Thursday, August 30, 2007
One Man's "NASCAR On ESPN" YouTube Protest
Over the course of this season, we have mentioned YouTube.com several times when it comes to NASCAR video. One of these stories talked about "bumpstop3," the YouTube name used by Joseph Foster. This former racing writer has been working hard to create his own video universe on Internet pages hosted by YouTube.
His pages contain almost two hundred videos, many of them created by his own editing skills. He uses footage from all the NASCAR TV partners, and weaves it with his own graphics, voice, and music. To say it is well done is an understatement.
He recently added a long video of nine minutes and forty seconds. It was not about the latest NASCAR news, it was not an interview, and it was not meant to be funny. It was his protest against the coverage of the Bristol Busch Series race on ESPN this past Friday night. Did I mention it was almost ten minutes long?
Mr. Foster is expressing in his own way some of the same sentiments echoed here and on the various NASCAR radio shows. The unique thing is, he has been able to use ESPN's own footage and sound to bring his points of view across in a very frank manner. I think his video entitled "ESPN Bristol Busch Coverage" is worth taking a moment or two to watch.
Certainly, we all understand that TV networks have the right to do and show what they choose. They paid for the programming, paid for the production, and ultimately paid to transmit the final network signal to your home. His point, however, is that consumers and fans are the ultimate end users, and they pay a hefty price as well.
In order to make his case, he chose a problem-plagued event that was the topic of an earlier column on this site. Going into Bristol, The Daly Planet predicted a tough time for the new NASCAR TV partner, and that is indeed what happened.
ESPN could not buy a break on things like missing accidents, catching restarts, timing of commercials, and even trying to use the pit reporters and their Tech Center. Of course, to add insult to injury, their entire feed went down due to "human error" with about four laps left to go.
I direct your attention to this video not so much to knock ESPN, but to point out the fact that no one on any cable TV or broadcast network said a peep about this issue. Basically, SPEED has no platform for this discussion anymore. ESPN certainly avoids these things at all costs.
It was hilarious that the one hour Saturday morning version of NASCAR Now never even mentioned the fact that the entire network NASCAR feed was lost, never showed the lost portion, and never apologized for the error. If ESPN says it did not exist, then apparently even on the morning after...it never happened.
Meanwhile, on Internet sites and radio shows, the howl over the TV networks choices of everything from announcers to program content is louder than it has ever been before. Even on ESPN.com and SPEEDtv.com, the conversations are always in-progress about the TV side of the sport. We all know NASCAR TV is a frequent topic on Sirius Satellite radio's designated NASCAR channel.
Where then, can one find this type of discussion on TV? Tradin' Paint on SPEED has rarely ventured into TV coverage of the sport, and the Pit Bulls show on SPEED is long gone. Dave Despain never talks TV on Inside NEXTEL Cup, and his WindTunnel show is a blur of topics usually relating directly to racing itself.
It seems from recent articles on NASCAR.com and significant on-air changes in some TV race coverage elements that both ESPN and SPEED are listening to the fans...somewhat. This tug of war between what fans want to see and what TV networks want to show has been going on for a long time.
What Mr. Foster has done with one well-produced video on YouTube.com is to use the TV network's own content to prove a point. In the Internet era, this one video can been seen worldwide on a variety of devices. It can be watched anytime, is free to view, and can be emailed to a friend. That is a powerful communication tool.
As NASCAR fans peruse the Articles/Stories page on Jayski.com, they will not notice a lot of stories about the multi-million dollar NASCAR TV package. When they watch SPEED, they will notice that NASCAR's TV race coverage is rarely mentioned. Finally, when they tune into any NASCAR or News program on ESPN, they will never find a discussion of the "pros and cons" of this season's coverage.
These days, its up to guys like "bumpstop3" to voice the issues associated with NASCAR's TV coverage. Right or wrong, raising these issues brings a better awareness of what can possibly be done to better serve the fans who choose to hang-in there with the main TV network coverage.
Today's NASCAR offers a wide variety of viewing options, and the ESPN/ABC programs are not the "stars of the show" like races on network TV have been in the past. The challenge for the networks is to first get and then hold the short attention span of NASCAR viewers like myself who have access to various radio, Internet, and satellite TV options for the race.
As the network TV package for the NEXTEL Cup Series changes to ABC Sports, it will be the first time this group has competed directly with such elements as DirecTV's Hot Pass and even the NASCAR.com viewing and listening options.
After this weekend in Fontana, there is no doubt that "bumpstop3" will have a new set of videos ready to go. I'm going to stop-by on Monday and see if his video statement fits-in with the opinions and comments here on The Daly Planet. After all, I'm not going to get that kind of perspective anywhere else.
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