SBD/May 29, 2013/Media

NBC Faces Possible Conflict Next June, As U.S. Open Runs Against Proposed N.J. F1 Race

NBC’s U.S. Open coverage and the Grand Prix of America's timing would not change
The latest issue that F1 and local organizers of New Jersey’s Grand Prix of America "must negotiate if the race is to become a reality" is a "potential conflict between the U.S. Open and the preferred date of the race for the worldwide F1 community -- which also happens to be Father‘s Day," according to Steve Strunsky of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. NBC Sports "does not intend to sacrifice its more traditional audience for the sake of F1, and that includes the millions of dads who for years have spent their Father’s Day tuned in to NBC for golf’s U.S. Open." Sources said that the conflict has "stalled an element essential to finalizing plans for the New Jersey race." How or whether the conflict "might be worked out is unclear." F1, NBC Sports and the "would-be local sponsor of the race, a group headed by" former YES Network chief Leo Hindery Jr., declined to discuss their positions on the issue. But sources said that NBC’s U.S. Open coverage and F1 race's timing "would not change." The FIA, F1’s governing body, following approval by F1 teams "penciled in the Grand Prix of America for June 16 on the 2013 calendar, before Hindery announced it would be postponed." Strunsky noted the conflict is "by no means the only snag Hindery has encountered since announcing plans for the race." Other "bumps in the road have included difficulty securing financial backing for the race, a lagging permitting process for necessary road work on the streets of Weehawken and West New York, and the departure of several key members of the race’s management team" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/27).

STREET SIGNS: NBC earned a 1.0 fast-national Nielsen rating and 1.46 million viewers for the F1 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday from 7:59-10:30am ET, the first time the race had aired live on broadcast TV in the U.S. The audience was the best for any F1 race on U.S. TV in six years, dating back to the Canadian GP on Fox in '07 (1.49 million viewers). The average viewership for Sunday's race also was higher than the four-race average for Fox last year (1.04 million viewers) -- a package that included one live race and three same-day tape races (all in the afternoon). Last year's Monaco GP aired live on Speed and averaged 427,000 viewers (NBC). In Houston, David Barron noted KPRC-NBC "elected Sunday morning not to air" the Monaco GP, opting instead for infomercials. The station issued an apology on its Facebook page that read in part, "We apologize to anyone who is missing the race." The station in a later Facebook message wrote, "We do apologize once more for the inconvenience this has caused many of you. We value ALL of our viewers and your feedback will be discussed with management so we bring you the best in programming and news. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to comment" (CHRON.com, 5/26).
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