Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"NASCAR On ABC" Explodes In The AOL Fan House

All kinds of interesting things happen in "NASCAR land" as the season begins to slowly wind down. Many fans have been watching the TV coverage of the sport faithfully since Daytona in February. Hundreds of hours of practice, qualifying, races, and weekly shows have come and gone before their eyes.

When it comes down to defining the quality of NASCAR's TV coverage in 2007, the Internet has allowed the fans to have a greater voice than ever before. This past Monday, on the AOL Fan House website, a conversation began that is still resonating throughout the NASCAR landscape. It may continue for a long time.

The AOL Fan House is a popular site for fans to add their own views to the NASCAR news, views, and opinions of several hosts who post regularly on this blog-style site. In addition to NASCAR, there are many other sports discussed in the Fan House. The traffic on this site is very high. Its just a fun place to go and browse.

This entire season, the TV coverage of NASCAR has undergone a transformation. While the Fox guys were still there at the start of the season, most other things changed. ESPN took the entire Busch Series, TNT had a six pack of summer races, and then ESPN took the remaining Cup races and put them on ABC. SPEED kept the Trucks, and ESPN2 rolled out a daily news show as SPEED stuck to the SPEED Stage at the track.

While ESPN's Busch Series flew a bit below the radar, The Daly Planet wrote in a column before the network's first NEXTEL Cup event that things were about to change. In no time at all, for the entire ESPN production team, they certainly did.

There may be no bigger stage for TV announcers and producers than NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup Series. Beginning with the biggest race of the season, no other sport hosts such high-profile big events on a regular basis as NASCAR.

From February to November, fans want the type of high quality sports TV broadcasts that we might find in the Major League Baseball Playoffs, or even the Superbowl.

At this time of the year, fans have seen ESPN produce a fair amount of Cup races on a variety of tracks. They have met, and become familiar with, the ESPN on-air crew. They have seen all the TV "gizmos," and listened to the sound tracks and theme music. Where ESPN and ABC are concerned, NASCAR fans have now seen everything they have to offer. The "ESPN on ABC" NASCAR racing season is in full swing.

The article on the Fan House was simple in its title. It said "NASCAR on ESPN on ABC Sucks." That is not exactly my style of headline, but it has its place in the rather informal world of the Fan House. The author's point was simple. She had seen enough from the ESPN on ABC gang, and made her views clear. Then, she asked the NASCAR fans what they thought...and all hell broke loose.

To readers of The Daly Planet, things might have seemed a bit familiar. Missed re-starts, Jerry Punch, the Draft Tracker, Suzy Kolber, Brent Musburger, the list went on-and-on. The comments were from people who had clearly watched the races and paid attention. Many of them said they have muted the ESPN audio and use another source like the Sirius Radio or an Internet audio feed. That is not a good sign.

Others addressed the sometimes over-used Tech Center and its on-air announcer Tim Brewer. The comments asked why fundamental things need to be repeated week-after-week, and why the Tech Center would sometimes cover-up live racing rather than be split-screen all the time? That led to the lack of split-screen commercial insertion issue. If they can do it for the IRL on ESPN and ABC, why can't they do it for NASCAR?

There was one topic that overwhelmed the comments, and that was Rusty Wallace. Fans have strong memories of Benny Parsons on these races, and those shoes are hard to fill. Even with his season of working the IndyCar races last year, Wallace is essentially a NEXTEL Cup TV rookie. I think he now understands that the pressure and public profile of NASCAR's TV package is very different than that of the open-wheel world.

The Wallace comments focused on his repeated use of ESPN's new toy, the Draft Tracker. Early on, it was great at fundamentally explaining drafting to new fans. Unfortunately, Wallace has used it, or been forced to use it, in situations where perhaps the racing action was not "all about the aero push."

In addition, while Wallace has worked at his on-air phrasing, the issue with pronunciation of driver names, series team owners, and even some common NASCAR terms was brought-up again.

Surprisingly, the fans kept mentioning the SPEED shows and their personnel who broadcast their NASCAR programming. One thing fans noticed with Punch, Kolber, and Jamie Little was their recent lack of NASCAR experience. Names from Kenny Wallace to Steve Byrnes and John Roberts were offered as potential replacements for next season.

Fans tread lightly when it comes to Jerry Punch, who has a history in the sport and whose hard work was well received earlier in his career. In the broadcast booth as a play-by-play announcer, Punch has struggled. Never having been in this role before, it seems a bit unfair to judge him so harshly this season.

He has, however, done the entire Busch Series this year as a "warm-up" for the Cup races. Punch, Wallace and Petree sometimes seem to be talking on several different levels as the race goes on. Many fans see Punch as perfect for NASCAR Countdown or as the NASCAR Now host. Which leads to the most popular email in Daly Planet land.

This season, Allen Bestwick has bounced around like a ping pong ball. Pit Reporter, NASCAR Now host, Play-by-Play race announcer, NASCAR Countdown host, and finally NASCAR Now news reporter. In the sports TV world, Bestwick has been a "utility player" of the highest order this year. One thing is for sure, most fans really like his style.

The howl to put Bestwick in the booth and Punch in the Infield Studio has rarely been louder. Most NASCAR fans know that when a race team is having trouble, sometimes its just the chemistry. Owners just mix things up, and sometimes that is all the problem needs. In Dover, Punch had a tough time on-the-air.

When exciting racing was going on, he did not rise to the occasion. When accidents were happening, he was as dry and unexcited as anyone could be. It was really strange. Then, after a big promo for a commercial free ending of the race, the network ran many more commercial breaks undermining his credibility. It was a tough weekend, and the fans at the Fan House seemed to have had enough.

Its always interesting to see other Internet sites talk about TV, because they only do it once and a while. Here, we do it every day. It should not come as a big surprise then, when the Fan House comments mirror many heard here on The Daly Planet.

As one woman named Mary G. said quietly "this has been a difficult year to be a NASCAR fan." There are eight opportunities left for ABC to change her opinion.

You can read the Fan House NASCAR blog by following this link.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. There is no membership requirement, and you do not have to leave your email address. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


Anonymous said...

"Mary" is right. ESPN/ABC have made it tough to be a NASCAR fan.

I hope the network understands the impact of that statement.

More importantly, I hope NASCAR does.

SophiaZ123 said...

My opinion?

NASCAR has the money and does not care ONE WHIT about the fans and how we are getting gypped by the horrible coverage.

Same complaints again and again HERE, on SPEED boards, news sites. NASCAR HAS THE MONEY, to hell with fans.

NOTHING has been done before now, and ain't nothing going to change this year.

The end.

Anonymous said...

Bestwick talks down to people and is as phoney as he can possibly be. He and Spake are politically correct puppets living in a politically correct world, whereas each word has to be correctly projected -- and it creates a phoney newscaster haze. The cut-away car explanations are on an elementary level because NASCAR believes they need to educate people who in turn will become fans. They take the effort to a level only matched by Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers. You can bet Brewer can spin your head on fire with real information, but he isnt allowed to do that. NASCAR is out of touch with fans, and in fact is chasing fans away.

midwest race fan said...

dr. jerry punch called NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races from the booth for 2 or 3 years at ESPN before that series went to SPEED.
dr. jerry is no rookie to the play by play booth. I agree with Daly planet ... dr. jerry could be good as the host of countdown or even back in the pits.

fire rusty!

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget ESPN/ABC force feeding diversity on the fans with Daugherty and the ongoing hip-hop theme when they cut away to their many commercials. Their obsession with Montoya is sickening.

Anonymous said...

Bestwick talks down to people and is as phoney as he can possibly be.

I don't think I have ever heard this before. Bestwick is a huge favorite among fans. You sure you don't mean Bill Weber?

Anonymous said...

I've been saying for months - bring Allen back to the booth and bring Wally with him!!!!!!!!! I can't stand much more of Rusty and the Dr. Boring!

Jeff said...

Hey, How many time can Rusty use the phrase' "Let me tell ya" "I'll tell ya" or "Let me tell ya somthin" during the broadcast?

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

Bestwick talks down to people and is as phoney as he can possibly be.

I don't think I have ever heard this before. Bestwick is a huge favorite among fans. You sure you don't mean Bill Weber?"

I picked up on that a bit a couple of years ago and frankly thought that was why he was taken out of the booth. It's my only complaint of him, but one that cannot be overcome. He had a tendency to be focusing on the next item on the agenda before he would leave his current guest--at least this was the nuance I picked up. Eli Gold on the radio does the same thing. The jadedness of dealing with fans shone thru kinda thing. Sorta like "it's my job but dealing with fans and emotions really suck". Anyway I don't think Eli will change on Tuesday nights on the radio. But Allen could and maybe has with a stepback from the booth. That's my only nuance of Bestwick, otherwise why wouldn't he be good, he has all the qualities that make a good TV persona: square jaw, dark, great voice and at ease on the air. It would be nice to really know why he was taken out of the booth. Even with a little condescending he didn't seem wrong in the booth. Hey much better than we have now.

And to the poster that says Bestwick and Spake are PC get over it. THEY ALL ARE. I am not punching on Punch because actually with a few tweaks and come to jesus focus, he could be as good as we expect from a career in this business. But when he announced during the California broadcast there were "90,000 in attendance" I about puked. That's PC overboard and overload if I ever heard it. Anyone with any brains could see they were luck to have 50-65,000 if they counted every soul in that place and maybe the rigs and Harley's and a few cars in the parking lot. California attendance, no matter the heat, Labor Day, tough California market--whatever the excuse was one of the most embarrassing moments in NASCAR history. It's an astounding defeat for NASCAR's lack of vision. One date with 90,000 seats is all CA deserves. So anyway when Punch tried to spin that one it was a duzy for me. He could have left that one alone. So they all are PC, they all try to spin us no matter what we know or see.

I for one would just like to roll the clock back a bit and get the coverage we all deserve and knew as viewers, that coverage that was award winning. It was "comfort" coverage, no "aero push" no phony bells and whistles. Bells and whistles are OK but you have to put some thought into it.

This ship has to be turned around and here is why: NASCAR and the networks have targeted the casual fan--and they are casually turning off in droves. The4y are doing what they do, casually tuning in. Go back to basics, take care of the core fan. Fans are leaving the broadcasts in droves. Speak to the core fan with some attention to things the casual fan will take to. All this talk about Hispanic market. I am glad we want diversity, it's long overdue in this sport. But does anyone see a REAL uptik in the Hispance market after all they have done to promote Montoya? Na. So invite people of color but if they think Hispanics are gonna take up the slack while other are leaving in droves, they are smoking dope. Where is the proof this is working this year? I see more empty seats and more down ratings than EVER before. So if they Hispanic market has really showed up this year that must mean the leakage of core and other fans is Titanic sized.

So DJ and Petree and Punch--given the chance to work--would be awesome. I know DJ doesn't want to hang it up, but tough ole Harry Gant is about the only Cup driver that has had real success after 50, maybe Bobby Allison too. But drive after driver can't give this up. Maybe DJ should go to the booth and let Reutimann take the UPS wheel. My gawsh Reutimann is the ONLY thing MWR has to be proud about in 2007. They shouldn't let that young man get away. Then again it would be cool to see him at RCR...

keith said...

Maybe it is time for the televison networks to do away with the TV personalities and use the radio announcers to broadcast the race, they do a much better job of tell the lisner what is happening on the track than the TV announcers do. I usually mute the tv and listen to the radio broadcast,
thanks Keith24486

Anonymous said...

Bestwick is a radio guy. Radio people must talk constantly because they're your eyes. He reports the obvious whether from the booth or the pits. TV people should report what you're not able to see on the screen or point out nuance.

Everyone jumping on the Bestwick is the 2nd coming bandwagon forgets that Wally and Benny never got a word in when Bestwick was in the booth. I suspect that's why NBC finally switched Weber & Bestwick's roles.

Anonymous said...

I went to the AOL Fan House site and read every comment. Very interesting. A couple things are clear:

1. Rusty has a lot of respect as a former driver. He needs to protect that respect and get out of the booth. Nothing wrong in trying a new career. What is wrong though is not admitting when it is time to give up and do something else. It's just wrong. He doesn't add value and now it is clear he is taking away from the overall telecast. Reposition him to the infield anchor/booth or give him walking papers. I would have much more respect for him and ABC/ESPN if they say: "it ain't working and lets try something else."

2. I don't want to give up on Punch and ABC/ESPN. There is too much at stake. This is real. Get it right. But if they don't heed advice from viewers then they will lose it. And there's one thing about email: it makes brave souls out of us all. But it also allows people to speak freely about what they truly feel when they wouldn't say it face-to-face. So if this many folks are saying that 'coverage sux' then there must be something to it. I don't think people feel the keyboard need just to blabber. There are passionate fans who just want to see a race on TV. I remember when I had to go to a local movie theater to get "closed circuit" coverage, so I show my age. So we have truly come a long way. But the ESPN/ABC production crew has taken a step backwards. And I promise you we don't want to bang on you for it but we will because we love our racing too much to see it "cheesed" up or "aero pushed" too much. Believe me TV we fans won't let you do it guys and that's why you are seeing many vociferous complaints. This isn't kids stuff. And stop "aero" pushing us into tuning out and turning off.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time leavinga comment but I read this everyday. You really do a great job!! ESPN and ABC on the other hand, need their contract shredded!! It has been so bad that this is how we watch the race now. We turn on the tv and mute it. The radio is set on MRN or PRN radio. There is a few seconds of a delay but we have a DVR so we can pause it till it catches up. Then I like the in car audio from so I have headphones I use to listen to the scanners. Pretty bad, huh??! It takes us a while to set up just to listen to the darn race! LOL Anyway, our take on it is that they act like it is the first race anyone has ever seen. They explain everything like we are dummies. Whats areo mean?? Oh, show me the green and yellow air!! My all time favorite is when EVERYWEEK a car blows up and Brewer has to show us that darn valve breaking!!!!!!! I am soo stupid I dont remember from the last 10 times you showed me, thank you. I never thought I would say I cant wait for Fox to start back again!!

Anonymous said...

What I find a bit unsettling is that last weekend's decent ratings may have produced high fives in the halls of ABC/ESPN and NASCAR. Ratings are not a true measure of quality. Whichever network is carrying NASCAR, serious fans will watch, despite how they feel about the broadcast components. We all grumble about different issues and threaten to boycott the programs, but in the end, if you are a fan, you tune in.

Nobody will ever produce a program that pleases everybody. We fans all have our unique subjective emotional responses to what we see and hear. However, in the decades since I've been a racing fan, I have never heard so much universal fan negativity as is directed at ABC/ESPN. People are taking the poor coverage of actual race events personally.

Personally, I feel like ESPN has trapped itself into a flawed model. They may have actually noticed. They do seem to be tinkering a bit, perhaps testing personnel changes like Brad in the booth. I really do hope they get it right.

Steve L said...

I'm afraid this is only the beginning of the end. Greed is about to over take NASCARs ride on top of the racing world.

It's not only the coverage of the races but the actual races that's going to be our next problem.

For example: The COT piece of crap. NASCAR was hell-bent-for-leather going to go forward with this project without approval from the owners, crews, drivers, adverstiers, or fans. Their "Get over it!" attitude to the fans and the "You're going to do it or else" to the owners and the "You better not say anything bad about it" orders to the drivers shows how stubborn NASCAR has become. My way or the highway attitude. They claimed it was going to be safer for the drivers. We'll see how that pans out after Talladega. It's definitely safer in the corners because the thing won't turn, therefore they're barely moving. They are slow. Look at the times from qualifying last year to the races this year with the COT, much slower. The Busch cars and the Craftsman trucks are going faster than these things.

Another thing: Where's the distinction between car manufacturers? They are not Fords, Chevey's, whatever, they are NASCAR brand! The only distinction between makes is in the rear windows. The front and rear and even the bodies are exactly the same. Look at them closely, at the shape of the rear windows, that's the only difference! It's all in the decals. "One claw fits all!" I have said. I look for NASCAR to start building the cars and selling them to the teams. Then the teams would only have to install their engines at the track (like the stupid wing now)and after the race take their engines home with them. They would pass inspection quicker because NASCAR built them.

I saw an interview with Ray Evernham the other day and he said the COT had cost his organization much more than NASCAR first said. That's why they pushed the full year of racing the COT to next year. It was breaking the bank of many teams trying to supply both cars.

I've written more than I should have but the other part of my thought on the beginning of the end is the influx of foreign drivers. Just like the IRL, NASCAR promoting the foreign drivers will hurt the sport in the long run. People like to root for drivers that they can pronounce their names. It has the look of the IRL demise. Now they hardly have enough cars for the oldest traditional US race, the Indy 500.

But as has been said, NASCAR is alienating it's hard core fan and those fans, like me, have had just about enough and are leaving the sport by droves.

turn left said...

I have to admit, I am also turning down the sound on ESPN. The main reason, Rusty Wallace. Or, as my son and I like to call him 'Right Now Rusty'. He says 'right now' for everything, and we have heard him use it mulitple times in the same statement to describe something on the track or pits. 'Right Now' I wish they would pull him from the broadcast team.

Vince said...

I have a suggestion for the NASCAR brass. Go to the next race and actually walk through the grand stands. NOT the suites. You'll find your core fan base in the stands. I have no problem with NASCAR trying to "grow" (god I hate that word) our sport, but they are totally forgetting about the fans that got NASCAR where it is today. Take a walk through the stands on Sunday guys and you'll see the hard core fan.

And ESPN, you guys just plain need to start over. There is so much wrong with your coverage, I don't know where to start. Replace the whole broadcast team, including the production crew. And for gods sake get rid of Erik the Kuleless on NascarNow. How hard is that?

Keep up the good work John.

Lisa Hogan said...

Seems to me that ESPN started off this season by insulting the NASCAR fan. This started with the Busch series and Nascar Now and continued into the Cup coverage. ESPN has produced “NASCAR for Dummies” this entire season.

If you don’t speak NASCAR, back away from the microphone! Except for a few, ESPN has given us people who don’t know our sport and don’t speak the language. They assumed that the open wheel speak was good enough for us.

NASCAR has qualifying, not quals.
NASCAR has a pole position, not a provisional pole (finally Punch got the memo).
NASCAR has a starting line-up, not a starting grid.
NASCAR has a pit road, not pit lane.
NASCAR has a pit road entrance and exit, not pit in and pit out.
NASCAR has finishing positions of 1st through 43rd, not P1, P2, P3 nor do we have a podium position.
Etc., etc., etc.

The fans of other sports would not be expected to put up with the disrespect shown to NASCAR fans. Why do they expect us to accept it?

NASCAR has garnered new fans during its existence. Why do TV folk think they have to explain the basics during every race in order to gain new fans?

I have said that I am treating this season as the ESPN rookie season. My patience has just about run out. In February (Busch series), if there is not vast improvement, I will be contacting every sponsor with my opinion. I write letters and include a bar code of their product when possible, so that they know that I am one of those fans who spends money on NASCAR sponsor’s products.

By the way, for those who are calling for DJ in the booth, better think again. I like Rusty and DJ. However, DJ says uhhhhh every three words and that will get annoying after four hours.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR promoting the foreign drivers will hurt the sport in the long run.

I didn't know NASCAR did this, since it doesn't hire drivers at all. I thought it was the car owners.

Laura said...

Well said Lisa! I totally agree with you! I read the AOL Fan House after reading John's blog. There were some good and some not-so-good comments, but most all of it I agree with. It is good to see that I am not the only one fed-up with the continuing "dumbing-down" of the coverage for the "fans."

There is no doubt the on-air folks for ESPN need some serious shaking-up. What they have now is not working and is irritating at best. Their ancillary shows continue to be nothing more than hype-machines and are an insult to the owners, drivers and true fans of NASCAR.

One would think that NASCAR would not be amused by all this backlash. Most of the drivers have an obvious attitude when being interviewed by the ESPN folks. The fans are in an uproar. When is someone going to get a clue at NASCAR or ESPN?

We can complain all we want on these blogs and forums, but it does no good if NASCAR and ESPN do not read them. If you want to get NASCAR's attention - you have got to tell them...

PO Box 2875
Daytona Beach, FL 32120

At some point, if they hear it enough, maybe they will get the point and maybe they will step in before they lose what is supposedly one of the most important parts of NASCAR -- their FANS.

The same goes for ESPN...

ESPN Television
ESPN Plaza
Bristol, CT 06010

or their Comments page...

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve L said...

Anonymous said...
NASCAR promoting the foreign drivers will hurt the sport in the long run.

I didn't know NASCAR did this, since it doesn't hire drivers at all. I thought it was the car owners

Now you want to get technical over wording? I no NASCAR does not hire drivers but you know yourself they were absolutely giddy over Juan coming over to this side of motorsports. They are wanting to pull in future fans from south of the border.

Moving the fall Atlanta Busch race to Mexico still angers me. First year down there was a big to-do but this year there were a many of empty seats. It cost the teams more money to get there than what was awarded in purse.

No NASCAR doesn't hire drivers. Thanks for pointing out my error in wording.

Anonymous said...

As an older fan in my fifties I have been around racing all of my life. What I believe it boils down to is a couple factions. People who like the goofy Fox/ Speed shows probably enjoy the WWE and worse. The old time fan who only really enjoys racing will take ESPN over any FOX stuff any day. TESPN may have issues but the acts of Kenny Wallace, DW, and MW have worn thin with me. And Spencer is sickening, has he become an obnoxious suck up or what!! Wasn't anyone else bothered by how he screamed on every lap when he did qualifying a couple weeks ago. To me those shows are unwatchable.As the well respected journalist Monte Dutton said a while back. To paraphrase, DW tries to be funny and thinks he's funny but he's not.Same with the others. I only watch truck races when MW isn't on because his dopey act and obvious sponser plugs make me sick. I was in a local NAPA store and made a comment about Michael, guess what,they agreed, even the guys behind the counter said he embarrassed them, HOW'S that. I actually watched INCR Monday night and was it good, no dopey big mouth, sickening sponsor plugs.Schrader is funny and gives excellent comments, put him in the booth someday.

Ann_Ominous said...

@the anonymous who doesn't like Bestwick

The BIG mistake that NASCAR has made (and so many others have made it, too) is assuming that all Hispanics are the same.

The majority of Hispanics in the US are either originally from Mexico or most of their ancestors were. In second place are those from various Caribean islands. The Mexican-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans and Cuban-Americans are no more likely to become huge instant fans of a Columbian than African-Americans are of a Kenyan or WASP Americans of a Brit.

The various Hispanic groups actually tend to look down on one another like the Northerns vs Southerners or East Coast vs West Coasters do here.

The type of Hispanic driver that would be the kind to bring in lots more fans would be like a young Erik Estrada.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thank you, Laura.
Over time, I have found that a well-written letter mailed to a sponsor, with a copy to the network, expressing my views does get a response. A sponsor, with an unhappy customer, does pay attention. After all, racing is a business and yes, it is about the money.

I want to see cars on the track. I want to watch the race. It would be really, really nice if ESPN could understand.

SophiaZ123 said...

Excuse me but I have never, EVER been a fan of WWE or that other fake wrestling stuff.

So do not lump all fans into the same thing.

Speed can get goofy but at least THEY TALK ABOUT THE RACING and specificities of what is going on in the garage, or with drivers when they HAVE the information.

PEE SPN leaves us in limbo OFTEN.

MRN is better than both tv stations but that's another column.

LuckyForward said...

If everyone did write to NASCAR, I wonder if it would have the effect of them thinking, whether or not they like what they see, people ARE watching. Thus, since people are watching anyway, let's leave well enough alone.

I know that at one time, one manner in which advertisers judged effectiveness of their ads was not whether viewers praised or complained, but the fact they got any feedback at all counted as a "plus" instead of a "minus."

Would NASCAR view our complaints in the same fashion?

nancy vh said...

If you want to make an impact --you need to get their attention--to get their attention-- Don't buy their products and don't buy race tickets!! empty stands they listen we now stay home ( not attending 2 or 3 race a season) and tivo most races and zip through what we like or don't like !!! I also write or e-mail sponsors to tell them of my dissatisfaction!!! If you don't use your choices then don't B_____H!!!!

The Sills said...

Rusty sucks...and my husband and I can't stand the stupid draft tracker! Enough already, we get what dirty air is. If you are a racing fan you know what drafting is. We miss DW!

Richard in N.C. said...

Well I am a racing fan in my 50's and I find FOX,Mike Joy, DW, Larry Mc, and Jeff Hammonds far, far superior to anything TNT or ESPN has done - mostly because the FOX crew is genuine and interested in trying to do their best. Anything involving Bill Weber is unwatchable. The 1st word in ESPN is "entertainment", sports comes 2nd - and now sometimes 3rd. I have watched ESPN since it first started and unfortunately it now believes its own PR that ESPN knows EVERYTHING about sports. Accuracy and credibility are rapidly becoming a thing of the past at ESPN - such as Erik K. reporting Monday night that John Force had broken 2 legs, which report was about 24 hours after the accident and surgery, for his broken ankle. It seems to me that the perfect solution would be to make Alan B.the play-by-play announcer for races and have Jerry Punch host NASCAR NOW from a Charlotte studio, if his schedule would allow. Dan Patrick's jumping ship is a key indication of the depths to which ESPN has fallen.

Anonymous said...

Commercials, Graphics, and Tech Center aside, ESPN/ABC's problem is that they have commentators and not announcers.

If you have ever listened to MRN broadcast a race, or the NCTS on SPEED, or even The World Poker Tour, you know the difference between an announcer and a commentator.

An announcer tells you what is going on with passion. You can listen to the announcer and not have to watch the race to feel the excitment. The announcer connects to you with words and emotion. You feel like you are part of the action and eagerly wait for the next word. When the action is interrupted with a commercial or other break, you take a deep breath and gather yourself for action to resume.

A commentator, on the other hand, is just that, a commentator. He/she comments on the action. He/she may use personal experience to embelish the comments or may just read them off of cue cards. But, there is no emotion in the comments and you, the fan, can pick that up. This in turn makes you tune out the commentator and try to get your emotional fix from the action on the screen. And, when this action is interrupted with commercials, unnecessary graphics or redundant technical pieces, you feel slighted.

ESPN/ABC need to take a look at their other sports programs and see that the announcers on those do just that announce. The need to let their NASCAR announcers do just, announce. If the race is has turned into a follow the leader style race and they are obligated to show the leader for 10 laps, let the announcers look back in the field and tell us, the fans, what is going on, instead of droning on. If the announcers are allowed, or encouraged to inject some emotion into their announcing, even if they get it wrong or say the same catch phrase over and over again, it would go a long way in helping the fans get motivated with watching the races on their networks.

On a more personal note, I really don't care why a car gets loose. Whether it is "aero-loose", getting bumped from behind, or the driver dodged an imaginary squirrel, tells us what happened, don't explain it.

For example:

Announcer: "Matt Kenseth slides up behind Carl Edwards on the backstretch going into turn 3. Carl slips up out of the groove, Matt dives down and takes the position!"

Is much more exciting than:

Announcer: "Using Draft Track we can show you how Matt Kenseth moved up behind Carl Edwards going into turn 3, causing him to get aero-loose and have to get out the of gas, letting Matt pass him for the position."

In the first example there is emotion, immediate and complete. Nothing is missed and the race continues. IN the second example it is too sterile, and allowing for the fact that they would have to use the graphics enhancements, would be shown a lap or 2 later, causing us to miss any other action, and since they are concentrating on getting this graphics package together, they are not following the actuall racing that is going on during this time with all their attention.

Bill H (aka BillWebz)

Anonymous said...

Sounds good. I say let's give Bill a try at it.

haus20 said...

As I have noted several times, most of the HotPass Channel announcers are better than the three stooges on ESPN.

SophiaZ123 said...

Luckyforward, YOu are correct that every COMPLAINT is often viewed as a PLUS rather than a minus.

Also, now, not to get off on a tangent but I know of somebody in the TV biz that ran a magazine. She wrote about daytime shows, mostly soaps (and it paid her well, apt in Manhattan and House on the Vineyard, but I digress) NETWORKS can be MOST DECIEVING. It's been years since i watched soaps but it worked the same way in complaining about a soap. If they were too violent, and no longer about romance, on top of the usual dysfunction of daytime soaps, writers would COMPLAIN to TPTB at the soaps.

EVER PIECE OF MAIL was "POSITIVE" even if full of gripes. Even if you heard the head of Daytime (who just HAPPENS to have the same initials of Brian France) he would twist the statistics of fans something FIERCE. The numbers are way down on soaps yet nothing is being done. Now soaps, ain't NASCAR which is still HUGE but "I TELL YOU WHAT" if you continue to ignore the ORIGINAL FANS, and rewrite history and insult the intelligent of savvy fans of ANY KIND, sooner or later, you are going to lose not only your huge fan base but DOLLARS.

In soaps, they now have MANUFACTURED COUPLES before they have even been on the canvas. In NASCAR, we have the CHASE, and many other things altered over the years before I came around that folks gripe about.


BUT as long as the ADVERTISING REVENUE comes in and pays the bill, whether it's NASCAR, or the entertainment industry, things will continue.

Now if fans TRULY STOP ATTENDING RACES, and stop buying the diecast and other SOUVENIRS in a large orchestrated manner, and not just some honked off few dozen, THINGS "May change"

But as long as you have somebody saying IT's OUR SANDBOX, OUR RULES, SCREW YOU, and we WATCH or do the above, NASCAR has no reason to change.

PERSONALLY I was HORRIFIED to hear the ratings have been UP on ABC. Then again, the head of ABC DAYTIME is a huge liar and always YAPPING bout "we give the fans what they want" when those of us over 16 gave up years ago.

ALSO, do NOT BE FOOLED by the ratings numbers with a QUALITY PRODUCT. Let's not forget some years back the number one daytime show on tv: JERRY SPRINGER SHOW.

Nuff said.

If somebody can get passed the "HOLLYWOODIZATION" and fake cross promotion to get back to the basics of NASCAR, I want to know who that person is...

So before you go writing snail mail letters, be careful how they will be interpreted. Also, email can easily be deleted w/o ever being read and is not taken as seriously as old fashioned mail as the latter takes more time, energy and forethought.

Ken, Grand Junction, CO said...

After reading all the comments on this site I found myself saying: yes! yes! YES!. ESPN coverage stinks. I am sure the cameramen are qualified at what they do but not at racing coverage. Perhaps it is in the control booth. Coverage is very amatureish. I know about aero push, busted valves since you told me five times this week and last week etc.
Bottom line: last year good, this year lousy. Ken, Grand Junction, Colorado

beerslinger said...

3 words some it up.
one big mess

Anonymous said...

Now if fans TRULY STOP ATTENDING RACES, and stop buying the diecast and other SOUVENIRS in a large orchestrated manner, and not just some honked off few dozen, THINGS "May change"

Or they may not. Race attendance has nothing to do with TV. Zero. Zip. No one at NASCAR's going to say,"Hey, people aren't coming to races anymore--it mus be ABC's fault."

When it comes to TV, two things matter to ESPN/ABC/NASCAR and two things only: Ratings and revenue.

If people watch NASCAR on ESPN/ABC in sufficent numbers to satisfy the network and the sponsors, none of the complaints about the quality will matter.

That's because the action of viewing the product speaks much louder than the words of complaint. Commercial TV works by supplying eyeballs to companies that buy spot ad time. If they succeed in supplying those eyeballs, that's all they need.

Not going to races in person doesn't factor into that equasion and just hurts the fan who stays home in a misguided attempt to effect change.

So stop watching (if you have a ratings box or people meter or get a ratings dairy) if you want to make your voice heard. But if you don't have one of those, not watching has no effect at all, unfortunately.

Write sponsors as a secondary means of protest--it could have an effect, if worded properly.

But sending letters to the network while they're enjoying increased ratings won't help.

Desmond said...

When I first began watching NASCAR, I thought that NASCAR on FOX was nothing but a circus.

Granted, the coverage is still more than showbiz than "the show" (the race), but it's getting better all the time.

The production is superior to that of TNT or ESPN. And ESPN is especially disappointing, because of the standard in racing coverage it set some 20 years ago.

I have taped the 1998 Daytona 500 and believe me, it's a million times better than anything I have seen this year.

The death of Benny Parsons has made the problems in the broadcast booth even more pronounced. As Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." I think of BP every time that I hear Rusty Wallace or Brad Daugherty struggle through a telecast. And ESPN merely saying that a screwup was "human error" is insufficient.

An NBC staffer reportedly said that it was carrying NASCAR races only until something better came along. That something better was NBC Sunday Night Football. Is that what ESPN is thinking of, too? I just hope not.

Anonymous said...

Before NBC decided to jettison NASCAR--say, three years ago or more--I felt NBC's coverage was quite a bit better than what Fox was doing.

(The last few races NBC covered, it was plain they'd all but given up and were just working out the remaining contracted races.)

I was sorry to see NBC treat the sport so shoddily, but much of what ESPN/ABC has done has been worse.