Formula 1 Season Jump-Starts Auto Racing at NBC Sports Group
This is an exciting year for auto racing at NBC Sports Group, with the three major racing championships together under one roof: 51 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, IndyCar, and Formula 1 races will be televised on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) in 2015.
For the second consecutive year, NBCSN is the U.S. carrier of the world feed produced by Formula One Media (FOM), carrying all the session feeds: all three practices, qualifying, and the race itself. The network supplements the production with a studio show and on-air talent, both originating from its broadcast center in Stamford, CT.
“We’re always trying to think of ways that we can add a little bit more to our coverage, because FOM does take care of us really well in what they provide,” says Rich O’Connor, coordinating producer, Formula 1 and IndyCar, NBCSN. “We’re extremely happy with what we get from them in terms of the timeliness of the graphics and implementing other feeds. There’s always something that we can try to layer on our studio coverage, but there’s only so much you can do, because we don’t want to take away from the live race coverage.”
Upwards of 50 staffers will work a Formula One race, many of which begin in the wee hours of a Saturday into Sunday. NBCSN track-side reporter Will Buxton will deploy to each race site, and FOM will provide the unilateral feed of the reporter to layer on the main world feed.
FOM’s complement of production gear is anchored by what is essentially a portable IBC at each race. A whooping 83 cameras are typically used on an F1 race, with the feeds cut into a world feed and shipped to FOM’s international broadcast partners.
FOM also provides additional feeds on race day: backup time and scoring, an interactive track map, a pit-lane feed, an on-board channel (FOM determines the most relevant on-board), and a continuously running highlight reel.
“FOM are among the best in class in what they do and what they cover,” says O’Connor. “They do a great job of creating a portable broadcast center at 20 different locations. They do it a little bit differently than we’ll do with mobile units going to different NASCAR races.”
The year of auto racing includes the return of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to NBCSN on July 4 weekend. It has been a long time since one broadcast network aired all three major racing championships. For NBCSN, it’s an opportunity to build auto racing across the board.
“What will be upon us this year is to educate the audience on the differences between the three series,” says O’Connor. “What a great platform to be able to have the three championships for all three major racing series on one network. What we want to try to do is bring in the fringe fans from the three different series and make them pay attention to the series that they don’t normally pay attention as much attention to.”
NBC Sports Group continues its coverage of the 2015 Formula One season with coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra this weekend. The action continues throughout the weekend up to NBCSN’s telecast of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m. ET.