The month of May, most synonymous with the Indianapolis 500, has brought to light more than ever the question of open competition vs. cost containment.
The concept is simple. The more “open” a rule book is, the more “cost” is associated with developing and exploiting those rules. The more “closed” a rule book is, in theory, the less room for innovation and therefore less money spent in development and testing. It’s a basic concept that has existed ever since man started racing, but one that in recent years has gravitated more towards a closed rulebook and spec racing, moreso than an open set of diverse rules.
While this is prevalent throughout motorsport as a whole, perhaps the most evident is in the IndyCar series, and most notably the Indianapolis 500. Once considered the hub of innovative racing technologies: the birthplace of the turbine race engine, the development of modern aerodynamics, even the original home of the rear-view mirror, “Indy” has in recent years become much more of a “spec” series. With only two engine manufacturers filling the whole field, every car is fitted with an engine that has matching specification, a 2.2-liter turbocharged V-6, nearly identical chassis, with the only visible differences being minor bodywork differences between the two manufacturers.
The theory toward a very rigorous specification is two-fold: 1. Provide close competition across the field, and 2. Contain costs due to lack of innovation.
The internet and television are merging. Right? It’s something we’ve all heard for years, and of course there is absolutely a lot of truth in it.
Five years ago, Netflix was a service that mailed you DVD’s, Amazon was a place you purchased goods from, and Hulu was, at best, a place to catch old reruns.
In 2016, all three companies are legitimate web content providers. The success of a number of their respective programs has placed them as direct competitors to the premium cable companies of old, such as HBO, Showtime, and beyond. With companies like HBO and Showtime having to literally change their service and business model to accommodate “Smart” TV’s and streaming devices such as AppleTV and Amazon Fire, the argument that internet and television have merged has a clear legitimacy.
However, there remains one key area of television entertainment that still seems remains strong for the cable-loyal, live sports. While the ability to “binge watch” Netflix’s House of Cards or Amazon’s Transparent provides an unparalleled convenience and accessibility to its audience, live sports presents a unique animal.
For the sporting loyal, very rarely is the convenience of watching whenever-you-want a factor, if anything it’s the opposite. Loyal sports fans plan their schedule around their beloved team, rarely the other way around. In such, the ability to see live sports, on television, remains a true holdout in the evolving world of internet streaming, with the health of the NFL’s abundance of cable packages, the proof of that.