Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brian France Addresses NASCAR TV Issues

This week in New York City, in addition to NASCAR Champions Week, the Reuters News Agency was hosting the annual "Reuters Media Summit."

This end of the year event gives CEO's and other senior management figures an opportunity to sum-up the performance of their company for the past season, and look forward to the future. One of the CEO's was Brian France, from NASCAR.

In both video and print interviews, Mr. France spoke about some of the television issues that have been discussed here at The Daly Planet since February. His words were actually very encouraging.

Mr. France first addressed the new NASCAR TV partner, ESPN. He began by saying that ESPN was in the midst of a "learning curve" about NASCAR on TV. He followed that up with the reason why.

"The production and fan expectation they (ESPN) have to be at is much higher than before," said France. "They are finding that out." The way that both ESPN and NASCAR are finding that out is quite interesting. France suggested that fans have become more demanding and vocal since ESPN last covered NASCAR in 2000.

France stated that he would like to see ESPN do more sophisticated graphics, more detailed commentary, and more original programming. That refrain may sound quite familiar to Daly Planet readers.

The best part of this interview is that the CEO of NASCAR is finally talking TV after a long season of silence. It seems he is clearly aware that things are not exactly the way he thought they would be in the first year of this new TV contract. That is a big bonus, when someone who is pulled in so many directions can speak to a media issue like this clearly and in an informed manner.

In continuing the interview, France addressed other TV elements in the overall NASCAR package. The next question asked was about a possible cable TV network in the future, and France was focused in his remarks.

"We have a (TV) license agreement that is with SPEED Channel, a News Corp. asset, that is in 70 million homes," said France. "We would love to expand our programming on that channel, and we are working with them to do that."

In terms of TV, Mr. France made a statement to SPEED Channel in very clear terms. The door is open to grow the outstanding weekend programming the network originated from the NASCAR tracks into additional programming during the weekdays.

In much the same way that viewers of ESPN and now the NFL Network enjoy the historic and often times humorous NFL Films presentations, the hope is that SPEED will open-up and allow additional strategic NASCAR-oriented programming in 2008.

There has been some speculation that the network has enough content to support a SPEED2 offshoot, which could perhaps continue to grow the kind of lifestyle and original programming ventures that SPEED has recently found to be so successful. There is no doubt that a strong market exists for these type of programs, and that SPEED has been one of the more successful networks in tapping into this genre.

It would have been nice if Mr. France dealt with some specifics, but that is not really his role in this equation. He has several veteran executives who oversee the TV contracts, the NASCAR TV partners, and the NASCAR Images production company.

All season long, ESPN has been fantastic in returning email to The Daly Planet for even the smaller requests about scheduling or talent assignments. There certainly have been differences of opinion along the way, but that is to be expected in a subjective business like TV.

Following Mr. France's remarks, Reuters contacted ESPN to see what they would like to add to the story in terms of their part of the NASCAR TV package. The single line in the news story about the France interview told the tale. "ESPN could not be reached for comment."

This is a shame, because it would have been the perfect time for an ESPN executive to back-up Mr. France's comments with some positive feedback about NASCAR and a commitment to return next season with an even stronger TV production team.

The countdown clock at says we are seventy-nine days away until the first Nationwide Series race in Daytona. This event will be produced by ESPN, and give us the first peek at the network's new Infield Studio team.

At Daytona in 2007 that consisted of Brent Musburger, Chris Fowler, and Brad Daugherty. Let's hope Mr. France's well chosen words can make a difference in 2008.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Please read the rules for posting on the right side of the main page, and thanks for stopping by and leaving your opinion.


Skip said...

"France stated that he would like to see ESPN do more sophisticated graphics, more detailed commentary, and more original programming."

Oh boy. More draft tracker, Rusty talking even more, and even less of the race shown.

Why am I not surprised?

SophiaZ123 said...

Skip I had the same feeling. JD, out of your ENTIRE COLUMN, these words HAUNTED me the most:

France stated that he would like to see ESPN do more sophisticated graphics

Yet more SOLID proof that what the fans want ain't going to happen.

More raciing, more cars, less graphics crap.


Anonymous said...

France also told that summit that Dale Earnhardt Jr. hurt the ratings by not winning or being competitive this year, which hasn't made him very popular on Junior boards today.

If the sport is dependent on one driver to make or break the ratings, sounds like something else is awry, in my opinion. Sounds like a bad excuse to me, actually.

Newracefan said...

Great minds ;) think alike I though the same thing, I don't want sophisticated graphics, I want to see the cars on the track. Detailed commentary- hopefully he means all the cars/teams/drivers not what we have been getting. Original programming- that would be good especially if Nascar Images goes back to their quality work of the past, bring on NNS 24/7, Beyond the Wheel, 90 min INC, even Chasing Glory. I'll be waiting for word from you JD on any new shows in the works, keep us updated please! Speed2 may take awhile and hopefully they will make sure it is on a tier level that most people get unlike ESPN Classic.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the info, but why don't you provide links at the end of your article so we can actually see the text if we wish? Instead of telling us what Mr BZ France had to say, why not analyze it with your expertise (which is appreciated that you do that) AND also tell us where to find the complete articles. I had to go hunting for it.

Even if you provided one link, it would help to find the other stories you mentioned (which I just did, including the video interview). Also found a very interesting anecdote from the Reuters Summit blog about France and his friend getting addicted to football videos on YouTube one night instead of going out to dinner(point being, the Internet content is important).

Please, if you don't want readers to link, fine. But when you tell use about these things - which is great - we'd like to also see them for ourselves. I'm sure the reporters and sites would also like the hits for their sites.

Anonymous said...

It is OBVIOUS (I can hear Mr. Obvious now...) that Mr. France and "ESP Not for nascar" have not heard one SINGLE word that WE the fans have said this season. If they had, I would not be reading Musberger and Fowler's names as people scheduled to TRY to tell me how it is next season.

I attend the two races in Michigan and spent $1,000-1,200/ per year to spend two weekends at the track. The current state of the sport has me reconsidering where I spend my money.

I wish that I could get excited for next season........but I can't.

Thanks for NOTHING Mr. France and the "Non-Fans" (or should I say ANTI-fans) at ESPN.

Oh and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.


Ally said...

I'd be really excited to see more lifestyle and original programming back on SPEED and also added to ESPN2. I hope that comes true!

Anonymous said...
"Please, if you don't want readers to link, fine. But when you tell use about these things - which is great - we'd like to also see them for ourselves. I'm sure the reporters and sites would also like the hits for their sites."
November 28, 2007 6:51 PM

Don't get mad at me :-) I don't mean to be piling on, but I agree. You probably wouldn't want your excellent blogs original content and news summarized by someone else on their website and them not provide a link to Daly Planet.

Matt said...

Maybe I'm an optimist, but I don't see what Brian is refering to as just the "status quo." I don't think he finds "draft track" sophisticated grapchis. I don't think he finds Rusty or Jerry's commentary detailed. I think he wants different takes on those things, not the same things just repackaged.

Richard in N.C. said...

As the CEO of NASCAR, this might be the best PUBLIC statement Brian F. can make - and at least it publicly recognizes that a significant portion of the fans are not satisfied with what we got from ESPN. Hopefully there are some "frank" private discusions with ESPN and hopefully "more sophisticated graphics" can mean better, less intrusive graphics - not more graphics.

haus20 said...

If we try to parse Brian's words, we could come to the conclusion that he liked the draft track and crusty.

I would like to think that he wasn't impressed with Draft Track. He wants something that actually works and makes sense. More sophisticated graphics could also mean using graphics that would also include the actual race. I guess everyone will take the comments based on their perspective.

I was not pleased with the ESPN coverage by any stretch of the imagination, but hoping that it will get better next year at least makes next season something to look forward to.

ESPN is not going anywhere for many more years. Let's hope for the best and plan for the worst ---Hot Pass, track pass, etc.

elena said...

Since Brian mentioned that fans have higher expectations than before, I assume that his word were meant to address much of what has been here at Daly Planet and other sites.

More graphics could address having split screens to show commercials. More detailed commentary I think means exactly that, more detailed as in 43 cars on the track. More original programming means to stop with all the canned videos shown over and over again.

Another comment Brian made, made his ESPN comment stronger was that NASCAR had been given the red-carpet treatment by Fox, NBC, and TNT. I guess that's why ESPN was not available for comment after his comments. He not only did not complain about the other networks, he gave them a pat on the back.

Anonymous said...

I hope we are not going to get more of the hip-hop themes and biased pro-Montoya reporting. ESPN appears to be on a liberal media crusade to diversify NASCAR. Looks like they want to revist the media driven hysteria from Lester's qualifying in Atlanta a couple years back. Wasn't that a worldwide news item?

Bill B said...

Wrong again Brian. We don't want more graphics. What we want is simple, to see as much green flag racing as posible. If nothing is happening at the front then show us close racing back in the field. There is always someone trying to pass someone else somewhere on the track. Find it and show us. PERIOD.

Ron P. said...

Dear JD
Great Column but what can I say....I'm speachless....

I don't believe it, He still doesn't get it, "More Sophisticated graphics"? How about showing the Race for a change??? "More Detailed Commentary"? From Who? Rusty, the man who forgot that he ever drove a race car??? Or Mr. Jerry Punch who can't put a coherent sentence together?? Or maybe poor Andy "I'm a deer in the head lights" Petree???

Oh dear God Help us poor NASCAR Fans!!!
Please deliver us from the cluthcs of this man.
You sent Moses to your people to deliver them out of the bondage of Pharaoh.
Please send us a Deliverer that can broadcast a full NASCAR Race with out talking heads, stupid graphics and 10,000 commercials of Aerosmiths arm pits!!!!!

God please just let us see the cars racing on the track>>>>>>>>>> Thats why it's called racing!!!!

I guess Mr. France's idea of racing is to have us all racing for the remote controls to turn the channel.

"Gee Mr. France this Kool Aid sure tasts funny... Are you sure it's good for me to drink???"
"Yes my friend drink it up while I tell you again how ratings and attendance doesn't matter,and repeat after me: all the seats were filled at California, all the seats were filled at California.....


Anonymous said...

France seems to be studiously ignoring the fact that the best race coverage on TV nowadays, found on SPEED, features less 'sophisticated graphics' and shows more actual racing; and that his product would benefit from less 'detailed commentary' and more actual race calling.

He should have issued an indctment of ESPN's treatment of the races and promised better for next year.

Wayne said...

As usual, France does not get it. What race fans want from ESPN is the type coverage we received from ESPN prior to the arrival of FOX. Race fans want to be treated like race fans, not like first time viewers. We want to see the race, not videos and graphics. We also want people covering our sport who realize that the current drivers and crew members are the stars and the race is the show, unlike FOX where Darrel, Larry, Jeff and Steve think people tune in to see them, not the race.

Anonymous said...

I think finally Brian France is listening. No amount of runaround can cast doubt on the fact that ratings are horrible. ESPN is to blame, they are simply not the same people who held NASCAR in high regard back in 2000 and the years before. I think Mr. France's comments were a polite way to say get rid of Rusty, Brad Daughtery, and Musberger. Gimme Bestwick!! As far as the graphics goes, what ESPN offered was silly and not very innovative. Brian France cannot come out and say "you suck" to ESPN, do well all remember how horrible the coverage was at NBC in their final year? Who wants that for the next five to six years? I know I don't. Mr. France has to be careful how he criticizes the broadcast network. I just wish SPEED carried everything. They do such a great job.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the banquet:
Is this produced by Nascar Images and just shown on ESPN or is ESPN producing the coverage. Thanks

MelissaAnne said...

I'll just throw my hat in the "thinking alike" ring. I don't want more graphics, I want to see the dang race.
Thank heavens I will be at the Daytona 500(yay!)- I don't want to start the season off by having to watch ESPN make a draft tracker-palooza out of it.

Desmond said...

Melissa, good luck at Daytona! That is one of the experiences we all want to have in our lifetimes.

As for France's comments, at least he seems to be listening to our complaints. The questions are what will he tell ESPN and what ESPN will do about it. Personally, I am pessimistic.

Anonymous said...

I wish Brian France would listen to the true fans of nascar, as in everyone in this blog, a few examples: espn's horrible rookie season, show the race not A stupid draft tracker, get people that call the race better(please just go Rusty) and thank God for SPEED, they are going HD for speedweeks by the way, one last thing-fix that ugly non-handling COT, softer goodyear tires is A good start, please mr. France do something before you lose anymore die-hard fans!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but I read "more sophisticated graphics" as meaning less graphics cluttering up the screen.

Thornton,Colorado said...

Remember,people. We are dealing with Brian France, not Bill France. He never attends a race, he doesn't watch it on t.v., and he has no concept of the real world. He's too busy going to parties in L.A., trying to garner the California audience to even care about the sport. Why do you think there is talk of removing him from power by his own family?
Anyone care to place a bet on how soon the first brick gets thrown through the t.v. from the "coverage" at Daytona?

Anonymous said...


whats the deal with "classic" hosting the banquet?

how many people actually have "classic"?


Anonymous said...

Like most of you I hated seeing the part about more sophisticated graphics. We don't need more graphics.

You know when you go to the track and there is the tall pylon that lists the running order? Just turn that horizontal and run it across the top of the screen and that's all I need. How many times have each of us said to ourselves as the network goes to commercial and removes all the graphics just before they show the pictures of the Top 5, "Man that looks nice with nothing on the screen".

In stuns me how there are so many people saying the same thing and they want to do the opposite.

Dot said...

Regarding the Emperor's comments, I'll believe them when I see them via better coverage on ESPU.

BTW, has anybody noticed that ESPU Classic doesn't show the old races anymore? I guess ESPU doesn't want the fans to compare then with now.

SophiaZ123 said...

Yes we have noticed old races are not on CLASSIC anymore.


NO CONSTANT TICKER junking up the screen.

No crappy graphic intrusions..just quick replays without FANCY GRAPHICS INTRODUCING and LEAVING the replays.



KY1WING said...

Maybe my expectations are too high. When I tune in to watch a race . . . I expect to see . . . a race . . . not a rock video, not a screen full of meaningless graphics, not an endless stream of commercials . . . but something novel . . . like a race.

A race with starts and restarts, pit stops and PASSES, reports and followups on cars that drop out or drivers taken to the infield care center.

I'd like to hear about the thirty eight other drivers whose names show up on the crawler but never get mentioned unless they wreck or get in the other five drivers' way.

I'd like to see more than one car take the checkered flag. I want to see graphics that are meaningful (if cars lap the Bristol at 16 seconds a lap and the position crawler takes 20 to complete, how is it presenting any decent information).

If someone makes up 10 positions during a pit stop, I want to know how and why. Same thing if someone loses positions. If it wasn't too much to ask it would be great to hear reports if there was similar action on the track but then that involves someone keeping track of that information and reporting it, instead of announcing what is fed to them. We don't have reporters, we just
have announcers.

Heck, I'd love to just see a pass or two. Doesn't have to be for the lead, just a pass for position.

I thought it was interesting that during several races during the season the announcers were commenting on all the passing taking place around the track, yet nothing showed on the screen.

There is a site that tracks commercials vs. race time, plus drivers mentions. Good info. I'd love it if they'ed take it to another level and track the number of passes shown during the broadcasts and then compare that to the NASCAR stats from loop data. The percentages of passes shown would be a pretty interesting stat to keep an eye on and could be an interesting tool to evaluate the quality of a broadcast. I'd do it . . . if I cared enough about it . . . but Mr. France has pretty muched sucked the interest in his sport from my life. Sad, since I've been going to races since I was two years old and I've turned 50 last January.

Fans talk about how bad the racing is. With the coverage we have now, how can you tell? Good coverage can't make a bad race good. It is what it is. But bad coverage can make a good race bad. Is that what we have now?

Based on what I've seen of the coverage this year, I reserve judgement on the racing. The coverage is so bad, I just can't tell.

I've never produced or directed a race, but if I were thrust into that position, the first thing I would do is pipe MRN into one of my earpieces and then direct the broadcast to show what they are talking about. Putting pictures to an MRN broadcast might not be original, but it would be a heck of a lot better than what we have now.

Enough whining. I've wasted too much of my life, just typing this out. Besides I really don't want Mr. France to think that I care, cause I'm not in his demographics. And he has clearly shown he doesn't care what the fans think. There are more good ideas that show up here daily that would improve coverage in general and the sport overall and it is never considered. Watching the sport for over 40 years now the one thing I've learned is if it ain't France's idea, you're wasting your breath.

Keep up the good work Mr. Daly and all you other posters, keep up the good fight. Hope you prove me wrong some day.

SallyB said...

I'm so horrified I can't remember the details, but I just read that ESPN was given some sort of award in NYC Nascar. Now, if that doesn't prove that Nascar has NO CLUE about how poorly served their, pardon me, 'racertainment' is served by ALL it's TV 'partners', then there is truly no hope at all. They haven't heard a word we've said.

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SophiaZ123 said...

well, without adding to the comments here, I must say I have heard some bad stories on BF.

Big partier, never attends races...really is on a power trip and does NOT care about 'the racin'..only imitating the other sports like NFL.

Pathetic. Folks thought I was kidding when I thought he should be impeached...i.e. run OUT of the family business.

It's no longer funny and he is RUINING the sport but too busy with his night life to care.:(

GinaV24 said...

John, I was listening to Moody's show on Sirius the other night when you were on (before this blog came out I guess) and I have to agree with most other posters on here. I still don't think the Emperor gets what the fans want from the TV broadcasts, no matter what channel they are shown on, which is: green flag racing without too much "clutter" on the screen, knowledgeable broadcast professionals -- I don't want cheerleading or sour grapes from them, just information, to see the restarts and to know what happened with all the drivers through the field, not just the chosen few. One of the things I heard you mention on the radio was that the fans wanted to know what happened when a car and driver had been in a wreck and I agree with you wholeheartedly on that. We NASCAR fans invest a lot of personal interest in the drivers and even if they aren't my "favorite", I still want to know that the driver is OK as soon as possible. NASCAR fans are a knowledgeable bunch of people, not uneducated riffraff and I think sometimes the NASCAR powers that be forget that. I hope that you are right and France actually steps up to this challenge and gets ESPN and TNT, too, since they were absolutely pathetic as well, otherwise, this new TV contract could do even more damage to NASCAR's fan base.

Rich said...

My concern is, How much sayso does NASCAR have in how ESPN puts together the broadcast???? ESPN has paid big dollars for the rights to air NASCAR,Don't you think they will call the shots on how they want to set up their production?? So far thetre has been no substanial statements from ESPN to all of the unhappy fan mail they have recieved. In their case ,silence is not golden. We fans want some answers. Come on ESPN, Give us a little hope anyway. Rich

Anonymous said...

I'm finally getting caught up on all of the blogs here....

Thornton,Colorado said...
'Remember,people. We are dealing with Brian France, not Bill France. He never attends a race, he doesn't watch it on t.v., and he has no concept of the real world. He's too busy going to parties in L.A., trying to garner the California audience to even care about the sport. Why do you think there is talk of removing him from power by his own family?'

The France family is talking about removing him? Seriously? This is the first I've heard about it which is why I'm asking. Wouldn't that be a happy day in the business if it does happen?

I was sorry to read that ESPN will be broadcasting the Daytona 500, too. Fortunately, I will be there for ten days of all the racing I can stand. I've been planning on attending this race since August of 2006. The tickets arrived in the mail this past week, too. Sweet! :-)

free playstation 3 said...

this is worse than fox dumbing-down hockey (the fighting hockey robots and glowing puck). espn needs to stop dumbing-down nascar. just because you HAVE the technology to do certain things doesn't mean you have to DO those things. oh yeah, and get kuselis off of nascar now and let him go back to espn radio where he belongs.