The first year of NBC’s new deal with Formula One Racing, which previously had aired on SPEED (which will be blown up in favor of Fox Sports 1 this summer), isn’t getting off on the right wheel in one of the biggest states supporting the auto racing faction.
The Sunday before Memorial Day is a huge racing day. In addition to the Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 primetime race on Fox, and the Indianapolis 500 during the day on ABC, there is another race that’s run: the Formula One Grand Prix from Monaco.
And if you were a race fan in Houston, you had a problem.
Because instead of the race, which the network had been promoting for weeks on their air, when viewers tuned into Houston’s NBC affiliate, KPRC-TV/”Local 2″, when the race started at 6:30 AM local time, they were greeted not only with local news programming, but infomercials.
Disgruntled viewers immediately bombarded the Post-Newsweek-owned station’s Facebook and Twitter pages demanding answers. And to make things even more insane, viewers that had no idea about the Monaco race also asked why “Sunday Today” and “Meet The Press” were not on the air. Since these two shows did not produce new episodes due to the race coverage, KPRC chose to air infomercials instead.
Which makes more sense than, say, airing the race itself, right? (Which they finally did toward the end of it… good job, good effort, KPRC!)
“Local 2” is no stranger to preemptions or delays of programming. According to a section on KPRC’s Wikipedia page devoted entirely to this practice of theirs, they did not air Conan O’Brien’s “Late Night” show during its first two years on the air – and when they did finally start carrying it, it was aired at 2:30 AM local time.
And let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a major network affiliate in a top ten market that’s been doing this for years.
The Texas-sized anger from the viewers forced KPRC-TV general manager Jerry Martin to post an apology to viewers – and even then, he doesn’t guarantee the station will clear NBC’s F1 races over the next three years. “We will give it very close assessment for 2014-2016 races and make our decision public well in advance of the race,” he writes.
Take the first syllable of the word “assessment,” and that’s exactly what this GM is representing himself as – even though he claims he knows “what it means to be a fan of racing.”
By opting to show Ron Popeil infomercials in lieu of network coverage of a race, thereby treating local race fans like garbage, Jerry Martin proved he knows nothing about “what it means to be a fan of racing.”
But he knows how to make a quick buck behind his viewers’ backs, doesn’t he?
And just think: this could happen again next Memorial Day weekend. But remember: he knows what you want, race fans!
Here is a sample of Facebook feedback on the morning of May 26.