Monday, October 22, 2012

So NBC has acquired F1 coverage rights. Wonderful.

It's hard to denote sarcasm on the internet, but trust me, the 'wonderful' in the title of this week's post is very definitely sarcastic.
Right now, to watch F1 in America, we have either Speed Channel, Fox (who own Speed) or internet piracy. Speed do a pretty good job. They have a pre-race show, the entire race, the podium ceremony and the post-race interviews. The commentators are a good blend of people. Bob Varsha is sometimes outwitted by Hobbs and Matchett but that's mostly because he doesn't get the English humour and sarcasm.
Fox on the other hand are awful. The race coverage starts normally as the cars are forming up after the formation lap, and runs to about a minute after the first car crosses the finish line. No pre-race, no podium, no post-race interviews. The race itself is diced up into hundreds of pieces by the commercials - about 30% more than we get on Speed.
Now I refer you back to what NBC did to the Olympics this year. Their coverage was so awful that it was just an embarrassment. Their streaming service choked regularly, they couldn't show stuff in the right order at the right time and their commentary team was wooden and so idiotically banal that my wife and I just sat staring at the TV shouting "shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!". They kept talking in the wrong places (over other announcements) and they knew nothing about any of the sports or athletes. Their coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies was an editing nightmare (a good hour missing from each), and this is the team who are going to take on F1. I think we know where this is going to end up.
In defence of NBC acquiring F1, most people point out that the Formula 1 association control the TV feed so we ought to be fine. This is true, but then the Olympics was a controlled feed and that didn't stop NBC from turning it into an unwatchable train wreck.
With F1 going to NBC we face the prospect of a major network screwing it up worse than Fox did to the point where, like the Olympics, the only way to see the actual events will be to pirate them online. I'd rather not have to do that, but if it comes to it, I have no problem with it. As a matter of fact, Speed's coverage of F1 is one of the last remaining reasons we have a satellite box and haven't cut the cord to go to something like Amazon or Hulu. If NBC do their usual quality job next year, I see a future full of downloaded content for my household.