Based on his verified Twitter account, ousted IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is not enamored with NBC Sports Network.
On Wednesday, Bernard linked to a Deadspin piece titled “Nobody Is Watching NBC Sports Network,” calling it “[v]ery interesting.” The Deadspin article cited a recent report on this website chronicling poor ratings on NBCSN.
Bernard then re-tweeted the following comment from WRTV sports anchor Dave Furst: “If by ‘interesting’ you mean ‘telling,’ then yes.” When another commenter asked if Bernard had struck the deal with NBCSN, he responded “[N]o sir!”
Last month, Bernard re-tweeted a comment by Sports Business Journal writer John Ourand noting that “NBCSN’s top show for the week [of December 17-23] was Hunt for Big Fish, which drew 177K on Sunday morning.”
The tweets are notable considering that Bernard, who was CEO of IndyCar from 2010-2012, inherited the series’ ten-year television contract with NBCSN. In an interview with Sports Media Watch in 2010, Bernard expressed hopes that Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, which paved the way for Versus to become NBC Sports Network, would lead to an increase in distribution for the network and a corresponding rise in viewership for IndyCar.
Neither occurred. Versus went from 75 million homes in April of 2010 (shortly after ending a dispute with DirecTV) to just under 78 million in December of 2012 — an increase, but nothing dramatic. In 2012, IndyCar viewership fell to the lowest level on NBCSN since the network began televising races in 2009.
Bernard’s apparent dissatisfaction with NBCSN offers at least some window into the difficulties facing IndyCar. If the leader of the sport for the past two years was not a fan of NBCSN as a television partner, it stands to reason that others within IndyCar may share the same sentiment.
* The Furst and Ourand accounts are unverified.