Saturday, October 20, 2007

NASCAR TV Ratings Are Down: What Would You Suggest To ESPN/ABC?


The TV ratings for Charlotte show the continued decline in viewership for the NEXTEL Cup Series. This is not what NASCAR had in mind when they made a deal with the top sports television corporation in the world to telecast their "Chase for the Championship."

There have been hundreds of articles written this year at The Daly Planet about a lot of TV issues relating to NASCAR. We have talked about the Fox Sports, TNT, SPEED, and ESPN/ABC portions of the TV package. So, with only a couple of weeks left in the 2007 season, what can ESPN do right now to help their ratings?

Please think before you post, and keep your comments focused on this one question. I assure you that the key people from ESPN will read your comments. I think they will be amazed at the intelligence of the NASCAR fans and The Daly Planet readers. The time for change is now.

So, what would you do this Sunday at Martinsville to pump-up the ratings and get NASCAR fans and casual viewers interested in watching this sport?

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not require (or want) your email address. Please read the rules for posting on the right hand side of the main page, and then offer your opinion here at The Daly Planet. Thanks again.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...
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bevo said...

Focus your coverage on racing. There's plenty of drama and entertainment in every race, there's no need to introduce all kinds of outside junk. Get race people involved in planning your telecast. Stop insulting the intelligence of viewers.

Vince said...

ESPN execs, go look at the tape of the Busch race you did earlier this year at Milwaukee, I think it was. Where Allan Bestwick hosted the prerace show and did the race call. We saw a professional, who kept the viewer informed with out constantly blathering about nonsense. There was a minimum amount of graphics. No egos in the booth. No coming back from commercial to a "host" (a has been and/or someone who doesn't know squat about our sport). It was just a simple crisp, clean broadcast of the race. No hype, no fluff. That's what the REAL Nascar fan wants.

Skip said...

Well, some things aren't fixable this season, but looking forward to next season:

Don't schedule 45 minutes of prerace (the official 30 minute prerace show plus the 15 minutes before green flag on the actual race broadcast) if you're going to cut to Desparate Housewives 45 seconds after the checkered flag. Move everything up 15 minutes so we can see a decent post-race. Heck, just schedule the post race show on ESPN News or ESPN Classic or something.

Give the pit reporters a "crash" course in NASCAR. Have them watch the last few years of the Fox broadcasts. It's been obvious from the get-go that they don't have much stock car racing knowledge from the inane questions they ask.

Realize that there are more than the 12 chasers and Junior in the race. When you go to the race there are hundreds of trailers selling merchandise for all the drivers, and virtually all of them are packed. Realize that probably a good third of your audience is a fan of someone else. Now, I'm not saying that you need to focus on everyone else, but I do mean the little things. Two quick examples. First, the 'chase tracker' giving real-time updates of the chase standings needs to go, because it's meaningless. Real race fans realize that drivers move up and down during a race, by large numbers of points. And by now it's down to a 3 person race anyways. But by doing that, you've taken away the ability for me to see how far back my driver is from the leader, how close he is to passing the next guy, whether he's advancing or moving back. Because unless my guy's near Junior or the top 3, he'll never be on camera, so that's the only way for me to find out, barring just watching the race on fox trax. Second example - at the last race Elliot Sadler ran into someone on pit road. You could see it on the broadcast, but you couldn't make out who it was. One of the broadcasters said "whoa, I think one of the dodges hit someone". And they never followed up on it. From the car I couldn't tell if it was the 9 or the 19, from the front. And both Kasey Kanhe and Elliot Sadler have tons of fans. The only way I found out who it was, was in 20 or 30 laps I checked Fox Trax and saw that Sadler was 2 laps down. But the ESPN producers, who probably haven't even heard of half the drivers who aren't in the lucky 13 never even put them on camera.

And speaking of camera, I'm constantly screaming at the TV - "pan out". And I know what's happening here. I watch the races in HD, but occasionally when this happens I'll switch to the non-HD feed just to check. And what they will have done is taken the non-widescreen picture and cropped off the top and bottom. So in HD we're actually seeing less of the action than non-HD.

I'm sure I could come up with dozens more suggestions, but these would be a good start.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

wow four comments and then a rant - might be a record. So much for keeping things positive.

bevo said...

skip -

Great points!

SophiaZ123 said...

Skip made great points as do others..and Bevo, I was going to try and be pithy and simply post PAY ATTENTION TO THE RACE.

Less graphics.

More info.

Better camera direction.

LESS commercials or keep the last half hour commercial free.

Post race interviews.


Now, many things are affecting the ratings NASCAR POWERS THAT BE, and tv is just reflecting that. I am reading from folks ATTENDING the races the costs of tickets are skyrocketing, costs of parking an RV have risen and convoluted fences make it a long walk to the track.

Also some folks used to be able to just visit the souvenir shops and other areas to buy things. Now you have to make sure you have tickets for these areas. the COT care. The 'let's make the rules up as we go along' trend has WORsENED.

I am no Kyle Busch fan but he got screwed over that pit road incident and NASCAR COULD HAVE FIXED IT. NASCAR is starting to NEVER admit they make mistaks.

AND continue their fake mantra "We do everything for the fans." Lie.

So, to gain credibility back, NASCAR has much to do.

As far as tv, it's already been mentioned here. Get us GUYS in the booth who give us INFORMATION on the current race, better camera work. AND FOLLOW UP on drivers with problems.

Oh, and I LOVE JR but stop FOCUSING ON HIM so much. AND forget about the CHASERS. THE CHASE is turning away many as there 43 TOTAL drivers out there. How about talking of all of them.

STOP MESSING up the races by skipping the restarts and even WORSE, ALLOWING VIEWERS TO MISS THE END OF THE RACE!?

Yes, this NASCAR issue is many layers deep, but making the RACE EASIER, and more fun to sit thru with help.

And stop with the DRAFT TRACER, STOP with the INTERVIEWS OF ANYBODY DURING THE GREEN FLAG RACING.

STOP SPLITTING THE SCREEN at the expense of an over all picture to tell us what is happening on the track.

Oh, and this is just minutia to some, but when you show qualifying? STOP with all the clutter on the screen and show me the car ON THE TRACK.

NOT THE CLOSE UP OF A MOVING CAR. We may not all be able to go to a track but GOOD CAMERA WORK can give us the feeling of being there.

THEN END

P.S. Some busch races are better because of less clutter but the camera aim is still off.

Kathy said...

I would love to see qualifying sprints...that would be a good show in itself.
I love the races, but I think even the die-hard fans get a little tired of the really long races...maybe some of them could be shortened.
And a lot of people say the later start times are a problem. I would love to see them start closer to 1pm. A few more viewers might be added if they could grab their attention before they go off to another sport.
And let's face it...there are a lot of other sports to watch in the fall...that has got to affect the numbers for NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong - I don't think the ESPN broadcasts are nearly as good as they should be (they should keep Petree, though), but there's a bigger issue with the overall decline in ratings, and I personally believe the networks' hands are somewhat tied in this case.

While many (most?) NASCAR fans are loath to admit it because they think it bows to the politically correct gods or whatever, NASCAR needs both a woman and a black driver who can regularly compete at a top level (winning races) to spark any interest that is going increase the ratings.

Other sports on a level similar to NASCAR have done quite well improving TV ratings and attendance when this has happened (Tiger, Venus and Serena -no last names needed, I might add.)

Danica increased ratings and media exposure, at least temporarity, for the IRL. Unlike the other three, she is not a winner, so her influence has become limited.

I laughed reading Track Smack this week when Dave Rodman said he hoped the open-wheel newcomers count towards the NASCAR diversity effort. White males from Scotland and Canada don't count as diversity, Dave. Sorry about that.

A professor (a Southern University, can't recall the name) completed a study of NASCAR several years ago and found that many of the fans openly preferred the fact that NASCAR is a nearly all-white sport. Not that they were necessarily racist (some were), they just felt more comfortable in a homegenous sports environment with white athletes as the stars. That's fine, but a sport can't grow, especially on TV, that way. Otherwise, the NASCAR ratings ceiling has likely been reached and there isn't really anything ESPN or FOX or TNT can do about that.

Anonymous said...

Here we go:

1. Use professional talent that knows NASCAR, whether or not they're your "marquee" talent. Viewers need to know what's actually happening on the track, and it's apparent that talent that's skill at NBA or NFL coverage--or former drivers without TV experience--can't do that. Things like getting the drivers' names right (including pronuncation) and knowing who is in which car matter a great deal.

1-A. Cut back on the number of people on-air. You're wasting time and boring the audience by ensuring they all get to be "experts" on TV.

2. Take the pre-race show seriously. Vignettes about how dangerous it is to be a driver (or how scary it is to be a driver's wife) are unnecessary and insulting. Similarly, stop hyping the "Big One" or whatever the "Danger of the Weekend" may be.

3. Cover the race. Cover the race. Cover the race. There are 43 drivers out there, and they are ALL someone's favorite. Show us what's happening--not just what's happening to the drivers in the Chase or the guys you believe to be most "important."
A viewer should NOT have to listen to a radio play-by-play account to find out what is happening on the track. Ever.

4. Knock off the Draft Track. It's silly and not scientifically accurate anyway.

5. Time the entry and exit into commercial breaks more carefully. Done right, they should not cover restarts, for example. Other networks get this right--ESPN/ABC can, too.

6. Consider coming out of national breaks when something significant happens on the track. NBC did this, and y'know what? Viewers stuck through the breaks "just in case." Isn't that factor alone worth the possibility of makegoods?

7. Don't talk down to viewers. Other sports require you to figure out what's hppening on your own; newbie race fans will do that, too. Just explain what's happening.

8. Cover the race. Show the action. There's a happy medium between showing one car alone on the track and the blimp shot. Find it and use it. The jib shots are fun, but they're a gimmick and they don't show the action.

9. Tell us what happens during pit stops. Too often, I see things happening in the wide shot (contact, for example) that never are explained or shown in a tighter shot. Remember, every driver is someone's hero. Viewers shouldn't have to go to the internet to discover what happened to put their driver a lap down.

10. Give the camera operators the freedom to pick shots and then USE THEM. The freelancers who shoot these races know the sport and know what looks good and when--just let them work.

11. Cover the race. Re-set the field after pit stops are done. Without some guidance, it can be tough for viewer to determine what went on, i.e., who stayed out and who wnet in and how the field ended up in the order it did. We can only see what you show us, so make sure you give us enough information.

12. Stop minimizing (or two-boxing) race action with promos/highlights from other sports. Viewers are watching you to see a race, not to see a touchdown in the USC-Arizona game.
I never see networks leave play action in other sports to run highlights from different games. Yes, racing is different, but green flag laps are "play action." They are NOT a throwaway until the next wreck.

13. Treat the post-race show seriously. No one-interview-with the-winner-and-out. There are 42 other drivers out there. At least try to get a couple of them. Running long? Tough. I long ago lost count of the number of times a show I wanted to see was JIPed because of a football post-game show. Show NASCAR fans the same respect you show fans of other sports.

13. Impress upon your affiliates that leaving the race while it is in progress is 100% unacceptable. This is critical. Did you learn nothing from the 1968 "Heidi" incident?

14. If you don't want to air practices, let SPEED run them. All you're doing by cheating us out of seeing them is creating resentment against ESPN/ABC. Yes, you bought them--so air them, or let someone else do it.

There's more, but that's a good starting list to work on.

Lisa Hogan said...

Good topic, JD
Some good ideas from some of the posters.
In order to save myself some typing, I think I will go with:

What Anon 2:03 said :)

Andy Pandy said...

Some of these have already been covered and mentioned here many times, but here you go:

1. Rememeber that every driver has fans watching the race. Some of us want to know how all of the cars are doing, not just who is leading. Each race is important, but so is the season and the standings from to to bottom.

2. Take just a second to tell us whenever anyone makes an unscheduled stop (unless it's a repaired car 83 laps down).

3. Stop explaining basic things. Let the analyst comment on why they think something on the track happened, but no "Intro to NASCAR" lectures during the race.

4. Cut way back on the "rock and roll racing" crap. Non-watchers don't know it's there, so it doesn't attact new viewers.

5. Tell us what happened and show any incidents as soon as possible, not as the cars are pitting under yellow. Dump out of commercials for cautions other than debris.

6. Lose all the non-NASCAR folks. Like the rock stuff, you aren't attracting new viewers with it and only pissing off the existing ones.

7. tell us who got the Lucky Dog every time, and don't be afraid to call it the Lucky Dog - I don't care if it's not the official name and someone on another network came up with it; like it or not, that's what most people call it, and it can affect the race.

8. I guess Wendy Venturini is under contract with SPEED, so forget about #8.

9. Try shuffling your announcers around until you get the right mix. You know what that means. The odds are slim that you could have hit on the right combination on the first try, so audition some alternatives.

10. Cut down of gimmicks, graphics, all the non-racing crap during green flag action. Lock all of the announcers, producers, directors in a room and make them watch films of 5 or 6 old ESPN broadcasts. Make a list of all of the changes in the broadcast from then to now, and go down the list one by one and ask them if each change actually helped the viewers or harmed the show.

Illpolo said...

We are talking about a ratings decrease, which to me says that current and longtime fans are turning off the TV's and finding an alternative to watching the race...MRN, Trackpass, following on Fox Trax, et al.

While it may be easy for a non-NASCAR fan (Anonymous at 1:57pm) to simply toss out the stereotype that all racing fans can be lumped together into one group that do not want minorities or females racing, that still doesn't answer the question as to why ratings have declined. Adding minorities/females might help with the "growth" of the sport or bring more viewers, but we are talking about a decline - which to me says fans are finding other alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Most of these have been addressed by previous posters, but some deserve a second, or third mention:

1. Booth announcers: Put Rusty on hiatus for the rest of the season. Give him flash cards with racing appropriate words (driver's names particularly) spelled phonetically. If he can't pronounce the competitor's names next year, cancel his contract. If he is your #1 auto analyst, it doesn't say much about ESPN's expectations. When announcers can't pronounce competitor's names it gives the fan the impression that ESPN personnel are unprepared and unprofessional.

Move Jerry Punch to the Pits. Let him show the ESPN "newbies" how to conduct on-the-fly interviews that aren't painful to the interviewer, interviewee, or fan. He's used to be a pro at it and I'm sure some of the ESPN crew would benefit greatly from his expertise. He also seems to be tired in the booth, there is no enthusiasm emminating from him. Maybe getting him out from behind the glass will give him a needed shot in the arm.

Move Alan Bestwick to the booth. He's past accomplishments prove he knows how to direct the traffic in the booth, smoothly transition from one topic to another without cutting people off (as I've noticed Rusty, Andy, and Brad seem to do a lot), and hasn't brought his ego to the microphone. He needs to be in the booth directing the traffic.

2. Race coverage. Keep it simple. We want to know who's running where, how far behind or in front of the guys he's racing around, how's the fuel situation, how's the car handling, who got the lucky dog, why did a car go down a lap, and what's the race strategy teams want to use and how's it playing out as the race progresses. This pertains to ALL the competitors, not just the chasers, top 35 contenders, or the 13th position contender. By constantly focusing on specific driver's, my racing experience is severly diminished. To put it in a football analgoy, a NASCAR race is one NFL week rolled into one four or five hour block: ALL teams competing at the SAME time, not just two teams on the field.

Plant someone next to the NASCAR officials calling the race. They're the ones calling all the shots from pit road penalties to cautions, to the number of caution laps. Is it that difficult to share that information from the NACAR booth to the ESPN announcing booth and then to the viewer? In a timely manner? Like during the race?

Just a nit, but when showing the cars crossing the finish line, the finishing order graphic disappears when the 20th car crosses the line. At least I think it's the 20th - it disappears so quickly I'm not really sure what place is "last" to be shown. At tracks like Talladega, when more than half the field can finish within seconds of each other, the viewer doesn't have the opportunity to read who finished in what position before the graphic disappears. Could you please give us the final running order before leaving the broadcast? To use football analogy again, it's like leaving the game without knowing the final score. Especially if the race is on a Saturday night, unless I look on the internet, I have to wait until Sunday evening to find out the running order.

Just another nit, but the sports ticker at the bottom of the screen makes me dizzy! You have the race ticker at the top, going at a different speed than the one at the bottom. You're taking up a huge amount of real estate on my screen. I would like to see the cars race, not the tickers. Please!

If you're going to show that darned sports ticker, why do we need a sports center minute? Just throw the information on the ticker and let us watch the race. It's not like we're going to switch channels based on whatever is going on in another sport. We have committed ourselves to the NASCAR race.

How ABC affiliates can leave a race before it is completed is just baffling to me in this day and age. Somebody in the legal department at ESPN was out sick that day? I'd suggest getting that fixed, pronto! Maybe if ESPN polled affiliates and realized how many were dropping the broadcast prior to it's completion they would realize they need an "overflow" channel - at least for the rest of the season until they can get new affiliate contracts hammered out.

4. Commercials. I don't know how much you paid for the NASCAR rights, but maybe you shouldn't treat the rest of the season as a cash cow, but offer NASCAR coverage as a "sale" item and air more of the race instead of the commercials, or split screen the commercials. It's difficult to follow a race when airing the commericals seem to be the priority of ESPN and not the action on the track. And, having Alan Bestwick in the booth would help tremendously to bring viewers from a commercal break back to the action on the track.

5. Play well with others. I have noticed a rivalry between ESPN and Speed. If ESPN has the rights to qualifying and practices but chooses not to air them, please offer them to another network. Although, why ESPN didn't realize these items actually interest race fans just brings to light that they didn't do their NASCAR homework. It's not like ESPN only has one channel. For the rest of the season, I'd suggest showing live practices and qualifying on an alternate network.

For post race coverage, work in tandem with Speed. ESPN's crew is there, as is Speed's. Twice the interviews, less repeated information, more in depth coverage. Speed airs some of the action that happened on the track during Victory Lane, so that's being shared with them in a timely fashion since Victory Lane is usually shown right after a race, so why can't the two of you work together to provide comprehensive post race coverage to the fans? Expand Victory Lane and air ESPN bits there, or wait for Victory Lane to conclude and then do your own broadcast. This would be especially helpful when the race is on a Saturday night as Victory Lane doesn't air until Sunday night.

6. Remember your audience. I don't have specific numbers, but within the last year, I read that females made up 45% of the NASCAR fan base. Realizing NASCAR is on a mission to increase their fan base, ESPN needs to tread carefully so they don't alienate the female fans.

Fans don't want or need Aerosmith videos screaming at us, graphics that look like they should be in a video game, football and baseball scores, awkward and/or inappropriate questions being asked of drivers, crews, and owners, chatter from the broadcasting booth that makes no sense or is designed to whip fans into a frenzy for no apparent reason, tech center interruptions that take us away from the action on the track, and incomplete coverage of our race. We have one opportunity a week to see our drivers race, and every second ESPN chooses to show something else takes away from our racing. Count up how much action is missed from a football game. Is it the same percentage as a NASCAR race? Somehow I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

*We are talking about a ratings decrease, which to me says that current and longtime fans are turning off the TV's and finding an alternative to watching the race...MRN, Trackpass, following on Fox Trax, et al.*

Or they could been newbies who tuned in for a few races in the spring or summer (this "casual fan" which is apparently the holy grail for TV and NASCAR), didn't like what they saw -whatever the reason - and tuned out for football/baseball. It's probably a combination of both.

Photojosh said...

I'm just going to mention my few biggest thoughts, I know that most will have been mentioned previously by smarter people than me. But it's probably important for TV execs to see that multiple people feel the same way (if they are actually reading the blog).

1. Don't cut the post race.

I hate the fact that the credits are running before the winner is even out of the car. It seems like the past couple of races I haven't gotten to hear anything from any other drivers because ESPN/ABC was in such a hurry to cut somewhere else. Except that on the West Coast, they are just cutting to "Sports Bloopers" throw away shows. I understand that it's Prime Time on the East, but why does the whole country have to suffer?

The best solution would be to just factor in more time, even if the race goes long. That's what happens for other an NFL game, and that is what should happen for Nascar. The second best solution would be to have a standing system where post race was going to be on ESPN2 every week. I could live with that.

2. Too many talking heads.

ESPN/ABC is hardly alone in this. But I do not need a couple of "hosts" for a nascar race any more than I need them for an NFL game. The three announcers in the booth are more than enough. Focus on getting good talent in the booth and on pit road. Don't waste my time repeating the same "dropped a cylinder" cut-away car crap every week.

3. Get rid of the pointless extras.

Draft-track = stupid. That ticker that shows instant chase standings = even more stupid. Give the viewers some credit. Don't split-screen to cut to football games. If I wanted to watch football games, I'd change the channel. I watch nascar to watch racing. If I want to watch multiple sports, I'll watch sportscenter.

4. There are 43 cars in the race

Yes, the chase is important. But there are 43 drivers in the race. And has been said before, every driver is someone's hero. I want to know how the Toyotas are doing in their first cup season. Tell me how the rookie drivers are doing. Spend some time on the "chase" for the top 35 in owners points. For christ's sake, give me a real "full field" rundown.

5. Don't be afraid to tweak the booth crew.

There are a number of really good announcers out there. Like others, I think it's a shame that Allan Bestwick isn't announcing. The whole MRN audio crew does a wonderful job. Even newcomers like Kyle Petty are a welcome change of pace. There are a lot of good announcers out there, get them in the booth.

The point is, listen to the fans when they tell you someone sounds disinterested, or long winded, or just flat out not interesting.

6. Think about the cameras.

Obviously it's hard to show an event that stretches out across a couple of miles. But it can be done. Study the other race broadcasts and see what works and doesn't work. Don't show me the leader by himself if he's 10 seconds ahead with no lapped traffic nearby. Especially when there is a ferocious battle for 2nd going on.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the idea of sharing the talent. Earlier in the year, it was always great to see the pit reporters who would actually cover the race (from FOX or TNT) working with the SPEED crew during practice and qualifying. It ties everything together.

It gives the people a chance to show their personality and allow the viewers to get used to them.

Of course, if ESPN is going to blackout all of the practice anyway it probably doesn't make a difference what we say to them. Don't they realize there are a lot of people who actually do like to watch all action from the track live?

ESPN's arrogance is just insulting to anybody who is really a fan of the sport.

Anonymous said...

Illpolo: "Adding minorities/females might help with the "growth" of the sport or bring more viewers, but we are talking about a decline - which to me says fans are finding other alternatives."

In JD's NASCAR Coverage Open Post column from the other day, some commenters wrote that TV ratings don't really count for viewers age 50 and up watching the races. Could it be that the TV decline is continuing because the older viewers are not being considered and younger viewers are not watching? (and let's be honest, this is becoming a multicultural nation, where in some cities the "minorities" are really the "majority".)

If you are not replacing the older viewers with the younger ones, the decline would make sense - and then it would make sense that not having minorities/women in Cup might be a ratings issue. But I don't understand TV ratings so I may be off base here.

As for what ESPN can do in the next few weeks, please follow some of the coverage suggestions above ("There are 43 cars and we'd like to know when they leave the track and go to the garage!" can never be repeated enough). Watching the races lately has seemed like a dreaded chore instead of weekly entertainment we look forward to.

Richard in N.C. said...

1. Treat NASCAR like it is important and at least worth what ESPN is paying.
2. Make sure ESPN's best, most qualified people are in position- in front and behind the cameras. I am sure they will not put Allen B. in the booth, but I would. At least involve him more - maybe at least to keep Jerry P. fresh.
3. Give the real fans something to talk about Monday - like quality.
4. Spread real NASCAR experts around the ESPN world to report on the sport - e.g., Jerry P. and/or Rusty on Sports Center, ESPNEWS, Mike & Mike, etc.
5. Give Erik Klueless a vacation.
6. Give real NASCAR fans something positive to talk about and we will.

Newracefan said...

WOW these comments are great and more importantly correct. I haven't read any that I didn't in some way agree with. Just to stress the point we want to watch the RACE and know how EVERYONE is doing. ALL drivers have fans and I am tired of needed to watch a race on TV with my laptop along side to find out who is where and why because they are not one of the 13. I started doing it last year so I could always know where my favorite driver was at all times now I need it to know where all the drivers are most of the time. Somethings wrong with this picture.

Anonymous said...

Cover the racing. Cover the pit stops, or at least tell us who came in and who didn't during green flag stops. Get Rusty out of the booth. Get rid of "if the race ended now, so & so would be first" scroll. Show us instead how many seconds or laps behind the leader our favorite drivers are. Show us a rundown (in big enuff writing to read)of how everyone finished. We shouldn't have to listen to the radio and use the computer during a race to know what's happening on the track. Don't tell us what's happening in other sports during green flag racing. And for heaven's sake - get rid of that Aerosmith song.

stricklinfan82 said...

- Get a credible host for NASCAR Now. A lot of fans like myself who watch everything NASCAR stopped watching this show. ESPN has a monopoly on a nightly NASCAR news program and no one is watching, which is incredible when you think about it.

- SHOW THE RACE!!!! Stop with all the red, blue, yellow, and white air graphics during green flag racing. Stop with all the Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Baseball promos during green flag racing.

- stop insulting the fans' intelligence by shoving Brent Musburger and Suzy Kolber down our throats.

- stop following only following Chase drivers and Dale Jr. every week.

Look at Charlotte, Harvick makes 2 green flag stops and ESPN is all over the story. Tons of other non-Chasers lose 2+ laps, presumably by also making unscheduled stops and were completely ignored. The only exception was seeing Robby Gordon on pit road for a couple seconds, with the announcers saying "this might be an unscheduled stop or might be scheduled, he might have not pitted under that last yellow...". Speaking in all "maybes" and "might haves" and never following up with any facts, because Robby Gordon is not a Chaser.

Chaser Matt Kenseth crashes and goes behind the wall, ESPN is all over the story and immediately interviws him. Ward Burton and Jeremy Mayfield fall out of the race and they are never mentioned or shown on TV. David Ragan crashes out and is never interviewed.

Look at ESPN2's practice / rain fill show at Martinsville. They only interviewed Chase drivers and the only practice speed graphic they ever showed documented where the 12 Chasers ended up in practice.

- Finally, terrible race coverage in general. Tons of missed restarts, a terrible job of following pit road stragies, and never being able to follow the stories on the track. Look at Charlotte again, Tony Stewart destroys his car on pit road, runs off the pace for a while, fixes his car, and finishes 7th. We never saw ESPN document his run back through the field. All we ever saw was the pit road crash and during one caution saw some repair work going on. Jimmie Johnson crashed, fixed his car, and sliced through the field late in the race until he ran out of gas. ESPN never showed his charge through the field and completely missed him running out of gas on the track! They also missed fellow chaser Martin Truex Jr. running out of gas on the final restart. Terrible terrible terrible job.

I think more people are tuning away from ESPN and relying on Hotpass, Trackpass, and MRN to follow the race because ESPN is doing such an awful job following what is going on ON THE TRACK.

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm sure it also doesn't help the ratings when a lot of ABC affiliates want nothing to do with NASCAR and air other programming instead of the pre-race and post-race shows, and in some instances instead of parts of the races themselves.

Plus a big part of the ratings numbers come from the casual sports fans that tune in to ABC to catch the end of the race. When ABC has set a precedence that they will dump any Sunday race that runs past 6:00 to cable, they lose the casual sports fans that want to see the end of the race but don't realize that the race changed networks since they weren't watching earlier in the day to hear the instructions to catch the finish of the race on ESPN2.

Busch Series Fan! said...

I don't believe anyone has added this but any of the networks that have been broadcasting the races this year, could you all get rid of the Aerosmith or whatever group videos - that music just does not fit in with Nascar races. Otherwise lots of great comments.

Anonymous said...

A viewer should NOT have to listen to a radio play-by-play account to find out what is happening on the track. Ever.

Pretty much sums up most of the comments here today.

Anonymous said...

"NASCAR needs both a woman and a black driver who can regularly compete at a top level (winning races) to spark any interest that is going increase the ratings.

Other sports on a level similar to NASCAR have done quite well improving TV ratings and attendance when this has happened (Tiger, Venus and Serena -no last names needed, I might add.)"

-I don't want to get into a race/gender thing here, but in my opinion this is pretty accurate and it does apply to ESPN NASCAR ratings because:

If Tiger, Venus, or Serena commits to playing a tournament, the TV ratings go up. In addition to the core fans, droves of people who either casually follow golf or tennis or follow them as "sports celebrities" will tune in if they're playing. The TV people and ad people are happy. End of story.

If NASCAR had someone of their equivalent (and I'd say we're years away from that, although Marc Davis at JGR is probably the closest), we'd have more casual fans tune in. Not to every race (38 races is too many, which is also hurting the ratings), but to many of the major races and possibly the Chase - which have all seen ratings declines in the past few years.

I know some fans feel like we don't need the casual fans - but we do in the long-term if we want to keep the level of TV coverage that we're used to.

FYI, in the annual Harris Poll where they ask Americans across the country who is their favorite sports star, the top three males in 2007 were African-American or biracial:
1. Tiger Woods
2. Derek Jeter
3. Michael Jordan

The top three women:
1. Serena Williams
2. Danica Patrick
3. Venus Williams

Food for thought...

Plus Allen Bestwick in his proper position would help the ratings, too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I would suggest closing the doors and driving back to Bristol Ct. Upon reaching Bristol Ct I would then suggest tossing all your hopes and dreams of broadcasting NASCAR into the nearest dumpster. Leave NASCAR broadcasting to people who actually understand the sport instead of bringing a bunch of stick and ball people into the mix -- trying to fool educated fans, and making us all wait until you educate yourself. THATS WHAT I SUGGEST!

Anonymous said...

Appearances to the contrary- the sad thing is that ESPN can do better IF they want to.

Anonymous said...

I hate that there are two tickers at the top of my screen. It is too confusing. I don't like that the Chase order is in bigger font than the actual running order. And, it is useless information--so much changes in the course of a race!

Brent Musberger needs to stop waxing poetic and go home!

Please have the announcers control their urges to use endless football analogies! I'm a NASCAR fan, not a football fan, and they are largely meaningless to me!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Fantastic comments. Keep them coming. This blog will be read this weekend by a lot of TV types, several of whom have already emailed me.

JD

Anonymous said...

My biggest issue is missed restarts.I feel that it unexcusable to miss a restart. In my mind a person with a calculator could figure out how long one yellow lap takes to complete based on the caution speed and the track length. You may be able squeeze in a few more commercials with one to go at Daytona but not at Bristol, which I remember earlier this year. I don't know if the people running the broadcasts know that when the caution lights go out as the pace car crosses the line, that means there is one to go. Anybody that has gone to an NFL game has sat through the TV timeouts during a game. I'd hate to say it but maybe Nascar should tell the TV people when they are ready for one to go and tell them "We'll give you one more so you can get back from your commercials.

Phil in LV

Anonymous said...

This is a generic comment for both ESPN and SPEED. Stop spending 3-4 minutes of every single show going over the standings! Don't you think anybody watching practice and/or qualifying knows the standings?

It's really annoying on Fridays when SPEED breaks up their all-day coverage into multiple "shows" but still starts each "show" by showing the standings...

Also, ESPN showing nothing but "chaser" speeds in a graphic with rankings of 1 through 12 is absolutely inexcusible.

stricklinfan82 said...

Today's Happy Hour is another great example of what's wrong with ESPN. First of all it was the second practice session of the day. The first one wasn't televised at all (this lack of televisation again is an ESPN portion of the Cup schedule "exclusive", thanks guys!) and this one was tape-delayed until 7:00, long after the truck race and long after every NASCAR fan already knows what happened during the session.

Putting the tape-delay and lack of coverage of the morning practice session aside for a moment, let's look at the production of the actual Happy Hour broadcast. The sessions lasts 45 minutes and ESPN has a 60 minute window to fit the session in, yet when ESPN started their coverage we got another long "One Race Ago" video package and then finally got to see some on-track action... already in progress! With 15 minutes of built-in down time and a tape-delay to work with, we still missed the start of the session. Then to top it off, they spent 4 minutes in the middle of the practice showing us a taped feature of a "behind the scenes look" at ESPN's own Pit Studio!!!! Show us the stuff going on on the race track for God's sake!!!!!! We do not tune in to practice coverage to see a video package of how the ESPN Pit Studio works. I'm watching it on my DVR and am 30 minutes in to the broadcast and we've now had time wasted with a Jimmie Johnson video package and 30 minutes in... 30 MINUTES... we are finally told that Tony Stewart spun out during the first practice session.

This is a complete joke. SHOW US WHAT IS GOING ON ON THE TRACK!!!!!!!!!! Even with 15 minutes of down-time built in to the 60 minute broadcast ESPN still can't resist shoving useless crap down our throats in place of the on-track action. I am sick of this!!!!!!!!

Matt said...

How about stopping the trend of mid-afternoon starts? I realize TV execs think they need to be later for the west coast, but it's not working. Go back to 1PM ET starts and this solves many problems:

1)Having races late allows people to watch the early football games and get stay with them if they are good games. Starting a race at 1pm means that fans can't/won't start watching football while waiting for the race to start.

2)Races won't end so late that networks have to cut post-race shows.

3)Rain delays won't be as serious an issue because NASCAR would have more daylight to get a race in.

4)People in the east (where NASCAR is the most popular)won't turn off the races to go eat dinner.

It's a rather easy soultion, in my view.

Anonymous said...

Richard in NC wrote:
4. Spread real NASCAR experts around the ESPN world to report on the sport - e.g., Jerry P. and/or Rusty on Sports Center, ESPNEWS, Mike & Mike, etc.

This is a good idea and would help a lot. The only suggestion I have is not to use Rusty and use Dr. Punch, Marty Smith or Angelique Chengelis instead. I've seen Rusty on ESPN shows by himself talking about the races. If he's with Brad or Suzy or Mike Massaro, he's OK. But if he's by himself, he is the biggest hype master ever; I think circus barker would be the correct term.

Everything is the "greatest move I've ever seen", "I've never seen anything like it", "The best race in about 10 years". On and on. The ESPN folks end up looking at him either with amusement or like he's nuts.

So that's one place the ESPN Lead Auto Racing Analyst does not need to be - on other ESPN shows.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Mr. Daly:
More of a personal observation than a suggestion.
Last weekend, I attended the Busch and Cup races at Lowes. Being a member of the Speedway Club, I spend most of each day there. Usually, the comments overheard are about the teams, drivers, cars, the Chase or other silly season happenings.
Even though last week's turmoil over the City of Concord vs Bruton Smith should have been the topic most overheard or discussed, the number one topic overheard was the HORRIBLE TV coverage since FOX! I've never heard so many people in one place dissing the ESPN efforts so far this year. The TNT coverage was simply dismissed as awful, but many of the comments were of the nature that ESPN was doing its job on purpose as a way of showing NASCAR who is boss or getting back at NASCAR for being cut out of NASCAR's racing for so long.
I realize the members and guests at The Speedway Club during races are one of the core groups following NASCAR racing and I did not hear one positive comment about ESPN's efforts. Bevo's and Stricklinfan's comments in this thread echo the vast majority of comments I heard, including an extremely negative one from an very high NASCAR officer who I recognized from TV. During the races, I would go back inside for a short bit and it's the first time that I ever saw and heard people shouting at the TV's to "Just show the Race!".
That about sums it up. Very disturbing!
Tom in Dayton, Ohio.

SophiaZ123 said...

"JUST SHOW THE RACE" has been screamed more at the tv this season with ESPN during NASCAR AND during IRL.

On IRL they also love to show the mom/cchief/wife instead of the final laps of the race!! Ashley Judd got a lot of air time once and my house mate, who finds her adorable, STILL SCREAMED "JUST SHOW THE RACE".

Maybe we should all post from now on, JUST SHOW THE RACE!
!@#$%^&*(!@$

Daly Planet Editor said...

Tom,

I have been to the Speedway Club many times, including one hilarious time with John Force where he challenged Dale Earnhardt Sr. to race rental cars around the Speedway (after a couple of cocktails!). Humpy even turned the lights on...that would have been a good one.

The conversations around the industry trickle in here one way or another. Even some of the ESPN on-air announcers have been sending me email and saying they are open to suggestions of how to get this big ship going in the right direction.

Changing something at ESPN is like changing something at the Post Office. It takes a long time even for a little change that everyone knows should happen.

Look for ESPN to put out a good effort at Martinsville, and shift their focus from the hype to the race. Things are not going well right now, and they know it.

Thanks for your good story, is that buffet still pretty good?

JD

Anonymous said...

I think fans would be willing to give ESPN a little more leeway if they acknowledged that they have some things that need to be worked on, but instead these past two weeks I've seen interviews with them saying they are pleased with their coverage.

Anonymous said...

Wow, everyone has left so many awesome & constructive critism. I hope this works!! I am going to repeat most of everyones comments because if the execs from any of the networks that cover the races can see our major concerns (including Speed).

1. There are usually 2 or 3 practices for the cup drivers, if you don't want to air at least 2 like SPEED does, then please let another network air them for the fans. Speed also usually will re-air qualifying, ESPN should do the same. The last several weekends they have had technical problems and we have not been able to watch it. The audio & visual cuts out sometimes for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time off and on for the whole session. That is unexceptable!! If you are going to cover a nascar event, update your equipment!

2. PreRace festivities -We don't need to see a driver, military, fan, flag or singer for more than 5 seconds. Try taking 2 or 3 different camera men and go down pit road from the 1st car/driver to the 43rd car/driver. Trust me, all the fans & sponsers will appreciate it!!

3. On Air Talent - Get rid of Muskburer & Kolber. There are a few others but don't know their names. The best man for the job is Allen Bestwick!! He's been covering Nascar for years. Those female pit reporters do not have a clue what they are doing, except for Krista Voda. She's awesome!

4. Chase Tracker - TAKE IT AWAY!! It's totally useless and we don't care until Homestead!!!

5. Technical cutaway crap. You do not need to break away from green flag racing to show us these explanations. Who is that guy anyway? I have no idea. The nascar fan can get that info from Chad, Booty & Larry on Nascar Performance.

6. 'Photojosh' said it perfect! When the NFL or college football game runs over its alotted time, they cover it til the very end. Nascar should have the same courtesy and then some. We want to hear more than just the winning driver. And if you have to switch over to ESPN2 you need to do it immediatly after the race, not 1 or 2 hours afterwards and not everyone gets ESPN Classic.

7. When you are covering a nascar race, you do NOT need to break away from green flag racing to show us the scores from another sport. We can always turn the channel (during commercial) to find the scores. Nascar has some very hardcore fans and we want to watch some racing!!!

8. Let the fans know who stayed out, who pitted (all cars), who led a lap or more, and most importantly who is making unscheduled pit stops and why? There are more cars on the track than the 12 chasers. Who went down a lap and why? I'm always curious why someone started at the front of the field and went to the back of the pack right away.

9. Cautions vs Commercials - When your on a commercial and a caution comes out (unless a debris) you need to come back to the race ASAP, not 3 or 4 commercials later!!!!!!!!

10. VERY IMPORTANT!! FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP!!!
Last weekend there was a pit road incident with Elliott Sadler. I do not know who was all involved, but I only knew because I have Trackpass and heard Ray tell Elliott that he was sorry he didn't see the other car. ABC did NOT mention one word about it at all! Unexceptable!! We saw Harvick, Stewart & Kahne with their problems but not Sadlers. They should all get the same respect. Every time there is some sort of wreck, we usually get half a dozen views or takes of it, except last weekend when Sadler scraped the wall and what ever else happened with his car. I only got to 1 second of him scraping the wall and that was it. NO other mention of it. Each and every driver needs the same respect. I can not wait until ESPN's contract runs out. I hope that Nascar refuses to work with them again. They do not work well with SPEED.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just FYI folks, several thousand page views already by midnight Eastern Time. Yep, they are looking.

JD

Anonymous said...

1. Admit (in-house) that there are problems,

2. Realize that anything that promotes NASCAR - like cooperating with SPEED on practice and qualifying coverage - will ultimately result in more viewers for the races carried on ESPN, and

3. Treat NASCAR fans at least as well as MLB and NBA fans are treated. Many NASCAR fans are fans of many other sports too.

Anonymous said...

Something hit me like a ton of bricks in May 2006 and I felt a huge loss of interest in NASCAR after never missing a race live since 1993. I started thinking about it and for me personally a couple of things came to mind.

The pre race shows started to be included in the scheduled race time on tv and it got to the point where you would be forced to watch an hour or more in some cases before races even started. If memory serves me correct the listing would say racing and not pre-race show. I am pretty sure most are listed as pre race shows these days. I feel the average new fan does not want to watch an hour of pre-race and then a race that could last upwards of four hours. Five hours out a weekend day is a lot to invest 30+ times a year.

There was a series about the Roush “Gong Show” a couple of years ago called Driver X. I watched the entire series and this gave me a bad taste about certain things that go on behind the curtain. One example was them asking the drivers what their signature victory move was. This put me in the mind of the WWF with choreographed celebrations which in my mind was not a good thing.

I am upset with NASCAR seemingly changing numerous things to gain new fans at the cost of long time loyal fans. It is dangerous business strategy to alienate your long-time loyal fans to gain new fans who may turn out to be fair weather fans. I read something earlier this summer where a writer said something to the effect of the American Idolization of NASCAR. For people that attend races at local tracks or a national series like NASCAR I am guessing you don’t see a lot of people at these events that look like the American Idol type of crowd. It’s seems to be becoming more about the event and less about the racing.

I hate the chase because drivers seem to be racing less to avoid wrecks to protect their points position going into The Chase. Can anybody honestly say the fall races at Bristol or Richmond have had the hard exciting racing they had in the past? Think of the 1995 and 1999 night races at Bristol or the 2001 fall race at Richmond. And those are off the top of my head.

NASCAR keeps too tight a leash on drivers. Most drivers these days come off as neutered corporate drones that are scared to death to say anything on camera that is not to NASCARs liking.

I also hate the Micheal Waltripization of the sport. Waltrip is a career underachiever that has made untold millions by being an engaging on character on television. I have a problem when certain guys that seemingly are not among the top 43 best stock car racers in the world keep getting juicy corporate sponsorships because they are great corporate shills. I want to see the best 43 drivers each week and not the best 43 salesmen. I can wait for a cold caller if I want to hear from a salesman.

The tv coverage is sickening these days. It seems like the announcers will not say nothing bad about NASCAR. They seem to be more concerned with pleasing NASCAR with their words rather then being worried about calling an exciting race.

There are way to many cut away segments for cut away cars and announcers in the infield that add nothing to the telecast. I love college football and Brent Musberger is an excellent college football announcer but jamming Brent down our throats in NASCAR is a joke. He made a statement at Indy this year saying “not a seat to be had” after the camera had panned turn three showing literally thousands of empty seats in the lower rows. It’s like he does not care but it’s just another paycheck. Suzy Kolber is a joke, what is her racing experience? Brad Daugherty is a joke as well. And it hurts me to say that as a life long Cleveland Cavs fan. I have friends that know more about NASCAR then he does.

My suggestion is to scale back the coverage and concentrate on the race and not on seemingly everything but the race.

NASCAR should listen to the fans especially when they say it’s all about the fans. Not merely jam something down our throats that they think will maximize profits. NASCAR has used and abused the goodwill of so many fans like no organization I can think of in recent years and that is a dangerous game to play as evidenced by the steady decline in ratings.

Oh and the 75 million fans claim makes me want to laugh every time I hear it.

I again want to become the fan of NASCAR I was a few years ago but I am worried I will not be able to find that spark again. And that is sad for the loyalty I showed to NASCAR and their sponsors for many years. I feel they have shown no loyalty to fans like me.

NASCAR should take a close look at the problems at the California Speedway to see the bigger picture. LA has always been known for being a fair weather fan area and going for what is trendy. Fontana used to sell out and I know since I attended cup races there from 1997 through 2004. I think the fans got bored with the hot new thing and moved on to the next hot thing and that may be the main problem with the declining ratings since many older fans have jumped ship.

I have this fear next year of race coverage being all Hendrick all the time. Especially with Jr. coming to Hendrick.

Oh and show the whole field crossing the finish line and not just the winner.

I know I probably got a little off point on this posting but I think the problems go way beyond the actual television coverage and go to the core of the sport.

Tom B

slithybill said...

To: ESPN/ABC

FROM: An increasingly disgruntled NASCAR viewer

RE: NASCAR telecasts

It was the best of times: NASCAR on ESPN in the 20th Century. It was the worst of times: NASCAR on ESPN on ABC in the 21st Century. As recently as a month or so ago I watched all NASCAR Cup races from flag to flag. I was devoted to every broadcast. My Sundays revolved around the race. My total focus was on watching the race. Recently, however, I find myself putting the race on and then becoming distracted by other things. The race roars on in the background and I go about my other business, glancing up occasionally.

To get things back to the way they were and to hopefully improve your ratings, here's what I would do:

NASCAR Countdown: First, I would follow-up on any outstanding issues that were left hanging in the last race, such as on-track incidents between drivers, poor pit strategies, bad luck, etc. Show a few highlights from the previous race, but keep them to a minimum.

Next, I would focus on the action off the track. Give me a rundown of all the news that happened in the NASCAR world since last Sunday's checkered flag: penalties, injuries, team mergers, crew chief changes, sponsor changes, etc. Nothing too in depth. Just the news that helps keep this race in perspective. This lets me know that you know what's really important.

Finally, I would focus on the upcoming action on the track. Summarize qualifying. Interview the pole sitter. Set the field. Spend a few minutes on the points races, both for the Championship and for the top 35. Interview the top 3 drivers in the Chase, and the 35th and 36th place drivers. Tell me who else needs a good finish and why (contract up at the end of the year, looking for a new ride, new crew chief, new sponsor, etc.).

NASCAR Cup Race: First, middle, and last, I would focus on the action both on and off the track. If a driver was interviewed in Countdown, follow up on him throughout the race. Go through the field, the entire field, at least twice. Let me know how everyone is doing. You don't have to mention every sponsor, but every driver's name and car number should be mentioned at least twice a race. There are only 43 of them, after all. I'm tired of hearing "where did so-and-so come from? We haven't talked about him all day but now he's looking at a top 10 finish!"

Keep the coverage simple. I don't need fancy, computer-generated, graphically-enhanced images to spice up the action. I don't need to "see" the invisible air. The action on the track is enough for me.

Drop out of commercials for cautions. Let me know what's happening, even if it's for debris. You can re-run that commercial (and the rest of the inventory) during the yellow itself after the ensuing pit stops. That'll make everyone happy. There's a lot more drama watching pit stops live than there is seeing them after the fact. And even less drama merely being told what happened while you were in a commercial break. (There's even drama in anticipating who's going to stop and what they're going to do!) Let me know who gets the "lucky dog" for every caution, even if he is five laps down.

Tell me what's happening on pit road and in the garage area during the race. If a car makes an unscheduled pit stop, let me know before the end of that lap. If a car goes behind the wall, let me know. Please interview all drivers that are out of the race, no matter the reason. (Or let me know they declined an on-camera interview.) If you need more interns or PA's to keep track of all this, please hire them. You definitely don't need more on-air talent.

Post-race coverage: Please tape a live post-race show immediately following the race. This should include victory lane interviews with the winner, his crew chief, and his owner. Interview the top 10 finishers. Interview the top three Chasers that weren't in the top ten. Interview the 35th and 36th place drivers in the owners points, even if they didn't change from before the race. Make sure you interview everyone after the race that you interviewed before the race.

Tape this show live. Even if you don't air the whole show live on ABC you'll have it in the can and will be able to post it online. Or you could make it the first half-hour of Monday's NASCAR Now. This would give me a reason to start watching that show again. (The possibility of more Aerosmith on any given show, no matter how tantalizing that is, just isn't doing it for me.)

Qualifying and practice: Show it all. This will help ingratiate me and will also help me to better get to know your announcers (and it will let your announcers better get to know each other.) Are ESPN and ESPN2 already committed to other live sports? Use ESPN Classic or ESPN News. By the way, ESPN Classic showed Saturday's Grambling State - Jackson State football game, so it can be used to show live sports. (Call it ESPN3 and you might even get more cable systems to buy it!)

You have the resources to make ESPN and ESPN.com THE must-stop place to find out about NASCAR. I'm stunned that you have struggled this year with NASCAR. It's not like you never covered it before. You used to do it well. I remember being sad when I watched your last race before your last NASCAR contract expired and all your on-air talent said their goodbyes. Those guys seemed like they were having fun. They knew what they were talking about and they knew what I wanted to hear, what I cared about. I liked your coverage. I want to like it again. I really do. I'm tired of being disgruntled.

Thank you for your time. Now I've got to go figure out what I'll be doing while the Martinsville race is on. My lawn's getting pretty high...


P.S. As for Mr. Musberger, if you really insist on having a "host" for the races, then put him in Bristol (Conn.) on the NASCAR Now set. He really doesn't need to be stuck behind a podium, on the grass, in his tennis shoes.

Anonymous said...

Hello again JD:
Yes, the buffet is better than ever! After the first passthrough, I discovered the smoked aspargus which my wife tried and went back four times(I only went back three for the same). I commend it again for you. In as far as the broadcasting is concerned, ESPN is wonderful in their efforts coverning baseball and football events - I've watched today their coverage of the Ohio State and Michigan football games and ESPN was excellent. I want them to do the same with NASCAR because they proclaim themselves the leader.
Thanks, JD!
Tom in Dayton Ohio
PS: in the off-season I'd hope you'd give some of those older stories ! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

let's not forget that there is another player in this terrible television coverage--the other player is NASCAR---surely NASCAR didn't sign a contract that allows ESPN complete broadcast decision making?????

Anonymous said...

stricklin fan said -

Then to top it off, they spent 4 minutes in the middle of the practice showing us a taped feature of a "behind the scenes look" at ESPN's own Pit Studio!!!



This fits right in with their latest strategy! If you don't have substance, then dazzle them with style! ESPN - You are not fooling anyone! We can see right through you. Well, at least most of us can. Do they use that pit studio to land Space Shuttles too?


I think we need to be very careful if/when we decide that a lack of "diversity" is a problem with NASCAR. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, I don't really know for sure. One thing I do know is that any artificial attempt to create "diversity" is likely to fail miserably. I don't think Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters are popular just because they're black or female. They're popular because they're young and have both talent and the willingness to work hard (when they need/want to!) to win. These people weren't thrust into their respective sports to fill some quota, but because they were winners. It has to come naturally! I don't want to see NASCAR (or its broadcast partners) go down the Danica Patrick road. There's no gold at the end of that rainbow.

Oh yeah, if anyone is still reading this thread, I agree with most everything said here about ESPN's NASCAR coverage. My biggest suggestion - COVER WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE RACE. This can't be done just on an occasional basis in between all your other crap either. Resetting the field before a restart ONCE and/or mentioning something about the race to stay in the Top-35 ONCE during a four hour broadcast isn't what we're asking for. It has to be the very basis, purpose, and essence of your mission! Token attempts will not cut it!

There seems to be a pretty serious culture clash between the “Boys of Bristol, Connecticut” and the “Boys of Bristol, Tennessee”. I believe this clash is the root of most/all the problems. This is why I think ESPN is/will be unable to correct the situation. They may very well be incapable of connecting with the average NASCAR fan anymore. Maybe it’s a Blue State/Red State kind of thing? I do know one thing for sure- ESPN needs to make wholesale changes if they’re ever going to come close to succeeding at covering these races.

Note to ESPN’s executives – YOU HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM ON YOUR HANDS. You can’t solve this kind of problem by just filling in a pothole here and there, you need to dig up the whole road and start over from scratch!

Anonymous said...

I think ESPN gets the point. but here is my 2 cents. I get 90% of my info from my computer (various sites/feeds) which is sad. I miss the days when I could get all my info from knowledgable announcers, broadcasts that didn't add "unnecessary fluff", scrolls that provide valuable info on all 43 drivers, interviews that were interesting and informative, etc. Can we please go back to those days, if not in the next couple of weeks, next year, please?

Anonymous said...

1) Stop coming back from commercials after the green flag has already dropped. I am watching TV to see the race AS IT HAPPENS. Other networks come back from commercial 10-30 seconds beforehand so we can see the action. There's too much of "What happened moments ago...."

2) Use the HD widescreen view better and stop cropping everything to give us a 4:3 view. If I wanted to watch 4:3, I'd watch 4:3 but I have an HD TV so broadcast the race as if you understood what HD was all about. If you can't provide a 16:9 view, then get more HD cameras.

3) While I don't hate the people, I don't think Punch and Wallace are doing a very good job. You'd be better off with Alan Bestwick, and Dale Jarrett.

4) Get rid of the host desk unless you populate it with ONE host. Suzy is ok, but does not belong in NASCAR. Brad may want to do NASCAR but he's out of his element. They add nothing to the overall broadcast, appear to be ignorant many times, and are wasted. I constantly mute the volume when they are on.

5) You are missing so much extra information in your broadcast such as who got pit penalties, why a driver is 43 laps down, who moved to the back and why, what's the reason a driver is bumping another one, etc. This is pretty much a complaint about focusing on the most popular drivers too much and not reporting on the other 30 drivers (there are 43 out there you may be aware...) but you have to let us know what's going on EVERYWHERE, not just at the hot spots. I can't tell you the number of times I see a driver way in back 60 laps down and I wonder why no one has said anything about him at all!

6) Show the debris when there is a debris caution! You know where it is because that's where the facility crew drives to and picks up the debris! There's a fan assumption of NASCAR conspiracy insofar as debris cautions are concerned so you need to help out NASCAR and the fans by paying attention to it and showing the debris when a caution comes out for it.

7) Stop wasting time in the Tech Center. You have a smart guy there who has a lot to tell about the cars and you don't seem to USE him to explain things we don't already know. Get technical! We are not dumb. And stop showing that ridiculous piston breaking animation for the umpteenth time!

8) Reduce the pre-race show (if you got rid of the host desk and their useless addition, you could easily cut half an hour of broadcast.) But then you need to get money from ads... I guess you won't be cutting the show down. For the record, I don't watch your pre-race show and instead watch Speed Channel's Raceday. Much much better than what you put on. To be fair, I also watch that over FOX's pre-race most of the time.

9) Educate your directors to know what to show and when. I have seen several crashes happening in the distance yet your director keeps the camera focused on what it's already on far too long before switching. No! Immediately cut to the camera covering the real action. Even your on-air talent seems to be slow to react. How many times have we heard Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds scream that something is happening in turn 2!?

10) I switch to the DirecTV coverage as soon as you go to commercial because more often than not, something happens on track which you do not come back from immediately like other networks. Once there, I tend to stay there for a while, not paying attention to the ESPN/ABC broadcast unless I want to go back to an HD view. So, you are competing with an even weaker broadcast and losing.

I want to like your broadcasts but, right now, I can't wait for FOX to return.

Get rid of Wallace and Punch (he's better on the ground anyway), get rid of the extra hosts, put Bestwick in the booth, cover the whole race and all drivers, and let us know what's going on!

Rodd said...

If the Chase is a playoff, then the season should be over for cars
13-43. The Chase cars should start at 0 and see who finishes the strongest.
It's a playoff, right. Da Bears were 0-0 with the 'Hawks

Besides, I think with only 12 cars on the track, the races would be
much more interesting.