Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday's "NASCAR Now" Avoids The Obvious


The comments on the ESPN.com website say it loud and clear. Adding-in the posts on The Daly Planet, Speedtv.com, and some other NASCAR-related websites hammers the point home. NASCAR fans are tired of bad TV.

Friday night, ESPN lost their Busch Series live feed from Bristol, TN with four laps to go at the end of an exciting race. The production team on the ground did they best they could when things returned to recap the action, and still try to get in the post-race interviews. Viewers, however, never really had a handle on what had transpired when the technical problems intervened.

Saturday morning, ESPN's one hour version of NASCAR Now took to the air. Finally, we would be hearing from the ESPN Producer, or perhaps an ESPN spokesman. They would probably apologize for the problem, offer the official explanation, and then NASCAR Now would fill-in the blanks for NASCAR fans of what happened over those last several fantastic laps.

It never happened. It was never addressed. Viewers got the latest "Junior says don't yell at Theresa" news right off the top of the show, but not a thing about what actually happened on Friday night. This is the new reality that ESPN says you must accept. A reality that they craft in production meetings, with public relations people, and with the overwhelming mandate that ESPN cannot be wrong...ever.

The Busch Series highlights did not even appear in the first segment of this show. When they finally did, they did not feature a replay of the last four or five laps. The entire NASCAR Now highlight coverage of the big Busch Series night race at Bristol consisted of fifty seconds of highlights. Less than one minute of time devoted to ESPN's premiere NASCAR event of Friday night.

With the Busch Series race flushed, and the Truck Series race avoided at all costs, ESPN set-out for another hour of self-promotion and rhetoric. That calls for only one person...the wonderfully naive Brad Daugherty. Once again, Daugherty stood front-and-center and talked about the obvious. Between the inane bellowing of host Erik Kuselias, and the endless NASCAR 101 answers of Daugherty, this show is driving NASCAR fans away in droves.

To make sure the nail is in the coffin, NASCAR Now broke out the deadly Tim Cowlishaw. When Daugherty and Cowlishaw both show-up, the program basically becomes Around The NASCAR Horn. This was no exception. Two guys who have never turned a lap or a wrench just sitting around talking. Kuselias gets pumped-up and loves to ask "dangerous" questions of Cowlishaw. He ran a couple of insignificant "Junior hype" questions past Tim, and then promised he would return to pick his winner.

Neil Everett voiced a "package" on Ricky Rudd's career, and it led to a field recap and then the newest wonderful weekly feature. NASCAR Now has decided that each week they must pick the race winner. Since everything at ESPN is based on statistics, ESPN has a feature called The Eliminator. Kuselias loves to explain that it is only past records that dictate the winners in NASCAR, and The Eliminator just picks which "driving robot" will win this week. Talk about denigrating a sport that thrives on personalities.

Boris Said and Stacy Compton continued to be present on the HD Set in Bristol, CT and both of them usually spend the entire hour disagreeing with Cowlishaw and Kuselias. Boris and Stacy must secretly have some wonderful conversations after these shows. When they look around and see Kuselias, Daugherty, Cowlishaw, and Holtzman they absolutely know that this is not Kansas anymore.

One big problem is NASCAR Now actually sends a "pool" reporter like Bob Holtzman to the NEXTEL Cup race each week. Why a reporter who does not cover NASCAR all the time serves to cover ESPN's feature race for this show has never been explained. Imagine, with both the ESPN booth announcers and the pit reporters present on-scene, NASCAR Now continues to use part-time NASCAR reporters like Wendy Nix, David Amber, and Holtzman.

So, another hour of NEXTEL Cup hype is over. The Busch Series gets less than one minute of highlights, no interview with the winner, and no sound from Kyle Busch about his pit road incident. No mention of the ESPN on-air failure, no explanation, and no "make-good" by showing the last five laps which would have taken all of about three minutes. No mention of the Truck race showing off the second groove, even though Truck racing footage was used as the example.

Many NASCAR TV fans will move on to Trackside, which shows-up on the SPEED Channel right after NASCAR Now today. The clash of TV styles could not be more intense. Just as we see two realities on NASCAR Now, we also see two very different realities in the remaining NASCAR TV partners as the sport heads down the stretch.

The "perfect" look of the ESPN on-air announcers makes them all look like they just walked out of "make-up." The informality of SPEED makes some of their guys look like they just "woke-up." This final drive to Homestead should be very interesting.

Tonight's NEXTEL Cup race may be the most challenging assignment of many TV careers. The new track surface allows two wide racing, and that is going to be very new to ESPN. Will they follow the leader, or go to the racing action? NASCAR Now will offer a wrap-up show at midnight. That should be worth recording for any fan, as this race may hold some things a lot of fans have not seen before.

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.

19 comments:

bevo said...

It's a shame that the higher-ups at ESPN don't know that if you just 'fess up about a problem people will cut you plenty of slack. We know that "stuff" happens, when you let people know that you are aware of the situation and explain it then we get the feeling that something is going to be done to address it.

As far as The Eliminator goes - anyone knows that luck is the largest factor in racing especially at a track like Bristol. Add to that a new surface and a new type of car. If they were smart they would schedule a 1 hour post-race show to cover all of the fights that will probably break out.

Desmond said...

I wanted to see ESPN send one of its reporters to the production truck immediately after the race to interview one of the producers, let's say Neil Goldberg. He would have asked either of them to explain, as simply as possible, what happened at the end of last night's Food City 250. The producer then would have repeated the apology to viewers that Dr. Jerry Punch gave originally. Then again, the media has the reputation of not covering themselves well, so while disappointed I am not surprised.

As for a replay of the last four laps, it could have been done. Years ago, a WCW pro wrestling pay-per-view was cut short because WCW did not purchase enough air time from the cable providers. So the main event was not seen. WCW Monday Nitro aired the main event the following night as a courtesy to its fans. Why couldn't ESPN2 done the same? It would have taken barely more than a minute.

SophiaZ123 said...

John

If I did not watch NASCAR and given up on NNow, I would think you had to be writing a SPOOF.

The ARROGANCE of ESPN: unreal.

It reminds me of a family with a drug addict or alcoholic and nobody wants to address it.

Ostrich time. Stick head in sand and hope nobody notices the problem.

Well, what CAN WE DO John??

WE ALL CARE but ESPN does not.

NASCAR TPTB does not?

Do you ever wonder why we keep griping about this when NOBODY is caring about the &^%#$!%! repeated lousy coverage?

I can only gripe for so long before it becomes USELESS.

I hate to give up on NASCAR but honestly..I don't know how much more of this I can stomach.

wickedj said...

hey JD, heres ESPNs excuse -



"We sincerely apologize for briefly losing transmission due to human error and have taken steps to prevent this from happening again," ESPN spokesman George McNeilly said Saturday. "As soon as transmission was re-established we apologized to viewers and replayed the last two laps of the race."

its on SceneDaily.com

SophiaZ123 said...

From ESPeeN Jayski (Notice how he never has THE FIRST news often times compared to years back??)

ESPN says HUMAN ERROR? The same one that messed up a few weeks ago during qualifying?

I smell somebody trying to RUIN things for NASCAR fans since they detest us so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ESPN apologizes for lost Busch race feed: ESPN has apologized for losing the video of the last few laps of the Food City 250 Busch Series race Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Viewers at home watching on ESPN2 saw a blank screen for those last laps, which featured a dicey duel between Jason Leffler and Kasey Kahne, with Kahne holding off Leffler to win the race.

"We sincerely apologize for briefly losing transmission due to human error and have taken steps to prevent this from happening again," ESPN spokesman George McNeilly said Saturday.

"As soon as transmission was re-established we apologized to viewers and replayed the last two laps of the race."(SceneDaily.com)(8-25-2007)

Matt said...

Hopefully the "steps that were taken" included the immediate firing of whoever was responsible.

Richard in N.C. said...

When you are perfect like ESPN, then you do not need to know what you don't know - thus, you do not need to care. Maybe ESPN picked up NASCAR just to justify continued increases in cable carry fees - and until the added carry fees kick in they need to cut costs whereever possible, like using inept studio hosts? Credibility is a vanishing commodity at ESPN.

Anonymous said...

As Coach George Allen preached
"Those people (for us.. ESPN) don't know that they don't know.....

it should be called "Cup Now"
they want to do it on the cheap...talent costs money and whenever the a-list players
do "extra" on-air work it costs $$$$$$

Steve in Indiana said...

Does anyone know why Shannon Spake has not been at the races lately? I think does a better job thatn Jaime Little, yet she has been MIA the last few weeks. Just another example of ESPN under-utilizing the assests they have.

Seiko said...

Are we all being too harsh on ESPN? The world wide leader in sports. They must know what we want and are giving it to us.

Who cares that there was a truck race before the BUSH Race?
I mean ESPN does not cover the truck series because it doesn't matter right? Hell guys they got girl scouts playing scrabble!!!!!
I for one am very happy that someone out there has taken the reigns and told me what I should know and care about in NASCAR.

I just wish they could start voting for me, or maybe start deciding what band of toilet paper I should start using. I sure do hate standing there at COSCO for 2 hours trying to decide what brand to buy.
Never mind the four hours it takes me to make the monumental decision of what type of shopping cart to use.

Thank god they know through statistics who is going to win the race tonight. Thats almost as good as Driver Pickem Vault commercials during the show.

I for one am sick and tired of all you people bashing ESPN. They do such a fantastic job of race coverage. Who needed to see the restarts and a silly 1/2 mile track. They will be back from commercial in a few minutes and just tell us what happened. I mean who would want to watch the last 20 laps of a short track race? it will be over in 10 minutes. We can just run a 3 minute commercial in there. Then come back from that and show you the last 3 laps right? Oh wait someones kid stuck a fork in the light socket give us a sec.....

Why are you guys picking on the powerhouse of charisma Tim Brewer.
WHO WOULDN'T WANT THAT DREAMBOAT FULL SCREEN!!!!! Every time he comes on TV I get that man crush dreamy feeling come over me. Or maybe thats just the extra jalapeƱos i put in the nachos today. /sarcasm

Daly Planet Editor said...

Note to myself: Never drink iced tea while reading a Seiko post because no matter how hard I try, it sill comes out my nose!

Girl Scouts playing scrabble...

Anonymous said...

I wish ESPN would try, just once, to televise an MLB game like they show NASCAR:

-Explain the difference between a ball and a strike. Several times.

-Show a telestrator graphic of how the foul line works.

-Explain the fact that there are different kinds of pitches and have someone demonstrate them in a "Pitcher's Mound Studio."

-Talk about the distance between home plate and the mound, the plate and first base; first and second, etc. Maybe use a graphic to explain this more clearly.

-Have someone show the difference in how the batter holds the bat vs. how likely it is to break. ("Is the myth of label-up true?")

...and so on.

Now do it every single game.

After all, they seem to think NASCAR viewers need to have their sport explained to them, so I'm sure MLB fans need to have the rules reiterated to them every game, too.

cwebs said...

So, it was human error?!?!?! What are all the apologists going to say now???

Speaking of NN, did anyone notice that while they continuously talked about a "reconfigured" racing surface, they never once used the term "variable banking" during the whole show? I guess that term is just too technical for them! I did, however, notice that Holtzman said "they've, sort of, changed the corners a little bit". What is this, NASCAR for dummies???

cwebs

Anonymous said...

cwebs said...
So, it was human error?!?!?! What are all the apologists going to say now???

I said a few weeks ago, Kuselias,Daugherty,Brewer et al get called out all the time. Let's see others responsible for the late commercials,lost feed, missed on track action be named here also, I've got to believe JD can get the names.

Also thought it was funny how in Nascar's release on the missed call, they said they did not get the replay in time!! So....if Kyle had done what Robby did a few weeks ago things would have been corrected with the extra time??!!
JS

Anonymous said...

What is this, NASCAR for dummies???Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Next on ESPN, Hockey: What're all those lines on ice for?

cwebs said...

I think ESPN may have been partly responsible for the Kyle Busch penalty fiasco last night. While NASCAR's excuse of "we didn't get replay in time" sounds weak, it actually makes some sense.

ESPN should have been covering the cars heading for pit road live, but instead (if I remember correctly) they were running the umpteenth replay of a wreck. If it had been on live, I think NASCAR would have caught the error. People watching the TV feed at the track would have pointed it out to them immediately. ESPN never showed the replay until long after the race had already restarted.

I posted this late in one of yesterday's threads, but I'll repost it here in hopes of getting more attention:

ESPN doesn't seem to understand the concept of "resetting the field" after pitstops. Somebody needs to tell them that the viewers need this information to be able to follow along with what's happening in the race.

ESPN, here's a few tips, I won't even charge you money for them:

1. Before pit road opens up under a caution, you should be anticipating possible pitstops and giving the pro's and con's of pitting at that point in the race.

2. After the pits open up, you should have your camera right on the leaders as they come down toward the commit line. It's always interesting to see who pits, who doesn't, and who might do a fake-out move either way.

3. After pitstops are done, and preferably before the restart, you need to give us a rundown of who pitted, what they did, and who stayed out. This needs to be done for at least the top-10, and any contending cars that might be outside the top-10 at that point.


There, you see? It's really simple. Can someone convey this information to ESPN, please?!?!?!

cwebs

JHD said...

You really think ESPN would apologise for losing the last 5 laps of the race? They can't get anything else right when it comes to NASCAR, why would this be any different?

For those of you who DVR NN, rewatch the first 5 minutes of the broadcast until they show the map with the racetrack. Who knew that Bristol Motor Speedway is actually in Bristol CONNECTICUT? That's right folks, a lovely map of the Eastern Seaboard with Bristol Motor Speedway smack dab in the middle of Connecticut.

And once they finally do figure out their error and put Bristol back in TN, the Programming Gods at ESPN have also now decided that Ohio should be moved to where West Virginia used to be.

If they can't get simple graphics correct (which I assume were prepared well in advance on the telecast), then how can you expect them to televise a race properly? I'm actually more surprised ESPN could televise the race at all, considering their people apparently never left the state of Connecticut.

Hate to break the news to you, ESPN, but some of NASCAR's fans are actually well educated. Please stop treating us like we're not.

cwebs said...

jhd -

Ha Ha!!! Good catch on those graphics! I just went back and looked at NN again, and you are exactly right!

At about three minutes into the show, as Klulesas was connecting with Marty Smith to talk about the AT&T situation, there was a huge graphic that took up half the screen showing BMS as if it was located in Bristol, Connecticut!!!

Then, with only about two minutes left in the show, there was another large graphic that had West Virginia clearly labled as Ohio.

I wonder if they have a bunch of unpaid interns doing the support work for NN? Maybe for the race broadcasts too? Was it a poor, overworked intern who made the "human error" that caused the blackout at the end of the Busch race???

Anonymous said...

If ESPN covered baseball the way they cover NASCAR races, Barry Bonds' record breaking home run would have happened during a commercial break.