Harlem Shake plays in the background at 120db.