Sunday, June 17, 2007

TNT Dumps NASCAR For "Van Helsing" Movie

Make no mistake about it, Turner Network Television is an entertainment network. Basically just a bunch of file servers located in Turner's Atlanta facility, the network is a twenty-four hour computer-driven playback machine occasionally interrupted by a sports program. NASCAR fans certainly have that feeling after Sunday in Michigan.

TNT originates no regular NASCAR programming. They don't have any other NASCAR shows, and don't carry any other racing series. The NASCAR information on the TNT website takes up...two pages. NASCAR is not even in the TNT website forum under "sports on TNT."

Sunday at Michigan, there was a whole lot going on in the NEXTEL Cup race, and a whole lot going on in the sport. But, for TNT...that did not matter. What was going on for them was a vampire movie called "Van Helsing."

Carl Edwards talked a bit from Victory Lane after his back flip, and dedicated the win to his father. Finally, one of his crew members could shave the beard he had been growing until Carl won in the big series. It was a good story, and Carl made for just the type of winner that NASCAR needed to get itself back on track with the fans and the media after this week of chaos.

Luckily, Carl's interview still left well over fifteen minutes in the allotted time on TNT for NASCAR. This would give the pit reporters plenty of time to cover all the stories after the race, get all the good interviews with the happy and sad, and let TNT show off their new infield set and crew. Finally, fans were going to get some good post-race TV.

But first, the pit reporters got Martin Truex Jr. and then Dale Earnhardt Jr. for some quick comments. Then, Bill Weber closed out the race from the announce booth with a recap of the season standings and some good-natured kidding of Kyle Petty, who will race next week in Sonoma. Then, he "threw" down to the infield for the post-race show. Well, at least that's what NASCAR fans thought.

Infield host Marc Fein and analyst Larry McReynolds were atop the new multi-million dollar TNT infield set. The weather was great, the race was over, and the interviews were just waiting to be had. The best part was, it was Father's Day and seeing the drivers with their families was going to be fun.

Remember, this is the network that has one hour and thirty minutes of pre-race programming before every event. This is the network with two separate shows, TNT Live and Countdown to Green before the race. These two shows completely set the table for following-up on the stories presented pre-race with the same drivers and teams now that the race was over. Things could not be coming together better.

Fein and McReynolds chatted briefly about the race, with Larry Mac doing his usual thorough job of summing-up the event. Since Edwards, Junior, and Truex had been interviewed, this left the pit reporters forty drivers to choose from. As with almost every NASCAR event there were some great stories, but in this race, one stood out like a sore thumb.

There he was, standing on pit road with a smile on his face. After a strong sixth place finish, Kyle Busch was showing any potential employer that he still had what it took to run fast. But, more important than that, after a week of hearing how many cars he had crashed, how he was too hot-headed, and how he "never fit in" at Hendrick, he had just finished four hundred miles at Michigan without a scratch.

Shaking Kyle's hand was Casey Mears, who finished fourth and showed that his recent win was not a fluke, and that his season is on the rise. The big sigh of relief you heard was Jamie McMurray, who finished eighth. After a tough early season, a strong showing for both Crown Royal and Ford was exactly what he needed.

A little further down pit road was a tall guy with big hair and a tired look on his face. Michael Waltrip had finished a NEXTEL Cup race in tenth place in one of his own Toyotas. It seemed that the weight of the world was slowly lifting off his shoulders. He smiled brighter when David Reutimann stopped by to say he finished fifteenth. Both of these guys together was going to be one wild interview.

Back on the TNT "Thunderdome" rotating set, Marc Fein said something that sent a chill down the spine of TV viewers. He asked Larry McReynolds for his "final thoughts." Millions of NASCAR fans nationwide checked their watches. It was 5:15PM Eastern Time. There were fifteen minutes before TNT fired up their hard drive and went back to playing movies. At least, that what viewers thought.

Fein began to say goodbye, the music began to play, and the last words he said from Michigan were "thanks for watching NASCAR on TNT." Most NASCAR fans could not believe their ears when the Steppenwolf "Born To Be Wild" theme was then sung by the young man in serious need of some hair care products and a Lands End gift certificate. It was over, with fifteen minutes on the clock. TNT Sports has left the building.

There, on pit road and walking slowly toward the garage was NASCAR. The entire sport was there for the taking. Every driver, crew chief, owner, and front tire changer had just finished four hundred miles of what they love. Every wife, child, father, and human interest story was standing around shaking hands and beginning to organize the trip home. As they say in today's world, this was a "content rich" environment.

Basically, TNT did the mandatory interview with the winner, interviewed both DEI drivers, and then sprinted for the airplane. There was not a moment after the race where anyone except Larry McReynolds was "fired up" about what just went on during the race. If this had been an event that ran long on time, fans might understand. After a long rain delay like Pocono, leaving quickly is understood.

But, for a network like TNT who has only six NEXTEL Cup races in their entire schedule for the year, this was strange. When you add-in the fact that fifteen minutes remained in the scheduled time slot for this event, it becomes even stranger.

Finally, TNT had thumped all of us over the head with their NASCAR connection. They had Kyle Petty this season, and even talked him out of his own race car. They got Larry McReynolds to man the new infield set and "crew chief" the race. Finally, with much fanfare in the media, they rolled out their new "spin, lift, and turn" infield set on which they spent more than a million dollars.

How does all this fit with the network "running away" because they had fifteen minutes to fill? I wanted to hear from Michael Waltrip. I wanted to hear from Kyle Busch. I wanted to hear from Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, and the others. How did Bill Elliot finish eleventh? What happened to Jimmie Johnson? There were far more stories to tell than fifteen minutes would have allowed. But as a lifelong fan who loves the sport, I sure would have appreciated it if TNT had tried.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


SophiaZ123 said...

I almost do not know what to say. JUST when I was FEELING GOOD that TNT (Unlike ESPN) Showed us most of the cars FINISHING Over the finish line, I was STUNNED as well when they left early.

WHY? And if I wanted to watch this creepy movie, I would've been honked off to see it started 20 minutes sooner when I tuned it at 5:30.

Where the HELL IS NASCAR in all this nonsense! A GREAT race on Fathers day, with many stories as John mentioned and nothing.

THANK GOD FOR SPEED CHANNEL where I saw a sweaty and grateful Michael Waltrip interviewed...among others.

&^%$#@*!(! When is the insult to NASCAR fans going to end??????

And whoopee, we have the ESPN NEVER USE A WIDE ANGLE LENS TO SHOW A RACE following the last half of the season for so many years.

No doubt, NASCAR has made SO MUCH money of the tv rights, they do not care WHAT WE THINK, how gypped we get from the tv shows and camera production that's downright PATHETIC.

I just do not understand why nobody cares.

John, why is NOBODY ELSE writing about the crappy coverage. Fans are noticing it but YOU are the only one "mentioning" shortcomings.


martin vandernet said...

TNT has been The Nothing but Trouble show for Nascar fans.. either wake up and build a decent show or stop bidding for the broadcasting rights and let someone more professional do it..

btw.. tnt's "pitcam" stream on the internet needs serious help.. it's always crashing.. please do domething..

Anonymous said...

I don't think the TNT staff has a solid grasp on the context of the sport.

Example: Michael Waltrip misses most of the races this year. Makes his third one and runs in the top ten for most of that race. Yet, nothing was made of this--even during the "Through the Field" segment, all we heard was the usual "..says he's loose and needs to fix that. Matt?" if it was just another day at the track for Waltrip.

He also hit the wall in the final laps, racing Kevin Harvick for 8th, and that nearly ended his day.

I found that out by reading the stories on the internet the day after the race. You'd think that might have ben mentioned.

Oh, and then there was the time Junior had that tire go down--and the TNT staff suddenly noticed that he'd taken a serious hit to the nose of the car. They noticed this because they saw the crew was beating on it. We never did find out how or when that happened, as the surprised TNT announcers had no idea.

TNT now is worse than NBC was last year after they essentially gave up, knowing they wouldn't have the contract for 2007.

Paul said...

Now I remember why I listen to the race on MRN when TNT is broadcasting. Interesting how there pre race interferes with Nascar Raceday on speed making viewers choose what to watch. The ony 2 good things to come out of TNT this year are Kyle Petty being an announcer and Larry Mac being on the scene. 4 more races to go , lets hope the other network does a better job. Vampire movie at 5pm on a Sunday???? who is programming this stuff

pjd from Mooresville NC

Thomas said...

It's not just that - "Van Helsing" wasn't scheduled to start until 5:30, so TNT rushed it on air EARLY for whatever convoluted logic there was behind that decision.

The true LOGICAL thing to have done was let the race fill the time that had been allotted for it.

GinaV24 said...

Considering they can waste 1 1/2 BEFORE the race talking about nothing -- let's see it was all about Jr -- what else is new? But they can't spend an extra 15 minutes at the end of the race wrapping up all the stories? Plus the last 1/2 of the race broadcast was mostly commercials. I finally muted the TV and turned on MRN so I could tell what was going on in the race. What a joke. And NBC/TNT supposedly got an Emmy for this crap? Who voted for that? And where the heck is NASCAR -- obviously they don't care at all about the fans, it's all about the money gotten from the networks for the broadcast rights. I watch RACEDAY on Sundays rather than that drivel that TNT puts on as a pre-race show. Can't stand Bill Weber and 15 minutes is too long let alone 1 1/2 hrs plus the race. ooooh, gotta run to Val Helsing which was another waste of time for anyone who paid money to see it in the theatre -- once was plenty.

Martha said...

Amen to everything that has been written!

17fan said...

TNT coverage was awful during the race yesterday ---during that accident with Newman spinning all we got for information was constant coverage of Jr in the pits--not a work until much later that Vickers and Kenseth were in the garage or anything that happened to the rest of the cars in the accident --I for one like coverage of all the cars in the race and everyone is fixated on Jr. Big deal ---racing is about the entire field and for once it would be nice to have coverage of everyone else that is not a Hendrick driver or Jr.

SallyB said...

last 50 laps of the race I thought I was back on Fox...4 minutes of commercials, 2 laps of racing...4 minutes of ads, 2 laps of get the idea. Again, covering only the drivers that the network decides they have an 'interest' in while ignoring much of the field. Sterling Marlin ran up front most of the race...then dropped back. Anyone know why? The severely edited version fans see is pathetic. Very disappointing.

TCBritt said...

TNT shows Van Helsing all the time, about as many times as they play that horrible Hinder remake of "Born to be Wild" during the race. I can honestly recall 4 or 5 times during both TNT prerace shows and during the actual race that they played this terrible song and music video, probally eating up a total of 10 or 15 minutes through the days broadcast. This wasted time would have been better allocated to actual race coverage, prehaps even an acceptable post race recap. I believe the issue of the 2 prerace shows involve some type of sponsorship commitment. TNT's 30 minute prerace show, is sponsored by allstate, "the allstate countdown to green", most likely, TNT wanted to expand there prerace coverage, but had this prior prerace commitment, so had to add an additional show to accomidate there need of expanded prerace coverage, the ideal solution would have been to have TNT 1 hour prerace show (even though i could care less about there prerace coverage, the only prerace coverage worth watching is RACEDAY), then have the 30 minute "Allstate Post Race Show" to recap todays racing events, also why did they spend all the money and effort for this spinning platform stage for only 6 races?

Anonymous said...

I say this a politely as possible, were you guys even watching the same broadcast that i was. I did not get to see Pocono last week so I can not speak to that but, there was no watching the leader build a seven second led while DW, Larry Mac, and MJ have irrevelant and random discussions about DEI, HMS, and Roush, or something that happened in 1983, there were no Visa Race Breaks were Chris and Jeff told me about the race I am watching for 10 laps like i have the IQ of a toliet, there was only one shot of that horrible 3D game view, and walley and Kyle actually know something about racing.

As far as the pre-race thank you TNT for spliting it up on the schedule so when I Tivo the race I don't have a hour of garbage on my DVR and for not cutting off the last 15 laps. and for the post race we are all on here reading the interviews, recaps, analysis, and we all have heard the same stories repeated over and over; Jr., MWR, HMS, blah, blah, blah.

Not great but still better than anyting else in the last six years.

Anonymous said...

The constant themes in these postings are one of two, first the not so great TV coverage from TNT (and the other networks as well) and second, why aren't people posting comments?
While I can't give you much insight as to the quality of TV coverage, I can shed a little light on the second, why aren't poeple commenting? The short answer is they are, but not to bulletin boards, they are doing it with their remotes. How? you ask, by not watching, by turning on and tuning out. There are a multitude of reasons that the series ratings are down (they have all be down this year and most of them starting going down last year (maybe TNT thought it'd get better ratings off of a 2 year old movie)), among them are some races you would think that there were only 3 cars on the track the 8, the 24 and the 48. Another is that NASCAR has messed around with the rules so much and be so liberal in the use of cautions that the finish sometimes does seem to be "preordained".
I've been a NASCAR fan for 45 years, I've watched it go from being occasionally "tape delayed" on ABC's Wide World of Sports, to every race broadcast. I've also watched it go from an exciting, personality, and "run what you brung" driven sport of true stock cars, to a make sure all the drivers and cars look alike, talk alike, drive alike so they look good on TV so we can stick it to our sponsors and fans.
So don't be suprised to watch the ratings go lower and start seeing even more and more empty seats in the stands if NASCAR keeps insisting on providing a homogonized, filtered, scripted and boring product.

Anonymous said...

and, oh BTW, I'm sure NASCAR WILL have a discussion with TNT, because on many of the TV angles the viewers at home, and more importantly potential advertisers, got to see how many empty seats there were for one of the best races of the year...a true indication of a sport in decline.


Anonymous said...

As always Bill Weber,SUCKED
Wally wasnt much as usual and Kyle done a very ggod job!!!

Anonymous said...

And Nascar wonders why the ratings
are slipping!!!!!!!!

widget397 said...

The only thing good about TNT's coverage is Kyle Petty...

Dumping out of the race coverage and no one had even talked to Tony Stewart who came in third, most of the time the third place driver is interviewed. And the movie wasn't even scheduled to start until 5:30!

TNT, why bother to cover the races if you aren't going to do it right??

NASCAR, Mr France is again rolling over in his grave over a very bad decision...

Anonymous said...


dalejr8fan said...

i was shocked when I realized the race was actually over and some weird movie was playing, there were 15 minutes left to watch more post race interviews. i thought it was some weirdcommercial, then it didn't stop and the rest you all know. I like watching the post race stuff, usually there isn't that much time left for much, but ther ewas a crap load of time and where was it??? oh well you all know it is what it is and we can't change it. Only 4 more races on TNT. WEll good job to Jr. for his 5th place finish and you all have a great night..

dalejr8fan said...

you are so right about ESPN didn't think about that, they sure aren't very good about getting the Busch races covered very well. And Nascar now really suck most of the time. They ask sosm of the dumbest questions. Oh well....

Anonymous said...

All that time devoted to pre race shows, it's all fluff. All the drivers say they have a good car and what not. But after the race is when u sometimes get the good reactions and sound bites. I couldn't believe that we have to listen to the race annoucers and Larry Mac after hearing their thoughts for 3 hours plus, I want to hear from the drivers, just 30 seconds from 6 or seven different drivers would be more interesting to me than to watch hours up hours of prerace fluff. One thing is pretty clear in my opinion, after listening to Wally & Kyle, DW just depends on his image and name when he's in the booth. Kyle and Wally actually sound like they may have invested a little time to prepare to cover a race. DW is so ego driven it was nice not to have to hear him. Although I rate Mike Joy as the top race day annoucer on tv. I'm afraid that espn will put me to sleep, their busch series broadcasts don't seem to grab me. Oh and one thing I wish the race coverage producers would do is when they show us a camera shot of the cars coming out of say turn 4, I wish they would hold it their for a least 30 -40 seconds, to let us catch a glimsp of our favorite drivers on the track. But instead they follow 2-4 cars through turns 1-2-3 and 4 and switch cameras after those four pass through the picture. Can't tell u how many times I think I'll get a chance to see where a car is running 10th or so and started back in the pack and is movin' forward but they gotta show those same frickin cars instead of letting us see the field and how they look coming out of turn 4 or whatever, just 1 lap out of 4hrs...and I think it was last week that Webber or someone had Bobby Labonte in the Green Interstate batteries car...c'mon u guys do this for a living...I'm venting a bit and really enjoy watching nascar and reading all the post here. To sum it up, to much pre race and we need more post race. If there was a sport that was worthy of 35 min of post game it's racing. I don't want them to tell me what happened after the race during next weeks prerace.....

Anonymous said...

I so agree about the dont talk to mike waltrip or bill elliott... and I agree ESPN busch coverage is boring, Only good guy is Dr Punch.. I listen to MRN too and just leave the sound off on the tv... MRN paints a better picture of the race then any network...and they are a hoot to listen to on the scanner at the track during commercial breaks.. As to the empty seats...much more empty seats at both races i have been to this year