Saturday, September 1, 2007

Technical Woes Continue To Chase ESPN

After a stellar performance from a TV engineering standpoint this season, ESPN's NASCAR efforts are hitting some speedbumps in the parking lot. Friday's NASCAR Now featured reporter Terry Blount speaking about the news on Joe Gibbs racing and Toyota. Well, he spoke for a little while.

Twice in his on-camera report, color bars appeared on the video from the track, and eventually the network lost Blount's audio as well. Show host Erik Kuselias said it was so hot in California, even the TV equipment was melting. All this while SPEED was originating twelve hours of live coverage from the same location.

After the network lost its entire race feed from Bristol last Friday night, you would think things like this might be high on the agenda to fix. Several viewers emailed The Daly Planet about other glitches like a missing Kyle Petty interview teased twice by Kuselias. No explanation was offered about why Kyle went missing.

ESPN just seems to love NASCAR violence, as it proved earlier this season in California. NASCAR Now replayed David Reutimann's crash over fifteen times in thirty minutes the day after it happened. In any other sport, an unconscious or injured athlete would be shielded from the type of tabloid exploitation ESPN has become infamous for in their first NASCAR season back in TV land.

With the series returning to California, ESPN dug out the footage once again so we could all see Reutimann in the car not moving. Then, the network forced normally reliable reporter Shannon Spake to make a complete fool out of herself on national television. Apparently, since ESPN is signing the paychecks, she had no choice.

"Last time this series visited this track, we can all remember images of your horrific accident in Turn 3. How often do you think about that?" asked Spake dramatically. Reutimann got a look on his face that TV viewers have come to know as the "ESPN reporters are idiots" look. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and many other drivers have worked hard this season on perfecting this half-hearted smile mixed with the "I am going to remember this one" look.

"Not until somebody brings it up." was his response. Even though Reutimann clearly said no, it was not enough for ESPN. They want an answer that fits their agenda. So, Spake continued on with "do you think about it when you get onto the racetrack?" Reutimann said simply "no." He should have said, what part of no don't you understand?

Friday's show continued with the "human TV content generator" Tim Cowlishaw from Fontana looking once again like he had a very long night in adult beverage land. Kuselias then hosted an interview with Ricky Rudd that had the driver taking deep breaths and answering the kind of questions that would be asked by a local station TV reporter about his past and his future. What a shame.

The Friday version of ESPN's NASCAR Now is the "kick-off" show for each NASCAR weekend. Now, it can be compared to ESPN's College Gameday "kick-off" show for college football season. For NASCAR, an acknowledged racing illiterate host standing in front of a video wall in Bristol, CT. For college football, an entire remote TV crew and custom-made set on-site in Virginia with hundreds of live fans screaming and cheering.

The treatment of NASCAR this season by ESPN, except for the live racing itself, has been second class and they know it. ESPN certainly knows how to produce live events, and certainly knows how to write press releases saying how great things are. Now that college football season is underway, and the NFL season is on the verge of starting, NASCAR may shortly find itself relegated to an even more "back-burner" position on the ESPN stove.

Next week, ABC Sports is showing the Oregon vs. Michigan live college football game before the NEXTEL Cup race from Richmond, VA on Saturday night. Should this game run long, both ESPN and ESPN2 are already showing live college football. With nowhere to go, NASCAR will race for the fans in the stands, on the radio, and on the pay-per-view TV packages.

Beginning September 22nd, live college football precedes the Busch Races on Saturday afternoons on ESPN2. This will continue for the rest of the season. NASCAR is discovering that this is not Fox Sports, not TNT, and not even the old NBC days. This is ESPN, and NASCAR is just another sport sandwiched in between established events that have been on the network for many years.

As rain-outs, red flags, and even lots of caution periods begin to show live racing's problems with TV coverage, it should be interesting. There will be a lot of decisions to make over the next couple of months for ESPN and ABC on-the-air. Maybe with a little more heat on the burner, NASCAR can get moved to the front of the ESPN stove.

In closing Friday's edition of NASCAR Now, ESPN took it upon themselves to show Reutimann's crash once again. There he was, possibly hurt and unconscious in High Definition. This time, it was in a music video. Nice touch.

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


SonicAD said...

Even tonight is a mess. There's a 3-hour windowed college football game running right up to an abbreviated edition of NASCAR Countdown. Pretty sure bet that game will run over, and with another football game on ESPN, I'll bet the race gets started on ESPN Classic, or at least the pre-race will. I've already got my VCR set to catch that, since my DVR will be busy on ESPN2 and with the ALMS race on SPEED.

In regards to next week's Cup race at Richmond though, I think NASCAR will try to delay the start as much as possible, as they did a couple years ago at Charlotte. The Notre Dame game ran long, and the race was held enough that NBC joined it right at the green flag. And even if the Michigan game runs long, I won't be too bothered, since I'm a fan :P (though if it does mean I miss the start of the race, I suppose I won't feel quite the same)

SophiaZ123 said...

Holy Cow.

I can't believe we have 8 years of this junk.

I remember feeling like a voyeur the first, live time the in cam showed a stunned Reutimann. I had an ache in my stomach and almost cried as he looked so vulnerable..even on the replay when I knew he was ok.

DISGUSTING NASCAR is exploiting that.


Disgraceful, imo.

Anonymous said...

According to NASCAR Scene, the Richmond Nextel Cup race is on ESPN. Is this incorrect?

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Richmond NEXTEL Cup race is on the ABC television network at 7PM on September 8th. The program will appear as ESPN "branded" and will be referred to as ESPN on ABC Sports.

ABC Sports has essentially been disbanded, and ESPN produces most of the sports content that appears on the network, which is owned by is ESPN.

cwebs said...

Thanks for posting this, JD. NN was a complete mess on Friday night. In addition to the items you mentioned, there was a weird audio glitch right after the intro when some voice other than Klulesas's could be heard for a moment.

What would happen if NASCAR fans banded together and marched on ESPN headquarters to send them a message? As crazy as that sounds, it would at least get us some publicity! I'm not any good at making signs, but maybe I can scrounge up some tar & feathers.

(Don't worry, I'm just kidding about the T&F...)


SophiaZ123 said...


Sadly, I think boycotting ESPN at headquarters would be turned into FREE ADVERTISING for those sick freaks.

Not that I am biased or anything.

I have a radio buddy that does a "fun" afternoon show and I would love to get a full blown ESPN Boycott going..the station in question is also a HUGE sports and talk station.

He would probably give me a segment...especially since he is retiring at the end of this year after 23 years..and he KNOWS PERSONALLY how the big corporate monsters have killed broadcasting.

He is the last of his breed...only funny guys after him are the crude Bob and Tom adolescent humor offense if any here are fans of those two.


He always gives offbeat little guys a chance if he can!

If I could get a hold of BUMPSTOP3 and could ask this radio guy to ALLOW HIM ON!

NOW THAT's an idea! He already has a website on youtube.

:) :)

Anonymous said...

With a change in the timing rules, ALL of the college football games are running long. There is just about a 100% chance the start of the race will be missed unless they delay the green flag.

cwebs said...

sophia -

I think you have some good ideas there! All grass-roots efforts have to start somewhere. Going on local radio would be a good way to start spreading the word. Of course, JD has created a great starting point for us right here with this blog!

BTW, make sure to check out the comment I just put up in the "Steve Byrnes Quarterbacks SPEED's Fontana Coverage" thread...


SophiaZ123 said...


will check out your comment.

Also this station is carried on XM and is heard in SEVERAL's a 50,000 watt station and at NIGHT...heard across most of America.

So it's local but the number one show in this area...even tho I hate the direction it's gone in recent years.

And my friend is on in drive time and I used to go to his studio YEARS ago when I cat sat close to where they broadcast. Have known him 15 years! to get such a thing organized and started.

Methinks I need to look for bumps addy.


p.s. OMG!! I FORGOT CUP Practice is on SPEED now.


SophiaZ123 said...

Maybe ESPN is hiring guys like this cartoon.

This link is just a free online public cartoon available on many sites John so hope it's ok.


Sept.1 date

Anonymous said...

NASCAR went with ESPN because of, let me see, what was it again? Oh, yeah! Money! Gee, I'm so glad they have their priorities in order. It must go something like this: money, their (NASCAR) personal bank accounts, the corporate sponsors who pull the purse strings and then there's probably a lot of other miscellaneous groups and people that fill up the next twelve or so spots. Other corporate peeps, maybe even the guy who mops the floor at the end of the day and scrubs the toilets. Then, at the bottom of the list of priorities we find the drivers, their teams and the fans. Nice.

Anonymous said...

espn is the worst i have ever watched covering nascar racing.they need to just go away and stay out of it. just plain sorry and no good.

Anonymous said...

You know, I have read a lot of comments and one that makes sense is regarding the money that ESPN forked over to (win)the bid placed on our beloved sport. Unfortunately, the only reason ESPN forked over the most dough is because of what they were getting in return and taking for granted why we love the sport of NASCAR! If you are a true fan , no explanation is needed. Obviously ESPN is not!


Snafam said...

I don't see this as getting any better for the remaining season.

Last nights late start was a mess of the highest proportions! The scroller said to tune into ESPN 360, and when I finally found it was a website, rather than a channel..I rushed to bring it up. NATIONAL ISP company does not carry it! After banging on the keyboard a bit, in frustration, I headed right over to and watched their pre-race. Yep, I went to TURNER to see what I was missing from ESPN!

And BTW, I was Instant Messaging with a friend of mine in Canada. She saw the whole feed! Yep, in Canada, they had the whole Countdown!

The Busch series is already suffering viewership. NASCAR is already suffering in trying to find a sponsor to replace Busch. This Broadcasting Boondoggle won't help that situation at all. Light a memory candle now, we won't be seeing this series much at all!

Kristin said...

The Busch race last night was one of the best Busch races I've seen, with the battle for the top 10 positions at the end. But, the race coverage was HORRIBLE!
I'm starting to feel like the ESPN "team" thinks we are all 5 years old and have never before seen a NASCAR race. At one point, Brian Vickers' car was overheating because of trash on the grill. Happens all of the time in racing. Jerry, Rusty and the rest spent at least 20 minutes explaining why this makes the car hot, how to get the trash off the car, and all about air.
ENOUGH ABOUT AIR!! Everyone that can tie their own shoes and use complete sentences understands air. We do not need 10 minute long dissertations and mutli-angle "draft track" to get it. WE UNDERSTAND AIR!
I swear if I see "draft track" one more time, I will lose it. ESPN: please spend your money on hiring the best and brightest to bring us the races each and every week. Quit wasting it on stupid demonstrations obviously designed by first year graphic design students.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of NASCAR NOW, if you ever need an excuse to get drunk, just take a drink every time they show the Martin Truex zipping his lip and throwing it away scene. You'll be drunk halfway thru the show, guarenteed!
Kevin in SoCal