NBC's Olympic coup should boost Versus, IndyCar Series

June 8, 2011
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The winning bid by NBC—and its parent company Comcast Cable—to air the Winter Olympics in 2014 and 2018 and the Summer Olympics in 2016 and 2020 is good news for the IndyCar Series.

Comcast also owns the cable channel, Versus, a fledging sports channel that some day hopes to rival ESPN. The IndyCar Series signed a 10-year deal, which started in 2009, to air its races on Versus.

While there have been complaints that some cable systems don’t carry Versus, and the cable channel doesn’t have the clout to attract casual sports fans to televised IndyCar events, officials for the cable channel have tried to muster a critical mass of programming, including National Hockey League games, that will elevate the channel to a new level.

Still, Versus reaches about 20 million fewer homes than ESPN.

But the Olympics deal could help. Officials for NBC/Comcast, which paid $4.4 billion for the right to air the Olympics through 2020, are promising to use many of their channels to air Olympic events. Although Comcast/NBC hasn’t yet released any broadcast plans for the Olympics, Versus is likely central in those plans.

That means cable systems that don’t already carry the cable channel will likely be looking to add Versus, and sports fans may be enticed to upgrade their cable package to add it. It will certainly funnel numerous fans who already have the channel but don’t currently tune in often over to Versus through promotions on NBC and its Web site during the Olympics seasons.

It’s logical to conclude that all of this will raise the overall profile of Versus as a TV destination for sports fans. And since Versus has a long-term deal with IndyCar in hand, it seems logical that Versus officials would be eager to cross-promote open-wheel racing through its Olympics coverage.

There’s only one fear for the IndyCar Series. The growth of Versus and the continual addition of mainstream sports to its airwaves could diminish the cable channel’s commitment to IndyCar programming and push its telecasts toward the sidelines.

But for now, the upside appears to far outweigh any possible downside.

  • Why Versus Is Attractive
    ESPN subscriber fees charged to cable operators are 2-3 times other popular channels. Cable operators HATE that and are begging for a viable competitor to come along. That is what NBC has in mind for Versus, which will be on a household par with ESPN in fairly short order. That will definitely help the Indy Car Series.
  • Well they need to do something to kickstart the ratings. Can never hurt to get that kind of exposure.

    I hope NBC picks up the contract from ABC. The NBC/VS connection would make for a great team to promote Indycar.
  • What are you smokin'?
    Lot's of if's and's or but's in there. Yep, 2014 winter and 2016 Summer Olympics. That'll do it. Ha!

    If it's any consolation to IRL fans and speedway apologists, NBC/Comcast dumped the VerSUs website promoting the IRL series, eliminated in-season streaming coverage of the series (because they have exclusive rights) and CANCELLED a program called Indycar Weakly starring Indy's own two-face, Robin Miller.

    So, I would think twice before I put any eggs in the Comcast basket....to date they have not delivered anything but the lowest ratings in Indy history, 0.22, 0.29, 0.19. Me thinks they can do what ever they want with the paltry IRL series...like shelve it for non-performance.
  • If people wanted to watch
    the IRlcar league thingy, they would already be doing so.
  • For another viewpoint
    Lets see what Forbes has to say on the "Coup"


    As with pretty much anything related to the .1rl, I predict epic fail.
  • Great Forbes article...prespective Indy is small potatoes
    "In a joint announcement Tuesday, the NHL and the NBC Sports Group said the new deal will run through the 2020-21 season. The package is reportedly worth a total of $2 billion."

    NHL is getting $2B for 10yrs....

    IRL gets about $3M to 5M per season. That's $50 million for IRL's 10 years. Bwahahhahhahahhahahaha! Come on now, growing the sport?
  • Numbers Galore
    Actually, you're about $5M to $7M per season too low For Indy Car (not called 'IRL' any more)...but who's counting, particularly when you're obsessed, right? LOL. Excellent value for sponsors, advertisers and all parties involved. Lots of room for creative growth, something Randy Bernard is leveraging very well. Also do not forget the Disney deal with Indy Car expires soon, and those negotiations are also proceeding.

    I am certain you will keep us posted. LOL.
  • fuzzy math
    Say there Mr. defender of the .1rl,
    you might wanna get with your bestest lunch and flying buddy, RB and get your stories straight.


    "Racer: These figures that have been bandied about – that Versus pays IndyCar $5m per year for its 12 races – are they true?

    RB: No, that's not true, and I don't know where all that came from. It's actually a very complicated deal, something that I'm not going to explain over the phone on such a poor connection! But it's much more of a co-promotion and co-ownership deal, with some revenue-sharing.

    Racer: OK, but are IMS Productions' costs covered by this deal?

    RB: Er…no! I think it's fair to say that right now, our television deal is a very expensive proposition."

    Doesn't sound like they're taking in 5 million once reported, let alone the 10 million you're claiming. He actually makes it sound like they lose $$$ after paying production costs.
  • The Joy Of Simplistic Thought
    That's because you are not in that particular business and have no idea how such deals are structured. After all, you are obviously one of the simplistic thinking naysayers who lend credence to 12+ summaries from zap2it.

    Mr. Bernard calls it a 'very complicated deal.' That is an understatement. When combining the Versus deal with the Disney deal along with how the spot avails are distributed and revenue generated from sponsorships and other business component deals it is, in fact, complicated. And worth in the neighborhood of $10 mil per year all told.

    Oh, I understand how those like you might think it's a money loser...after all, in your quaint little world all of you enjoyed cart and thought they walked on water even though they failed, twice, and spent millions buying their way onto television. Not everyone needs to do that. Particularly series with the Indy 500 at their center.

    Glad I could help.
  • Lunch date
    Dipsicle claimed on another forum, before he was banned for posting racist photos, that he has lunch with Randy Bernard. Why not fill us non self proclaimed meida insiders in on the exact numbers? Not the ones in your head but the ones you and Roping Randy discussed. Thanks in advance. Do you fly on your jet or commercial to meet with Randy?
  • A Plea for Sanity From Comment Section Contributors
    It remains terribly tedious dealing with obsessed Internet squatters who rarely have a point. Do you think you could stick to actual topics and leave the creepy stalking to someone else?
  • No denial
    I noticed RB's Super Friend didn't deny being banned for posting racist pictures.
    How despicable if true.
    He also doesn't explain how the Vs. deal works.
    That's just SOP for him.
    You gotta tell RB not to talk with his mouth full when you have your luch dates, Grand Master d. That way you can pass on all the fabulous insider info to us "simplistic thinking naysayers".
  • (Sigh)
    Guess not.
  • $2Billion
    What's IRL's 10 year deal worth...seriously?

    The IRL sold off it rights for what amounts to a measily $10M a year, and that includes the 500 and ABC's contributions.

    How much more can it be devalued? And how does 200K eyeballs grow the sport? 0.22, 0.29, 0.19 won't do it. Not enough eyeballs. Lots of fishheads though...Speedway apologists have no data to supply.
  • oval fan american racing fan
    how can you blame versus they got champcar and cart light it was not the irl delta wing dump earl and is going to le mans i did not like the delta wing but looks better than last mock up of new indycar at least it look fit for the car and did not look like a duck and look like speed
  • Public Service Announcement
    The Global Literacy Foundation. Just saying.
  • It is amazing that either literacy issues follow the Nattering Naybobs of Negativism or their rants cause them to come across as less than polished.

    Of course it is also ironic that they complain that the Indycar Series only gets x dollars for their broadcasts when the series they hold up as the pinnacle of sports but ended its life as an infomercial.

    I think everyone agrees Indycar needs to work on viewership. I think most will agree that vs. offers the best programming, just not the best reach. Hosting the Olympics will help them get that reach.

    Am I the only one who has noticed that Chief spends an inordinate amount of time following a series he hates? I love Indycar, but do not follow it that closely. if Indycar were a person, Chief would be considered a stalker.
  • Not IRL
    Hey Chief, at least get the name of the series right. IT'S NOT IRL...its Izod IndyCar Series, or IICS if that's easier for you to spell.
  • earl nhl has good versus rating
    its earl
  • It's the IRL
    It's still the IRL, and it deserves limited respect. It's taken the sacred holy land of motorsport and made it a mockery of it's own self.

    You guys are so desperate to cover their tracks of AOW destruction you will go to any lengths to make it 'look' successful. It's not and it's not going to be for a long time.

    As an advocate for the betterment of the sport I will continue to point out the fluff that you all want to sham the business world into believing. Flim-flam and sham artists all of you, especially the paid Speedway spokespeople like mIndyMan and Mr. "I've seen the contracts and it's NORTH of $20 Million".
  • Read and Weep
    That does not explain your stalker-like obsession with the Indy Car series. By 'sacred holy land of motorsport' do you mean cart? The entity that bamboozled itself into non-existence? Twice?

    AOW was not destroyed. cart was. Twice. cart does not equal AOW. IMS has always been the center of AOW, and the Indy Car Series has ensured continuing enjoyment of AOW since cart boycotted IMS and subsequently killed themselves. Twice. In other words, AOW did not experience destruction. cart did. Twice.

    With what part of this reality are you having difficulty coming to grips? I prefer dealing in facts and not bluster, and once again I have laid out your facts.
  • I actually think most Indycar supporters do a pretty fair job of tempering gains with the reality that there is a long way to go.

    It seems more like you and your buddies who "will go to any lengths to make it 'look' UNsuccessful". You ignore anything good, and emphasize and creatively invent things to make it look bad.

    Only the Nattering Naybobs of Negativism could blindly ignore the largest crowd in years at all events, the most media attention, one of the most exciting races ever, the most sponsors in years, a more than full entry list with bumping and drama a plenty and desperately look for negatives.

    Most Indycar fans seem grounded in reality, it is the haters who go out of their way to try to run it down. Where is the announcement that you guys touted that Mari Hulman George was going to announce a sale of IMS after the race?
  • UGH
    Chief, tg, Jim, Brett, Truth (Most likely are all the same entity.)

    Purveyors of nonsense, denyers of reality, distorters of anything positive, mongers of loads of crap, and genuinely very unhappy crybabies.

    It's a shame you dudes can't find anything positive in your lives to work towards. Too bad we've already enjoyed the last space shuttle. Such a shame you couldn't have been launched into space to enjoy a real view of reality and the mortality that your views will come to face.

    IMS for sale, me eye, cap'n! Oh, were you wanting and waiting for it to be turned into a trailer park so you could move in?

    You dudes are the bomb......
  • What harm is my opinion to you, or anybody?
    You guys are pretty puffed up right now, how come? And why do my AOW observations and posting of Indy / IRL facts seem to have you so obsessed with rebuttal?

    Haven't seen any national advertising lately, what happened? Two weeks later Dave Weldone is a forgotten champion...as is the IRL. Why is that?
    • The Education of Children Should Always Be Our First Priority
      Perhaps we strive to help hostile, unenlightened, misguided, wayward children learn about the real world as we attempt to assist in their maturity processes.

      Dan Wheldon? I saw him on Letterman this week. And the CMT awards. And the Today Show. And Regis. Several nationally distributed sports shows have featured him. He has been doing advance publicity for upcoming races.

      Perhaps you should not be so selective in what you want to read or hear young feller.
    • Saw Helio in a national Pennzoil commercial yesterday. Saw the Danica Go daddy during the NBA Finals and her Peak Antifreeze over the weekend.

      Read an article that since Penske is free of the tobacco advertising Helio will be in more commericials including Shell Oil.

      So you may want to check your tv before you say Indycar is not getting national advertising.

      I do not think the question should be why are we puffed up, I think the better question is why do you still think Indycar is going down in '11, '12 ,'13 or whatever year you are picking.

      Before the month of May, you said attendance would be down, viewership would be down, car counts would be down, the race would not be interesting, that the family would announce the sale of the track and as usual you were wrong on all counts.

      Indycar has momentum from a successful month of May, and continues that with more new sponsors, new engines for next year, new cars for next year and new body kits next year or the year after. All the things you said they needed.

      So the bigger question is why are you still so negative in the face of some very promising news?

      Indycar is far from where it needs to be, but it is definitely on the way up.
    • defender the educator = defender the offender
      From the lack of denial, having Grand Master d educating children sounds like a bad idea. That is, unless you want your children taught to be despicable racists, posting offensive pictures on message boards.
    • Indycarz stormtroopers and mythbusters
      We'll see what the +12's are for Milwaukee on Sunday.

      Whether or not death confronts them is not of importance...but the lingering misery is highly entertaining.

      I see the flailing IRL had a publicity stunt where the 2nd place winner of the 500 was injured rather severely. Apparently trying to prove IRL drivers are athletes. FAIL, again.

      Get well soon JR, the Speedway made sure you didn't become a Trevor Bayne.
    • Indycarz stormtroopers and mythbusters
      We'll see what the +12's are for Milwaukee on Sunday.

      Whether or not death confronts them is not of importance...but the lingering misery is highly entertaining.

      I see the flailing IRL had a publicity stunt where the 2nd place winner of the 500 was injured rather severely. Apparently trying to prove IRL drivers are athletes. FAIL, again.

      Get well soon JR, the Speedway made sure you didn't become a Trevor Bayne.
    • I thought you and the other Nattering Naybobs were crowning Bayne as the next greatest thing since Jimmie Johnson? Boy your tune changed. Of course it is now interesting that not only do you seem to be backtracking on a fail date for Indycar, you seem to be backtracking on it failing at all. And doing so without the personal apology you feel you are owed. That is a major shift for you. Or will you pull a Weiner and say your IBJ ID was hacked?

      I am sure Indycar told JR to tear up his leg so he has an excuse if he does not do well in future races. I wonder where Tanya Harding is? Might they have put her hit team after JR? So I am guessing they are also putting wheel locks on Herta's car so it does not do well either? Love the conspiracy.

    • Duh
      For someone who monitors every ad everywhere and knows exactly when the IRL is promoted on NATIONAL TV every hour of every day....you'd think you'd a get a history 'relate' correct...

      It was Jeff Gillooly who whacked Nancy Kerrigan. Kinda like a certain gunfight years ago and more recently what Tony George did to AOW. Which, BTW, you overwhelmingly supported. So, I guess when you have to eat soggy cornflakes you eat 'em with gumption.

      JR coulda bee the next Trevor Bayne (and been racing at Texas as the 500 winner), but because the Speedway steward selectively enforces when caution flags are displayed, JR was cheated out of the "Bayne-esque" win, also in dramatic fashion.

      So, even in victory, the Speedway and the IRL fails...as does the Speedway apologists who do the dirty work around here.
    • Self proclaimed IRl fans wont watch indycar
      why should anyone else

      67% of respondents to a Baltimore Sun poll say the iRl isnt worth the hassle
    • Poor ole JR
      {expletive deleted) driver from (expletive deleted) racing league (expletive deleted) up his (expletive deleted) leg doing some (expletive deleted) stunt nobody (expletive deleted) watched
    • i said her hit squad, sorry i did not take the time to look up their names. Of course the the other guy that was part of it will be upset you forgot to include him.

      By the way, saw the Pennzoil commericial a few minutes ago on ESPN.

      While I am not a fan of Weldon, and rooted for JR since I work for his sponsor, there is no way he would have won that. He screwed the pooch by getting too anxious, the definition of rookie mistake. and since the rules say you cannot benefit from a yellow you caused, I am not sure how you think he should of won it.

      I hope jr does better than Trevor, as I stated, he had his 15 minutes of fame, and now is back to an also ran. That was easy, Wood Brothers have not sustained a winner in decades.

      Sorry Chief, Indycar is riding a wave of success, and you just can't stand it. now even you are backing off on the failure stuff. When you do that, you know Indycar is seeing success.
      • Indy Car All Over National Television
        Hey Chief...nearly 600 million hits for that Hot Wheels stunt at the 500. Not too shabby. Also, various Indy Car owners, drivers and officials have been featured on CNBC all day. There is lots of video on their web site in case you missed them live. I know how concerned you get. It appears they have taken your advice.
      • Watching NHL tonite boys
        It's on NBC...not seeing any IRL series promotions. Why not...am I blind? Quite a wave building there...

        Daver Welsone is the peoples IRl champion. Is he racing at Milwaukee this week?
      • CNBC website
        Nothin.....theres an article for JR stunt failure.

        But, i saw this nugget written June 1..."Indianapolis Motor Speedway has not changed its master plan in the last century ".

        Interesting. 3 of the lowest TV ratings in
        Indy history in past 3 years. Yeah, thats quite a wave.
      • A 'How To' Manual for the Challenged
        Chief, given your childlike behavior I know you need to have your hand held, so when you go to the CNBC web site search the 'video' section for two pieces from yesterday: 'Fast Cars & Big Money' and 'Big Business of Auto Racing.' Many of your favorite Indy Car personalities are featured. Very informative. Very grown up.
      • Read this
        Great hockey last night on NBC...no IRL ads or Indy tie-in's. How come? They all must be over cnbc?

        Indy and the IRL is small potatoes in a small mind.
      • hot wheels stunt on youtube 5 millon hits that more than indy 500 viewers
        irl does not need good looking car i thought that was big part of series and a big draw why not a bigger wider rear wing and rocket front bumpers is for sportcars and stockcars ....
      • Because NBC does not carry Indycar races? Same reason Fox will not advertise for the Olympics and CBS will not advertise Nascar races.

        As far as tie ins, I am guessing not too many race fans watch Hockey. Same reason you do not see much racing tie in on Glee or So you think you can dance.

        600 million hits? Really? If true, very impressive. And wasn't this the stunt that Chief said no one would watch or care about?
        Typical Chief.

        FYI, saw another Honda Indy commercial on 60 Minutes. It was from a couple of weeks ago. Finally got to it on Tivo. Great piece on SGT Giunta. What a hero, so humble. A true American.
      • Who works your wires?
        NBC is owned by the same company that owns Versus, the flagship IRL broadcaster. Versus is supposed to sandwich together similar sports so the fanbase can develop etc etc.

        So, it's not so far out of the question to have two sports that share a supposed growing fanbase also share advertising time on the big network.

        And that's where the IRL is small potatoes. There is NO MONEY coming out of Indy that is spent on advertising the series. The series has left that to it's marketing partners. And it's my opinion that even they are failing the series.

        So, makeup all the faux viewed commercials you want but my points are valid and on target. The new Izod commercial with Weezer...what is that all about? You have a local sport with NO national exposure. And you can take that to the bank.
      • The IRls bare aluminum brigade
        was out in force at TMS. Grate centennial bounce there losers. What a joke OWR has become.
      • Versus has done all it can
        for indycar. nothing is going to boost it
      • On Par For A Great Year
        The Indy Car crowd at Texas every year is bigger than any cart race ever was. Attendance this season is up at every single venue so far.
      • Gimmick
        Scott Dixon tweets that the 2nd race draw was a bad gimmick. TFF. Hot wheels jumps one race, inverted starting fields the next. The EARL, bringing gimmicks to you since 1996. I can't seem to find the 2011 500* winners name in the results of last nights race? Curious.
      • What a great weekend of racing
        24 hours of Le Mans and F1's GP of Canada were both AWESOME!!!
        I'm sure that'll be the excuse some place fans will use for the lousy #s the .1rl will draw. When you see REAL TOP TIER racing, it's obvious that the .1rl is just a sad, sad joke.

      • IRl needs a defender
        WOW~! I'm hearing the fanbase has officially given the thumbs DOWN on Texas. What an absurd waste of time. The IRL/Indycarz is a joke. Rumor has it the races were better when TonEe Goerge was in charge.

        That F1 and LeMans race was AWESOME! I watched both all weekend.
      • A Lesson on Being Grown Up
        Quick question: How many Indy Car ; i.e., real, racing fans have you noticed offering grotesque, obsessive commentary ad nauseum in any sort of Internet forum or column devoted to F1 or LeMans? What's that? None? That is what I thought. You know why? Maturity and class. As always. Live and learn, son.
      • A Lesson on Being Grown Up
        That's rich, coming from the guy who doesn't deny being banned from sites for posting racist pictures.

        As for only .1rl fans being "real racing fans" and not trashing Le Mans or F1, that's because F1 and the 24 are so obviously superior to the indycentric product, that the place fans can't say a word.
        Kinda like how that Hitler guy couldn't say a word about the obviously superior Jesse Owens...
        Maturity and class indeed. :rolleyes:
      • were is oval racing 4 years formula indy american racing please
        versus should sue irl for rip them off..
      • What else can the IRL mess up?
        I gotta tell you Disciple...I'm being mature and quite frankly the IRL/Speedway/ Gossage needs all the ridicule anyone can muster for that farce on Saturday night.

        Rotating tires on a float trailer MC'd by Bob Jenkins?

        Seriously, I'm embarrassed to even have to comment on it. What a pathetic state of affairs....this sport is the laughing stock of racing in our world.

        Did anyone see the footage the of pole position draw? And what happened immediately after? I must say it's the newest low of lows for the rock-bottom IRL leegue at Texas. No wonder fans left in droves.
      • The Lying Prevaricator of ImSCAR
        keep up the schizzel boy, I hope you get paid for your carny act

        Sooo out of the Twins and the draw and all of that, the big buzz is ... Dario bawling? Hey, take whatever pub you can get, IndyCar.
      • hey Chief
        I heard that hotwheels jump @ mIndy really packed the stands @TMS. from the pix I have seen, they all left when they found out hotwheels wasnt going to be there.
      • 1 hour mc bob jenkins i agree irl new low
        all irl had to do is add 50 laps and do not split the points split points sucks and split the race sucks too irl ruin won of biggest race of the year bull and angstadt are the biggest jokes they talk a big talk about 50/50 schedule they even can not get that right its 40/60 man what awful season worst in irl history i thought last years was it any way no won care about 50/50 foreigner want exotic racing they know its american racing they are not stupit if you want to reach them 5 twist was enough you have to have oval buffer zone so irl champ has to win on ovals irl ruin only good thing left in the series danica should leave and help fans out and stop this madness irl use the merger to cashing in and to get special ed off the dangerous ovals take your lumbs for the better future our they will be no future only good thing irl done last 4 years stop that awful race at patroit stadium yeah irl is failer at gimmick too bob jenkins was like 1hour politiction hour ...........
      • f1 race canada was a joke
        button run over 2 driver and get to keep his win dario cousin did the same thing get a drive throw i guest every body want to be nascar
      • Match That IRLcar

        NBC’s First Belmont Stakes Broadcast Since 2005 Earns 4.8 Overnight Rating and 11 Share

        Pre-Race Following VERSUS 2-Hour Belmont Access up 86%

        you cant,,,,even starting from your 0% you cant do much more than 12%
      • The IRLcar
        would need a 300% increase just to make it 1.0
      • Hey Dipsicle of ImScar
        I have seen IRLcar mentioned as part of NBCs BIG EVENT lineup. Whats up wit dat?
      • The IRL Vacuuum
        Word out of Indy this AM is 0.32 for the Texas Twin Spinnerz. Quite a bump from indy. Hahahhahha!

        Seriously, a more pathetic spectacle there as never been that the IRL...today known as izodcarz...the dawning of our brave new world. I do know where it's going, it's too late to fix it now, yeah. Pffffft.
      • IRL Title Sponser MIA
        apparently, the title sponsor of the league that destroyed american open wheel racing cant be bothered to send a rep to any of the races. this according to the title sponsors trophy girl in a tweet on why she wasnt at Texas for the races
      • More IRL Failure
        The league cant even bring prosperity to its hometown ABC affiliate
      • More good news for all forms for racing, that are not the .1rl
        "ABC’s live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Top Gear 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 28, earned a final national rating of 1.6, averaging 2,457,000 viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. The rating was up 23 percent from last year’s race, which also aired on ABC and earned a 1.3 rating. Across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is up 16 percent in ratings over this point last season. This came from ESPN PR."

        "FOX completed a successful 13-race stint in the NASCAR Nielsen’s Tuesday, posting a 3.9 overnight for the inaugural Sprint Cup Spring race at Kansas Speedway. It put the exclamation point on the largest year-to-year increase in viewership since FOX took over the TV package in 2001; for the season, the audience increased nine percent to 8.6 million from 2010 numbers. While those final tallies are somewhat deceiving after a disastrous 2010 – the final ratings average in 2011, a 5.0 is still two percent lower than the 5.1 FOX posted just two seasons ago – virtually every demographic suggests signs of recovery. Among Men 18-34, ratings increased 20% (1.8 vs. 1.5), while among adults 18-49 numbers were up 4%."

      • Indycar Forum sez Texas was "RIGGED"
        Indycar's official forum has been overrun with reports of the Texas race "draw for position" as being rigged...

        Doesn't it just figures? Apparently AJ FOyt (hisownself) called it a joke.

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