Monday, October 15, 2007
"NASCAR Now" And Jayski.com
One of the most interesting aspects of this NASCAR season has been the wide variety of choices that fans have for NASCAR information. It seems that every year these choices increase as the TV, Radio, and Internet technology advances. Setting radio aside for a moment, we are going to discuss one aspect of the television vs. Internet overlap that has been fascinating.
ESPN certainly did not have DirecTV's Hot Pass in mind when they agreed on their current NASCAR TV package. Meanwhile, the guys over at NASCAR.com are actively promoting themselves as the true source of live NASCAR racing. So, fans now have access to "The Chase" races on a broadcast TV network, by direct satellite TV, and by Internet webcast.
Each of these delivery systems has its pros and cons. The NASCAR.com webcasts often provide more coverage of both pre and post-race activities and interviews than the ESPN on ABC TV broadcast.
Unfortunately, NASCAR.com continues to be a very "official" source of NASCAR information and is burdened by a tremendous overlay of commercial information and advertisements. Negotiating around their site often involves finding nothing more than updated race reviews and statistics while fighting off endless pop-ups and ads.
While the DirecTV Hot Pass offers a driver specific "mini-network," it also puts a narrow viewpoint on a long race, and makes users listen to announcers that may or may not be their favorites. The ABC telecast caters to the casual fan, and comes with all the high-tech features and multiple cameras that viewers could ever want. The down side has been a network still struggling to function as a "team" on the races.
Other than the events themselves, ESPN offers NASCAR Now as the place for fans to get their NASCAR information from a cable TV source. The one hour high-profile Monday program really gives the network an opportunity to capitalize on its TV exclusivity with interviews and features recapping the weekend.
This brings us to one of the most unique media issues of 2007, and that is the Jayski.com website. Now more than ten years old, this site originally appealed to fans as a great source of NASCAR information that could not be found on the official NASCAR site or in the mainstream media.
Fans loved the fact that the site was hand-crafted, unofficial, and also offered easy access to the other media stories nationwide about the sport. There were no chat rooms, no angry words, and the best part was that the information was constantly updated. NASCAR officials and teams suddenly found themselves responding to the news, gossip and "silly season" rumors posted on Jayski.com.
This year, ESPN bolstered their presence in NASCAR by stepping-up and buying the Jayski.com site. Along with the NASCAR Now TV series, these moves showed the commitment of ESPN as a corporation to integrate themselves into the sport as they returned to NASCAR after almost a decade.
Now, fans would have a partnership that could deliver the same in-depth NASCAR news on both TV and the Internet under the ESPN NASCAR "umbrella." But, a funny thing happened on the way to the party. The NASCAR Now production team made a conscious decision not to mention the Jayski.com website.
It is now October. How many times have you heard anyone on NASCAR Now reference a news item on Jayski.com since February? How many times has a NASCAR Now reporter used Jayski.com in a feature as the source of their information?
Finally, how many times has the NASCAR Now host closed the show by sending viewers to the ESPN-owned Jayski.com website for more information? Let me help you with the answers to those questions. That would be none.
Nothing has been more confusing in this season of ESPN confusion about NASCAR than why the on-air announcers in both the races and NASCAR Now have avoided Jayski.com like the plague. Wouldn't more site traffic on Jayski be a good thing for ESPN? Wouldn't that maybe make...sense?
Since the purchase, things on Jayksi have changed a bit, but the ease of operation and the depth of NASCAR information has remained the same. Fans can deal with the fact that the ESPN stories get listed first, and that the big promos for things like College Gameday now grace a NASCAR site.
What is most interesting to us at The Daly Planet is that Jayski hosts video from ESPN directly on his site. Although users must watch either an ESPN promo or a commercial for thirty seconds first, the videos are updated continually and have the latest in NASCAR news and highlights. Along with the stories and results, the upgraded Jayski site offers a tremendous amount of content. Much more content than the NASCAR Now TV series.
For NASCAR fans this season, Jayski has been a blessing. The ESPN.com coverage of the sport features mainstream stories mixed-in with columns from several reporters like Marty Smith and Terry Blount. Anyone who lingers on the site will eventually press the link button and go over to read the expanded content at Jayski.
On this Monday, NASCAR Now did not bring on the news reporters until almost forty-five minutes into the one hour program. They quickly updated some information, passed along some brief news, and then were quickly lost in the rest of the program as usual. This show has become a video montage of race footage, music videos, and a seemingly endless review of The Chase drivers race results.
The best thing that NASCAR Now could do is to begin to treat Jayski as a partner on-the-air. This TV series needs some serious help with NASCAR fans and viewership. Simply by creating some in-show features referencing Jayski, by telling viewers NASCAR Now videos are posted on it, and by directly sending viewers to it at the end of each show there would be a connection made that is now not in place. Unfortunately, it should have been in place in February.
This is the on-going saga of ESPN's first year back in NASCAR. Some of the pieces of their NASCAR puzzle are almost in place, while others have never even been touched. In the curious case of NASCAR Now and Jayski.com, never even acknowledged.
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