Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NASCAR.com Tops TV Networks On Junior Announcement


The NASCAR.com website was live on-the-air with its Internet TV application at 1:15PM Eastern Time. They were in their own TV studio talking about the Dale Junior issues and even had a free chat room open for the fans. The live media coverage of Junior's announcements had officially begun.

ESPN News was live at 1:30PM with a news anchor, but no NASCAR Now reporter on-camera. The anchor "threw" directly to the feed of the press conference, missing the opening remarks and joining it in progress.

SPEED's Steve Byrnes appeared on-camera in the SPEED studios at 1:30PM, and then transitioned directly to the press conference. He also joined the festivities in-progress, and no SPEED reporter appeared on-camera at the location prior to the beginning of the announcement.

ESPN News carried ten minutes live, and then departed at 1:40PM Eastern Time after learning Junior's car number and sponsors. The network brought in Darren Rovell, the Business Reporter from CNBC, and Brad Daugherty, ESPN's NASCAR "voice of the fans." They both spoke to the branding and marketing elements of the two sponsors, and Rovell addressed Junior's choice of car numbers.

Even as Hendrick and Earnhardt explained their choices and how this transition began, Daugherty was on-the-air on ESPN News speaking about the demographics of Junior's new sponsors. Sensing a conflict, the ESPN News anchor directed the coverage back to the live press conference in the midst of Mr. Hendrick's continuing remarks.

SPEED worked hard to add graphics in support of the comments being made at the announcement, and they worked very well on-screen. ESPN News used B-roll footage, but unfortunately it was the old red number eight car with Budweiser on the side. Ultimately, they did show some footage of the new cars shot earlier at TMS.

While SPEEDtv.com has its message boards, and ESPN.com has its forum, NASCAR.com had set-up a dedicated live "no membership" chat room for this announcement. It was so full, I could not find how many were inside, but it was clear there were hundreds.

ESPN News chose to leave again immediately when the question and answer period began at the live press conference about ten minutes later. They returned to Daugherty and Rovell who further addressed the same issues. Rovell was even asked to address the Dale Earnhardt Sr. merchandising issues and his continued popularity. The conclusion of Rovell was that Junior was getting more money and a new marketing freedom.

Daugherty addressed Junior issues on ESPN News even as Junior himself continued to answer questions from the media live in Dallas. While Claire B. Lang and other NASCAR veteran reporters developed the stories and asked about the issues, ESPN News continued to expound on the generalities surrounding the marketing and financial issues.

At 1:56PM, ESPN was done. Daugherty and Novell signed-off, and left on-the-air live were SPEED and NASCAR.com on the iTV side. Both ESPN and ESPN2 stayed with their normal program schedules.

SPEED and NASCAR.com got some more details on the number selections, the new marketing programs, and the details on how these sponsor agreements took place. There were some good questions from the press, and Winston Kelly did an outstanding job keeping the press conference orderly and a bit informal.

Thirty minutes in, Junior touched on the details of his upcoming season, his feelings about the numbers, and finally gave fans a good view of his thoughtful and sensitive side. Some good conversation followed, and then things went a little bit wrong.

At about 2:15PM, the satellite feed from Dallas ended in mid-sentence with the press questions still in-progress. Both SPEED and NASCAR.com immediately went back into their studios and explained this was a problem originating from Dallas.

Steve Byrnes quickly recapped the Kasey Kahne announcement, and then signed-off this special report and the network returned to regular programming. NASCAR.com immediately had a phoned-in report from Larry McReynolds putting his feelings about the 88 car in perspective. Since McReynolds had a history with Robert Yates Racing, this was a well-placed report.

The Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference was an interesting media event that showed both the strengths and weaknesses of cable TV networks and the Internet. Credit goes to ESPN for making the effort to carry a portion of this press conference live. SPEED has made this a practice for a while now, and always does a very straightforward job of presenting just the facts.

One hour after the press conference began, only NASCAR.com was still live with their Internet TV application. As the principals of the press conference gathered around two shrouded cars, it was apparent that Hendrick Racing has made one very tactical error. Both SPEED and ESPN left the air before Junior's two new cars were unveiled, and it was clearly not their fault.

Perhaps, in the future, the public relations organizations that host these press conferences will put the TV needs before the needs of the print media. The classic press conference format did not work for ESPN or SPEED, that was very clear.

Simply by announcing the sponsors, unveiling the car, and then bringing on the people involved in the announcements, Hendrick Motorsports would have presented a neat and organized TV media event. Instead, the classic "press conference" format forced both TV networks to leave before either car was unveiled live. That is kind of a big detail.

Finally, as in all big marketing efforts these days, the new "Green Machine" of Junior showed up on-line at NASCAR.com in full color. The Amp hype had begun, and even Dale Junior Amp merchandise could suddenly be ordered at NASCAR.com, although without an image attached quite yet.

For those of us on the electronic and digital media side of the business, this was an interesting day. Two cable networks carried this event live, and approached it quite differently. One major Internet site dedicated several hours to it with both video and chat room applications that involved many reporters and a full TV style studio. For my money, NASCAR.com did the best job today, and showed that it is slowly pulling out of the funk it had been in over the last several years.

Consider this, if the NASCAR.com media viewer had been able to go full-screen, they would have actually offered a TV-style product superior to both ESPN News and SPEED. As technology marches on, one thing is certain. The consumer has more NASCAR TV options than ever 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.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dale Jr. is supposed to be on FOX NEWS channel in a few min. There were promos for this interview yesterday on FNC.

Anonymous said...

During the business hour on FNC, Neil Cavuto asked about the cost of NASCAR Racing, Dale Jr's new sponsors and the future of the sport.

Anonymous said...

One of the few times I checked out NASCAR.com it clearly appeared to me to be just a giant pop-up ad and much, much more interested in selling me something than anything else. For that reason - and because I note on Jayski that it often carries articles by Bill Weber- I have not checked Turner's NASCAR.com site in months. Like TNT's coverage of Cup races, NASCAR.com seemed to be a very poor "representative" of NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. Since we recognize that "eighty-eight" was Dale Jarrett's number before he drank Michael Waltrip's kool-aid and got stupid, we should call Dale Jr's new number "double-8".
Kevin in SoCal

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anonymous 5:37PM,

I have only had unpleasant experiences with NASCAR.com before today and agree that commerce is the over-riding goal of Turner Interactive, the company that runs the site.

Today, I was very surprised by the high level of content, access, and services provided to the fans. If this site would unbundle itself from being controlled by costs, it would attract enough traffic to make it pay-off in spades.

Thanks for your comment.

JD

SophiaZ123 said...

Gosh, John...I also hate NASCAR.com ESPECIALLY with their overly crowded UPGRADE. I would have never DREAMED of going there for today's press conference.

I must say though, I am glad you pointed out today's could've had a better presentation. MY MAIN deal was SEEING THE NEW CARS PAINT SCHEME, hello. How they put that off so long into the conference was beyond me and I grew weary of the other talking heads.

I paid full attention to Jr's announcement of leaving DEI and the one of going with HMS. Today's seemed terribly disjointed and I am glad your brought it up. Also the tech feed of things going BLACK ON MY SCREEN (Seems to be a trend this year! LOL) was uncanny.

I did enjoy walking back into the room to see Jr talk about the emotional aspects of how things will sink in after the final lap at Homestead. As somebody old enough to be Jr's mother, it made me sad to predict how the vultures will POUNCE on his emotions at that time.

You can so tell Jr and Rick just want to MOVE ON to Daytona. I for one will be rooting for him to do well.

BUT I GOTTA BE HONEST, I am not keen on the new paint schemes...too cluttered and haphazard for me. The Red Bud was a cleaner look. I loved the white car from last weeks race and the special old Bud car, I think Jr drove for Fathers day? Very little graphics and old fashioned looking 8 number.

I miss the look of cleaner looks to the cars ads all over the place.

Course, that said, I saw a HORRIBLE picture of the alleged car for Stewart and Home Depot next year, I think these 'overly busy' paint schemes make it impossible to find our drives on the track.

Course, that's when they are actually on our tvs. With the Jr fascination of the media, and their inability to ever BACK OFF the boy, I hope his new paint scheme grows on me but more importantly, I hope the racing guys can get back to talking about ALL THE OTHER DRIVERS ON THE TRACK.

Thanks for the rundown on the conferences today, JD.

Anonymous said...

I gave up on NASCAR.com some time ago. As previously mentioned, it has primarily become a promotional portal for product sales, with little room left over NASCAR news.I especially HATE being ambushed by a loud audio promo, especially when I'm at work.

So, your report about the good job that NASCAR.com did today was quite surprising. Hopefully, legitimate content is making a comeback at Turner. That would be a most welcome development. Now, if they will get rid of the intrusive audio...

Carl In Alaska said...

I had to work and watched ESPN later off a DISH DVR. On a 1 to 10 they get about a 5.5 score. Although no Jr. fan and also a Jr. myself this is still a great human interest story.

When I saw ESPN join the announcement they were late. When they broke from the conference to go to the talking heads including an announcer who doesn't know the difference between 8 & 9 and the man of the fans I knew it was over.

Whatever SPEED did had to infinitely better than what ESPN produced. I guess this is just the slipshod production that NASCAR fans are expected to accept from the stick and ball media who thinks they are in control.

WE ARE IN CONTROL, WE'LL ADJUST YOUR HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL, SO JUST SIT BACK!!!

Get a clue NASCAR!!! ESPN SUCKS and fans want improvements and changes. Fans you control them. If every NASCAR fan who is a Nextel / Sprint customer contacts them and expresses you displeasure, YOU will make an impact!!!

MAKE AN IMPACT!!!

Anonymous said...

John, the video on NASCAR.com WILL run full screen! That's exactly how I watched the news conference. I had no production expectations but I did expect the satellite feed to last to the end of the announcement.

Those that were watching mainly to see the new cars were very upset in the different forums I checked.

Daly Planet Editor said...

How did you get their pop-up window to go full screen?

The video player was single sized with no options and the pop-up window did not allow expansion.

Clue us in! That would be great if it worked full screen.

JD

Anonymous said...

Right-click on the picture and choose the "full screen" option from the resuling menu.

Anonymous said...

...or just double click on the video! Esc takes you back to the default player size.

AndyPandy said...

One thing has always bothered me - why didn't Winston Kelly have to change his name to Nextel Kelly, and next year to Sprint Kelly?

joe said...

Did you ever notice that the ads stream perfectly on those popup video players but the actual content plays like a record with a huge scratch in it?

joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you for taking the time to tell us how to make the video full screen. Now if only NASCAR.com had those simple instructions on their pop-up, it would be just as easy for those few fans who do not read The Daly Planet.

JD

Dot said...

@ Andy Pandy
Too funny.

Anonymous said...

The [ESPN] anchor "threw" directly to the feed of the press conference, missing the opening remarks and joining it in progress.

Huh? ESPN missed the start of a NASCAR-related event? Never heard of such a thing...

Anonymous said...

JD, the first 2 comments here are in response to your earlier comments that the cable networks ignored this issue.


Daly Planet Editor said...
The cable news networks are all caught-up in the OJ Simpson coverage, and have not mentioned this press announcement.
September 19, 2007 12:48 PM

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for helping me understand what you were referencing. I certainly did not intend to spark debate, just was observing the content on the cable news networks at that time. Thanks for your comments in that area.

Anonymous said...

One thing I will say for NASCAR.com is that at least their anchors and analysts focus on NASCAR. The guys at ESPN seem like they could not care less about it.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised I haven't read this yet. I tried a number of sites, and like most people I got annoyed by the various NASCAR.com ads all over the place - ESPN.com didn't have much as far as news nor stream of the actual conference (at least, I couldn't find the stream), so I went to Fox sports. The video froze once or twice, but it came back to normal shortly thereafter and they seemed to have all their stuff together.

Mike D.