So another two weeks go by without a Grand Prix, which is hard to take after the Europe-Monaco back to back weeks and Iâ€™m thinking, â€œGreat Canada is next on the calendar and it should be a great race.â€ Then I realize, â€œOh no, the race on CBS!â€
Why am I down on the mouth on the CBS network coverage? Oh let me count the ways:
For a worldwide organization that is looking to capitalize on the popularity of motor racing, they choose to have a production company based in the states, DIC, produce four races for broadcast on the CBS network. One would think that to do it right, they would get some seasoned announcer to call the race and for races like Canada in North America, possibly have the announcer team on-site. Not only did they do neither of the above, the announcing team is abysmal at best and we were stuck again with the world TV feed.
I donâ€™t want to rail on Ralph Sheheen and Derek Daly as they are both a bit out of their element and trying to balance a broadcast with one announcer with very little Formula One knowledge (Sheheen) and Daly with a wealth of info. The most glaring problem is that Daly ends up speaking too much, trying too hard to fill the air-time that Sheheen leaves empty because he just doesnâ€™t seem to know enough about Formula One. I realize that Derek Daly used to drive in Formula One and heâ€™s got some great insight, but Iâ€™m spoiled by the fountain of information from Speedâ€™s Steve Matchett that is twice as insightful and more useful. The last time I winced at much at Formula One broadcast in the US was when Speed had Rick DeBruhl as the main play-by-play man and at least he could pronounce Barrichello!
The other issue that I have with their call of the race has been the assumption that because the race is now on CBS that they must take the time to explain more about the Formula One series and the technical details to a newer audience. While I realize the CBS move was made by the commercial rightsholder, FOM to potentially broaden the appeal and reach of Formula One in the United States by virtue of it being on free TV this move has actually alienated many fans who are already deeply into Formula One and know what things like Barge boards are already. To further compound the issue, CBS insists on running the races that would normally run on Speed early Sunday morning as tape delayed in the middle of the day. Look, I like getting up to watch the race early on Sunday morning and if I donâ€™t thatâ€™s why there is a myriad of recording options open (I say myriad based on the ability to download the race a day later from other countries which I have done for several of this yearâ€™s events and I can honestly say the Formula One in Spanish is twice as exciting).
The other part of the deal with FOM was to produce a prime-time Formula One special that would help build the Formula One brand in the US, but it has yet to air and at this point, CBS only has one race left to broadcast. Um, CBS hello in there! Isnâ€™t this about ratings which equal ad revenues??
And then when it canâ€™t seem to get any worse, as the race ends they cut to commercial and as the broadcast resumes, a promo begins for the next show, an LPGA golf tournament. And the next thing I know, we see trophies handed to Kimi, Ron, Michael and the Formula One broadcast ends! What the hell! Where was the presentation to Rubens? Where were the post-race interviews? I thought that to carry Formula One, FOM mandated that the interviews be broadcast immediately after the race! What in the world are they thinking? Does CBS dare to upset FOM and Bernie Ecclestone?? I hope that FOM has monitored this and cancels their deal immediately so those of us on the US can watch the German GP live on Speed and not a tape that 6 hours old.
If I were CBS, I would turn one of their seemingly endless supply of CSI based programs into investigating how to produce and broadcast a Formula One Grand Prix and produce it in High Definition or face being voted off of the Formula One island by FOM!