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.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


17 comments:

stricklinfan82 said...

Great find Mr. Daly, definitely a must-see video. He pretty much summed up everything all of us complained about here, except in a much funnier way.

Tripp said...

That's interesting. No doubt the coverage was a balls-up but to use a networks (and NASCAR's) own copyrighted footage to bash them over the head... interesting.

Watch it now children because once ESPN and NASCAR find out about it they will have it pulled from YouTube as illegal use of copyrighted material.

They'll probably next turn over the poor sod's name to the RIAA so the record label can sue him for music piracy.

Ain't America grand?

SophiaZ123 said...

I thought it was hilarious, in a pitiful way and SPOT ON!

Thanks for sharing John.

I am sure ESPN sees it as FREE ADVERTISING as does NASCAR.

PLENTY of old racing footage on Youtube.

Anonymous said...

Tripp's right, but NASCAR owns the video.

(Remember the copyright notice after every event: "This copyrighted telecast...is the property of NASCAR..and, hey, thanks for being a fan!" Why does no other sport thank folks for watching? I like that bit.)

So NASCAR would have to go after the guy. I suspect they're intentionally looking the other way.

Also a nice move that NASCAR deserve credit for doing.

Michael Brack said...

I was watching that Bristol race when the screen went blank. I couldn't believe it. Then no mention of it on ESPN. No responsibility, no problem, wink, wink. The idiot public will buy it. Nascar chose the worst excuse for a network to air their races, but who cares about the fans. Michael BrackZMCNJ

Joe from Philly said...

good video summary.

His "google earth view" graphic cracks me up each and every time. I'm simple that way though ;-)

Anonymous said...

ESPN owns the broadcast rights to NASCAR. It is a product that they expect to exploit at a significant profit. They have a monopoly at the moment. If you want to see NASCAR races on TV, you MUST watch ESPN. ESPN appears to be defiant in it's disregard for viewer desires.

There is just an incredible disconnect between what the senior producers deem to be good TV vs. what the viewers would like to see. The bumpstop3 piece illustrates that. Apparently the predetermined slots for commercials are "hard" placements that cannot be interrupted by racing issues. Can't you just hear a director saying "WTF, that's why we have taped replays. What's the big deal?"

Of course, the bumpstop3 video reveals what a big deal it can be. Whatever happened to the ESPN who cared about the sports that it broadcasts?

Anonymous said...

MR. FOSTER. my hat is off to you.. you nailed that and you my friend need a award!!!!!

Busch Series Fan! said...

I believe after the ESPN broadcasters came back after the blank screen they said they would show all that we missed but they never showed it.

AndyPandy said...

Good video! It shows how much ESPN just doesn't get it.

I actually watched the commercials closely during FOX broadcasts, waiting for them to cut back to the race in the middle of a spot if a caution came out. I don't know why, but I sometimes found that to be more exciting than having a yellow happen during coverage. Kind of like "We interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement."

I don't remember seeing ESPN dump out of a commercial a single time this season. "Don't worry, there's plenty of time to catch up on the action while those cars are just driving around in circles..."

Anonymous said...

John,
Besides agreeing with you on 99% of the stuff you write, I have to ask....what are SPEED, FOX and the other NASCAR TV partners suppose to do? They can't bash the other groups on the air. While that may go on behind the scenes, I don't think it would do any good in the long run. If anything, it would only hurt the already "cold" relationship that all the TV partners have as it is. (Mostly ESPN because they feel they can do no wrong and are the be all end all). Obviously fans might disagree. Does the NFL on FOX do a feature or have the studio pregame talk about how bad the NFL on CBS's coverage is and vice versa? Nope. It's kind of taboo. The pink elephant in the living room. Or is it the white one? Anyway, while I think it would be great to have your stuff and stuff like bumpstop3 voiced on tv, I think it probably will only end up on radio, print and the internet.

Great job as always.

Dot said...

I watched the video in case it disappears. ESPN did show the last 3-4 laps after showing the winner of the race. ESPN is just as arrogant as King Brian. The coverage will continue to suck.

PaulT said...

It's not just motorracing ESPN is losing its grip on. After watching the two NCAA football games last night I can verify that. This is the Dan Rather syndrome on a networkwide basis, i.e.: I am a star, I am more important than the content of our broadcast, I can't be bothered with attention to detail of any kind, and would you move a little to the left-you are blocking part of my image in the mirror.

cwebs said...

Did anyone see Wind Tunnel this past week? Dave Despain did make some comments about the Kyle Busch commit line incident/penalty that happened during the Bristol Busch race.

While never actually saying "ESPN", he did say that he thought NASCAR was at least indirectly blaming their "TV partner" for the blown call. Supposedly, ESPN couldn't find the footage proving Busch's innocence for a while, so NASCAR decided to just enforce the penalty and restart the race.

No matter whose fault it was in the end, I know one thing for sure. ESPN should have been showing those cars live as they were peeling off to come down pit road, but they did not. Instead, we were shown a full-screen post-wreck interview with Ambrose & Richardson that lasted almost a full minute! I'm pretty sure NASCAR would have caught the mistake right away if it had been shown live. Unfortunately, ESPN was more interested in keeping a run-of-the-mill post-wreck interview on the screen instead of showing us what was actually happening on the track...

SophiaZ123 said...

cwebs

YES! I watched W Tunnel (NEVER miss it!!) and heard those exact comments about "tv partner".

I am STUNNED NOBODY has addressed that in online articles I have read.

I do not have access to Sirius radio and wonder if any are TRULY complaining in detail about ESPN's atrocious coverage.

I thought I posted about Despains comment here but forget where the heck I post things, lol.

Anonymous said...

Excellent video summary. The point is made, but I am certain that if anyone from ESPN looked at the video, they'd have lots of "reasons" (excuses) for why things went they way they did.

Anonymous said...

John this is getting rediculous. You are open to your opinion but for the last month all you do is complain about ESPN, and praise SPEED Channel.

If you hate ESPN so much, just don't watch anymore. Some of us actually enjoy the coverage.