Sunday, October 21, 2007

ESPN Needs To Admit NASCAR Problems


Short track racing brings a very different dynamic to the TV networks who try to cover the action live. Gone are the long pace laps of a Talladega, gone are the long caution periods of a road course. From start to finish, things on a short track happen fast, and demand the full attention of the TV crew until the very last corner.

The last several laps of the Sunday NEXTEL Cup race in Martinsville, VA summed-up the fan frustrations with the ESPN on ABC coverage this season. Under caution, the TV Producer chose to replay once again the previous close finish between Jimmie Johnson and one of his car owners, Jeff Gordon.

What they did not do was reset the field. What they did not do was reset the positions of "The Chasers." What they did not do was put their head in the game. It was elsewhere.

Once again, ESPN confirmed to sports fans that this "new ESPN approach" to all types of sports involves promoting the stars of the sport and trying to manufacture drama where, in reality, there is none. At seemingly the most critical times in live sports coverage, ESPN seems to step-out of the moment for the sake of controlling the action and creating their own reality.

Some of the top sportswriters across the nation are livid with this "new ESPN" and their "hype and drama" approach to TV sports coverage.

Phil Mushnick of the NY Post begs ESPN to try and fix Monday Night Football. He says this NFL Series under ESPN is "the most insufferable, big ticket live game series in National TV history."

Mushnick asks "why must every play signal the start of a windy, tortured analysis, lines drawn by Telestrator, the discussion of silly stats, forced cross-promotions, or a throw to Suzy Kolber on the sidelines?" He closes by saying Monday Night Football is "a must-see game delivered in a can't-stand TV package."

These are the same complaints of NASCAR fans with ESPN. Why all the hype? Why all the phony bells and whistles when what all of us came here to see is the race?

We came to see NASCAR racing before ESPN "re-arrived," and we also watch this sport when ESPN is not broadcasting it. Fans are here to focus on the race, not the fact ESPN is covering it. That message has fallen on deaf ears.

On the studio side, Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reviewed the new ESPN magazine show E:60 and found it to be a copy of HBO's Real Sports with "more bling" and hype. The ESPN content was flashy and dressed-up, but absolutely had no originality or exclusivity. The only thing it had was the fact that this time, ESPN was talking about it. How does that make it count?

ABC viewers had to sit through a NASCAR Countdown studio show from Martinsville that insulted the intelligence of even the most basic race fans. It actually included a re-air of a feature shown earlier in the week on NASCAR Now, ESPN's daily racing show. It was the driver's "race" to the airport when the real race was over. The thirty minute program was worthless.

The inane ramblings of Brad Daugherty mixed with the perky but un-informed comments of Suzy Kolber created a fatal mix for fan interest. The NASCAR Countdown show is a disaster that is continuing to implode.

Rusty Wallace sweats his way through a brief appearance and then flees for the relative safety of the broadcast booth. Wallace and Daugherty are not on the same page, and several times this season Wallace clearly restrained himself in his comments about the "analysis" of Daugherty. Even Dale Jarrett took Daugherty to task for his "knowledge" level.

Sunday at Martinsville, ESPN just seemed to be going through the motions. Dr. Jerry Punch cannot rise to the occasion when the intensity of a true play-by-play announcer is required. On short tracks, it is required a lot. Listening to both the radio call of the race and the TV commentary of Punch is mind altering.

What viewers are seeing and hearing on TV is often times completely the opposite of what the radio announcers are describing. This is the quandary of ESPN. The struggle with reality.

Rusty Wallace was the subject of rumors this week about being replaced. While ESPN quickly chose to assure viewers Wallace was "their man" in the booth, it is clear that the threesome currently announcing for ESPN is in trouble. Wallace and Petree disagree a lot, and in this race Wallace was exposed time-and-time again for having less knowledge about many aspects of racing than the experienced Petree.

It often seems that Punch is speaking to Wallace, and Petree is just an afterthought. In fact, it is the competency of Andy Petree that has kept many of these telecasts from becoming almost slapstick comedy. Earlier this season at Bristol, TN and this week at Martinsville, Punch was absolutely tongue-tied as to the action on the track. Only Petree's calm nature once again allowed the ESPN crew to sort things out and save face.

In the final laps at Martinsville, David Ragan spun to cause the caution that ended the race. Never was this addressed or replayed. Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled to the inside and never even re-started. ESPN never said why. As the field thundered across the start-finish line at full speed, the network never showed us that Ragan's car was still in the middle of the track.

At Talladega, on the final lap, ESPN missed the daring move of Jeff Gordon for the lead that eventually won him the race. A complete whiff. Sunday at Martinsville, ESPN never went "wide" and showed us the spun car, the pack continuing to race, or NASCAR waiting until the last moment to put out the caution. Nothing.

The network was obsessed with their own created storyline of Jeff vs. Jimmie for the win. They stayed glued to the leader and never left. Once again, what was actually happening in a sporting event was interfering with the storyline ESPN wanted to playout. They stayed with their reality, and missed everything on the track.

Phil Musnick's statements about Monday Night Football and Richard Sandomir's review of E:60 fit very nicely into this column about Martinsville. For whatever reason, the struggle seems to be between ESPN and reality right now. The battle over who will control the content of your sports TV broadcasts is new and confusing.

ESPN on Sunday got in all of their ABC commercials, all of their ESPN/ABC promos, all of their sponsored features, and all of their billboards for the various products. They showed us the Infield Studio, the SportsCenter updates, the Tech Center, and even the live "helmet cam" on a pit crew member.

What they did not show us was the race. What they did not follow-up were the stories. What they confirmed was that content is secondary and ESPN's network agenda is primary.

Emails and comments to this site contained phrases like "lost me as a fan" and "had enough for this season." One viewer wrote that he had been a dedicated fan since 1959 and "he was done" simply because of the "horrible TV coverage." One female viewer called it a "sad, sad mess."

ESPN and NASCAR need to roll-up their sleeves and step directly into this sinking ship of TV ratings right now. Regardless of the money, regardless of the egos, and regardless of the public humiliation, something must be done before things get even worse.

By the close of The Chase, the TV audience for NASCAR may have been so deeply affected by the poor coverage of TNT and ESPN that the sport itself may take years to recover. If it recovers at all.

Update SportsCenter: Kenny Mayne spent the NASCAR highlights portion of SC referring to Jeff Gordon as "Gordo." He referred to Jimmie Johnson's #48 as the "per diem car" because that is the amount of money ESPN staffers get to eat per day when traveling. When Gordon's catch-can slipped out, and the gas man was forced to stop fueling, Mayne said "he dropped the catch-can, whatever that is." The NASCAR highlights were treated as a joke from start to finish on this national show which was taped Sunday night, as repeated many times on ESPN Monday morning.

Please note: This column was linked by Jayski.com on his articles/links page. We appreciate his continued support and want to thank him for his help this season.

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.

116 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm trying very hard to figure out how I can continue to watch this season. I think I might have to give it up til next year and hope that by then they have it all figured out and make it better. I watched today's race muted and, although it was better, it was not worth having it on my TV. I think I might have to give up and wait until Daytona.

This makes me sad.

--Jennifer

greg8370 said...

Can't agree you more. Was on the road today and listened to MRN for perhaps maybe the third time in my life. What a difference! I'm listening to their call the next four weeks with the TV sound off.

Alex said...

Well said, John. Ed Koch once said:

"You know it's very rare in politics and in big business that someone publicly admits they've made a mistake. And it's even rarer that they rectify it."

I'm hoping at least that if we can't get the former this season, that we'll see the latter by next year's Nationwide Series opener in Daytona.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

Today I chose to watch Formula 1 live and Tivoed Nascar. If it weren't fo r Tivo's ability to skip through the ESPN fluff I wouldn't watch Nascar. The ESPN broadcasts are the television equivalent of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. It makes your skin crawl.

Now I'm just waiting for the Fox season next year.

Richard in N.C. said...

When I watch NFL on ESPN Monday, should I presume Suzy is really not prepared OR that she was not prepared for the NASCAR broadcast Sunday?? Makes me wonder. Despite what ESPN apparently presumes, many NASCAR fans are fans of NFL and other sports. Maybe the fans are being shortchanged one place or the other - for which I do not believe Suzy is to blame, but ESPN manglement is.

Anonymous said...

Great opinion and very concisely written. I hope the link is emailed around ESPN and the Daytona offices of NASCAR tomorrow morning.

I am not going to watch NASCAR Now because I've already watched SPEED Report and Victory Lane. However, I would like to know how they are going to handle the Carl Edwards-Matt Kenseth run-in as That's Racin.com already has an article about it. It appears that SPEED has the video, as Carl just moved in Matt as Bob Dilner was about to start an interview.

My question would be does SPEED "own" that video or does NASCAR? It had a NASCAR on SPEED logo on it. Would ESPN play it with the SPEED logo? Because I doubt they have it or even know about it. It's SPEED that always catches the post race news.

The video is already on YouTube and it's crazy. Eddie Haskell indeed. Like Kenny Wallace said "That a was a little scary to me.".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CBm_VugNYk

Cire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting it all into words that maybe someone at NASCAR will listen too.

I have been listening to SIRUS and trackpass through all the TNT and ESPN/ABC, if you don't listen to the radio you know nothing that is going on.

This is very sad that NASCAR is losing all their viewers but you are so upset and mad you are ready to throw the control through your TV listening to the poor announcers and trying to figure out what is going on between the 500 commercials, spots, replays and anything else they can figure out to show instead of the reason you are sitting there watching TO SEE THE RACE.

They miss everything that is important so you are in the dark unless you are listening to the radio and trying to see what you turned the TV on to watch.

Why will no-one listen to what has been said since TNT started the coverage.

Why do they not get announcer on that know what is going on in the race.

Petree is the only person on the entire broadcast that makes any sense at all. Who wants to listen to the same thing week after week.

PLEASE tell the us who to forward you article too so that we might be able to watch what we love and have been fans of for years.

All they bells and whistles are JUNK .......... All the race fans want to see is the RACE and what is going on.

It is so confusing you don't know half the time if you are watching a replay or something that happens.

It would be nice to know when someone is in 4th place with the race over except for the green/white checker and all of a sudden they are gone with no way to find out what happened!!!!!!!!!

Everyone on ESPN needs to be replaced except Petree. Put announcers on that can call the race and keep the cameras on the race not on replays, commercials, and anything else they can come up with except what you turned your tv set on to watch.

Thanks again for a SUPER article.

HOPE SOMEONE LISTENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe this article will be sent to NASCAR!!!!!!!!!! Maybe it will be sent to SIRUS so it can be discussed all week and get someone to listen.

The rating will keep droping until someone at NASCAR listens.

IT MAKES ME SAD as well as UPSET to think what is being done to NASCAR racing.

Diane

Daly Planet Editor said...

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Ann_Ominous said...

John, I can't remember which day it was, but it was the later part of the week. I tuned into NASCAR Now as it was already in progress, maybe about 8 minutes in. They were doing a feature on how they do the races. They showed the studio. It sure looked like they had the place designed where the broadcast guys' backs were always to the window and they had to watch this wall full of monitors to see the race. Did I miss something important? Is this how it really is? The guys backs are to the window for the whole race? If so, it sure explains a lot!!!

Richard in N.C. said...

JOHN, As I have noted before, it fascinates me that the print media down here blames all the TV ratings decline on NASCAR and the COT - virtually nothing critical about TNT or ESPN reported down here in the "heart of NASCAR country." I continue to be convinced that the beginning of the decline was when NBC replaced Allen Bestwick with Bill Weber. MANY thanks for offering constructive evaluation of NASCAR on TV and trying to improve things for the fans. It is nice to know someone still cares about the fans.

SophiaZ123 said...

Great article

First heads up to the guy that enjoyed MRN. THEY are not broadcasting the next two races.

PRN is (differently owned tracks, different radio guys) PRN imo is not NEARLY as good as MRN and is a little 'ESPNy' if you ask me.
Try too hard to be comedians and drift off topic.

MRN has humor that naturally slips out in bits and pieces, and STAYS FOCUSED and JUST TELLS US ABOUT THE RACE. Still, PRN will give more info than ESPN. But next week will not be the smooth voices you heard today.

I am convinced, after yet another ASTUTE article by JD, that we can kvetch, rant and whine, but NOBODY at NASCAR or ESPN CARES.

In order to admit there is a problem, you have to CARE and have a CONSCIENCE.

ESPN/ABC is way too busy fulfilling their egos. Creating putrid drama. HYPING their own shows. ENDLESSLY.

Too busy SHOVING SPORTS UPDATES and TICKERS in our faces yet NEVER TELLING US ABOUT THE RACE.

ESPN is like a bad work of fiction, I have decided. They make NASCAR what THEY want it to be..the fake drama, the characters to focus on, the characters to dismiss. They want to write a story with fancy ink and in fancy script (Draft tracker, too many graphics, video OVER GREEN FLAG RACING,etc) If they make a mistake, they don't try to update or correct it. They just rip the page out and keep going like NOTHING HAPPENED.

Well, their FICTIONAL COVERAGE has turned into a nightmare.

If it's this late in the season. . .

If it's this late in this manufactured CHASE, which somehow ESPN has hyped worse than imagined,

why, WHY should we hope that things will change? Give me a bread crumb of hope. We keep trying to hurt and when they tweak something for the good, they come back and sucker punch us with something else.

Their INCOMPETENCE and ARROGANCE is BEYOND mindboggling.

And when I read some puff piece last week about how ESPN has enough equipment to Land the Space Shuttle? WTH??BALDERDASH.

I would not trust ESPN to make toast. But they have burned and incensed the fans. REPEATEDLY.

I no longer believe this is just about EGOs. I think this is passive aggressive (or in my eyes blatantly aggressive) revenge for how apparently, ESPN was tossed aside some years back.


"We have what you want, and are going to make it so you will learn to hate what you once LOVED."

(kind of like that guy said about MN Football, I guess)

Judging by ESPN's money to waste on DRAFT TRACKER, premade videos SHOWN during the races,
insipid graphics and money to fly SUZY, Brad and Mossberger around for NO GOOD REASON shows all of us, they do not care what NASCAR loving fans want. BASIC, simple facts of SHOWING US THE RACE!!

We are being held hostage. We have no voice, though DAMN it JD has tried, and we have done our best to get attention.

And IRON FISTED NASCAR in their sudden ability to become INVISIBLE AND SILENT, and pretend all is well, is allowing the fans to be held hostage.

Anonymous said...

I'd say SPEED must be the only ones who have tape of Matt and Carl because Dilner was about to do an interview, and the That's Racin news item notes it was captured by their cameras and appeared on SPEED's programs tonight.

So my guess is the news item was written based on watching the video from SPEED and they are the only ones who have it.

Illpolo said...

JD

Your comments don't even need any additional information to them. Just slap a grade of F to the bottom and you will have given NASCAR, ESPN, and anyone else who wants to read a perfect summation of what has been shown on ABC/ESPN over the last several weeks.

I'm not giving up on NASCAR...I'll watch any SPEED shows this week, read as many reports online on various sites this week, check and post on The Daly Planet religiously during the week, and then LISTEN on RADIO to the coverage of Cup races on MRN or PRN for the rest of the year.

Thanks for the site and the chance to analyze and vent about the coverage or lack thereof! And many thanks to the excellent posters like stricklinfan, sophiaz, etc. that make this site an important one.

stricklinfan82 said...

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Everything is about hype and everything is about ESPN. The fans are tuning in to watch a race and we are forced to sit through useless crap over and over again.

In qualifying for a race earlier this year (I can't remember where exactly, Michigan was it?) ESPN took a break from showing the live session to interview Jeremy McGrath via satellite as hype for their X-Games coverage later that night.

At Loudon (the first race of the Chase), late in the event during GREEN FLAG RACING ESPN provided a long voiced-over video package by Jon Miller hyping that night's ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game between the Yankees and Red Sox. Immediately following that Brent Musburger led in to a Google Earth display of where Fenway Park was located, then were the Patriots NFL football stadium was located, and then a shot of where NHIS was located relative to those two stadiums. Then Musburger was starting to ramble on some more about baseball and football before being mercifully cut off by Kevin Harvick cutting a tire or who knows how long the "anything but green flag racing" session would have lasted. Thankfully it was a Chaser or they would have never broken away from the "stick and ball" talk to show someone like Elliott Sadler, Jeff Green, or Ward Burton cutting a tire.

In Happy Hour at Martinsville ESPN had 15 minutes of down-time built into a 60 minute broadcast (since Happy Hour is actually only 45 minutes long) and a tape-delay to work with, yet we still missed the start of the session for a "One Race Ago" video package and unbelievably in the middle of the session, they spent 4 minutes showing another video package with a "behind the scenes look" at the ESPN Pit Studio.

These are just 3 small samples of ESPN caring about anything other than showing the on-track action itself. One from qualifying coverage, one from practice coverage, and one from race coverage, to show it is consistent across the board. They can't let themselves believe that people are actually tuning in to watch the on-track action! Believe it or not ESPN, NASCAR fans do watch the race to watch the cars race each other, and we do watch practice for the on-track action and the stories developing in the garage area, and we do watch qualifying to see the cars make their runs on the track. Really. I'm serious. I'm not joking. We really are. No, seriously, we are!

Adding ESPN's "all about me" attitude when covering NASCAR to numerous basic flaws in covering the races themselves in between the hype (missed restarts, too many commercials, "human errors" causing fans to miss parts of the races, not following pit strategies and drivers falling out of the race, dumping races to cable that run past 6:00, and missing last lap lead changes like they did at Talladega), their return to the sport has been a disaster.

I have noticed that there was no draft tracks at Charlotte so maybe they're trying to fix some things. Then again they could have suffered "human error" again and that technology might have broke during the broadcast, forcing ESPN to make it through the night without the colored air machine.

Rick said...

NASCAR Now just showed the Edwards/Kenseth video with Dillner and the SPEED microphone.

And to all that have commented and JD, I couldn't agree more. ESPN should be banned from airing NASCAR races any more.

hawkeye said...

J.D., your analysis is dead-on accurate. This TV episode was Jeff & Jimmie, and very little else of substance. What stood out when I watched my recording:

1. Rusty describing C. Edwards' battery problem causing overheated brakes and lack of control in the corners - yet when Carl is asked about his brakes, he says they're fine!

2. Rusty only pitched the discussion to "Andy". I noticed this at about one-third into the race, that Rusty would only mention "Andy" by name. It was like Punch wasn't in the same room!

3. On Lap 470 or so, M. Truex brings out the yellow flag. Jerry Punch comments that Truex's car had completely lost the left front tire, then the camera showed the tire was flat but still attached to the wheel. Punch's comment was "it's only flat on the bottom." He was not going for humor.

4. As J.D. pointed out D. Earnhardt, Jr. was in fourth place when the yellow flag came out and would force the green/white/checker finish. Part way through the caution period D. Earnhardt, Jr. was being shown in seventh place, and from the camera shot showing the green flag, Jr. was down in the inside lane while it was a single file restart. The ticker then shows JR finishing in 23rd position.

5. When J. Johnson takes the white flag - D. Ragan is still sideways in turn one, yet NASCAR does not show the yellow flag to the leader! The yellow is called as Johnson is just about to enter turn one. Nobody in the booth says a word about a blocked track as the leader crosses the start/finish line!

Last fall I despised the coverage by NBC – I felt that they cut every corner to cut cost, since their future with NASCAR was done. I looked forward to seeing ESPN’s coverage for ’07. I’ve scorned the Indy 500 coverage on ABC, because of their “hype and drama” themes while ignoring the true talents of the teams and drivers. I should have realized that ABC may use the same sales theme for NASCAR on ESPN.

At least the coverage of 2006 had Benny Parsons to keep it interesting – what’s trying to be “sold” on t.v. today all but worthless, and I’m mailing these same words to NASCAR tomorrow.

Hawkeye

Dwight said...

Your criticism of ESPN is spot on, but perhaps too restrained. You don’t even mention the weakness of many of the talking heads on Junior Now (a/k/a NASCAR Now). Stacy Compton is worse than Brad Daugherty, and Bill Lester was terrible the other day. I think I have watched twice when it was competently hosted, by Alan Bestwick who is wasted completely on pit road.

ESPN is fixated on trying to stir up controversy, whether it exists or not, and can never let anything rest. How many times did they need to make Marty Smith go through the same set of there isn’t any new information here when Junior was between rides, and how many wrong rumors did they repeat over and over?

A day when F1 was actually in the day time, is an especially tough, because even though they do not have the advantage of being at the track, Varsha, Hobbs, and Matchett, along with Windsor are so much better at broadcasting a race than any of the NASCAR teams, and particularly ESPN.

Frank Deford had a commentary the other day on NPR raising many of the same points you make about ESPNs handling of Monday Night Football. I thought his remark that these days the E in ESPN always stands for Excess. (Just think, Dickie V is right around the corner baby!)

Matt said...

I am planning to invest in a Sirius radio over the off-season so I no longer have to put up with this disgrace ESPN calls a telecast.

I just feel so bad for true professionals like Bestwick and Petree who have to put up with this lame attempt of covering a race. It must be killing both of them to be associtaed with this...you fill in the blank. When the writers of NASCAR debate who was the most disappointing this year, I hope ESPN is at the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

I've long since stopped viewing NASCAR now and the pre-race shows. After today, I'm with most of you folks. Next week I'll be turning off the TV volume and listening to Sirius.

I haven't left a post here in awhile, but once again I have to ask: NASCAR, are you paying attention?!?

Anonymous said...

Great article. Thank you for this discussion. Here is what needs to happen.

1) Get a new director. Someone who understands racing.

2) Suzy, Brad & Rusty need to go.
Bring in Kyle Petty or Dale Jarred.

Tim Brewer is great. His explanations are informative & spot on. They give the viewers a real understanding what is actually happening and why.

Jammie Little from pit lane is a breath of fresh air.

ALSO

The COT has ruined almost every track that they have raced it(the new car) at. If NASCAR doesn't make changes fast, they will lose fans. It (the COT) doesn't put on a good show and the drivers know it and are starting to get more vocal about it.

Most likely NASCAR is going to have to allow more travel in the front end.

There is plenty of talent to work with. the show needs to be adjusted. Just like cars.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for expressing your thoughts in this column.

If I may add one other thing: the ESPN "family" must make sure that all the family members are educated about and pay a basic respect to NASCAR as a sport to be covered as news, not comedy.

Case in point: SportsCenter tonight finally gets to Cup coverage about 55 minutes into the 90 minute broadcast. Kenny Mayne and Linda Cohn were the hosts. During the highlights, they showed when Gordon's catch can fell out on the pit stop -a critical moment in the race and the points if they hadn't recovered. Kenny says "Gordon's catch can -whatever that is-(and here Linda laughs)-falls out."

Whatever that is? Isn't this October? Shouldn't he know what it is?

He goes on to mispronounce David Stremme's name and he repeatedly referred to the #48, I believe, as the "per diem" car. I truly didn't get that one and assume it must be an inside joke. Linda kept interjecting but I didn't really understand her comments either.

It's acceptable for Kenny and Linda to make jokes about the NFL because 90 percent of the time they cover it seriously. But if all the coverage of NASCAR is treated as humor because the on air talent is not educated about the sport, things will never improve.

If the only information I knew about NASCAR came from watching SportsCenter, ESPN News, and PTI -the casual fan - I'd never go near it.

Anonymous said...

Can't agree with you more. You also need to add the diversity strong-arming they do with the hip-hop themes and the wild pro-Montoya hysteria.

Anonymous said...

so, ESPN has enought equipment 'to land the space shuttle' to broadcast races....and this is the best they can do? If they, and Nascar aren't embarrassed by this pathetic excuse for race coverage, they should be. I'm highly offended when a 'through the field' consists of where the top 12 are running, skipping over cars that are in the top 10, or having good runs. If I were as enamored of the 'crapshoot' as the media and Nascar are, I might not mind so much. Ignoring green flag action for pre taped promos or replays from previous races is pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I keep thinking how great it would be for Bob Jenkins to be back in the booth, but I'm afraid things won't change next year, causing people to start disliking Bob and ruining the great reputation he has.

Just switch Punch and AB, remove Rusty, add DJ, and things will immediately improve.

Linda said...

Thankfully, I have DIRECTV Hotpass!! Race coverage by ESPN this year is absolutely the worst I have ever seen! I'm signing up again next year. At least I can watch SOME of the racing on Hotpass.

Anonymous said...

As I pointe dout in another column, with MRN on the radio and two PCs set up with RaceView, I almost never even have to look at the TV at all.

If I had HotPass, that'd be it for ABC completely--i'd have NO reason to watch them.

Guess I'll get HotPass for next season.

Anonymous said...

If you have been a NASCAR fan for years, and deicde to stop watching because of the horrible coverage more power to ya. Its sad you let something so minor ruin your sport. NASCAR has gone through so many horrible things and all you can complain about this year is TV Coverage.

Consider yourself lucky.....I wish my only worry in life was NASCAR TV coverage.

I don't buy that people stop watching. They are just using it as an expression to show how much they hate the coverage.

Anonymous said...

It's not "my only worry in life."

But I still don't like it. And I won't watch it, with the alternatives I have available to me.

ABC's loss.

Anonymous said...

The race was frustrating at times to watch because they did focus so much just on the top two or three, Blaney who is trying to stay in the top 35 was out of the race and no one even noticed until he came back in some 60 laps later. I get the scanner and many times the race went green and they were still on commercial, they reported things way to long after they happened because they were only watching the Jeffy and Jimmy show.

Busch Series Fan! said...

JD, nice comments on the race. Lots of racing on the track that the broadcast missed. Anyway I thought we would get a breath of fresh air this coming weekend for Memphis Busch race I had heard that Randy LaJoie would be behind the mic but then Rusty was saying yesterday he'll be doing the race and flying back and forth to accomplish this. Lucky us!!!! Also, I did hear Jerry Punch say that Truex's tire was only flat on the bottom I could not believe that either! Get JP out of the booth and onto pitroad. Bring on AB or even Rick Benjamin I heard him yesterday and he did a fine job for the Champ race.

Agricola said...

Racing has always seemed to be a sport that people came to, as opposed to being "brought to". We find it, we like it, we learn to understand it. We appreciate insight, and we appreciate coverage of areas that appeal to smaller subsets of our fan group. Racing fans are not "one size fits all", and should not be considered a monolithic "base" to which network demographics and advertising strategies can be applied. Nor are most of us willing members of whatever trend is currently driving the 25-34 market.

I miss the small, race-oriented approach of former broadcasts. Like others, I will find alternative ways to get my info. NASCAR will wake up one to find their "base" gone....like fans that used to attend 3 - 4 races every year only to be priced out of the market by vendors pricing tickets and everything else to feed off the corporate pocketbook of sponsors.

Ron P said...

John,
Well said and written. It is a shame that this what we have now for NASCAR coverage on TV. My only wish is that NA$CAR would read these comments and react accordingly. But one only needs to look at the rest of ESPN's coverage of other sports, It's about "ESPN" not the game, race, match whatever.
We should have know what we were in for, but we held out hope for the Coverage that we remebered. We were wrong, the viewers are the only ones suffering in this.

It not going to stop on it's own. ESPN's/ABC media machine will keep telling us to Drink the Kool-Aid, "please ignore the ratings, and empty seats", "Look at all the pretty equipment we have", "See the pretty lights", " We know what's best for you", "all is well", "you just have to know how to read the ratings", "we will interpret them for you". "Please have another sip, it's good for you."

Untill the the Sponsores and NASCAR get into the act, we will be stuck with this garbage for then next 5 years.
So long ESPN.
I'm Done with you for the year. I'll see NASCAR next year on Fox and TNT.
Untill then may God bless you all and keep the Drivers safe.
RJP

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I am a fan of Major League Soccer, which started it's first season of Thursday night primetime games on ESPN2.

Sadly, we MLS fans say the same thing about ESPN's coverage of soccer as well. Most of the game they're not even talking about the game.

Bobb said...

When will NASCAR - yes NASCAR - put a band-aid on this bleeding that is called NASCAR on ESPN. It is disgraceful and an insult to the long time fans.

It is NASCAR that will suffer the most from this atrocity by less television viewers which translates into less ratings and less revenue and less tickets sold and ultimately to NASCAR dropping lower in televised sports.

It is up to the France family to right the ship.

Before 2001 NASCAR on television was a mess with races all over the place. Fox and NBC/TNT came on-board in 2001 and brought the TV coverage to a higher level. ESPN has failed miserably to keep up those high standards.

It was funny that Tim Brewer made a point of telling us that the Tech Center was on site at the track and not in Bristol or his home as I have thought. Kind of makes you wonder if tech center is at the track why not outside?

Joe from Philly said...

great article again John.

I normally 'tivo' most races and watch later in the day. ESPN's coverage has been so bad, I've lost the will to do this. Yesterday, I chose to turn MRN on while I was outside and just listened to the race live. I caught a few moments of the race on TV while I was in and out of the house but left MRN on and was just AMAZED at how I'd be hearing about some serious action on the radio and ESPN was showing Dale Jr. drive around the track alone!!!!

They are simply clueless. I've made up my mind that if I even bother caring about the last few races, I'll most likely listen instead of watch.

Horrible. Just horrible.

Anonymous said...

Article really expresses what I think. They need to get rid of Suzy homemaker, Brad, Wallace and Punch. They need to put Bestwick in with Petree. They would make a good team. Allen is the best. Why won't they use him at what he does best?

greg8370 said...

Thanks for the note sophiaz123. As a XM subscriber I'm curious as to how the merger between XM and Sirus works out re: NASCAR coverage.

Anonymous said...

If I had not watched every race all year I would not have believed ANY TV network could screw up a Nascar race broadcast so horribly week in and week out. From the incredibly uninformed announcers (Kolber,Daugherty, and Musburger).......AARRRGGHH!!! to the "Gillians" and "draft lock" of Wallace to Punch repeatedly calling a particular driver by another's name ( I expect him to have David Pearson driving the 21 by Homestead) these people individually and collectively are the WORST EVER!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Andy Petrey is the only one they should keep in the booth. At least he seems to know what's happening on the track most of the time! Last week at Talledega, lap 78, Biffels #16 is in the pits, up on jackstands. Rusty says, "When he hit the wall, it apparently moved the rear end over." Petrey says, "Uh, Rusty, he didn't hit the wall, they are just making an adjustment!" No reply from Rusty!!

Steve L said...

To the 7:19 a.m. comment;

"Its sad you let something so minor ruin your sport."

Minor? Us real NASCAR fans are passinate about our sport just like others are passinate about their sports. If NFL coverage was as bad as this you can be assured the NFL would come down hard on ESPN to get it right. Why in the world NASCAR lets this crap go on and on just shows they don't care about the fans.

"I don't buy that people stop watching. They are just using it as an expression to show how much they hate the coverage."

Would that not help prove the drop in ratings?

People are not satisfied with the NASCAR coverage ESPN is providing, not to just attack ESPN. If the coverage was somewhat professional, we would not be complaining. We just want to see the races, not commercials with the race thrown in.

. DOSVader said...

Sunday, my wife turned to me after about two-thirds of Martinsville and stated: "Is this the Jeff Gorden show?" "This broadcast is horrable."
"I am sure happy next week we are going to get to watch the PBR Finals and don't have to suffer through another broadcast like this. You can wait until they rerun these races on SPEED on Thursday and watch the rest of the season while I'm at work."

batchief said...

Can you hear it folks? It is the sound of Fox coming to the rescue in February. I don't usually make it a habit of wishing my life away, but in this case February can't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...

If you would like to read some truthful stuff go to the article by John Close called CloseFinishes.com this guy knows whats what.

James said...

I listened to the race on the radio since I was away from my house. It was way better than the TV. I find that true with baseball as well. When I got home I watched the last 10 laps. While the coverage was on Dale Jr. Ryan Newman was passing Gordon for second. They almost missed that one. Fox is my favorite broadcaster for Nascar. Pre-race interviews, post-race interviews, they follow the stories week in and week out (which IMO adds to the race). Where has Tony Stewart been? Not hearing from him after the race sucks. He's the thorn in everyone's side and always has something to say that you know is going to cause something on the race track the next week. We don't hear any winers any more... maybe that was part of Nascar's agenda. I don't know what's going on with ESPN but I don't think I could watch an entire race anymore. Fox is great for keeping the interest up through out the race by following the entire field.

What did Erik say last week "IRL doesn't get that kind of coverage, why would Nascar?" That's probably why IRL isn't the leader!

Anonymous said...

Hard to believe that I'd actually be looking forward to Fox with DW flapping his gums shilling for Toyota, his brother, and NA$CAR and Larry Mac's mouth constantly running in overdrive over the simplest of things. Not to mention Fox's coverage isn't exactly a shining star like the coverage of TNN or the ESPN of old.

But then, what do you expect from ESPN/ABC when the parent company, Disney, who's world is based on fantasy and keeping children happy and amused.

Another great job JB. Bet you won't be getting a Christmas card from Disney or NA$CAR LOL

Anonymous said...

For the first Race in years I turned the channel to a movie. I just can't take the ESPN coverage. Once upon a time Rusty could drive, but he can't announce. All the highlights of the race are overlooked or seem unimportant.

Why is NASCAR letting this happen to a once proud sport???

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into words my thoughts on the race coverage yesterday. I don't know if I can stand 5 more races having to listen to all this crap. I loved Rusty as a driver, but as an announcer he stinks. Jerry Punch used to be a decent announcer, but he needs to hang it up as well. Put Allen Bestwick back in the booth where he belongs. I don't get MRN where I live, and can't afford satellite radio, so I guess I'm stuck with this garbage. I can't wait for FOX to be back next year. It's just a shame that FOX can't do the whole season.

slithybill said...

You hit the nail on the head! I sat down yesterday to watch the race about 150 laps in. It was taping on my DVR, so I restarted the race and fired up your "In-Progress" column, prepared to comment on the coverage. "NASCAR Countdown" was inane. Why can't they give us some real news to help set up the race? I don't fault ESPN for re-airing the "Race After the Race" segment (since it was one of the better pieces they've done all year), but not at the expense of giving us some off-track news.

Anyway, long story short, I watched a couple dozen laps of racing. Discovered ESPN hasn't changed much about their broadcast. And my reaction to it hasn't changed much, either. Hit the live button on my remote, and they were just coming out of commercial. Guess what? They missed a restart. Then Dr. Punch tells us about Clint Bowyer's "great save" of his Chase hopes. They finally replay it so we know what he's talking about. And Mr. Wallace can't believe Hamlin's running in 11th with all that damage on his car. Didn't Mr. Wallace see the April 2006 Martinsville race? Where Dale Jr's car lost most of its sheet metal and he still finished fourth? Then ESPN went to another commercial and I gave up.

ESPN hasn't learned from their mistakes this season, but I finally have. I made sure my DVR was set up to record every future "SPEED Report", "NASCAR Victory Lane", "Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain", "Inside Nextel Cup", and "NASCAR Raceday". I then stopped the recording of the Martinsville race, turned off the tv, and resumed my ESPN-free life.

I'm really looking forward to Speedweeks in February and the 50th running of the Daytona 500. And to the FOX and SPEED broadcast networks. Hopefully they'll keep doing what they do so well, and not backslide into the horrible abyss of coverage that ESPN is creating.

Maybe SPEED will even start up a new daily NASCAR show next season!

greg8370 said...

JD,

Can you post comp viewership ratings TY vs LY from 6 or 8 major markets, (your choice) or point me to where I can find those?

thanks.

David said...

This is how much I despise ESPN coverage of almost NASCAR. I setup trackpass on my PC. Stop my Tivo from recording and put one Tuner on NFL Red Zone Channel then pick another game on the other tuner. That is how I spend sunday when the races are on. I will not be forced to follow the story they want me too. It is so bad. Mushnik and the Daly Planet continue to hit the nail on the head over and over about the problems with EPSN in general. Sportscenter is even that bad now. If you want to watch a good pregame show try the Sunday Night football pregame on NBC that is an awesome show. ESPN and even ESPN.com are just awful lately.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to watch Mike Joy and friends broadcast the Toyota All Star Showdown from California on SPEED last Saturday evening, and then contrast the difference in production values with the ABC/ESPN program on Sunday.

SophiaZ123 said...

Well, to the folks looking forward to the return of the Fox boys (and DW could sometimes get on my nerves with his focusing, good or bad, on a driver, but NOT like Rusty has) one almost feels Fox needs to open their first race show with the WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE (part of it well known as the Theme to the Lone Ranger show! :-) )

SOMEBODY SAVE US!

Also, a local guy who has a national radio show, came on today saying he spent the weekend watching football and he had the SAME GRIPES about the obvious and inane comments from sports announcers that we talk of here with ESPN!! OMG, I had no ideal all sports were being so ruined but I had a clue about Football. And when JD mentioned two guys that watch Football had similar grips....

But this morning, it was just uncanny.

IF ONLY somebody cared.

Daly Planet Editor said...

greg,

Both Jayski and Scenedaily.com report on the TV ratings for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.

JD

Garry said...

Rumor has it (Robin Miller from Speed) that Brian France is stepping down and Jim France will take over. One can only hope that the move, if it materializes, will mean that NASCAR will do something about the coverage of their sport. It baffles me to think that any corporate head of NASCAR would not notice this disaster.

Anonymous said...

So I'm watching the end of the race and this is what I see... commercial, comeback and explain why there is a yellow flag, pitstops, commercial, comeback to restart, watch 3 laps, commercial, repeat 4 or 5 times. You would have thought that with all the commercials shown during the yellows that ESPN could have shown all the final 100 green flag laps without commercials. I also agree that this was the Jeff and Jimmy show, which is a shame for the other 41 cars and sponsors. I would think that the sponsors would be getting upset and pressuring NASCAR because they are not getting the t.v. time now that ESPN is focusing on only a few drivers a race. I now do not set time aside to watch the race but record it and skip all the commercials and fluff. ESPN's coverage is going to end up hurting NASCAR more than they realize and it will be too late for NASCAR to do anything about it. NASCAR WAKE UP!!!

Anonymous said...

A week ago I listened to Bill & Wally commentate the CORR race on NBC. It was great to hear Bill, Wally, and Marty laughing and joking as they watched the race and actually got excited about things happening on the track.

Last Saturday night it was great to listen to DW, Mike Joy, Dr. Dick, etc. commentate the Toyota All-Star race. They knew who the drivers were, they were interested in what was happening on the track, etc. SPEED did a better job on this one race than ESPN has done on any Cup race this year.

Anonymous said...

"I'm highly offended when a 'through the field' consists of where the top 12 are running, skipping over cars that are in the top 10, or having good runs."

Totally agree with this comment. I was sitting there laughing as they skipped over guys like Biffle as if he wasn't even there.

Anonymous said...

I was very happy this weekend - I was at Martinsville to watch the race. I got to watch what I wanted, some great racing in the middle of the pack, and I love listening to the MRN gang. They are the best (especially during cut aways!)

Kevin - NY

Anonymous said...

Good news, John!

ESPN/ABC execs and production folks read this site!

I can tell they do, because they obviously looked carefully at your entry "NASCAR TV Ratings Are Down: What Would You Suggest To ESPN/ABC?" took notes, and made sure to do every single thing (except Draft Tracker) that we complained about.

Now that's responsiveness!

Vince said...

Great article JD. Once again you were able to write what most of us are thinking as noted by the comments on here.

I agree with most posters here, keep Andy. He's a breath of fresh air in the booth and knows what he's talking about. Although I like Dr. Punch, he needs to go back to the pits or take a long break. He seems burned out and is not the Dr. Punch of old. As for Rusty, note to ESPN, just because the guy is a past champion and a decent driver doesn't mean he going to be a good announcer. And he isn't. He's terrible. And where are the pit reporters?? It's like the race starts and they all go have an expresso or something. Hello? A big part of the race is what goes on in the pits, ESPN. Wake up!

As for those of you that are longing for Fox in Feb. You guys have some short memories. Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond in the Hollywood Hotel?? Give me a break! Suzy and Brad suck, but I'll take them any day over Myers and Hammond. And DW?? He's worse than Rusty. At least Rusty isn't constantly plugging one of his sponsors or his brother. The only Pro's of Fox are Mike Joy and Larry Mac. The rest all suck as bad or worse than their counterparts on ESPN. Think about it. It's not just ESPN that is terrible, Fox isn't exactly a beacon of hope on the horizon either. They are just as bad in their own way. The only good coverage I've seen on tv of racing this year has been ARCA and the Craftsman Trucks on Speed.

I think ESPN as a whole is terrible. I never watch anything on ESPN anymore, except Nascar and the occasional college football game. ESPN has become the all hype sports network for all sports. Not just Nascar. And since when is The World Series of Poker and hot dog eating contests a SPORT ESPN?

I see the same hype done by my local small market west Mich. sportscasters on the local news. The hype has trickled down from ESPN to my local network sports droids. They don't have a clue either.

As a long time Nascar fan since the mid 60's I'm not going to quit watching, but you can bet I watch it with the sound muted and am listening on MRN. Those guys are the real pros. And all of you please don't confuse MRN with PRN who you'll be getting the next two weeks. PRN is the ESPN of the airwaves. They are not near as good as MRN.

Once again, keep up the good work JD. You manage to get right to the heart of the problem of the tv coverage, or lack of, and say what the rest of us are feeling. Thanks.

torner said...

Amen, John! Unfortunately, you're pretty much preaching to the choir. We need to sit Brian France and company in our pew to see if they're listening.

Dr. Jerry is an extremely knowledgeable, professional, and articulate person. He HAS to be reading the negative reviews of the ESPN on ABC coverage. It has to be tearing him up inside. As for his affinity with Rusty, I believe saving a guy's life creates a pretty strong bond. (Bristol, 1988)

My solution? Use the Fox template:

Dr. Jerry becomes Chris Myers.
Rusty becomes Jeff Hammond.

Both spend their time in the on-site studio (Sorry Suzy, Brad, and Brent).

Dale Jarret becomes DW.
Andy Petree becomes...well...Andy Petree. (No disrespect to Larry Mac)

And, the cornerstone to my plan...Allen Bestwick becomes Mike Joy.

Dr. Jerry becomes the anchor deserves a place that befits his knowledge and strengths. As satisfying as it might be to some, completely getting rid of Rusty would be equivalent to giving him the chrome horn in turn four of the final lap. Rusty deserves an opportunity to grow and find his place in the big picture.

I believe Bestwick's talent would give Jarret the ability to grow as a broadcaster and give Petree the ability to shine as an analyst.

Anonymous said...

Petree and Wallace? Petree wins hands down. It reminds me a bit of the funniest pairing in years on those hilarious days of the Indycar broadcasts when the two color men were Bobby Unser and Sam Posey.

I was always an Unser fan but there is no denying that Bobby had been one of the very best and it was also often written that he could communicate better than almost anyone on what a driver and team was doing and why. Bobby gave you the sense of what it was like to be in that cockpit. He did it in that Southwest style which probably grated a few but when Bobby spoke, you knew it was truth. Even better, he made it understandable to even the rankest amateur new viewer without insulting the intelligence of serious fans.

Sam Posey had a pretty half-jacked career and compared to Bobby he came off as a weekend racer. Frankly, had Sam not had money to buy his own rides or buy in on others, he would have never been more than that. He had a better education than Bobby and more training in communications but would say some of silliest shinola ever. Bobby would give that toothy grin and then in an exasperated New Mexico twang say, "Now Sam, you know that's not right," and proceed to explain why.

It was hilarious although Sam had some fans who hated Unser for it. But to most viewers, it was a riot.

If ESPN/ABC had the sense to extricate urine from hightopped footwear when provided a detailed and illustrated full-color manual, they'd send Rusty back to help out his somewhat lame son.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:32 wrote: However, I would like to know how they are going to handle the Carl Edwards-Matt Kenseth run-in as That's Racin.com already has an article about it. It appears that SPEED has the video, as Carl just moved in Matt as Bob Dilner was about to start an interview.

The video is already on YouTube and it's crazy. Eddie Haskell indeed. Like Kenny Wallace said "That a was a little scary to me.".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CBm_VugNYk

Speed has to be happy; in 17 hours, that video (featuring all its NASCAR Victory Lane show stars) has been viewed almost 45,000 times. When I watched it last night, it had 226 views and it was the #58 video in the sports section of YouTube.

It's currently the #20 most viewed video of the day on ALL of YouTube.

Not the best public exposure for Carl Edwards (I doubt he gets punished for this and he probably shouldn't, but his PR image has taken a huge hit with fans). But it's great for Speed and VL.

I saw the video on ESPN last night. Kudos to them for swallowing their pride and putting a Speed Channel credit on it. But I believe the YouTube version is so popular because Dilner adds the explanation in with the video. If you don't have that, it's hard to understand all that happened since they cut the audio (for language I guess). Kudos to Dilner also for not hyping the situation WWF style and simply explaining it.

And the "Eddie Haskell of NASCAR" was coined by Tony Stewart during a live interview on TNT or NBC. Which was extra funny because Carl was watching Tony's comments as Dave Burns was preparing to interview him about their tiff, and when the video finished, Dave Burns said, "So Eddie...I mean, Carl-what did you think?" Loved it.

Jackie in LA said...

All I can say is thank goodness for DirecTV Hot Pass. Since KABC-TV in Los Angeles chose to stay with the southern Calif wildfires all day (and, much to my surprise, pre-empting the soaps today!) it was the only way we could watch the race. They put it up on one of their secondary HD channels, but our over-the-air reception of ABC is too weak to watch.
The Hot Pass guys (most are Speed TV folks) were aware of the problem, and seemed to provide more general race coverage than they normally do on the individual drivers' channels. I guess Los Angeles isn't a big enough market (ha, ha) for ABC-ESPN to put the race up on one of the ESPN secondary networks. As a result, we just signed up for DirecTV HD and I'll be one of the early subscribers to Hot Pass for 2008.
It does provide oft-needed relief from Rusty, Jerry and the rest of the lame ESPN group.

Uncle Dan said...

I know this post is at the end of a long line of complaints, but I have to add mine anyway. When I watch racing on ESPN, it seems like two different things are going on. I see a race, but hear three guys talking about racing. Just call the race guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Having enjoyed ESPN's racing coverage prior to their 6 year hiatus from the sport, their return has been disappointing, to say the least. Alan Bestwick is far superior in the booth to Jerry Punch. Jerry makes too many mistakes and he has not developed the conversational style that is preferred by viewers. Dale Jarrett was far superior to Rusty Wallace in the booth. Andy Petree is good as is Tim brewer. Alan Bestwick is great on pit road but would be better in the booth. Mike Masaro is great on pit road and Shannon is good also. Always felt that Dave Burns was the biggest idiot in broadcasting but Jamie makes him look smart.

The director never has the broadcast on the best action. Has ESPN showed a single wreck live all year? Thank God for replays.

As bad as the choice of live shots is, muting the sound helps tremendously.

Wayne

Anonymous said...

Kyle Petty would be a perfect replacement for Rusty Wallace. Andy Petrie is great and bring in Alan Bestwick from the pits to trade places with Dr. Jerry Punch. I like Dr Punch but he is better in the pits like he does at Indy. Alan Bestwick has a great sense of humour and knows the sport. Rusty Wallace has forced me to watch the video coverage and listen on MRN or Sirius.

Anonymous said...

can't hardly stand to listen to espn.
Rusty proves that his knowledge is actually less than his years of racing would lead you to think.
twice Ive watch the race with the mute button on because I cant stand the commentators.? Wheres Ned

Bobby said...

Actually for Speed F1 races, Peter Windsor is a licenced F1 media official (works the unilateral press conference) trackside and can relay what he learns from pit lane to Charlotte. Windsor is the eyes and ears for the entire F1 crew on Speed. Too bad the F1 directors don't work that well on finding good battles or choose the best camera angles.

Speed will likely bring the crew for potentially Montreal next year the way they've done the old Indianapolis race with the full-on Thursday track visits. Bernie Ecclestone regulates F1 cameras, produces the race with no feed relay from the host broadcasters or even ITV (UK broadcasters; developers of Pop Idol and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?).

But ESPN seems to not know anything. Does the broadcast crew even give pointers to the production truck on where there is an incident?

Anonymous said...

---Speed has to be happy; in 17 hours, that video (featuring all its NASCAR Victory Lane show stars) has been viewed almost 45,000 times. When I watched it last night, it had 226 views and it was the #58 video in the sports section of YouTube.

It's currently the #20 most viewed video of the day on ALL of YouTube.

---Now 20 hours, almost 63,000 views, #15 on YouTube. NASCAR can't buy this kind of publicity...

JEH said...

John,I'm curious.How do us fans quit watching what we're not seeing anyway ? Actually I've had enough.I'll either listen to it on the radio,or check the computer.

Walt said...

While I haven't been a fan since 1959 I started going when I was a kid to Langhorne and Trenton and have gone to over a hundred races since. I almost never miss a race on TV, but after this last Sunday it was my last. I could not agree with your column more. I wasted a beautiful afternoon in the Endless Mountains of Pa. to spend it screaming at my TV. My wife said she did not use to resent me watching all Sunday because I enjoyed it but now she said what is the point. I am going to break this habit and find that there are other things to do on Sundays and I wonder how many others will too.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I miss Bob Jenkins on ESPN.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- For what it is worth, I did not take Kenny Mayne's comments about Sunday's race as disrespectful, but as one of his normal attempts at humor based on having watched him for years - but, you know him and I don't. As I recall, in another world he was involved in some EXPN NASCAR broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Dale Jr. said on WT last night that his engine was sputtering for most of the race. How come the booth never picked up this information? How come the booth reported that Jr's "earlier" problems seem to have disappeared when he was running up front? Jr said in an article I read off the jayski site that he was running close to his competitors so they could hear his engine and still know that he was beating them even though he was on seven cylinders. How could the booth not hear the engine missing? Is their glass too thick?

In another article found on jayski, this one entitled "Riding with Jr", a comment published between Jr and Tony Gibson was that Tony could hear the engine missing. How does Rusty, who's raced for how many years, and Dr. Jerry Punch, who's been around auto racing for how many years, and Andy Petree miss hearing an engine missing for 500 laps?

ESPN was monitoring the pit communications, they played enough of the garbled transmissions during their broadcast (which, not to change the subject, could anyone understand what the heck they were saying? Why play them if you can' t understand what's being said!). Wasn't anyone monitoring the #8 radio?

DW, Larry Mac, and Jeff Hammond would have known about a possible engine problem for #8 before the race even started and been monitoring it throughout the race.

Just another example of ESPN covering their agenda, not the race.

Alex said...

I'm so happy that I'm going to the Atlanta race next week. Though I'm not sure if I'm more glad to be seeing another race in person, or seeing one less race on ESPN... It's a toss up.

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

Kudos on the critique of the race on sunday you hit all points well....Ms. Kolber is out of her element,Musberger is as well....I find Andy Petrie ok and could do more of him and less of Rusty who grates on my nerves..the whole broadcast was so disjointed because of the constant commercials,promos,replays etc. I gave up and just listened to the Sirius radio broadcast and followed on trackpass...the flow of the race was completely lost..poor effort all around..

Andy Corwin said...

I agree for the most part. Rusty is horrible. Jerry Punch is a great pit reporter. Send him back there. I actually like Brad Daugherty, but I pretty much already know the points he brings up. Let's face it - ESPN and yes, even SPEED aren't about broadcasting the race to us - the race fan older than 20 who has actually attended races before. They are going after the novice race fan and the MTV generation. Which is why attendance and ratings both are falling.

Anonymous said...

Man oh Man how I miss the real Nascar races on Speed, TNT and NBC. At least those guys knew what the heck was going on and could keep up with the action.

Newracefan said...

I feel compelled to comment even though I really do not have anything new to add. As my name says I am a fairly new Nascar fan (last 2-3yrs) and find it sad that all the people that got me interested no longer watch the races on a regular basis mainly because unlike me they can not utilize a laptop for real information while watching the poor coverage. I starting using trackpass after getting a free promo thru comcast.net and found it was fun to have on in the backround- I always knew what my favorite driver was doing. As I got more involved in the sport I started to use live leaderboard so I could see what was happening during commercials (where are my many favorite drivers- moving forward, backward, can't pass) and so I did not have to read the ticker up top, I could concentrate on the racing. I never expected the announcers to always tell me about my drivers as all drivers have fans who what to know how they are doing. Now I need both just to know what is going on, adding racetrax for their lap by lap summaries. TNT started the downhill spiral and ESPN has hit bottom. Nascar should be very afraid with the high ticket prices and poor tv coverage fans will leave the sport. Improving the tv coverage can impact many more people faster and sooner. They need to interfere now (hopefully there is some sort of quality clause in the contract). Nascar fans are use to changes when things are not going well (just ask Jeff Green), hopefully there is time to put something in place by Homestead (like a switch in the booth) but at this point I would be happy with an acknowledgement by ESPN that there is a problem and the will make a true effort to fix it. Here's hoping.

Daly Planet Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daly Planet Editor said...

newracefan,

Thank you for thinking enough of us to take the time and add your comment. Your views show your feelings for the sport.

Welcome to The Daly Planet.

JD

haus20 said...

I mentioned during last week's race that I was done with ABC's coverage. Based on this article, looks like I made the right choice. I watched HotPass once again this week and will do so again watch next week. I have had HotPass all year and usually would flip back and forth when a Joe Gibbs driver was featured. Now it doesn't matter, I will be watching one of the HotPass channels regardless.

By the way it is very reasonably priced. Especially when you consider the alternative.

Speed and Fox gave us a little tease on Saturday evening when Mike Joy and DW were calling the All-Star shootout. How refreshing to hear them again.

Certainly looking forward to Daytona!

JEH said...

Re:Anonymous October 22, 2007 6:10 AM said... "so, ESPN has enought equipment 'to land the space shuttle' to broadcast races"

I think I know the answer.The microwave they use for heating their snacks is underneath all that equitment.Rather than removing it,they haul all that other equiptment to the track.The logic seems to fit !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of "I call that....." from Rusty Wallace. I don't care what he calls it, race fans know what is going on and don't need his constant ego in the way.Some racers don't turn out to be good announcers. Get Rusty out, "I call that the end"

Anonymous said...

Thank You for finally saying the truth about watching Nascar on TV. ESPN's coverage has not lived up to expectations. I have gotten to the point that I will probably turn the tv sound down and turn on the radio.

Karen

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you for stopping-by Karen...and welcome to the club!

JD

Erik said...

Boo who big bad ESPN isn't being nice to NASCAR. Get a grip people. NASCAR fans are the big cry babies of the sports world. They greatly inflate their numbers, and completely ignore reality that their sport still doesn't draw that may people to watch on TV. They complain about Busch and Truck race coverage, even though NASCAR fans themselves are greatly outnumbered by empty bleacher seats at these events. Grow up, and put butts in the seats, and maybe NASCAR fans will finally deserve the time of day.

ESPN has given NASCAR a huge gift, in what may be a vain attempt to lift its position in the sports landscape. ESPN / ABC has hired some of the best in the business, or longtime favorite drivers to provide top notch commentary. While the broadcasts may not be completely filled of technical jargon as some of the diehard fans (like the handful that actually attend Busch or truck races), its aimed at the vast segment of the population who aren't current fans, and who are needed to become fans for NASCAR teams to keep their sponsors happy.

Plus, SportsCenter, will make fun of everyone. Some people need to get thicker skin. Its good entertainment. I don't see the need for "forced diversity" in SportsCenter. The ratings drive the coverage. NASCAR shouldn't get any sort of quota of coverage that would give them any more or less coverage than the overall popularity of the sport would dictate.

Enough of all the ESPN bashing. Its getting old.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Erik,

Its always nice to hear from you.

JD

Anonymous said...

The ratings for NASCAR might be higher if the coverage on TNT and ESPN was of the quality NASCAR fans had come to expect from FOX, SPEED, and the old ESPN. I always thought the objective of a network was to attract fans/viewers, not drive them away with substandard coverage? I fail to believe that ESPN is paying NASCAR hundreds of milions of dollars as a "gift" to NASCAR fans - doesn't appear that way from the investor section of ABC's website. Also, until this year, I always thought the primary purpose of SportsCenter was to report sports news - not primarily to provide "entertainment." ESPN's credibility is rapidly declining - but then I've only been watching ESPN since the Australian rules football days, and less now than in the recent past.

Nanashi said...

I just hope their coverage of the Formula D isn't as bad. It's bad enough I have to deal with NOPI TV to watch the NOPI Drift, which features more fluff and stuff than the actual drifting and racing when it comes to the NDRA.

Anonymous said...

There's no point in missing races (unless you really want to.) Just mute and turn on MRN, until (or 'unless') ESPN gets a new producer and director. Comments don't always match the picture, but you can still get the idea. I'm not certain any of these guys is as bad as some think, except they apparently have no direction. Look how much better INC has been since the crew got called into the principal's office. Only with a good team behind the scenes will we know who really belongs in there, although I think we can be sure on some of it. No 1--Get Alan Bestwick back. I have my disagreements with Fox's (and sometimes Speed's or TNT's) coverage, but they are minor gripes compared to this. As for Trackpass, I can't afford to pay extra for what I ought to be getting for free. I save my money for actually going to the few races I attend every year.

As for Erik, believe it or not, NASCAR fans are sometimes college graduates and we actually know how to read ratings reports. I don't exaggerate NASCAR's importance--in fact, I have often defended the various networks decisions to cover certain other things--using ESPN2 or FX instead of their respective 'parents', etc. But if ABC/ESPN didn't think enough of us, their advertisers and our spending dollars to give us decent coverage, they shouldn't have asked for it back (they paid X number of dollars to give us a gift? PULEEZ.) And if football is their big seller--well, I'm watching Russell Crowe rattle on for five minutes about rugby and what IS Tony K doing in the football booth in the first place...so I can't see that they're doing much better there...

To the person complaining about the hip hop...on that score, I can't fault ESPN. Much as I personally hate it, that's what many people, including the drivers, are listening to these days, they're simply reflecting the younger generation. And yes, a lot of us are older--but most sports programming has always used the more 'hip' music of the time, and the other networks do the same.

John, I have to believe they are listening to you and to us (otherwise there is no hope). Apparently their entire network has some issues they need to address. Perhaps being the most visible, powerful kid on the block has made them rather nonchalant. Keep hitting them hard; it is not getting old for those of us who hope the networks can keep an open mind and listen to the viewers who keep them in business.

Anonymous said...

'Happy Hour is actually only 45 minutes long) and a tape-delay to work with, yet we still missed the start of the session for a "One Race Ago" video package and unbelievably in the middle of the session, they spent 4 minutes showing another video package with a "behind the scenes look" at the ESPN Pit Studio.'

Thank you, Stricklinfan! For bringing this up. I made it a point to watch Happy Hour and could not believe that stupid ESPN did this crap. Unreal. They are on such an ego trip over there and completely full of themselves.

Like many others, I utilize other ways (TrackPass Pit Command) to listen to the race with the volume on the t.v. either off or real low. Until this poor excuse that is called television coverage gets better, I will gladly pay for a TrackPass subscription so I can listen to my favorite driver, his crew chief and spotter tell me what's happening on the track.

Andy Pandy said...

Erik, if "ESPN/ABC has hired some of the best in the business, or longtime favorite drivers to provide top notch commentary", then when are they going to pull the present gang off the air and put the ones you described on? Are they still practicing in a secret studio somewhere in Bristol?

Have a nice troll.

Alex said...

I just got to the end of this, and realized that many of us assume "Erik" has an affiliation with ESPN. If that's the case, I didn't know anyone at ESPN was aware the truck series even existed.

Jon S. said...

Erik must be paid by Espn, because the only person who is more off base,is hillary clinton.

1= They didn't hire the best talent. If they did, they would have hired other people who actually know something about the sport and can relay to the viewers.

2= You wouldn't know the Busch series exists because every Busch pre-race show is mostly centered around the Cup stars or it's cut short due to womens tennis, first round womens tennis at that. I just think it's shocking how bad the coverage really is week in and week out.

3= They had Carl Edwards as their in race reporter and didn't know there were issues with Kenseth? There were so many glowing errors on Sunday, but then again it's tha way every week.

We all know that NASCAR fans are stuck with this group for another seven years, but for gosh sakes please look at the FOX telecasts to improve your talent. Mike Joy, Larry Mc, and DW have set the standard in the booth, while Dr Dick B. (can't remember how to spell it correctly) and Matt Yocum are the standard on pit road.

I just wish ESPN would get off their A#$ and help promote the Busch series. They've just about killed it this year by their slapped together coverage.

Anonymous said...

Here's to Benny Parsons, he made it look easy.

Anonymous said...

The Problem is ESPN treat are sport as a joke that simple. They have no respect for the teams or the driver in how hard it is to set a car up to run like they do. Till the upper level of ESPN see it as a sport and not a money source it will only get worse for us fans. Who they think there making a race something for us to watch when in fact there taking away the race.

Anonymous said...

ESPN / ABC has hired some of the best in the business, or longtime favorite drivers to provide top notch commentary.

Gee, I wish they'd put them on the air, then!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Erik, there's more highlights for you to log! GBTW!

Anonymous said...

Is it a "huge gift", Erik, to inflict on fans a team of humorless, uninterested announcers who don't have the balls to interrupt one another when a crash is taking place on the track? Is it a "huge gift" to plague us with announcers who can't pronounce drivers' names correctly? Is it a "huge gift" to let lead changes go by without comment?

Forgive me for forgetting to send ESPN a thank you note!

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:13:
"It's currently the #20 most viewed video of the day on ALL of YouTube.

Not the best public exposure for Carl Edwards (I doubt he gets punished for this and he probably shouldn't, but his PR image has taken a huge hit with fans). But it's great for Speed and VL.

I saw the video on ESPN last night. Kudos to them for swallowing their pride and putting a Speed Channel credit on it."

I agree. I see the Associated Press's Jenna Fryer wrote a story on Edwards-Kenseth yesterday. Unlike ESPN and That's Racing.com, she did not cite SPEED as the source of the video. She cited YouTube:
"Kenseth was about to be interviewed when Edwards, his teammate at Roush Fenway Racing, grabbed him and firmly pushed him down pit road. In videos posted on YouTube, the two are seen arguing before Edwards climbs over the pit wall.".

No mention of SPEED in the entire article. Not a good choice, Ms. Fryer. The video from SPEED was posted up on YouTube, but YouTube didn't create it.

And the video has been viewed 108,000 times and is #8 most viewed overall on YouTube today (#1 in Sports). I saw on Jayski last night that SpeedTv finally posted their own copy, but they expect people to wait 8 minutes into the Subway 500 video to see it. (Plus it's the SPEED Report version and not the more updated VL version.) That's not the way it works in today's world, guys. We just want to see the 1 minute and 24 seconds of what we clicked on to see and go on to the next video. :-)

Vince said...

Re:Anonymous October 22, 2007 6:10 AM said... "so, ESPN has enought equipment 'to land the space shuttle' to broadcast races"

Makes no difference if you don't hire people that know how to use all that equipment to air a race the way we all expect it to be aired.

As for Erik, don't encourage him. He's just a troll trying to stir things up.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Somehow I don't think ESPN will do anything about their NASCAR coverage unless France or someone high up tells them. They have such a long term contract, that why should they change? Rusty is just awful--really negative about Jeff--jealous I think. Others that are bad include Daugherty and Suzy. Thank goodness for Petree.

I have SIRUS, but only in my car, so I guess I'll have to get one for my house. I do follow the race on my computer, and cannot believe what they are talking about. Maybe they want to win an EMMY just like the FOX guys won last year, and they think that all this jabber will make them appreciated.

These Punch and Rusty just do not know how to fill down time. They ought to listen to others to see how it's done. For years I lived in L.A. and listened to the Dodgers with Vince Scully. I know there are many other radio baseball announcers that are also good. They only chatted when action was at a lol, and their comments were about baseball, not the equipment or their personal careers or the network.

Looking forward to FOX.

elena

Anonymous said...

The decline in the ratings I think are a byproduct of the decline in the quality of the product itself, not the coverage of the product. Blame NASCAR for sinking ratings, not their media partners. Complain all you want to about ESPN's NFL coverage, but because the product is so great, the TV numbers haven't suffered too badly.

Anonymous said...

I was at Martinsville. Taped the race and watched it today; Was this the same race? ESPN needs to monitor MRN to learn how to call a race! MRN is the only way to experience the REAL Race. Wake up NASCAR, it's no wonder ratings are declining.

Anonymous said...

---But it's great for Speed and VL.

Carl Edwards has apologized, backhandedly (personally I think he's opened a whole new can of worms, but whatever), and the Speed video hits #3 on Youtube this afternoon. Maybe NASCAR will actually make ESPN's Pardon the Interruption today. They love controversy.

I know this is an ESPN thread but I'm happy for the Speed crew. It was just a freak thing that their cameras were rolling, but they do such a good job overall and I'm glad to see so many people get to see them even if it's just briefly on youtube. That Speed logo swoops over the screen before they get to the confrontation and they all have Speed shirts on. Good PR for them.

Anonymous said...

I noticed one thing while I was watching NHRA coverage on ESPN2 the other weekend. I actually liked it.

I didn't have to constantly correct the broadcast team. They knew each driver and called them by the correct name. They knew what round we were in; who was leading and why.

They were also informative without being overly obnoxious. The broadcasters treated us, the viewing audience, like we had watched a race or two before and could understand the concepts they were discussing without beating them into the ground. I was actually happy when the show cut to their version of "tech center" because the person explaining the "tech" knew what the hell they were talking about.

ESPN2's NHRA broadcast is simple, not overblown. They don't have "draft track". They don't have a fancy "cut-away car". But it works. It works because the broadcast team, including producers and directors, let the racing create excitement, instead of trying to create the excitement themselves.

The NHRA race coverage is also taped and played later; often not starting until 9 or 10 pm MST. I could check who won on the internet. But I don't. Because the coverage makes it worth the late night.

Kudos to ESPN2 for putting together a great team of Mike Dunn and Paul Page. Too bad you couldn't do it for NASCAR, the #1 motorsports series. Too bad because I used to like NASCAR and watch it faithfully. Now, I just check the days news on Jayski and watch race highlights on the news.

cwebs said...

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

RESET THE FIELD

RESET THE FIELD

RESET THE FIELD

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


ESPN's unwillingness to reset the field before restarts tells you a lot about what is wrong with their coverage. I'm not sure if they're unwilling to do it, or if they simply don't understand why it's important.

If they're unwilling to do it because it doesn't "fit" their "style of coverage", then their "style" is the root of the problem. If they don't understand why it's important, then they are simply incompetent. I guess it's probably some combination of the two. Their "style" is offensive and ludicrous, and not just to NASCAR fans. Their incompetence (or maybe boorish, elitist ignorance?) is mind boggling.

Resetting the field would REQUIRE them to keep up with pit strategy, follow non-chasers, tell us who's moving towards the front (or the back), and cover developing in-race stories. Also, it would give them LESS time to mess around with crew-cams, throw to Brad & Suzy, give us football updates, and use the Daft Tracker. See how many problems that would solve? ESPN doesn't! Why not? Because they don't even know what the problems are!!! Well, maybe they actually do, it's just that they don't see them as "problems", they see them as "features" of their spectacular coverage!!!

I first noticed this issue near the end of the race at Indianapolis back in the summer, and I posted comments about it here on this blog. I haven't seen any serious attempts at fixing the problem since then. Oh sure, they've made a few token attempts to reset the field for us, but they’re few and far between. I’m not particularly confident that they will ever even see this as a problem, much less make a real attempt to fix it.

Note to ESPN (and NASCAR) – You have a major problem on your hands. A few minor tweaks will not fix this problem. You need to make MAJOR changes in both personnel and philosophy to fix this problem. Your Elite Northeastern Attitude shows through in your approach to this sport, and it’s killing your broadcasts. Unless and until your on-air product looks, sounds, and feels more authentic, you will continue to fail. To put it into language that you might understand, you are using a Blue State approach to a Red State sport. Get it?


cwebs

DB1 said...

Well, something good has come from ESPN reading this column....Crusty Walrus actually (and very carefully) pronounced David Gilliland's name correctly! So, they ARE improving their coverage!

Anonymous said...

To put it into language that you might understand, you are using a Blue State approach to a Red State sport.

Exactly!

Problem is, that's all they know how to do.

Anonymous said...

After this last race I am done with ESPN's coverage of NASCAR. I have been a fan for many, many years now and always chose to watch the races over the NFL. I can no longer do that. In a last ditch effort I attempted to watch NFL this last Sunday and flip back to the race during the commercials. Problem was, every time I flipped back to the race, there was no race. Either a commercial, plug, or damned Crusty Walrus doing some annoying piece that no one cared about or had anything to do with the action on the track. They didn't even leave the ticker at the top of the screen up long enough to go through the complete field. The whole time I was watching football I could never get a real update of the race. I finally settled for the lap by lap on NASCAR.COM for what was going on. Although a little behind, at least I knew what was going on.

I think the only way this is going to be fixed is if someone can get these complaints to Tony Stewart and let him call out ESPN on his radio show. Worked for the mysterious cautions that have diminished in numbers sense his outburst.

At any rate, NASCAR loses another fan to the NFL because I cannot even stand to watch the races. I will still attend the couple of races a year that I do, but for the most part I am done with NASCAR.

Your very sad ex-NASCAR fan,
Steve Morton
Grand Bland, MI

Anonymous said...

i am one of the lucky subscribers to Sirius radio, i tune it to Tony Stewarts in car radio and between the guys chattering, MRN is announcing. At first i would mute the tv, watch, and listen to MRN's coverage. but the race is several laps behind on TV, so i gave up and just DVR for later viewing in case there is something serious on the track happened. I hate the TV coverage and will not go back to watching until they find someone better than ESPN. Thanks for saying like it is!

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with what's been said. You know, Rusty Wallace has the potential to be a great reporter, but he's horrible. Punch sounds like he couldn't care less after crashes, but gets way to exited about "Kenseth leading at lap 221! How will this develop?!?" At least Petree knows what he's talking about. ESPN needs to fire Wallace, give Punch some speech training, and move Alan Bestwick back to the booth.

And if I have to watch one more stupid ESPN tech center explanation of how the motor broke, or hear about how I can log onto "ESPN.com searchword: whatever" to get more information, I'm going to personally walk down to ESPN and rip someone's head off. ESPN is insulting my intelligence.