NBC Sports announced that January 2nd at 4 PM ET the Comcast-owned network is launching the all-new NBC Sports Network. This new 24-hour, seven-days-a-week sporting channel replaces Versus, the self-proclaimed cycling network.
Jon Miller, the president of NBC Sports Network, exclusively told Cyclismas, “To be honest most of us had completely forgotten we had a Versus channel. You’re talking about our rodeo and fishing station, right?”
When asked about the status of cycling and specifically future coverage of the Tour de France, Miller took a long pause before answering.
“That’s the Lance Armstrong race?” he queried rhetorically. “I don’t need to tell you that Americans only care about a sport with a stick or ball. Quite frankly, cycling, to my knowledge, has neither. Also it just drags on forever. Speaking of dragging – did you see that Belgian guy get smacked by a car on one of those Tour de France race days? That was a kick-ass rating bonanza for sure! If cycling had more of that kind of action then we could talk about daily coverage.”
Continuing forward Miller isn’t sure how cycling will fit into the programming.
“I guess we’ll probably do a Sunday “Week in Review” broadcast with those two Englishmen and that other guy who seems to be mildly retarded.”
When further pressed about the status of the Tour on the new NBC Sports channel, Miller replied, “We have a strong and robust relationship with the Tour de France.” When asked what that phrase meant, exactly, he replied, “That’s a good question. No one has bothered to ask that before. I have no idea – it just sounds good.”
The NBC Sports web site had employed a few freelance writers to generate content for the cycling page. However, just before Christmas, those positions were eliminated and the writers were told to check back around April to see if their services would be needed.
“I’m trying desperately to get Lance to unretire or at least to start banging celebrities again,” explained Miller. “That’s the only way we’re going to get hits on the site. Or maybe bring back some looping video of that driver who hit the Belgian bike racer.”
When asked if he thought Versus had become too myopic in their cycling coverage with their heavy Armstrong focus, Miller was adamant that they hadn’t.
“Sure, people are going to say we were complacent and grabbed from the lowest branch rather than thinking long-term, developing additional stories or even trying to educate the viewing audience. Instead I put my best producer on developing a rodeo show. Naming the bulls that the cowboys rode and creating a personality for each one – that was fucking brilliant!” said Miller. “In hindsight I guess we should have tried doing that with cycling. However, the English announcers we use only seemed to recognize Armstrong or thought all the cyclists were him.”