Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ask A TV Question - Get An Answer

Wednesday we will be back after a two week break with another session of Q&A about NASCAR TV topics.

UPDATE: Thank you for all the great questions and for the conversation. The Daly Planet will return on Sunday with a new column. Have a great holiday.

We will begin on Wednesday mid-morning and run through until Wednesday night.

This page will host the session, and it is being posted at this time so those of you with real lives can post your questions now, and then just check back to see if we have gotten you an answer.

Here are some notes before we start:
1 - There will be a NASCAR Images column shortly about the footage issues.
2 - We are still working to sort-out if we can continue this website for 2008.
3 - There will be a NASCAR Now end-of-season column up shortly.
4 - After Thanksgiving, we will be taking your questions for NASCAR TV announcers who have been nice enough to let us bother them off-season. Details will be out next week, but Steve, Randy...and yes...Wendy are in.
5 - The NEXTEL Cup banquet will air Friday, November 30th from 9 to 12PM Eastern Time on ESPN Classic. It will then re-air on ESPN2 from midnight Eastern until 3AM.

So, there you go. To post your question, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions. Please take the time to read through the questions already asked so we do not have duplicates. Thanks again, this will be fun to do before the holiday when we take a brief break.


Matt said...

Does ESPN or SPEED have any plans to replay some of the memorable races from 2007 during the holidays, like what used to be done back in the day? I realize we don't want to suffer through more ESPN Cup coverage, but maybe they'll replay some Busch races?

Anonymous said...

They're having end of season wrap ups. I'm not sure when Speed will (I'm assuming they will as they always do) but I have the DVR set for Sunday 1:30 eastern for a Season review and 2:00 eastern for a Busch Series Review both on the deuce :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks sandie...that was easy!

Andrew S. said...

Any truth to the rumour that if Ken Schrader doesn't have a Cup ride in 2008 he won't be on INC?

Anonymous said...

My question concerns Brian France's comments on TV coverage this weekend:
Q: Can NASCAR do anything to address a seemingly general dissatisfaction with elements of the television coverage?

France: "We obviously have a vested concern on behalf of the industry to make sure our TV partners are presenting sport in a way we think is best. That's suggestive, there's a creative element in that.

I will tell you that the networks, generally speaking, are a bit guarded about the leagues and people like me judging and having a lot of opinions. They listen to us. ... But there's also a "church and state" there. ... It's like going to a restaurant. You might like the meal better than I do. We have to do that carefully when we have a need to voice our concerns."

France says the networks don't want "people like him" judging. But I know that the NFL had enough leverage to get ESPN to cancel its (critically acclaimed) fictional drama series called "Playmakers" because it depicted some unflattering goings-on of a fictional professional football team.

The NFL commissioner complained directly to Michael Eisner, who was head of Disney at the time. After the NFL made its displeasure known, some of the advertisers (like Gatorade) pulled their commercials from the show.
The NFL shouldn't have had any say in ESPN entertainment offerings, but they did and got the show off the air.

My question is why would Brian France feel like NASCAR can't flex its influence to the networks when it's obviously been done before by other leagues? (He can't tell me that David Stern hasn't been on the phone to ESPN and TNT in the past about NBA coverage, either.)

I can't see much hope for improvement if France isn't willing to take a stand.

Anonymous said...

Has a host for the Cup banquet been named? It's next week, isn't it?

Also, Bill Weber is usually the emcee, but since he's on TNT, will it be someone from ESPN instead?

Daly Planet Editor said...

I sent the question about the Cup Banquet over to ESPN. They usually get back to me pretty quickly.

Anon 7:55AM - NASCAR sold their rights to the races to ESPN for the final seventeen Cup events. Unless they are presenting something that is fraudulent of misleading, there is little they can do.

The same situation happened when TNT played so many commercials and promos that the race itself was merely an afterthought.

As you have heard from me many times, depite what the big boys may say, the only way for NASCAR to step-in and regain control of TV for their events is to start a stand-alone cable network now, and then be ready to transition the Cup and Busch races to that network at the end of the present TV contract...if there is anything left.

Anon 2:50AM - Nothing to it at all. If SPEED makes a change, they will do it to shake-up the show, not because of his lost ride.

Dan said...

Here's a question I have; not sure that a TV exec would answer it. I'm an avid F1 fan in addition to watching NASCAR (well, not watching NASCAR as much as I used to). One prominent feature of an F1 broadcast, is that they have a feed that is sent to countries and cable networks all over the world, and the network fills in the commentary over the feed.

So, I'm wondering when NASCAR might consider doing something similar? It might be a good way for the sanctioning body to retain some control over what's broadcast, rather than letting a specific network take complete control over a race broadcast.

batchief said...

Krista Voda has been asked to work the cup banquet. In what capacity and for what network she is reprsenting I do not know.

Daly Planet Editor said...


In TV land, some sports have a "host broadcaster." That is usually the home team's TV crew, who cuts the event in neutral terms and makes that video and natural sound audio available as the source for the program.

Other live sports events, like the Indy 500, have an "in-house production team" that is actually tied to the sports league or sanctioning body and provides the pictures and sound. That "feed" can be embellished by additional cameras and things like pit reporters, but the actual cutting of the cameras during the action is controlled by one group for all parties.

Along with the current ESPN Sr. Producer Neil Goldberg and TV veteran Jeff Hallas, I did several years of F-1 racing during my ESPN days. Remember John Bisignano?

While NASCAR Images has waded into the TV world with their "control" of the TV compound, the sport of NASCAR is just too big and has too much TV pre-production to just have one group cut the cameras and make everybody else a slave to their wishes.

SPEED does a great job with the Trucks, and many times this season ESPN2 did some solid Busch telecasts. It seems that the sole problem we always return to is that the TV networks put ten pounds of "TV stuff" in a five pound bag when they try to telecast the Cup Series.

It seems that the five pounds that fall out the side is what upsets the viewers. Just as ESPN did with the Busch races, and SPEED does so well with the Trucks, how hard can it be to just let the racers race...and show it?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly:
Excellent blog, as always!
If there are cost considerations in continuing this blog or integrating it into a website, I'm sure that you will find, among many posters here, a willingness to contribute to that end. (These columns have heightened my awareness in watching not only NASCAR events, but other sports events at least as to the broadcast aspects of the presentation - very much like a graduate course in college!)
My questions:
1. Are there "opt-out" clauses in the contracts between NASCAR and the networks that would allow NASCAR, due to ratings or displeasure over the content, to end the relationship (and the same for the networks)?
2. Could not a NASCAR-produced package of race broadcasts be sold to a network very much the same as a weekly prime-time drama series? This might be the intermediate step before a full blown NASCAR stand alone network could be ramped-up and distributed to the many cable providers, especially so because we don't know where TV and the internet will bee in the six years remaining in the current contracts.
3. I noticed throughout the ESPN cup broadcasts the attemps to drive viewers during the broadcast to the ESPN website by suggesting for more info, enter the keyword "whatever". I also noticed some specific commercials by ESPN trying to drive viewers to the ESPN360 website. Is this an attempt by a broadcast network to push viewers of what ESPN considers second tier sports(in their opinion)to the developing concept of internet broadcasting rather than TV broadcasting (thereby freeing up the TV time for their stick & ball coverage and reality programming)?
4. Lastly, in your column of Oct. 8th., "We got this comment from a guy named "Erik"", you wrote that this poster had published on the "Planet" ESPN in-house information. Although we all had to put up with many of his subsequent postings, did you ever get a feeling or any solid info on who really was this poster?
Thanks again!
Tom in Dayton.

Daly Planet Editor said...


1 - The legal language is confidential, but usually a TV contract is only voided because the network defaulted on the amount of content and the type of delivery it was supposed to provide. ESPN on ABC did all the right things, on all the right channels, and NASCAR is going to have to live with it. A couple of ABC Stations messing up their schedules will not cause a big headache.

2 - The on-going merger of all types of media is called "convergence." We are the last generation with one device for radio, one for TV, one for phone, and one for computer. Eventually, we will look back and think we were nuts to have three or four devices running just to "consume" a NASCAR race.

There are only a handful of broadcast networks, and only one national cable sports network. ESPN has absolutely no competition, and there is none on the horizon. Neither Fox or NBC has a national cable TV network for sports.

Their is no reason ESPN would step-out of the high-profile NASCAR loop and allow the sport to "buy on" the network like others do. Maybe if the NASCAR star fades, it will become just another "time buy" like an IndyCar support series.

3 - This issue is related to the answer above. NASCAR for both ESPN and TNT is primarily a vehicle to drive viewers to their core TV product, which is not racing-related. We saw that extensively with TNT this summer and it was horrible.

ESPN likes to speak in cool phrases like "multi-platform environments and dotcom traffic." What they really mean is they have to promote a lot of stuff in the race and they are pushing any viewer at anytime to their website as the source of all things sports-related. There is a lot of pressure, and it did not go real well this season.

4 - I like to have fun on the Internet, and I thought allowing him to continue posting would be OK. Unfortunately, the ESPN guys got a little bent out of shape that he was pretending to speak for them, and when I asked him to stop, he got ugly. Its a shame, I thought it was kind of fun ESPN had their own un-official PR guy.

stricklinfan82 said...

Is the Busch Series Awards Banquet going to be televised, and if so, when?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly:
Great answers and thanks for giving them!
In light of your comment "Maybe if the NASCAR star fades...", which I cannot believe NASCAR would ever condone (I posted in one of the October columns about overhearing a high NASCAR executive in the Speedway Club commenting on the TV broadcast quality/content before the Oct. cup race), my question is:
from the TV broadcasting point-of-view, what can NASCAR do, suggest or demand each network (FOX, TNT, ESPN)change in order to prevent the NASCAR product from diminishing further?
Tom in Dayton.

Sean said...

Do you personally think there will be substantial changes on the ESPN broadcasts next year, or will we be seeing the same people, elements on the air.


Anonymous said...

You're welcome JD :)

KoHoSo said...

Mr. Daly,

First of all, thank you for all of your work on this blog. It has been about the only thing that has kept me sane ever since TNT and then ESPN took over coverage of the Cup series.

My long-winded question is...

What is your opinion on my assumption that all most networks or channels care about these days is the 18-to-35 year old male demographic and that they could mostly care less about those who are older (or most women) because they are supposedly less likely to be influenced by advertising? And, if you believe that is indeed a factor, how do you expect it to continue to affect NASCAR coverage on all of the involved outlets?

TIA for any answer that you care to give.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think NASCAR will stress to each of the TV networks that the race is supposed to dictate the action, and not the "story" the network featured in the pre-race show.

Just like a three hour NFL game or a three and one half hour collge football game, the job of the TV network is to keep track of what is going-on, and tell us.

If they refer to something they set-up in the pre-event show, they do it when it fits into a pause in the action.

Think about this, no golf tournament only follows the couple of golfers they promoted at the beginning of the show, and never shows the leaders, the best and worst shots, the rookie candidates, the senior legends and even the qualifier who made the cut.

Its a balanced package of the event. That is what has been lacking.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think NASCAR Now will be totally re-vamped, but there has been no gossip about anything other than DJ vs. Rusty for the Cup package out of the ESPN camp.

My suggestion is to put a completely different announcing crew on the Nationwide Series and save the big boys until the Cup stuff starts.

Imagine having some combo like Allen Bestwick and Randy Lajoie or DJ on that entire series? It would give it an identity at the perfect time...when a new sponsor and new attitude were arriving.

Daly Planet Editor said...


The advertising and sponsorship landscape is a mess. I talked about "convergence" in an earlier answer.

Imagine being an advertiser, and facing the zillion choices of how to reach the public and then how to figure out if you really reached them?

How can a NASCAR advertiser rate me when I have ABC, MRN, Hot Pass, and Race View all running just to "consume" one race?

The bottom line is that TV networks like ESPN are just big "middle men" and that equation is changing rapidly.

ESPN bought TV rights from NASCAR, sold ads to make more money than they spent for those rights, and now they have to run those endless ads overtop of the very programming they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get. Talk about a dog chasing its tail.

Many years ago, American TV viewers rejected a pay-per-view NASCAR race that was tried live. I think Dave Despain might have been the host. But now, Hot Pass has proven that times have changed.

The biggest ESPN nightmare is that NASCAR fans are so peeved at them they are going out this Chrismas and getting DirecTV in record numbers. If millions of fans migrate their primary viewing of NASCAR races over to Hot Pass, ESPN is going to be swimming in a sea of even lower ratings and little ad revenue.

Eventually, something will have to give. Next season, will offer every Cup race live on the Internet at very low cost. DirecTV will have everything on Hot Pass in High Def at the same basic price.

There sits ESPN, with one old style basic cable network and one very old style broadcast network as their delivery system. Even with HD on both, it does not change the dynamic.

After the holiday, it will be interesting to see what changes. Remember one thing. The bottom line is money for all parties concerned. As someone once said...follow the money.

hawkeye said...


My questions concerns the TNT test broadcast of the firecracker 400 at Daytona:

Was this format seen as favorable or unfavorable within the sports TV industry?

What's your opinion of the overall acceptance of this format: was it "liked" or "disliked" by the audience? What was the opinion from the advertisers?

Thanks for your input and insight.

Daly Planet Editor said...


As both Mike Helton and Brian France have said this season, it takes all the parties involved to do something like this.

Even in the TNT six race package, they were only able to do it once. The big rumor was that they took ads from the Daytona race and made sure to run them in the earlier events. Remember when they had so many ads you never saw the Loundon race?

Since Cup races are split between three completely different media companies (who do NOT like each other) I really do not see how the side-by-side thing would be workable.

My feeling is we are more likely to see ESPN offer their events on PPV cable without ads for a fee.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
My feeling is we are more likely to see ESPN offer their events on PPV cable without ads for a fee.

November 21, 2007 3:38 PM

Is that in addition to the regular broadcast? I don't know that I would want to buy 36+ races on PPV.

I also do not have Direct TV and I think the mojority of viewers do not have it either. So, I don't think the future of NASCAR on TV is there, as of yet.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
...and then be ready to transition the Cup and Busch races to that network at the end of the present TV contract...if there is anything left.

November 21, 2007 9:26 AM

Are you saying that is a possibility? After 7 years of races on broadcast TV with FOX and ABC? The whole first half of the season is on broadcast TV. That seems like a big step back and I know many people that don't always have access to a Cable TV, much less one with digital cable, which will probably be the home of a NASCAR Channel.

Bill H said...

The last few Cup races I caught the SAP (spanish announcers on the secondary program) for a few minutes here / there.

Did anyone with knowledge of spanish listen to them?

I am curious if they were just translating / parroting what was being said by Punch, Rusty and Petri or were they talking about other subjects?

On a more technical note, is there anyway of getting ratings on people who listened to the SAP of a show (does nielson measure them)?


Anonymous said...

Bill H said...
On a more technical note, is there anyway of getting ratings on people who listened to the SAP of a show (does nielson measure them)?


November 21, 2007 5:33 PM

Because the SAP viewers are basically on the same channel as the rest of us, just listening to a different audio channel, I believe they are included in the total ratings for the broadcast.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:56,

What I am saying is that when ESPN smells the money DirecTV is making, something is going to change. If they can bring in PPV dollars without any additional production costs...look out.

Anon 5:11,

By the time that this current TV contract is up, things will have totally changed. HD will be in the local stations and over the air without cable on multiple channels. Phone service will be providing broadband TV style programming into your cable ready TV without the cable costs (this is called a la carte), and we will be able to put the computer directly into our HDTV monitors for InternetTV feeds. Its going to be interesting.


No ratings info for that first year program that I can find. The Spanish language feed is very good, and the broadcasters are excited and experienced. Unfortunately, it is going to take more than JP and some good announcers to bring the Hispanic community over to NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

After this season I hope you will continue the blog or a website (maybe w/ registration?) I have learned so much about inside of TV production & such. Even w/member fees it would be a value
My question is will any of the co ordinators or behind the scenes big wigs be changed? I can not believe espn thinks the coverage was good.
THANKS for letting me know about internet coverage for a fee next season - we will be looking for it. Since direct TV says I can't get a good clean signal because of the trees on 3 sides of me. So I'm stuck.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Thanks for the good words, its been a fun year. Continuing this project may be determined by my other employment situation in 2008. I will keep you informed. offered all the Busch races this season on their site for free. Their InternetTV viewer was easily increased to full screen, but it showed the ESPN2 broadcast. Their Cup races were the ones that had a fee to see. It will be interesting to see if they step-up and add their own announce team next season. That would make things very interesting.

After the banquets is when the TV networks have their post-season meeting, and it should be interesting to see what changes. Fox has a veteran crew of execs, and TNT has only six races, so they are going to keep their guys.

ESPN as a whole has great execs for both the remote and the studio production, its just a matter of getting everyone on the same page.

Thanks again for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Remember Chris Long, the boy wonder who came to SpeedTv and ruined INC by firing Bestwick and Benson, installing Despain, and changing the show's format? Where is he now and why did he leave SpeedTv?


Daly Planet Editor said...


Chris is now the VP of DirecTV and handles the Hot Pass coverage for that company. He is a "Fox guy" and moved on from SPEED after many conflicts in style and philosophy.

My friends who announce on the Hot Pass package say he has found his niche and is a much calmer individual.

The shame of his programming disasters at SPEED continues to linger with INC, but almost all his other messes have been cleaned up. Just ask Leanne Tweeden.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I REALLY do enjoy and appreciate ALL your efforts.

Why does SPEED (and presumably ESPN) abandon racing entirely in December and January? Ken and Barbie's reading the news on Speed Report does not count. I saw more NFL news and discussion on ESPN in June and July than all the racing carried on SPEED in Dec. & Jan.

With all their resources, experience, and preparation, HOW in the world could ESPN have ended up with such a substandard product? Could they really have just thought that whatever they "built" the fans would come?

Now that Murdoch/FOX has its business channel up and running, do you think there is any chance he might next try to create a national sports channel to compete with ESPN and use NASCAR as a key element when the current contract expires?

When talking about the decline in TV ratings for NASCAR, why do you think the print media never mentions the apparent success of Hot Pass?

I REALLY do hope the Daly Planet has a VERY long life - and THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Do we know of any cable or satellite agreements to carry SPEED Channel in High Definition? what about an official launch date?

Anonymous said...

Richard in N.C. said...
Now that Murdoch/FOX has its business channel up and running, do you think there is any chance he might next try to create a national sports channel to compete with ESPN and use NASCAR as a key element when the current contract expires?

November 21, 2007 8:39 PM

NEWSCORP(FOX) already has a national sports network although they decided to go with a regional format with FOX SPORTS. They have FOX Sports South, West, and so on. But there is a variation of FOX SPORTS in most parts of the country allowing FOX SPORTS to carry some programs nationally. You may recall before NEWSCORP bought SPEED in 2002, FOX SPORTS used to carry many NASCAR programs nationally, such as victory lane. Since the purchase of SPEED many NASCAR programs moved from FOX SPORTS to SPEED. Therefor I do not think FOX would put NASCAR programing on any channel other than SPEED. The whole reason NEWSCORP bought SPEED was to carry programing to support NASCAR on FOX when it was in season. that leaves no need for any other FOX channel to have NASCAR programing.

Daly Planet Editor said...


SPEED does not own any NASCAR programming, because they purchase it from NASCAR Images, the sport's official production company. This operation used to be partially owned by Fox, but NASCAR bought them out in the last TV contract deal.

SPEED is treated as a stand-alone business by Fox Cable Networks, and they have found that the best way to get through the winter is to stay with the lifestyle programming and mix it with bits of taped non-NASCAR races and things like car auctions.

I think ESPN just came in believing that because they did a lot of other sports well for a long time, NASCAR would be easy to handle. As we know from the great pictures and good sound, its not the tech guys.

As we know from the drivers personalities, its not for lack of smart and interesting guys. What we do know, just like a race team, is that people either come together as a team or don't.

We watched Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds come together as a team on TNT and carry those broadcasts. We watched Dale Jarrett step into the ESPN world and just light-up the TV with his commentary and easy-going on-air personality.

Andy Petree with DJ and Andy Petree with Rusty is like seeing two completely different people. The same goes for Jerry Punch. ESPN has a people problem, and when they solve it...the rest will solve itself.

I was one of the people that cranked up Prime Network, and then watched as it was sold to Fox and completely messed up as Fox Sports Net. Their attempt at national programming distribution is a failure because the Regional Sports Networks are now so powerful and have so much product that they just don't need help.

I thought Fox should have started up another national cable network, or bought an existing one and made is all sports, but they are focused on the RSN model right now.

Other than for racing product, which they can share with SPEED, this lack of a cable sports channel really puts Fox Sports at a big disadvantage.

The big problem with Hot Pass is pretty obvious. No one can see it without a DirecTV dish. Most of the media, myself included, are not in the dish world, so we never get to see the product.

Anon 8:42PM - I am told there will be a transition to HD programming on SPEED and there will very quickly be only a SPEED HD. Rick Miner, a very good TV exec from the SPEED gang is in charge of this and he is rolling it out very quicky. Cable systems love SPEED, because it delivers for them local ad sales of car dealerships and other car related products in record number.

Look for things to go smoothly and for SPEED HD to be there soon.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Anon 8:42PM - I am told there will be a transition to HD programming on SPEED and there will very quickly be only a SPEED HD.
November 21, 2007 10:27 PM

Now hold on, you say SPEED will only have an HD channel? What about the people without an HDTV? Will they still be able to receive SPEED? If they cannot, I would say that is a bad move. Every other channel can continue their SD channel while launching an HD channel, why can't SPEED?

I currently have SPEED on basic cable. Should I look for this to change? Other basic channels are keeping their basic tier status while launching an HD channel.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Do yourself a favor and spend 300 bucks after Christmas. Pretty soon the TV environment will be HD for sports across the board.

When things are produced in HD, they are in HD, that is what SPEED is transitioning to along with ESPN and the other networks.

HD is not expensive, and cable TV will be lowering rated as the over-the-air HDTV channels from the local stations become chrystal clear...and free.

josborne2382 said...

DirecTv already has SpeedHD as part of their 75 channel HD lineup (100 by years end). ESPNHD, ESPN2HD and many of the regional sports networks (i.e. CSN, Fox Sports) are already part of the HD line up as well.

Anonymous said...

SPEED TV is launching HD 02/01/08

John said...

While HD service is not to expensive, The hardware can be. It has come down a lot but is still not cheap.

That being said, after watching races on HD I will never go back. I have always marveled at the color and spectacle of being at the race. Now I get some of that at home. :)

I remember reading somewhere that the FCC decided that all TV has to be in HD by a certain year. Has anyone else heard this?


Karen said...

John said...

I remember reading somewhere that the FCC decided that all TV has to be in HD by a certain year. Has anyone else heard this?

Yes, in 2009, all TV's will have to be HD. Those without HDTV's will need to buy a converter. The govt. is supposed to help out b/c not everyone can afford to do even that much. Don't imagine you'll get HD with a converter, but at least you'll have a picture. Our local station ran a series last week on how to purchase the right HDTV for you. Brighthouse Network here in Orlando also will come out and help me set my new HDTV up and then my DVR has to be upgraded to an HD DVR for a few dollars more a month on my already monstrous cable bill.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link with some good info about the upcming switch away from analog in 2009:

Anonymous said...

Regarding HDTV. I believe DirecTV is offering free HD rcvr or HD DVR rcvr if you are a new customer. We are current customers and they were going to charge us $299 until I said we could be switching to DISH Network that was offering lots of free stuff. I got them down to $99. We love having satellite TV. Of course we live in California and we haven't had any weather related problems for the 8 yrs we've had them. Realize some people are on a budget, but if you have cable it's comparable or less. Diane

wickedj said...

yall need to be nice to the Barrett Jackson auctions i freaking LOVE watching that..if they aired it 24-7 the whole week..i wouldnt sleep

and Mike Joy makes it that much better

Tabula Rasa said...

What I am saying is that when ESPN smells the money DirecTV is making, something is going to change. If they can bring in PPV dollars without any additional production costs...look out.

I don't know why people assume that DirecTV Hotpass is a success. All signs would indicate otherwise. They are reducing the number of channels in 2008 from five to four, and I haven't seen any sub numbers released yet.

On the positive side of things, they are going HD in 2008, as is SPEED programming.