Saturday, October 13, 2007

Special Sunday Edition: Ask Your NASCAR TV Question And Get An Answer


Since there is no race on Sunday for the NASCAR Series, The Daly Planet will use this page to host a one day "question and answer" forum.

Over the last two weeks, as the season winds-down, we have been letting you ask the TV-related questions that have been on your mind about this season's NASCAR TV coverage. They can be about any topic, or any TV network or industry issue.

Sunday from 7AM through 7PM Eastern Time we will be answering your questions right here to the best of our ability. Sometimes, we ask our TV friends, and they have been very helpful. Since the race is right in Concord, we know all the ESPN and SPEED folks will be home and reading this blog on Sunday.

Hopefully, they can pitch-in and help with some issues. You can add your questions now, but we will start to answer them on Sunday, so check back to this page.

To add your question, simply click on the COMMENTS button below, and follow the instructions. There is nothing to join, and you do not have to leave your email address. You can ask anything anonymously, and actually get an answer.

Before you post, please read the rules on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping-by, and after a good Charlotte race weekend it will be fun to cap it off with some questions and some answers.

92 comments:

Alex said...

JD, a few questions about your background...

I know on you've mentioned on the blog your career in television, but I was wondering you're actively involved right now? It seems like you would be quite busy to have a 9-5 job and still do all of this work on the side. I know I wouldn't have the energy to watch all of the Nascar programs during the week if I had a full time job.

Also, are you a fan of any other major sports? During football season I have to decide whether to watch a saturday afternoon Busch race, or my favorite college team play. (Same with NFL on sundays) Are there any times when you'd rather be watching other sports than a race? Or do you sacrifice watching other sports because of your racing obligations?

Thanks for all you do on the site, it's definately one I read every day!

Anonymous said...

Do local affiliates have a problem with NASCAR? I am hearing more horrible stories of local affiliates cutting off coverage for news or infomercials. Also, could they be responsible for ESPN rushing to end coverage? Could we do anything to address this?
Thank you for the special edition.

Anonymous said...

how does one work in the FOX/TNT/ESPN production truck? Do they have a background in local news, local sports, or something else?

Alex said...

Another 2 questions I thought of:

Since ESPN/ABC started showing the Nextel Cup races, SPEED's Raceday program has overlapped by an hour with ESPN's Countdown show. Do you have any idea if SPEED will do that again next season? I haven't seen the head-to-head ratings, but has it been a successful experiment for SPEED?

Also I've noticed that SPEED has devoted more time to the truck series than in years past, showing more practices and qualifying sessions than they used to. If they continue to do this the series will probably grow in popularity, even if it is "#3" series. Do you think that this may lead to having more truck races on broadcast TV in the future (FOX?) On a related note, have they announced the broadcast tv schedule for next year's trucks, and if so, do they have the same two races on FOX? Thanks again-

Matt said...

Does ESPN/ABC have spotters around the track to radio to the truck if they see an accident happen or do they just rely on the camera shots they see in the truck?

Anonymous said...

I know it is very hard to edit HD video fast and in real-time. The files can be so large that it slows computers down. How do the networks edit so quickly and what do they use to edit and handle the large HD video files? Also, do you know if COX has signed on to carry SPEED in HD?

Anonymous said...

I believe FOX had a pit road producer. Does ESPN have a pit road and/or garage producer that could follow up on all the important stories? If so, do they have more than one?

Anonymous said...

Does NASCAR have anyone that views and critiques the race broadcasts?

SophiaZ123 said...

John

WHY does ESPN do a better job covering the Busch races than the "BIG" CUP race series?

I am sick of reading articles bragging that ESPN has enough equipment to land the space shuttle but does so much worse than OTHER STATIONS.

This is NOT about re-inventing the wheel. It's about moving the wheel along on a different station.

Thanks for your devotion to this site.

Soph

Anonymous said...

I just watched the post race special aired on the ABC Charlotte affiliate. One of the sports reporters interviewed John Darby earlier today. I don't remember the exact wording, but he said the top 10, not the top 12, will be on stage at the banquet in New York City and that was one of the incentives to be in the top 10. So my questions is do #11 and #12 have to attend the Champions Week? Can you find out if they are or are not included in all of the media events that occur that week?

Just an aside, when the reporter asked about the COT, he said they are no longer referring to it as the COT, it is the "New NASCAR racecar".

Tabula Rasa said...

>Does ESPN/ABC have spotters around the track to >radio to the truck if they see an accident happen or >do they just rely on the camera shots they see in the >truck?

Yes, they have several spotters, typically on the main grandstand, that are in communication with the truck.

>I know it is very hard to edit HD video fast and in >real-time. The files can be so large that it slows >computers down. How do the networks edit so >quickly and what do they use to edit and handle >the large HD video files? Also, do you know if COX >has signed on to carry SPEED in HD?

Typical computers aren't used. EVS machines, which are special non-linear editing devices (which are of course computers in their own right). They can edit, process, transfer, and move around HD video in real-time. You can read more about them at http://evs.tv. Additionally there is a full final cut pro editing suite on-site to produce in-race packages.

>I believe FOX had a pit road producer. Does ESPN >have a pit road and/or garage producer that >could follow up on all the important stories? If so, >do they have more than one?

Yes, they have a pit road producer. All the networks do. There is a pit road producer who is in touch with the various pit road talent. Each pit reporter also has a pit spotter who talks to the teams and follows up on stories throughout the race. Each pit reporter is assigned a certain part of pit road and the teams that are in those stalls.

Anonymous said...

Re: Chasers

I'd like the answer to this, too, if possible. First I've heard of it. That would be insulting if you made the Chase and then get left home for all the TV and personal appearances for the Chase contenders.

stricklinfan82 said...

What is the legendary former NASCAR Now host Doug Banks up to these days? Does he still work on ESPN doing some other sport or did he just vanish from TV and radio altogether after being replaced on NASCAR Now by Ryan Burr?

I had never heard of him before NASCAR Now and haven't heard a thing about him since he suddenly vanished from the airwaves.

stricklinfan82 said...

Obviously ESPN pays NASCAR X number of dollars for the exclusive rights to broadcast the Nextel Cup and Busch Series races live. I was wondering how the rights to re-airs of these races are determined.

Does ESPN have to pay NASCAR seperately to re-air their own races on ESPN2 or ESPN Classic later in the week or can they just re-air them all they want as part of the TV deal?

Also, how are Speed Channel and HDNet able to replay ESPN's races later in the week? Do they pay ESPN to use their footage or do they pay NASCAR?

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Do race sponsors pay ESPN x number of dollars to display or say aloud the actual name of the race? Last night I noticed going to commercial, the graphic would say "BANK OF AMERICA 500". Last week, I swore the same graphic said "NNC Racing from Talladega", or something to that effect. I seem to remember the other networks always showed the race name going to commercial, but ESPN only does some of the time.

Bill H said...

On the WABC broadcast of the Cup race last night through Directv, there were a 1/2 dozen or more times where the screen went black but sound continued (not satelitte dish problems) for about 10 seconds. Is this an issue with DirecTV or is it WABC's feed to them?

BillWebz

Bill H said...

JD

Since more and more broadcasts are going out over the internet, have you thought of "critiqing" these, for example the Nascar 24/7, or the live feeds of the Busch race on nascar.com?

BillWebz

Jo said...

John, which driver audio feeds do the ESPN production team listen to? Last night Jeff Gordon sent apologies to Dale Jr for the bump, but it seemed that the message never got on ESPN--at least the way Rusty continued to rant about Junior needing to wreck Gordon for the rest of the race! It seems that Inside Nextel Cup and NASCAR Victory Lane always have more in-car audio than ESPN does.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Hey Everybody,

Sorry I am late, had some Internet access issues. My town is so small, I am not sure if the gerbil died at the power plant or a car hit the traffic light pole and knocked down the Comcast cable.

Here we go.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Alex,

My last consulting was done in 2006. This is my media project for 2007, and I am not involved in anything else. I used DVR's to record all the NASCAR content, so I am not slaved to the recliner.

I like NHRA, ARCA, and record all episodes of The First 48 from A&E, one of the finest programs on TV.

I am also a Washington Redskins fan, and get Internet updates and ESPN News highglights when they are not on in South Florida.

Thanks for your kind words about the site, we will be expanding for next season and announcing changes shortly.

Ritchie said...

John, my question involves the non-"NASCAR" personalities on ESPN who are hosts of general sports shows like "Pardon the Interruption". An example would be Tony Kornheiser. What authority does ESPN have over these announcers and how they cover a sport such as NASCAR? It seems that if you host such programs you would be required to have knowledge of sports other than football, baseball, and basketball. However, such announcers not only have no knowledge, they seem to take pride in the fact they have resisted learning the sport (and sometimes even mock the sport). My primary question is this, do the top officials at ESPN have any control of this, or do they even care about the way their personalities are treating a sport?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:35AM - You may want to take a minute and go to Rowdy.com and click on the podcast from Friday. Just use the "listen now" link on the right side under the pictures. I discussed the Talladega problems with ABC and explained the local affiliate issues.

Each local station is a little business. While some are owned by the big corporation (ABC) most are not. The problem with a sports event on broadcast TV is that it covers four time zones where each local station already has its own commitments.

That is why we saw the LA market cut-out the pre-race show for Charlotte for local news. What a big chunk of the country to lose for the entire pre-race show.

ESPN has a format that provides a transition to local ads that should be smooth. In some markets, the Sunday operator of the Master Control at the station may not be the best. Its the weekend crew. Their attempt at inserting commercial time may appear to be sloppy at best.

There is no time where local TV station commercials should be inserted over program content, and anyone who sees that should use the ABC.com website to let them know.

Good questions!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:45AM - Most folks start out working for the local Regional Sports Network or TV crewing service doing regional or local games.

That really lets them decide if they can hang-in there when it gets tough and things are not going well. That's the hard part.

When you have a skill, the other tough part is travel. Fly to a town, check-into a hotel full of fans partying, work a couple of twelve hour days with the only break for food, and then fly out Sunday night still in your work clothes. We have all changed at the airport many times.

If you have a skill, and want to work on regional or national sports, just drop me an email and I will point you in the right directions. Most freelancers start their own small business and use that kind of system to manage their money.

Its fun, but the national level is a big time away from home and family. There are local hires at every track, and if you can carry a FR radio pole or drive a golf cart, you could be in.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Alex,

SPEED is very happy with RaceDay and if you have watched both programs, you certainly know why. This last ABC pre-race show did not cover one news item from this huge week of news...ridiculous.

I would anticipate we will see RaceDay remain scheduled to overlap, but not with the Fox Sports portion of the schedule. This only started when Fox was done and TNT started.

As you may know, Fox Cable Networks owns 100% of SPEED.

The Truck Series is negotiated with NASCAR, and all of the practice and qualifying coverage is exclusive to SPEED. This package will continue for a long time, as NASCAR wants this series on only one TV network.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:58AM - Normally the cameras are assigned to a certain portion of the track and actually act as the spotters for that area. If they are not "on-line" they will often focus on a piece of debris or any incident happening.

TV usually uses additional spotters in the TV booth in the tower, which has a clear view of the track. TV also monitors the NASCAR radio channel that has the spotters on it.

This is why we have been confused when networks are late going to something on the track. I guess its all a matter of focus.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:00AM - The gear provided by the facilities vendors is all first rate. NEP provides a lot of these trucks, and you can see them at gaurdian.nepinc.com for yourself.

The PR folks at SPEED told me they would keep me informed as the HD roll-out got going in 2008. I think there will be a quicker transition with the cable systems than SPEED itself.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:03AM - The Fox pit road producer is the best in the business. All the networks have one because it is the person who talks to, and organizes the pit reporters. Then, the pit producer syncs up with the producer and lets him know what is going on and if everything is ready.

It is one of the toughest jobs in the truck, and you can see on the coverage that sometimes it takes a long time to get a field recap or a breaking news story covered. The RCR engine failures at Talladega was a good one...where was RC?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:04AM - NASCAR provides input to the networks and also voices concern over the issues that they feel are not being covered or are being covered poorly.

ESPN bought these rights, and a certain bit of autonomy comes with that. I don't believe that the NFL would permit someone like Erik Kuselias or Suzy Kolber to be placed in a national position of representing their sport on TV without a big conversation.

NASCAR has classicly been hands-off on the TV coverage while they pursued their own agenda of growth and additional forms of media.

As I have said many times, the only thing NASCAR needs is its own cable network with an Internet TV site attached. It would change the sport forever, even it if never carried a race live.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Sophia,

Yep, poor old David Poole got snookered on that one. There is less pressure on the Busch Series, and ESPN has dropped many of the in-program features they still use on the Cup side.

After the ESPN Busch mess at Bristol, they did a good job of relaxing and just letting the guys race.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:38AM - This has been raging, but I last heard its only the top ten. I will ask the NASCAR.com guys because they know and will respond.

The COT terms is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the sport. It was a big mistake, and showed the power of branding things in the media.

Daly Planet Editor said...

tabula rasa...too funny.

Thanks for the info, I am going to let that stand. If you get a chance, email me. Thanks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

stricklinfan,

He never left his thriving radio career. His website is dougbanksshow.com and he is still doing the morning thing.

I sure wish he would comment to us one time about his ESPN experience. I have the feeling he was just left out there to read a script with little help. From the info on his site, he is one hell of a guy in real life.

Daly Planet Editor said...

stricklinfan,

Just like the other professional sports, after a certain time period, all rights revert back to the organization. NASCAR has NASCAR Images, Golf has PGA Tour Productions, Hoop has NBA Entertainment.

Footage use and program re-airs are negotiated in the original TV contract. This avoids any fees for occassional use that you and I would incurr if we wanted to produce a NASCAR program for TV.

There is no such thing as an ESPN race or a TNT race. Those are just the networks that paid to show the race live, everything belongs to NASCAR Images after that. HDNET has a deal to do the replays in HD in full length.

The HDNet guys are on here all the time, but neither me or any of my friends can see HDNet. They tell me they are getting great response to their re-airs. That Mark Cuban is everywhere.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:13AM - It is the decision of the sponsor to buy the TV exposure or not. This means they buy the ad time for their product or company in the TV broadcast.

This has been a bone of contention for years, but basically boils down to money. On TV, you pay to play and nothing comes for free.

Daly Planet Editor said...

bill h,

Since there were no other problems, it could be almost anything locally. If the sound continued, it certainly does appear that it would be a video freeze issue where the video fails and the audio continues.

Right now, I have chosen to limit things to NASCAR's TV partners. The NASCAR.com guys are on me to expose their hard work, as are the HDNet guys who say their edited version of the race is great in HD.

One big issue is the NHRA, which is in a state of TV flux, and the dying IndyCar and Champ Car world. I had the pleasure of working on Formula-1 for several years, and the SPEED broadcasts from a "booth" in Charlotte certainly can stir-up some issues.

We will decide in the off-season where to go, and how much of a chunk to bite off. Thanks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

jo,

All the networks monitor them all, and the NASCAR channels. What makes it on the air is strictly the decision of the producer.

Sometimes, stories are left untold if it will solve a problem that the TV network is still talking about...ya know?

Daly Planet Editor said...

ritchie,

In the years since NASCAR split with ESPN, the ESPN network(s) have prospered. This was while they avoided NASCAR like the plague.

Now, all of a sudden, hundreds of hours of NASCAR is in their laps. Most of the ESPN general talk shows have followed the path that most New Englanders would follow...just avoid it.

The lack of NASCAR on everything from First Take to Mike and Mike and PTI and Around the Horn is for that reason. They don't need it.

This is the sole reason that many of us (especially me) were upset when ESPN assigned two men to host NASCAR Now who had never been to a race or liked the sport. One of them had never even done TV!

I felt if ESPN was going to ignore this sport again in 2007, the least they could do was give us a Jerry Punch, Mike Massaro, or Allen Bestwick on the one daily show that actually talked NASCAR.

As you may have seen from my archives, NASCAR Now has been an unmitigated disaster this season, and ESPN's response has been to try and silence TV critics like myself. When was the last time you saw an article critical of ESPN or another network other than mine on Jayski?

My feeling is that when you pay hundreds of millions for a sport and then let the Around the Horn gang chant "No NASCAR or Hockey" you are making a statement about where your true priorities lie.

Anonymous said...

Do the guys in the booth for ESPN/ABC have the ability to see the whole track from a big window?

I ask because, even if they do, it is very apparent that they keep their focus on TV monitors--they never say anything about what's happening unless it shows up on TV fisrt, whereas the Fox crew frequently "helps" the director by pointing out developments that aren't on the monitor at the time.

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

Anon 10:45AM - This is one of issues most discussed here. The announcers have multiple spotters, several TV monitors, and a clear view of the track.

The one thing they do not have is the ability to do two things at once. If they are told to watch the monitor for a "Draft Track" insert, they cannot watch the track. Anything that requires them to watch TV makes them as helpless to know what is going-on in the race as you and me.

Some of the other networks always have one member of the announce team watching the track, regardless of what is going on. McReynolds and Waltrip have this down pat.

As you know from the coverage, ESPN on ABC has lots of bells and whistles that require Jerry Punch to divert his attention away from the racing. Sometimes, it makes him sound very foolish and that is a shame.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Taking a little break, I will be back around noon Eastern. Great questions folks!

And thanks to our TV friends for helping out today!!

Justin said...

2 questions:

Why does it seem like Allen Bestwick is always treated like crap and isn't put in a big role bu putting him as play-by-play man?

Why is there SO much pre-race for all the Cup races (from all of the networks), but generally very little post-race coverage.

Anonymous said...

Any ideas or suggestions about DJ's role next year, which seems inevitable given his retirement after the All-Star race at Lowe's?

I'd probably like to see DJ and AB rotate into the booth with Jerry leading pit road and Rusty on the pre-race.

Oh, and I know its cross-casting and might have bumps (though no worse than with Brent), but since Brad seems to have a natural curiosity and wants to ask questions, why couldn't he host NASCAR Countdown?

ESPN/ABC has set the precedent to some extent - Dan Fouts is doing play-by-play for PAC-10 football after years as an expert analyst.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for FOX/NBC to share some of their proven reporting techniques with ESPN so that the general coverage of the race and the detailed information so many fans are craving from pitting, strategies, car setups, etc. can be elevated on ESPN?

You stated that the FOX pit producer is the best of the best. Well, what's he doing until Daytona? Is there any way he can show the ropes to ESPN so avid fans can enjoy the rest of the races this year?

Simple things (I say simple, but I really don't know the logistics of it all) like assigning pit reporters to particular stalls. When pit stops occur under caution, all the reporters know when their cars are coming in - they are lined up on the track, so this should (I assume) give the pit producer some sort of line up for aligning the pit reporters. Other networks give one or two tidbits about a pit stop and then throw it to the next pit reporter, again I assume, so the techies can switch out the picture to the next car. This seems like such a small detail, but it really gives the viewer information about many more participants in the race and the coverage doesn't seem so "Chase Contender" centric. Speaking of the Chase, NASCAR's response to drivers not receiving TV coverage if they didn't make it into the Chase was to run up front. Perhaps NASCAR could remind ESPN of that. Many of the non Chaser's were in the top 10 at one point or another but never mentioned by the reporters.

Another area for improvement would be setting the field after pit stops. Last night I noticed that they didn't run the ticker at the top of the screen when they came back from commercials they waited for the green flag to drop and the cars to cross the start/finish line. The ticker provides much information to me like did a driver have a good stop, take two tires, etc. It would be extremely helpful if the ticker was shown all the time. On a positive note, I noticed the ticker was giving the time behind the the leader much more often. I found this very helpful as the reporters focused on a select few teams, at least I could figure out where other participants were on the track.

Finally, is ESPN gathering on-air information from your blog? Sophia123 posted that Jr's engine sounded like Morse Code and after that I heard one of the reporters say that line - verbatim. Is this the coverage we can expect from ESPN? Gathering information from fans watching the race in Ohio and listening to PRN?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Justin,

TV networks walk a fine line between the people who know the sport and the people who are identified with the network.

Jerry Punch has been working hard for ESPN for many years, and Suzy Kolber has been placed in many roles for that company since she was originally hired.

Bestwick just finished up a TV contract that put him on NBC, TNT, and SPEED. Those letters do not compute well in the ESPN and ABC environment.

What Allen has done to deal with that problem is simple. He has kept quiet and done everything and anything ESPN has asked him to do this season. And, he has done it all with flying colors.

Remember, this is the guy who did the Countdown show and then the Busch race several times this season without an Infield Studio or a Tech Center. This is the guy who filled in on NASCAR Now and left the ESPN guys wandering the hall saying "wow..who was that guy?

This is the guy that helped Brad Daugherty back to credibility by treating him nicely when he hosted NASCAR Countdown from the Infield. This is the guy who has chased down every pit road story, no matter how ridiculous, and several times gotten looks from drivers like "are you really asking me that?"

In short, Bestwick has been ESPN's designated hitter this season, and hopefully his hard work will be rewarded as the network makes its moves for another year of this huge NASCAR commitment.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:40AM - DJ is a smart man, and his plans to continue to show his face as a viable driver while making the transition to the broadcast booth make sense.

There is no role for him on Fox, and the TNT package is only six races. This leaves the ESPN Busch package and the ESPN on ABC Cup package on the table.

If Rusty comes back and does the Cup segment, DJ could still log a full year of Busch coverage and the other programs that go with it. At the same time, he could continue to do his Cup driving thing and then pass it off to David R.

If Rusty does not comeback, DJ could still race according to his plans and take-over the entire ESPN Busch and ABC Cup package. Either way, he is covered.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for this forum.

I would like to know if the NASCAR Countdown and the race are produced by the same team, or if the preshow has its own producers? Are they experimenting to see what works? No week is the same. From prerecorded features one week to having Marty Smith deliver the week's news another week to last night, where there was nothing but a bit of studio discussion and live interviews from the track.

Finally, you may not be able to answer this now, but I hope your website also has the format where you can be anonymous and/or do not have to register for a user name to post comments. I think that is why you get such candid feedback in many cases. I don't see too many people taking advangtage of the anonymous label to cause trouble here.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:41AM - The Fox Pit Producer is a she, and a former ESPN employee. Lots of Emmy Awards in her house.

Its not a matter of sharing, it is a matter of priorities. The current ESPN philosophy is to produce these races like a big feature event.

Even this late in the season, the network still repeats the same fundamental points over-and-over again. Fox skips that, and just goes deep into the sport and lets the new fans catch-up. Its a culture clash.

In terms of going from reporter to reporter during pit stops, its just a matter of making that commitment and sticking to it. As I mentioned in that previous post, which was then added on by a TV person, this job is one of the hardest to do on the crew.

ESPN is all over the Internet with information about what "they" are doing and what "they" are saying during the races. What I am doing is talking about what they are missing, and how they continue to not see the forest for the trees. This has upset them, and there has been a big push to keep me quiet.

This mentality happens when a big company feels helpless to change its real-life problems and decides to attack the messenger.

This little blog is read every day by some of the top ESPN people and the steam comes out of their ears. The problem is, when they change and fix things, we are the first to say thanks.

Hopefully, most of these problems will be solved during the two months of the off-season and things will be put in order for next year. As I have said to ESPN many times, both Fox and TNT also had issues this season that we reported extensively.

As I have also said, in the ESPN world, NASCAR is just another content commitment to fit into a network line-up. The sport went from being a featured and beloved niche to being just another slice of the big ESPN pie.

It certainly has been an interesting year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:48 PM - It is a different set of people, but from the same big group of ESPN folks. They have been tinkering with this show all season long, and it is making most of us nuts. This past Saturday, they skipped every single news story and just talked about "junk."

If there was ever a week to have Marty Smith and get his news update, that was it. The lack of consistency is startling.

This week I will be doing a column comparing the Countdown shows this weekend hosted by Allen Bestwick on the Busch side and Suzy Kolber on the Cup side.

On the website front, we will keep the Anon posting for reaction to columns, but give the forum users an identity and free sign-up. Thanks for asking.

Alex said...

That's sad there's such a big push to keep you quiet, when they should be taking the constructive criticism and trying to improve themselves.

Or not improving themselves, and being stubborn, still makes them the $$$, so we see where the priorities are.

Bill H said...

I hope that, behind the scenes, Nascar is telling ESPN (and TNT) that they are not happy about the commercials and low production values, otherwise the "money men" at FOX may think they could get awaye with the same come February.

BillWebz

Anonymous said...

In regards to shows like PTI, Around the Horn, etc. that generally ignore or disparage NASCAR, my suggestion to NASCAR execs is to keep working on Michael Wilbon. He is the only ESPN "star" I've seen (other than Cowlishaw, who has a vested interest and also isn't nearly as influential as Wilbon) who shows a glimmer of interest in NASCAR- though he freely admits he doesn't understand the sport.

The problem is that when a NASCAR topic is on PTI (rare) and Wilbon tries to discuss it, Kornheiser basically refuses to comment because he's not interested. Maybe NASCAR on ESPN producers should invite Wilbon to a race or to the booth (as an unseen guest) one day so he will have some knowledge to counter Kornheiser.

Question: The quote from the David Poole story (posted in the live race column this morning) basically confirms ABC/ESPN has no interest in interviewing multiple drivers after the checkered flag for fear of a ratings drop. Is that a new TV philosophy and do Fox and TNT follow that philosophy?

Daly Planet Editor said...

I was hoping ESPN would take Kornheiser and Wilbon and put them in a Petty Driving Experience car for a couple of laps at Charlotte.

Wilbon is great, and some of the ESPN News anchors have also expressed to me the lack of NASCAR coverage on that network.

I would just like to float once again the suggestion that ESPN use the ESPN Classic network as a NASCAR source for news, information, and post-game live interviews. There should be lots and lots more NASCAR content on the ESPN family of networks.

Why not use Jayski for some additional InternetTV now that ESPN owns that site?

Bobb from L:ong Island said...

ref WABC NYC situation.

Must have been a satelite problem as WABC is a local station and I had no problems last night

Anonymous said...

I want to ask you if you have a sense of how much influence sponsors might have if they are unhappy with the coverage. There are companies where certain employees are assigned to track every mention of their company on air (such as during interviews on qualifying day, shots of the car during the race, and post race.) There is a consulting company (name escapes me) that also tracks these mentions and publishes reports translating them into sponsor advertising value.

I can't believe those companies can be happy when their drivers are completely ignored - even after they do well - with the lack of post race interviews and the lack of air time for the cars while they are running in the top 10 or 20.

After last night, I do believe I can recite every sponsor Jeff Gordon has off the top of my head, simply because he's won so much this year and he names them every time he wins -they're kind of stuck in my head now. Isn't that what the companies are paying millions for? Or even just to see their driver in uniform being interviewed for a good finish?

Tabula Rasa said...

Jo said...

John, which driver audio feeds do the ESPN production team listen to? Last night Jeff Gordon sent apologies to Dale Jr for the bump, but it seemed ?that the message never got on ESPN--at least the way Rusty continued to rant about Junior needing to wreck Gordon for the rest of the race! It seems that Inside Nextel Cup and NASCAR Victory Lane always have more in-car audio than ESPN does.


The production truck records all the audio feeds for all the teams, though with the sheer number of feeds and ongoing communication, they sometimes miss key transmissions. Additionally, the audio often has to be scrubbed for profanity. Sometimes that makes a clip unairable.

Justin said...

Why is there SO much pre-race for all the Cup races (from all of the networks), but generally very little post-race coverage.


The race has a window of time to air on the network. Green flag time is established and set in stone unless weather or something else changes that, however it's difficult to predict checkered flag time. Things like 3-year average race length is used to make a best guess, but if the broadcast window is closing then there isn't much time for post-race coverage. If the race ends quicker than expected, then you'll see the network "fill" time, leading to a longer post-race show.

Is it possible for FOX/NBC to share some of their proven reporting techniques with ESPN so that the general coverage of the race and the detailed information so many fans are craving from pitting, strategies, car setups, etc. can be elevated on ESPN?

Actually the primary producer for ESPN was the producer for FOX for the past six years. The primary Busch series producer was the NBC/TNT pit producer, and slides back into the pit producer role when the FOX producer is in the producer seat. In general I think you have to remember that this is ESPN's first year of a multiyear contract. NASCAR is a HUGE production involving several hundred people. While many of the crew are veterans, there's always going to be some growing pains. Let's not forget that the FOX/NBC coverage wasn't particularly smooth the first year. I'd expect to see improvement in the ESPN coverage next year. The off-season should provide a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and then make the necessary changes.


You stated that the FOX pit producer is the best of the best. Well, what's he doing until Daytona? Is there any way he can show the ropes to ESPN so avid fans can enjoy the rest of the races this year?


It's actually a "she," and she's producing FOX football when NASCAR isn't on the air.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:03PM - JoyceJulius.com is the site of the company that tracks media exposure for clients.

The sponsors are the last to get involved in TV unless their own brand or product is being ignored.

TV sports coverage of NASCAR is subjective, unlike stick-and-ball sports. If TV chose to show only the quarterback as he threw a potential winning touchdown pass and simply follow him, the fans would go nuts. Where did the ball go, did he catch it? What is going on they would say.

For those of us in the know, the NASCAR TV networks often choose to do just that. While the radio coverage is screaming about the big pack of cars beating and banging for fifth place, TV viewers may be watching the top three cars run nose-to-tail or even be watching a feature like Draft Track or an Infield Report.

Unless you are at the track, or listening to the radio, you never know if what you are seeing is exactly what is really going on.

This came to a head earlier this year, when the Fox Producers decided to show only the winning car finishing the race. Veteran fans went nuts, but there was not one word about this issue in the NASCAR Media or from the sponsors.

Once things calm down after this season, it will be interesting if the reality of failing attendance and forced team mergers really hits NASCAR hard in the wallet.

Tabula Rasa said...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Why not use Jayski for some additional InternetTV now that ESPN owns that site?


If ESPN streams a race on espn.com or one of it's associated sites, NASCAR.com is then allowed to do the same, but I agree Jayski should be integrated more heavily for ESPN produced content.

Anonymous said...

I recorded last night's NASCAR Now by setting the VCR for a two hour time span. They interviewed Greg Zippadelli about Tony Stewart's evening(who was upset with Paul Menard) but did not talk to Tony Stewart.

Is there really a problem between ESPN and Tony or is he just ignoring the media after the race in general, not just ESPN? It's like he is using his radio show as his post race media conference instead.

Dale Jr. also used his radio show this week to claim that NASCAR is allowing Toyota to have a competitive advantage and use 30 more horsepower than the other teams. (he wasn't joking.)

So using the radio shows as their own weekly post race show rather than use the traditional media to make their comments: Is that the beginning of a trend, and will the media accept being "snubbed"? Jimmie Johnson has his own show, but he keeps it pretty low key (and usually so does Jr. It's rare for Jr to come out and make a statement like that).

Daly Planet Editor said...

tabula rasa,

Fans want the Media Center interviews to return to ESPN News like the network did when it was courting NASCAR for the contract.

Since they got it, fans get whatever time allows for post-race, but none of the Media Center interviews until the Monday hour of NASCAR Now. We have also spoken to NASCAR.com about providing this service for free after the paid portion of the race telecast is over.

The lack of post-race coverage was raised to a new level after the ESPN on ABC gang left Talladega with only a winner interview, and told viewers to turn to ESPN for more.

There was only one small highlight package on ESPN News or SportsCenter that focused on the fact Junior asked for the Redskins score. Everything else was ignored, including post-race sound.

This was a critical race in The Chase, and the fans got nothing. Everyone who watched this race wanted to hear from Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson before the telecast left the air. Big mistake that still has email and forum posts flying.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3PM - ESPN got off on the wrong foot with Tony. They had assigned some "pool" reporters to cover the race for NASCAR Now and it was those non-NASCAR reporters that upset Tony.

Recently, they stopped this and you can now see David Amber, Wendy Nix, and other General Assignment Reporters busy on the stick-and-ball sports, where they belong.

Approaching any athlete when they are upset of angry is a skill that has to be learned with experience. Building that trust between driver and reporter is a key element.

This season, ESPN has put its pit reporters in positions of asking one too many questions several times. This has strained the relationship between top drivers and folks like Mike Massaro even further.

I got a ton of email about Massaro and Dale Junior's exchange in the garage after Junior missed The Chase. You could tell Massaro was being made to stay and ask questions by the producers instead of stepping-back and letting the pictures and "natural sound" tell the story.

Now, drivers suddenly have other options to voice their views like Sirius and InternetTV and podcasts. It is going to be fascinating in 2008 to see how the media vs. driver thing shakes out.

Bill H said...

I am watching the replay of last nights race on ESPN Classic right now and it seems like a totally different race. The commercial breaks seem to be better, the scanner audio seems to fit the broadcast, etc.

JD, Do they "rework" the broadcast for the replays or is it just a "tape" of the original broadcast?

BillWebz

Tabula Rasa said...

Fans want the Media Center interviews to return to ESPN News like the network did when it was courting NASCAR for the contract.

Since they got it, fans get whatever time allows for post-race, but none of the Media Center interviews until the Monday hour of NASCAR Now. We have also spoken to NASCAR.com about providing this service for free after the paid portion of the race telecast is over.


What's been everyone's experiences with the Jack Daniel's Post Race show on NASCAR.com? I've never seen it so I don't know the extent of the interviews or if they carry the post-race conference...

Lisa Hogan said...

With ESPN's poor understanding of the NASCAR universe, I can see how they might think that stopping a media authority, such as yourself, would quiet negative opinion.

This one actually made me laugh. They just don't realize what a firestorm this would create on all of the racing forums, do they John?

Anonymous said...

Can you explain--maybe you can't!--how it is that ESPN misses SO much goin on in a race?

Listening to MRN or PRN, I hear literally dozens of incidents that we never see or hear about on TV. I know this wasn't the case with Fox.

Anonymous said...

John,

Any idea who composed the actual theme music for ESPN, not the Aerosmith hype stuff...?

Charlie said...

For what it is worth. At the race last night they did play the audio of Jeff Gordon saying he was sorry about hitting Junior. One of the pit reports brought it up and then they played the audio. They then asked Rusty about the apology. It was not right after Jeff hit Junior but many minutes after it had happened.
I am looking forward to you doing the Countdown show comparisons. Should be a good one to read.

Daly Planet Editor said...

tabula,

All the Busch stuff on NASCAR.com is free, but the Cup stuff is paid. That makes it tough to move viewers over to NASCAR.com for the post-race. This is the reason we have been urging ESPN to use ESPN Classic for this as a thirty minute show, heck, the content is free.

One thought...if NASCAR.com decided to offer Cup Series races free for 2008 it would change the sport forever.

bill,

It is normally just the race replay without any changes.

Anon 3:44PM,

ESPN and the other TV networks have issues to deal with that the radio guys do not. They have to integrate lots of things that are strictly TV-related, while the radio guys can just look out of the booth and talk. I love MRN, and its always fun to see the difference.

ESPN has to haul a big commercial load to pay for this sport, and then they have to integrate all the elements like Draft Track, the Tech Center, the Infield Studio, the SportsCenter minute, the list goes on and one.

As we said many times this season, ESPN has been trying to put ten pound of TV in a five pound NASCAR race. No matter how hard they try, its just does not fit.

Anon 4PM,

For many years, ESPN has it own in-house music composer. I am sure now it is a company that provides the tunes. I have not really heard a music theme for NASCAR this year other than the music on the animation and "bumps" to commercial. I will listen for that.

Daly Planet Editor said...

We will leave this open for two more hours, and close at 7PM Eastern. There will be a new column or two up around 8PM.

JD

Lisa Hogan said...

Thank you,John
I really enjoy the Q&A feature.

Anonymous said...

IF Espn wants to get back on the drivers' good side, why don't they hire Matt Yocum?? He's already at the track for the Fox/TNT coverage of the Cup races ... Just add him in for the Busch races & Disney races ...

Let me guess ... They see him as being too branded to Fox/TNT ... A lot of people see Matt as a guy who is one of the best pit reporters AND the ONLY person that can get an interview out of Tony Stewart when he's PO'd ...

In 7 1/2 seasons, I've only seen Smoke get Yocum a hard time ONCE ... And that was because the voices in Matt's head were giving him a hard time and forcing him to push the issue with Smoke (and Matt knew to back off) ...

Lisa Foster said...

I was trying to think of something good to ask.

I just came up with this.

1. I wish they would do more of a through the field. They covered the top twelve last night, but what
about the battle for 35th. And not everyone's favorite driver is a chaser.

2. Using the broadcast as an overlay for their other programing, like the NFL or College ball. It's really annoying

Vince said...

John, you sort of answered this a bit ago when you talked about the testy exchange between Jr. and Mike M. in the garage after Jr. missed the Chase. My question is do the pit reporters ask their own questions on ESPN or is the Producer whispering the questions in their ear? It seems the pit reporters are asking their own questions on Speed and not being fed questions, but the ESPN reporters seem like they are being fed questions to ask. Am I right?

Vince said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:40PM - Its a mix. The pit reporters can only see and understand so much in their assigned areas. They have to get additional information from the Pit Producer and the Line Producer.

Sometimes, the Producer wants to ask about a specific topic, and the reporter might not have seen or heard about it, so they have to be helped. As you saw with Massaro, he was done and started to walk away when he was told to go back and keep asking questions.

Vince - Matt is under contract to other TV networks. He is also Tony's Producer for his Sirius Satellite Radio Show. He is a great guy and a super talent, I hope we get to see him on a bigger TV "stage" soon.

Anonymous said...

Who decides and how do they decide which driver is the "In Race Reporter".

I am so excited that I found this website, keep up the great work!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:34PM - As you might have noticed, the reporter is usually a person of interest. Sometimes it is a driver who has been in the news, other times it is a former winner or a veteran with a good record at that track.

The ESPN production team selects the driver in advance and then the tech guys make sure everything works. As you know, the driver and crew chief get briefed on how to do the TV thing.

Sometimes it works...sometimes not too well.

Vince said...

I watched the ARCA race this afternoon on Speed. Gee, no flashy graphics or CGI. No coming back from commercial to a "host". No Draft Tracks or Draft Lock (I'm still laughing about that one). No egos in the booth, just solid coverage of the race. Why does ESPN think we need all their extra crap John? When they did the races with Bob, Ned and Benny we didn't have all the fluff. Why now? What changed other than the dollars involved? I just don't understand why NFL fans get just football and not all the mind numbing stuff we are subjected to every weekend. What is so hard about just broadcasting the race and leaving out all the BS that drives us crazy? I just am having a hard time believing that ESPN really thinks that they are giving us a good product and what we want to see.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vince,

The acquisition of NASCAR was huge for both ESPN and ABC. It filled a void for ESPN2 and also helped ESPN at a time where it had lost a lot of its sizzle with sports fans.

The NFL has started their own network, lots of college conferences want their own regional TV networks, and many other sports leagues are actively building their own media environment.

So, where does that leave ESPN? With scores and video highlights available on the web free, what does that do to their studio shows and SportsCenter?

When NASCAR came along ESPN had just "shuttered" ESPN Classic, was in the process of closing its Original Entertainment Division, and then moved-out of the NYC studios they had just built. It was not a good time in Bristol.

NASCAR brought along a high-profile sports product with hundreds of hours of live sports action and a daily show to boot. The drivers and owners were TV friendly, and the races put ESPN back on the national map for something they had exclusively.

So, they put their heads together and brought everything they had to the party. We watched them on the Busch Series, and when the Cup came around it was all just too much for the TV.

The problem is, how do you go back when you have made this commitment to gizmos and tons of other features? It was clear after the Pocono race that things had to be changed.

Now, they have tinkered with the Busch Series, auditioned new announcers for NASCAR Now, and suddenly Dale Jarrett is retiring. I think we will be seeing some changes for next season.

The problems with the ABC stations and the post-race will also be addressed. ESPN knows there are other media options out there, and they need to respond before everyone is watching "their" race on Hot Pass or NASCAR.com next season.

One thing is for certain, things in TV always change. Look for exactly that to happen in the weeks after the season is over.

Thanks again for all your good questions, we will do this again on Wednesday of this week with the question post going-up on Tuesday night.

JD

Anonymous said...

Dear Daly Planet Editor:

What a privilege and a pleasure to read such intelligent and insightful interactions. It is comforting to know I am not alone with my feelings of displeasure and numerous misgivings regarding the state of NASCAR television coverage and reporting.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to learn of and understand how others think and question. Your responses are deeply aprreciated, as well.

Phyllis
Fort Worth, Texas

Bobb said...

Still 5 weeks away but do you know how ESPN plans to handle the champions ceremony on 11/18. I do not know when race starts or ESPN/ABC time block but this race ALWAYS goes over time allowed.

Will be interesting if they only interview winner of race and champion and now you local news on most ABC stations and Desperate NASCAR fans later on Speed Victory Lane.

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok, the last comment suddenly has a NASCAR COMMERCIAL SPOOF of ABC's "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES" going through my head.

FOlks running around their house calling people, jumping on the computer, channel surfing on their tvs, turning the radio dials frantically! TRYING to find out "Wha happened?" during the NASCAR race they just invested 4 hours in!

LMAO...man...if only somebody had the guts to do a SPOOF of ABC's "Thanks to horrible coverage" DESPERATE NASCAR FANS, desperate for information.

Then show somebody logging on to the DALY PLANET (Nice globe in the picture as well for a pun AND being one of the sanest sites on Earth...well, usually, lol) and getting their desperately sought answers HERE. Think Speed would have the guts to do a spoof on that...I didn't think so...A girl can dream though.

Look forward to the next batch, JD and thanks for doing this for all of us and it is fun watching your site grow and expand.

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Anonymous said...

For those frustrated with Kornheiser on PTI - try being a soccer fan and watching that show. His comments about NASCAR seem enthusiastic by comparison.

Tony broke into the sports business looking up to guys like Dave Anderson at the NY Times and Shirley Povich at the Washington Post who remembered when the big sports were boxing, horse racing and baseball. He knows the world is changing on him the way it changed on them. He deals with it by playing the curmudgeon (not much of a stretch).

Anonymous said...

JD, Do they "rework" the broadcast for the replays or is it just a "tape" of the original broadcast?

I think they rework the replays, because the replays always fit exactly into a certain timeframe - 2 or 3 hours, including the Victory Lane. They skip laps. I know for sure they reworked the end of the Busch race from Montreal where Robby did his thing. They cut some of the audio and video to make it seem like his actions didn't exist.

SophiaZ123 said...

It's very odd how they chop things up to fit the time period AND skip the laps. you can tell by looking at the time listed the race is shortened considerably somehow.

Major drag. I have 'tried' to catch the replays of the races and a few months ago realized 30 minutes into it that things were "tweaked". I have read numerous comments about it..that's too bad. So I always count on watching it LIVE or taping it if I get distracted.

When something COLORFUL happens, they chop it out on the replay like the Robby deal...almost like censoring but that's not the correct term. Shame they do that. I think SPEED does the same thing though I am not sure if they skip laps.

Would be interesting for somebody to TIVO the ESPN replay and SPEEDS to see if IN FACT both replay the same edited version.

Bobb said...

Youve got to keep in mind that the replay time frame is only three hours and ESPN puts in countdown show so taking Saturdays race started at 7PM and ended after midnight you are cutting out over two hours. Sometinh has to give.

Speed does the same thing during the Fox and I believe TNT part of the season. Speed used to have Rick Allen host the show with voice overs of like - we now jump to lap so and so.

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Andy said...

Here is a general comment that the viewers need to take into consideration. We need the TV broadcasts to continue to innovate and try to push the envolope when it comes to race coverage. If they stand still, and not try new things, we will miss out on something that could be of a great benefit to the fans.

What would have happened if nobody tried out something as basic as instant replay because they didn't want to take the camera away from live action? Other things such as displaying car telemetry was a new gadget at some point in time. Also having scoring continuously displayed on the screen wasn't always the case.

Football broadcasts have been made better when the first down line was superimposed on the field. CBS removed it from its broadcasts at one point in time for a cost savings. The fans revolted.

I don't blame ESPN for trying new things, such as the draft tracker. If it doesn't pane out, I'm sure i'll go the way of the glowing hockey puck (FoxTrax) that FOX tried with its NHL coverage over a decade ago.

Longtime hockey fans didn't like it, so FoxTrax eventually went away. (Incidently, new hockey fans loved it. One could go into great detail comparing NHL's expansion in the 90's to what NASCAR has done recently, but thats a whole another topic.)

I don't want NASCAR's broadcast partners to become afraid to try new things, or somehow dictated as to what they can or can't do. You never know what the next cool thing that comes along that you'd don't know how you lived without it

SophiaZ123 said...

FRANKLY I could do with LESS CRAP On the screen during qualifying!! Just LET ME SEE the car in PERSPECTIVE as it goes round the track.

Get rid of the side pics of driver/crew and all the telemetry junk. Just tell me if he is GOING TO MAKE THE RACE.

Just my two pennies.

:-)

Too much high tech, toys and gizmo's has annoyed many sports fans. Why I LOVE RADIO.

Well, MRN anyway...can't say I enjoyed the PRN guys like MRN but I am developing a prejudice. PRN still better than ESPN "wha happened" guys that leave us here asking questions about what's LACKING in info on the tv.

All that graphics crap and still no follow up. Sorry this is the Q&A board...just realized that.