Sunday, October 21, 2007

Early "RaceDay" Running On Empty For SPEED


It certainly has been one of the hottest topics for fans of the outstanding NASCAR coverage delivered every race weekend on SPEED. On one of the key weekends of the NASCAR season, SPEED chose to move their Sunday morning program called RaceDay.

This two hour live program is a mix of news, conversation, and features. It has struck a chord with fans, and this season has been scheduled in a position to overlap the ESPN/ABC pre-race show called NASCAR Countdown.

While SPEED has undergone many changes over the last several years, they find themselves in the position of continuing to host live Formula-1 coverage. Voiced-over in SPEED's network headquarters in Charlotte, NC, this series has a cult following in the US that is dedicated to the point of fanatical.

SPEED has clung to this base of fans, and often appears to cater to them more than any other fanbase on the SPEEDtv.com website. Prior to SPEED investing in the multiple at-track programs on the NASCAR circuit, it was the open-wheel and Rally coverage that kept the network on the TV map.

Sunday morning, SPEED faced a choice that ESPN had also faced many times during their first decade of growth. Two high-profile and successful programs were locked in a Mexican stand-off. Both wanted to be on the air at 11:30AM on Sunday morning.

Formula-1 had the promise of a season-ending championship fight. The drivers had been battling all season long on a wide variety of circuits and in very diverse weather conditions. It was going to be a great live event from Brazil.

RaceDay has come into its own this season, and has been a tightly-knit crew of TV personalities who have momentum on their side. The failure of the ESPN on ABC crew to present a viable pre-race show has played into the hands of SPEED who took a big chance when scheduling RaceDay to directly compete with NASCAR Countdown.

So, SPEED faced a tough decision anyway you cut it. This was a classic case of a TV program vs. a TV event. The program was RaceDay, which has no actual "start time" associated with it, where the F-1 race certainly has a scheduled race start.

Moving RaceDay later was not an option, as the NASCAR race would be underway. Tape delaying the F-1 coverage until 1:30PM Eastern Time would have disrupted a full season of live coverage on SPEED. There were two possible solutions.

One, move RaceDay up to 9:30AM and let it run until the F-1 program at 11:30AM. Secondly, make RaceDay available on a different distribution pathway. This could have been another Fox Cable Network like FX, Fuel, or FoxSportsNet. SPEED's decision was to move RaceDay to 9:30AM, and keep the Formula-1 race live at 11:30AM.

As The Daly Planet is NASCAR-themed, we are going to discuss how these changes affected the RaceDay program. Essentially, SPEED removed about four of the six bullets in the RaceDay gun with this change. Removed were the live elements that fans had come to expect, and remaining were the RaceDay on-set announcers and the pre-produced features.

John Roberts and his crew kept brave faces, and the NASCAR fans turned-out at the track, but the program was missing its soul. The production crew worked with the content and conditions they had, switching the focus of the show from live reporting to pre-produced features and conversation.

The single person who paid the highest price for this change was Wendy Venturini. Normally the centerpiece of this show, Venturini found herself working in a time frame where the cars were still in their garage stalls, and the drivers in their RV's. Her "target rich" environment was gone.

The show moved into a cycle where a feature was presented, then discussed. Solid taped pieces were used on a variety of subjects. Clint Bowyer, Junior Johnson and Doug Yates were all used for content. Hermie Sadler, Ricki Rachtman, and the RaceDay panel filled-in the blanks with extended conversations.

This edition of RaceDay had none of the spontaneous interviews and exciting background activity that fans have come to expect. Inside the track, Venturini did her best to arrange some interviews and update some news, but it was not the same.

NASCAR is high-profile and vital to the continued success of SPEED. RaceDay is the anchor of this franchise, and sets-up the other programs and personalities on the network. This program has been on-the-air every race weekend since February. Moving it with only four races to go was a tough decision.

Maybe Wendy Venturini said it best while she stood frustrated outside the driver's meeting all alone. "As soon as they get done with the driver's meeting, we are going to...um...maybe...we are running out of time...I do know that." There would be no drivers interviewed, no pit walks, and no real version of RaceDay this Sunday morning.

NASCAR fans got the short end of the stick from SPEED. This situation shows the network slowly growing into a TV outlet that is going to need a second pathway of program distribution in the future. Maybe, this conflict on Sunday helped SPEED to understand that their future as a big-time sports network may have finally arrived.

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.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

JD,
I think this is a good problem to have. If they had to change every week, bad deal, but this is ok. I enjoy the show and once in a while things just don't work out. They'll be back with guns a blazin' next week.
Glenn

Illpolo said...

I can say that when I woke up this morning I flipped on SPEED right away just to have the show on, regardless of its' early start compared to the time of the race start. It gives the feel of being at the race outside the track, which I have had the experience of twice this year at Chicagoland and Indianapolis for Cup races.

While the show did lack some of the randomness of regular shows, it made me think to what it's like to show up at the racetrack very early to get a good parking spot and tailgate; plus I love having Nascar-related content on Speed at that early hour compared to the normally random shows they usually have on at odd hours on a daily basis. I was excited for the race even earlier today because of it.

Andy Pandy said...

I think the fact the RaceDay is usually a quality program gives them a good amount of leeway in this case. Regular viewers know what the show is about and what they do, so it was interesting to see what they could do under less than ideal circumstances. Lesser shows may have just canceled for the week and had everyone watch the World Wide Leader for pre-race coverage, but I give SPEED and the RaceDay crew credit for giving it a try, knowing that most of their viewers have a sense of humor and could laugh along with them if it blew up.

Of course, I'm a fan of JR, Spencer and Herman, and would tune in to watch Wendy read the phone book for an hour, so my opinion may not be worth a whole heck of a lot.

Vince said...

I'm embarrassed to say I forgot to check my program listings and missed RaceDay altogether. My DVR got it, but it sounds like I don't need to replay it if there are no driver interviews or Wendy strolling down pit road catching people off guard for a quick interview. She's great.

That said, I don't have a problem with Speed showing the F1 race live and moving RaceDay up to 9:30am. It would have been nice if they'd moved RaceDay to FX or one of Fox's other stations though.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Petty, JD Gibbs and Junior Johnson just called... they want a refund.

Alex said...

Raceday is a Speed Channel show, so moving it to FX or FSN would make little sense since those networks have nothing to do with Speed Channel other than being owned by the same company. FX would seem the logical solution, but it would be out of step with their programming since that division stated their objective to leave sports programming. FSN has many affiliates and not much national network programming at one time, plus the entire nation isn't covered with FSN channels. Many have Comcast SportsNet instead, which would leave race fans without Raceday.

Like any sports event, not every one can be the epitome of excitement and the best show ever, so I'll take the bad or not-so-good if we get a good dose of good programming on a regular basis. I'm quite surprised that John suggested redistribution to another cable channel especially considering how Raceday is an established franchise on Speed Channel and would force viewers like me to decide between that show and watching the Formula 1 race. I watched both and would not have liked a decision between the two.

As soon as the F1 race was done, I flipped to NASCAR. It was a perfect lead-in to have live original programming back-to-back for Speed to keep viewers tuned to one channel instead of flipping between two and essentially splitting their viewership.

A bit off-topic, but if NASCAR had their races start at reasonable times, like 12:30, the layoff between when morning shows like Raceday end and the green flag wouldn't be so large, hence more excitement that Speed Channel is able to harness. That's not the case, so we have to deal with the hand we're dealt.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how the choice is at all tough. One is live coverage of the championship deciding race of the closest F1 driver's championship in years. The other is a PRERACE show. Delaying the race significantly degrades the value of the coverage to F1 fans. Moving Raceday earlier in the day shakes up the format a bit. If this happened frequently it would be a problem, but given the time zones involved it's only going to come up once a year. The Raceday crew and its audience can deal with that.

And this is coming from someone who stopped watching the F1 races after the FIA's ridiculous Stepneygate decision made them look like Formula Ferrari.

ruddrpm said...

I agree with most everybody thus far in that I don't think it was that big of deal as a one-time thing. Not to mention the F1 race packed more potential punch than yet another NASCAR Chase race with an ever-growing points gap between the (2) haves & the (10) have nots. Even still, if this happened Sunday afternoon in Homestead that would definately be another story. But it was just Martinsville with 4 races still remaining......

Moving RaceDay to another network would only open up another can of worms (notifying the viewers en mass, what network pays for the production since they all operate on separate budgets, etc.) when next week everything will be back to normal & we'll forget this conversation even existed. I think most people will understand the situation for what it was.

Richard in N.C. said...

The SPEED-RACEDAY controversy provides a telling contrast with NASCAR on ESPN. SPEED had the "problem" of 2 quality programs and how to give each adequate exposure - while ESPN is still trying to re-learn how to carry NASCAR. We can only hope that ESPN will step up to the plate and elevate its NASCAR coverage ( races and ancillary programming) so that it becomes good enough to worry about where to carry it - and whether to bother watching it. In fairness to SPEED, there would be no controversy if it had not continued to enhance and improve RACEDAY.An embarassment of riches. Now if they would just replace Ken and Barbie on the SPEED REPORT - and have adequate racing coverage during the so-called "off season."

Rick said...

Like I said in the other thread on this topic, it was a sound business descision for SPEED.

So Raceday wasn't able to be up to its normal standards, but they kept race fans on their channel for 5 straight hours.

I wouldn't want it to happen every week, but once a year is fine with me.

ruddrpm said...

Forgot to mention though that yes, I do agree with your original point in that Raceday lacked its same punch by airing a couple hours early. But it was what it was. They made the best of the situation & now we go to Atlanta. Did anyone happen to catch the F1 race?! How about that comeback by Kimi over the past few races!!! Gives me faint hope that we could see the same thing by one of the other Chase "contenders" in this last 4. I really don't care who wins, but 100+ points to 3rd & 200+ to 4th?! I thought the Chase was created so everybody would be tied when we got to Homestead (sarcasm)..........

Anonymous said...

SPEED made the right decision today. The RaceDay folks gave it their all this morning - maybe not the best show they've ever done, but nothing that would make me change the channel.

This was a rare conflict and really not a conflict. If the Nextel All-Star Challenge race -the actual race - carried exclusively on SPEED conflicted with an F1 race, I might see the conflict.

Because of that, I don't believe SPEED needs a second outlet such as FUEL or a new SPEED2 channel. If you look at the bulk of their programming, it's not live current programming, which would call for expansion. And the programming choices can be curious.

For instance, today was a very busy racing day (from which these columns stem). What's on SPEED tonight from 10 PM to 3 AM, though? Redline, Super Bikes! NOPI,Pinks, Dream Car Garage, and My Classic Car.

No replay of the Brazilian Grand Prix until mid-week. No replay of SPEED Report and Victory Lane until 3 AM Eastern. They're not even replaying Wind Tunnel (which should have been two hours) until tomorrow morning at 10. Even though both a Dale Jr interview and an extremely up to date live phone report on the F1 situation from Brazil (a situation which had changed from an update just 20 minutes before) were on the show.

Once they get those types of puzzling programming decisions handled better, then they can think about a second distribution pathway.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Rally, looks like SPEED has forsaken that series completely. Not even a 1/2-hour show? Hurts!

Cire said...

John, I don't think SPEED needs another outlet at all. This happened ONCE this whole year and now your saying they need to possibly start looking at another outlet? Wrong. As it turned out the F1 race was superb and with how Hamilton did, it kept us all with the F1 race to the very end. SPEED made the right call on this and again, this only happened ONCE this whole year! For Lord's sake, the last two F1 races had me up and 1 and 2 in the morning to watch (Japan and China). Your doing good though John. This is the only thing all year that I can remember where nobody really agreed with you.

SophiaZ123 said...

I am watching a taped RACE DAY. it's different than normal but that's ok. It's about real stuff that fans like.

Most all were thrilled with access to F1 at a decent hour. and it was the last race of the season.

Also, I think SPEED has made horrible decisions on other areas in general..the putrid late night shows, lack of repeat of quality shows..VL, WT, INC for PINKS, Unique Whips and other JUNK.

I am happy with today's decision. And see no need for SPEED 2 since as another poster said, not much LIVE racing on this station or even interesting shows.

I am more upset with what ESPN in general is doing to this sport. I realize, JD, you worked in TV and see this problem in a wider scope than most of us here. So you have a different perspective.

But compared to the horrid stuff NASCAR is ALLOWING ESPN to do to the fans? This little hiccup with Raceday on an important F1 day is just minutia to me and some others.

I haven't finished watching yet but they should've filmed a bit about Wendy giving a wake up call to one of the drivers to be on the early edition...maybe somebody like Tony who is notorious for NOT being a morning person..and having him be cranky and playing beeps for cusswords because Tony wanted to get another hour of sleep or something?

Then Wendy walks in with a pizza or donuts and Tony Smiles. . .

:-)

Richard said...

Sounds like you did not give RaceDay a chance. You already made up your mind about it being horrible to move up RaceDay by a few hours instead of airing it on a another Fox owned network and, as you expected, the show didn't live up to your expectations. For me and 99% of the other NASCAR fans who watch RaceDay each week, this show was as good as any all season. Quit whining!

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice Spencer is either not preparing for the shows, or is having memory problems.

How about Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth almost going to "blows" on pit lane after the race. Victory Lane showed it uncut. Nascar Now clipped the end off when Carl sort of charged Matt. Those two always got along. I hope they work things out.

Anonymous said...

JD, I really liked this article... as I do all of your articles. And I agreed with most of it...

But like many of the other posters, I didn't have a problem with this one-time move for Race Day, given all the factors involved. I enjoyed watching the F1 race... and I'm not normally an F1 fan.

I am a little disappointed that Race Day didn't make more of the time change -- for example, how different the track is in the early morning. Something like Sophia's early morning bit could have been fun. They could have embraced the differences from "normal" -- had more fun with it... using more than just coffee cups. Instead, they almost looked embarrassed that they couldn't give us more.

What this whole thing really does is highlight the unique appeal of this show. When something is missing, it's noticeable... because we don't get those things anywhere else, especially on race day.

Anonymous said...

What I meant about the F1 race is that I think that in this case, it was wise for SPEED to air both back-to-back -- Race Day viewers might then watch the F1 race.

But I also think Race Day's earlier time could have been handled more effectively... so the whole thing could have worked much better.

Anonymous said...

...except that F1 overlapped with the actual race, didn't it?!? I wouldn't have known, because I watch everything on DVR. Sorry, you should probably ignore (or delete) my previous comment [8:02am].

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for all the comments. The people who did not post here are the ones that do not know or like Formula-1.

They are simply NASCAR fans, and when they saw the F-1 race they just turned to ABC and waited for NASCAR Countdown.

In today's computer-driven world, TV networks are a dying breed. They have to go above and beyond to provide viewers with what they need, or the viewer will simply turn-on the PC and never come back.

What RaceDay needed was creative thinking outside of the box. If they are going to do a show on SPEED at 9:30AM, then do another one on the SPEEDtv.com website at 11:30AM. Do something.

Do one show on SPEED at 9:30AM, and then simulcast another show at 11:30AM on FX, Fuel, FoxSportsNet and any other Fox Cable Network.

Spread the word that SPEED has NASCAR covered no matter what the obstacle. Well meaning fans in this forum are expressing their appreciation for this TV series. I completely agree.

What they are not solving is the problem. No drivers, no drivers meeting info, no cars on pit road, no team owners, no Wendy among the drivers gathering for intro's, and a general time when nothing is going on but car prep in the garage. A significant percentage of the normal RaceDay content was missing.

SPEED does not have any Busch or Cup regular season races. This is the closest they get to the big time in this sport. The "weight" of this show should have driven SPEED to be creative, not simply roll-over and play dead.

Many NASCAR fans watch RaceDay on SPEED and then turn to ABC for the race. How hard would it have been to watch RaceDay on FX and then turn to ABC for the race? I think NASCAR fans could have handled that, and then they would have gotten all the info that this RaceDay and this NASCAR Countdown missed.

By the way, this has nothing to do with F-1. As networks grow, these type of contractual obligations for live events will impact "support programming" like RaceDay. It says a a lot about the patience of NASCAR fans and SPEED viewers that they would take this in stride.

JD

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the other viewers. I think this is a good problem for Speed to have. I am a loyal motorsports fan, and if given the choice, I would probably have done what Speed did.

Speed continues to grow in popularity, but more importantly, in QUALITY. I would take their 9:30 show with virtually none of the live excitement than any of the other networks pre-race shows. Kudos to Speed for continuing to try to serve all forms of motorsports, not just Nascar or F1.

Anonymous said...

Amy said...

I think that the time has come for FOX to come up with a national sports channel to compete with ESPN. Then they could broadcast football and Nascar and baseball and all the sports that they broadcast so well. They just started the FOX Business Channel now they need to start the FOX Sports Channel. Just a suggestion.

I usually have to miss RaceDay due to being in church at the time and I do not have a DVR or TIVO. I am kind of in the dark ages. When I have been able to watch RaceDay I have enjoyed it. I loved Sophia's idea about waking Tony Stewart up and getting him angry and then bringing in pizzas and cokes.

This is all just my humble opinion.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Amy,

I have been after them for years to do just that. For some reason, the people who are in charge at SPEED and on the national level for Fox Cable Networks have only regional sports network backgrounds.

If there was ever a time to consider getting into the digital cable business with a sports channel, it would be right now. If there was every a big brother who could create and produce programming at an afforable level, it would be Fox Sports and NewsCorp.

If Fox does not beat NASCAR to the punch, we will all be watching NASCAR races on the NASCAR Network in seven years. Mark that down.

Anonymous said...

The problem was for those of us on the west coast who flipped the tv on at 9:00 expecting the show only to find out it had already aired.

Anonymous said...

Raceday gets what around 800,000 avg viewers out of 0ver 75 million people who get SpeedTV. This is enough to move to another channel, I don't see that making any sense.

JHD said...

I also don't have a problem with when it was broadcast. In fact I knew I wasn't going to be awake at 9:30 am (or that I was going to be out doing my pre-race errands), so I DVR'd the show.

When I came home at 11:30, I simply watched the DVR rather than the F1 race or ESPN's prerace. It was a lot easier, and actually much more convenient to do so, since I could FF through the commercials or the parts I didn't want to watch.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The problem was for those of us on the west coast who flipped the tv on at 9:00 expecting the show only to find out it had already aired.

It takes very little to find show listings and times..put in at least a little effort before ranting and complaining.

Anonymous said...

Why does FOX need one national sports unit...I think their FSN outlets almost cover the whole USA. I thought they tried a national show like SportsCenter a while back a really failed.

Anonymous said...

You're right. FSN does cover nearly the entire country, and FOX did have a national SportsCenter-like broadcast - and it did fail, miserably. It was called the National Sports Report.(You may remember anchors like Jeanie Zelasko and Kevin Frazier, who is now the weekend host of Entertainment Tonight).

John, I don't understand why you don't understand that FX is not interested in anything that Speed has to offer. Not even for a one-time deal. As other commentors have pointed out, they've moved on. FUEL TV is for wakeboarding/snowboarding/skateboarding/auto drifting kids who couldn't care less about NASCAR.

I also don't think we'll be watching a NASCAR Network in the years to come, at least not one that is carried on a cable network. The NFL Network, with all of its leverage, is not making any leeway in its goal to get onto cable systems. It's not carried on most systems like Time Warner, Cablevision and Charter, and Comcast moved it up the tier and charged extra for it despite the NFL network's protests.

SophiaZ123 said...

Also, please I hope NASCAR remembers the common man/woman who can't AFFORD TOP TIER satellite...or dont want to GET SATELLITE just for NASCAR.

I don't want to just watch 5 drivers and they are starting to edit the 'personal comments' of drivers which added to the fun of HOTPASS.

We get SPEED on a middle digital tier but would have to pay MORE for an NFL STATION (dont care about that) and CERTAINLY could not afford a "SPECIAL PRICEY" NASCAR Channel NOR PAY PER VIEW.

So, unless they figure it out for joe and jane citizens and not something just for rich folks to watch on their barn sized TV's (NO OFFENSE to any here that have such fun things) the ratings will continue to drop.


It's layers deep the problem, it's layers deep the resentment.

And even sadder, it's layers deep the REFUSAL to make things RIGHT.

Also, as much as I whine about ESPN I STILL say this issue lies FAIRLY at the feet of BRIAN FRANCE.

Newracefan said...

I had to set my alarm to make sure I didn't miss Race Day which didn't make me happy but thing could have been worse. They could have put it on a upper tier channel which I don't get at all. That said I agree with Sophia making a big thing about the time difference was the way to go. I've been to a race and in order not to sit in traffic you get there very early, it would have been cool to see what goes on inside when I am wandering around the souvineer trailers. I did miss all the driver interviews and wish Wendy had made more arrangements ahead maybe she thought she could catch drivers going into the drivers meeting. The guests they did have were very timely to the current news Kyle Petty with his 810 start (did ESPN even mention it?) JD Gibbs and as always Wendy's Real Deal. I just missed the exciment at the end with Wendy on the grid it means it's time for me to set up the laptop (trackpass, racetrax, JD's Blog) but thats a comment for a different post.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:34PM,

FX is not an issue. They will do what the Fox Execs tell them to do, especially with their wasted non-prime timeslots. F-1 is not an issue.

You are missing the point. This is not an isolated incident, it is the beginning of a pattern of growth that will force change. SPEED is in the middle of announcing more live programming for 2008, and that will be fun to sort out. Its not a matter of if, its simply a matter of when and then what do to when it happens.

NASCAR is putting all the equipment needed to run a TV network in their Hall of Fame TV facility being built in Charlotte.

Just like the other major sanctioning bodies, NASCAR wants to avoid exactly what happened to them this year. On the TNT and ESPN portions of their TV package, the sport took a backseat to the network.

This was especially true on TNT, which continued to promote continuously throughout the telecast even over the objections of NASCAR.

With the programming content sitting on the shelves at NASCAR Images, the bad programming on TV right now, and the ability of the sport to control the money, NASCAR TV is on the way.

The NFL has a very fundamental problem and that is a short season. NASCAR, tennis, and golf go year round and the other two sports already have networks focusing on that content. Check your watch, NASCAR TV is only a couple of years away.

Anonymous said...

I'd be very intrigued by a NASCAR TV network. JD do you have any idea what kind of programming they would have? Would the Cup and Busch races be on there?

I ask because you mention the other sports having channels. With our cable, the golf channel is included in the standard basic and digital packages. But you have to pay extra for the NBA channel, tennis channel, regional sports channels and Fuel (I didn't even know what that was until yesterday reading this site).

I worry if the races were on a NASCAR channel, lots of fans would get left out if it's not on a basic tier or if the cable company doesn't carry it.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Another thought to add to my above comment about a NASCAR Network being intriguing, I would worry if NASCAR insists that it be carried on basic cable. From what I remember about the NFL cable network problems, they wanted the cable companies to absorb the cost or raise their subscriber’s rate to cover having it on basic.

I'm probably being premature, but that sounds like a stance that Brian France and Co. might be arrogant enough to copy.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't feeling so I slept until 11 a.m. CST yesterday. After awhile, I turned on SPEED thinking I'd be able to catch the last hour or so of Race Day. Imagine my surprise when I saw F1 racing and then checked the schedule to see that RD aired earlier. Glad to hear that I didn't miss much of anything.

Anonymous said...

I think Wendy should do a Real Deal on John Daly while he's telling the Speed sales executives how their commission checks might suffer a little when their highly-rated pre-race show goes to FX or Fuel for the day.

Anonymous said...

"What they are not solving is the problem. No drivers, no drivers meeting info, no cars on pit road, no team owners, no Wendy among the drivers gathering for intro's, and a general time when nothing is going on but car prep in the garage. A significant percentage of the normal RaceDay content was missing."

I saw Wendy interview Jamie MCMurray, Kyle Petty, and a pit crew guy whose name I can't remember. The guys interviewed JD Gibbs who came over to sit with them on the set. Wendy did her good news roundup as usual and the Real Deal. They didn't have Wendy on the grid, but it wasn't as if they all just talked to each other for two hours.

Anonymous said...

I have Golf Channel and TTN (tennis) on cable. I've always figured they were able to survive because of the ads. I'd imagine most NASCAR fans like me don't actually race, but a large portion of the golf and tennis channel viewers do play. So the ads can sell endless brands of balls, racquets, clubs, clothing, and golf and tennis resorts on commercials forever. They also have high-end sponsors of their regular programming (Grey Goose Vodka, Rolex).

We NASCAR fans support our drivers sponsors by buying their products, but it's usually more by wearing clothing and buying merchandise like diecasts advertising those products than the actual products.

Because of that, NASCAR corporate sponsors and their advertising teams probably value exposure on a broadcast network or a highly viewed cable outlet like ESPN.

The key point is golf/tennis big TV events are always still airing on network TV or cable like ESPN or TNT on weekends. The early rounds and the pre and post press conferences might be on the golf or tennis channel, but everything else is on the networks. While the NFL or NBA Networks can and do broadcast a few games on their own channel, the other games -the big games - are split between ESPN and the major networks.

Since there are usually only three major races a week (Craftsman, Busch, Nextel), it wouldn't work the same for a NASCAR Network, they couldn't split the races like the other leagues because there are only three races instead of 16 or 20 games to split.

I believe NASCAR would return to being seen as a niche sport if the races aired on their own network and nowhere else.

Desmond said...

FSN once again has a nightly sports news program, The FSN Final Score.

As for an all-NASCAR channel, I also predict that it will come. I think it would air practice, qualifying, events from the minor leagues (Busch East, West, perhaps even the weekly short tracks), but not Busch/Nationwide Series or NEXTEL/Sprint Cup races.