Fox Sports executives Wednesday defended NBC’s coverage of last Sunday’s Daytona 500, for which NBC was taken to task by some members of the media for missing significant action during commercial breaks.
“We can sympathize with NBC,” said NASCAR on Fox producer Neil Goldberg, who hopes to keep the same critics happier when Fox opens its NASCAR season this Sunday. “There are certain times when you can come out of break and rejoin the action. But if it's an affiliate spot, we can't come out because the local affiliates control that commercial block, so it is a bit of a roll of the dice.”
While the first race of the season earned a NASCAR-record 11.3/23 final rating and share for the Peacock, some critics panned NBC’s loading up of commercial breaks early in the telecast, with the St. Petersburg Times’ John Cotey noting NBC “loaded up on commercials the first two hours, totally destroying the pace of the broadcast.” The Orlando Sentinel’s Jerry Greene wrote, “For much of the race, the only time anything exciting or significant happened, NBC had just gone to a commercial break.”
But Fox’s Goldberg pointed to the sponsor-friendly sport’s heavy commercial inventory, which has to run sometime during the broadcast.
“If you're in the last 30 seconds of a break, you have to make a decision because if that break doesn't make it on the air, what you have to remember, we have to put that break in somewhere else,” Goldberg said. “If those breaks start accumulating, we're doing more of a disservice to the viewers because we're stacking them up into some of the most important parts of the show, which is the end of the race.”
Fox Sports President and executive producer Ed Goren said the commercial load on all three of NASCAR’s television partners - NBC, Fox and Turner - is not much different than in past years.
“It's as frustrating for the guys in the truck and the booth as it is for anyone else when we go to commercial and something happens," he said.