Recall these words your humble host wrote just a few days ago.
...the league’s bipolar relationship with the network swings wildly from the Danica Patrick love-ins on the race broadcasts to the occasionally abusive coverage at ESPN.com. As a consequence there has been a growing movement from fans asking that the IRL consider a different broadcast partner for next year, a proposal that despite the flawed relationship I’m not going to echo. I mean, I’ve seen what happened to the National Hockey League, and I don’t want to go looking for races on Versus.
Now it appears this off-the-cuff "doomsday scenario" of a broadcast partner has an actual chance of occurring.
Conventional wisdom was that a unified open-wheel racing series would result in a more valuable media property. But five months after the IRL and Champ Car joined together, the series is seeing what has been its biggest asset — media rights — struggling to maintain value.Versus? Are you kidding me? Pardon me, but I have to find a Zippo and some lighter fluid. Just in case.
Both incumbent partner ABC/ESPN and suitor Fox Sports have told the circuit that they are interested in broadcasting only the Indianapolis 500. But the IRL is trying to sell a package that includes at least four other races for broadcast as well.
ESPN has been pitching the IRL on a different model, possibly based on revenue sharing. So far, the IRL is not interested in such an arrangement.
While Fox has had some discussions with the series, Versus has shown the most interest in obtaining a package, which would not include the marquee races, according to several sources.
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(Thanks to Will at is it May yet? for