Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Code Red" Continues At ESPN


There may not have been sirens and flashing lights inside of the ESPN Broadcast Center, but there was clearly a "NASCAR state of emergency" declared last Friday afternoon that has continued through today.

Whatever happened, and who ever did it, the effects have been sweeping across the ESPN networks and programs. Suddenly, NASCAR discussions are taking place on programs that have openly mocked the sport for years. Suddenly, NASCAR promos are being read by announcers at college football games that do not know Jimmie Johnson from Junior Johnson or Darlington from Daytona.

The NASCAR comments originating from some ESPN announcers are actually finding their way onto the Internet courtesy of alert NASCAR fans. Note to ESPN: Do not let college football announcers talk NASCAR unless they are prepared to live on YouTube forever.

NASCAR fans are still cringing from the staged liveshot with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon at halftime of the Monday Night Football Game. Stuart Scott, one of the biggest racing-haters on ESPN was chosen to interview two tough NASCAR stars. Only several things were missing. Instead of two drivers in uniforms pumping the racing action coming-up at Homestead, ESPN had arranged for something...a bit different.

What viewers got was two buffed and polished "actors" sitting side-by-side in cozy chairs and fashionable clothes talking about togetherness and camaraderie. Several Daly Planet readers suggested these two had gone from "fearless racing drivers" to "stylish metrosexuals" in one interview. That term was coined for the buffed New York City young professionals who seem to be "just out of the spa" anytime of the day or night.

What ESPN and NASCAR were trying to accomplish in this interview was anybody's guess. It certainly did not make anyone want to tune-into a NASCAR race. The hastily expanded one hour editions of NASCAR Now have become nothing more than a chance to re-air old features and add more commentary to a program already light on hard news.

In a way, this sudden company-wide "push" to promote the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race is simply embarrassing. The reason is easy to understand. It did not have to happen this way. When one looks for the cause of this late-season scramble, they need look no further than the ESPN campus in Bristol, CT.

In February, NASCAR fans were expecting a return to the focused and racing-driven coverage of NASCAR that ESPN had seemed to perfect in the 1980's and 90's. Instead, what greeted them for the Daytona Busch Series race was the trio of Brent Musburger, Chris Fowler, and Brad Daugherty. The only two people missing were Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski.

Since that time, ESPN has limped along with little support for the trio of Jerry Punch, Rusty Wallace, and Andy Petree. The most recent example was the visit of the Mike and Mike in the Morning ESPN Radio show to the Texas Motor Speedway.

As the hours of the show went by, no one from NASCAR was present and there were no NASCAR stories. Finally, in the last thirty minutes Jimmie Johnson showed-up to answer some obligatory questions from the racing-challenged hosts.

NASCAR fans also had some questions. Where was Jerry Punch? Where was Rusty Wallace? Why didn't big sports fan Allen Bestwick or glamour girl Jamie Little stop-by? Where was the ESPN NASCAR team's presence on an ESPN show at an ESPN race? The answer...there was none.

This is typical of the off-balance and disjointed approach ESPN has taken to integrating NASCAR into a company that is staunchly "stick and ball" sports across the board. Consider this, ESPN showed Joe Torre stepping onto the field live at Dodger stadium while being announced as the new team Manager. They actually interrupted regular programming to show this live to the nation.

Several weeks ago in Memphis, TN a young driver named David Reutimann won his first Busch Series race in over fifty starts. He was driving one of the cars decorated that weekend by the children from St. Jude's Children's Hospital, which is located in Memphis. It was a program that NASCAR fans were aware of only through the Internet, as nothing had been mentioned on ESPN's NASCAR Now or on the Busch Series live coverage.

After Reutimann took the checkered flag, ESPN immediately left Memphis to join a college football game that had not yet started. They did not care that it was Reutimann's first win, they did not care that one of the young patients had designed his car, they did not care about NASCAR. What they did care about was that no sports fan should miss Joe Torre's first steps on the hallowed ground of Dodger Stadium.

Needless to say, there was no follow-up with Reutimann on ESPN News, or ESPN SportsCenter. There was no brief taped interview with him on halftime of the football game that interrupted his moment in the sun. As NASCAR fans know all too well this season, when it comes to ESPN and NASCAR, there is no effort extended to follow-up any post-race stories.

This Sunday the final NEXTEL Cup race of the season will be produced by the ESPN on ABC team. It is scheduled to start slightly before 4PM Eastern Time. Most NASCAR races in this series run about three and a half hours. The track at Homestead has lights for night racing. One small South Florida afternoon rain shower could easily delay this event by thirty minutes. One red flag period for accident clean-up could do the same.

At 8PM Eastern Time Sunday night host Jimmy Kimmel will welcome the nation to the American Music Awards from the NOKIA Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. This program is live on the ABC Broadcast Network.

There are not two ABC networks. The local stations across the nation will be making the choice to stay with the NASCAR race, or move to the primetime live awards show. This season, ABC stations have left live races for local news, inserted local news updates over the racing, and covered the pre-race show.

NASCAR fans are not optimistic that stations are going to stay if the race is in-progress, and are certainly not going to stay to watch the NEXTEL Cup Championship trophy given to the winner if it is past 8PM. The big question on the mind of the fans is whether ESPN is ready to join this race or this presentation in-progress on one of their mainstream networks?

If the footsteps of Joe Torre into the blue world of Dodger Stadium can interrupt national programming on ESPN, than maybe the final NASCAR race of the season can do the same thing. If the programming on the local ABC stations suddenly changes from Tony Stewart to Jimmy Kimmel without any other TV options, NASCAR fans are going to think long and hard about how ESPN and ABC have treated them this season.

Maybe NASCAR should take a moment and think about that as well.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.

78 comments:

Lisa Hogan said...

Well said, JD!

stricklinfan82 said...

Nice to see ESPN is providing as minimal coverage of the on-track happenings at Homestead this week as possible. Thankfully Speed Channel is there to cover most of the on-track action in their absence.

When ESPN actually has the time to provide live coverage of an event, NASCAR fans are stuck with the very likely possibility of pre-emptions:

Friday:
ESPN2: Live tennis at 12:30 PM
ESPN2: Live Cup qualifying at 3:00 PM

Anyone remember the Michigan Busch race that immediately followed tennis? Would qualifying be bumped to Classic too or will that be deemed "unimportant" by the ESPN suits and be joined-in-progress whenever tennis ends?

Saturday:
ESPN2: Live college football at Noon
ESPN2: Live Cup Happy Hour at 3:00
ESPN2: Live Busch Race at 4:00
ESPN2: Live college football at 8:00

And no, when the college football game runs longer than 3 hours as it always does, Happy Hour can't be moved to ESPN Classic or ESPN because live college football is on both of those networks at that time. Best case for NASCAR fans (barring a miracle 3 hour or less football game, HAHAHAHA) would be a joined-in-progress broadcast of 15 minutes or so, barring overtime, in which case we'd get nothing. The only other time to fit in a delayed Happy Hour broadcast would be whenever the midnight tennis coverage ends (2:30, maybe 3:00 AM?) Add in a little rain on Saturday and the Busch race will end up on ESPN Classic. Just what NASCAR wanted by giving the Busch Series it's own exclusive network I'm sure. Good thing the championship race is over or things would be even more ugly if the championship was settled on a network most people don't have access to.

And of course, if the Cup race runs slightly longer than normal because of yellow fever or a red flag for SAFER barrier repair, or God forbid rain falls in Florida (that will never happen I'm sure), the new TV network that's paying millions to televise the second half of the season WILL DUMP THE SEASON ENDING, CHAMPIONSHIP DECIDING RACE TO CABLE!!!!!!!!!!

In a way I'm actually rooting for all of these scenarios to play out. If Cup qualifying for the final race of the season airs on ESPN Classic or is simply joined-in-progress, the final race of the Busch Series season ends up on ESPN Classic, Happy Hour coverage of the final race of the season is tape-delayed until 3 AM, and the crowning of the Nextel Cup Champion takes place on ESPN2 or ESPN Classic, maybe THEN NASCAR will wake up and realize they made a tragic mistake and do something to get out of their current TV mess.

w17scott said...

Mr. Editor -
Your comments continue to be on point ...this brings to mind the familiar refrain "Wait 'til next year" and Billy Martin's hilarious words of the Lite Beer ads when George Steinbrenner says, "Billy, you're hired!" to which Martin replied, "Oh no, not again" ...that short quote sums up my feelings about ESPN's likely plans for NASCAR programming in 2008 - Walter

Matt said...

I have to tell you, Stricklinfan, I'm hoping for the same thing. Kinda mean isn't it? LOL

Newracefan said...

JD you hit the nail on the head again. You keep writing I'll keep reading.

ESPN's poor planning should not be my problem but it is and hopefully Stricklinfan82 predictions of ESPN Classic don't come true because I like many do not get ESPN classic. That said I actually enjoyed most of the Nascar Now show on Wednesday. The rookie exam was funny but where was Reutimann and poor Paul Menard's answers are on the cutting room floor. The other pieces were not bad either but Erik is still pushing the crashes- Boywer upside down (of course his most memorable was the win, Erik please get a clue)and Reutimann into the wall, we've seen these enough. I also wish there was a real analyst there (or videoed in)besides Brad, he still isn't working for me and really does not add anything. Bring back Bill Lester he's well spoken, intellegent, and actually knows Nascar.

Ritchie said...

John, I agree with you 100%. The hatred for NASCAR at ESPN seems to be institutionalized. The latest "get out of jail free card" for ESPN sportscasters is the phrase "I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on NASCAR". Frankly, that is unacceptable. If sports is your profession, you should know sports - all sports. It amazes me that on a show such as The Sports Reporters, that those guys can wax poetic about the second string left tackle for the Florida Gators, but can't tell you who Matt Kenseth is. I made the mistake of listening to Mike & Mike during their Texas broadcast and could not believe that after two hours I still had not heard them talk about the race. In fact, Jimmy Johnson (the football coach Jimmy Johnson) talked more about racing than either Mike did.

I noticed that USA Today had an article about the ratings being off by 9% when compared to last year. ESPN should feel lucky that viewership hasn't fallen off even more than that. I realize that correlation does not equal causation, and some of the drop may have been caused by NASCAR's recent lack of marketing prowess, but as a viewer I simply do not feel comfortable watching NASCAR on ESPN. I am constantly worried that some on-air personality there is going to mock my favorite sport. Sorry ESPN, but its the last race of the year and now is simply too late for the mocking to end.

Busch Series Fan! said...

One again JD you are on the mark. I was amazed during Mike & Mike from Texas that we didn't see much Nascar folks. Lucky for us, we made it to Ft. Worth for the truck race so got up close to the racing that weekend. I hate to say this but ESPN/ABC treats Nascar like a stepchild.

Anonymous said...
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carson said...

As long as the huge check from ESPN to NASCAR clears then I'm sure that Brian France and company aren't losing too much sleep over all of this. Its unfortunate for all of the true race fans but money talks. I bet if MTV wrote a big enough check then you'd see them screw up Nascar TV coverage too. All of the head honchos like to talk about NASCAR being all about the fans but in reality its about their bank accounts. And I still don't believe the any reporter/tv analyst can cover 2 sports effectively. Suzy Kolber makes me so angry but dont even get me started on her and the rest of those clowns that ESPN flies across the country to every race.

Anonymous said...

"That said I actually enjoyed most of the Nascar Now show on Wednesday. The rookie exam was funny but where was Reutimann and poor Paul Menard's answers are on the cutting room floor."

I cannot believe that NASCAR Now waited 40 minutes into their show to (briefly) mention Robbie Reiser leaving the #17 to become Roush general manager. Which happened to be an exclusive story to ESPN.com this morning. There's no excuse for that. They should have had Newton on to update his story and let us know when the official announcement is coming. I repeat - NO EXCUSE.

However, Patrick Carpentier did provide a chuckle in his interview with his (serious) pronunciation of Clint Bowyer - "Clint buoy-yay". He's a good interview.

William said...

Nail on the head JD!
I think someone at ESPN was miffed that NASCAR would strike back at them and had this put out
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2007-11-13-nascar-ratings_N.htm
It's a clear attack on NASCAR's value on a national sports station.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Jamie Little is pretty and tall, not "huge". Not her fault the drivers are short. But she is not a good NASCAR pit reporter.

William said...
Nail on the head JD!
I think someone at ESPN was miffed that NASCAR would strike back at them and had this put out
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/hiestand-tv/2007-11-13-nascar-ratings_N.htm
It's a clear attack on NASCAR's value on a national sports station.

November 14, 2007 9:38 PM

Don't agree that it was an attack. It was a look at the ratings trends at the end of the season.

I would love to know the exact percentage of the "big losses" of viewers over age 55 cited in that article. I wonder if NASCAR and ESPN may come to regret losing them.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If they are losing the "55 and older" group NASCAR is not alone...


National ratings through seven weeks, CBS' NFL games are averaging 9.8%, up 7% over last season, while Fox games are averaging 10%, down 4%. (NBC's Sunday primetime games are drawing 10.1%, down 9%, while ESPN's Monday night games are drawing 7.3%, down 18%.) (Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY)

It seems ESPN is screwing up the NFL broadcasts too!

I too hope the end of the Homestead broadcast is a debacle.

Sometimes embarrassment is a better motivator.

With NASCAR providing the motivation.

I have my Sirius set to 128 to catch the real post race and then on to Victory Lane on Speed.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is an important week in college football, as there are several teams with bowl/conference/BCS expectations this weekend.

Oh wait, there's a Busch race with a championship that was already clinched featuring a bunch of people who you'll see tomorrow anyway, never mind.

You all do realize that SPEED is devoting pretty much the ENTIRE weekend to NASCAR. IRL, CCWS, and other American series didn't even get qualifying shown. DTM, V8, and others don't even have their races shown. F1 didn't get massive coverage, yet they had a great battle for the championship, and no contrived "chase."

SophiaZ123 said...
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Anonymous said...

Announcements on SPEED: SPEED will interrupt its telecast of the Busch Series race replay Thursday afternoon (Nov. 15) at 1:00pm/et to present a LIVE NASCAR press conference from Homestead.(SPEED PR)(11-14-2007)

Anonymous said...

I think you're being much too hard on the Gordon/Johnson Monday Night Football appearance. What did you expect? They would have looked stupid if they've shown up in their uniforms on a live Monday night interview when there was no race after the interview.

You act like they were wearing Armani suits and ties. I saw two drivers in shirts and jeans. Did you want them to show up with untucked shirts like Jr to make them seem more "tough"? (Jr and a number of other drivers are way too old for that look, by the way.)

The setting looked like every other playoff halftime interview I've seen with any football or basketball player via satellite from a home or office. They do not act tough, they do not wear their uniforms, and sometimes have their children crawling all over them and have to move them away from the camera.

Unless my ears deceived me, they and Scott did talk about racing and racing this weekend. Was this interview going to make anyone tune in on Sunday? Nope, but if they'd shown up in their uniforms and looked "tougher" it wouldn't have made anyone who wasn't inclined to tune in either. But at least they'll be familiar with who these guys are now, which is probably the goal: to place them in the sports mainstream.

Anonymous said...

D you seem to always hit the nail on the head. Little is the ONLY bright spot on pit road. and I think you should allow only one comment per blogger in response to your articles. I get tired of reading one writer waffle all over the place.

Sandie said...

JD rules! <3

@stricklinfan82--It's definitely going to be an interesting weekend! I wasn't even thinking of the tape delay option ala one (at least) IRL race! I was looking at the Sunday schedule and their options. I have no clue what "College Football Live" is or how "flexible" it is and there's a movie on Classic and live basketball on ESPN. But that's definitely my hope too! Literally have ESPN up against the wall and seeing how they handle this "pumped up" weekend. While Busch isn't as big of an issue, as you said we have Happy Hour on Saturday.

drh277 said...

From Mike and Mike to PTI to Around the Horn to Jim Rome, it is comical to see these folks toe the company line.

Awesome Post John. I find myself checking your blog as soon as I get to work each night in anticipation of what you have to say. Well done and keep up the great work.

jfs-va said...

However, Patrick Carpentier did provide a chuckle in his interview with his (serious) pronunciation of Clint Bowyer - "Clint buoy-yay". He's a good interview.

I liked that French pronunciation of Bowyer too.

JD, not sure I would call Reutimann a young driver. He's 37 I believe. Not saying that is old, but he's not exactly a David Ragan.

Anonymous said...

I just watched yesterday's NASCAR Now on my DVR. I must say I thought it was the best show of the year. Clint Bowyer (boy-yay) was good as usual as was Carpentier. I felt they had a decent mix of features and information. Looking forward to see what changes are made in the show for next season.

Terry said...

Well stated and I agree. I only wish you had added "The Three Stoogges" of the Pre-race commentary to your article. And their ridiculous updates throughout the race. They are the worst I have had to endure/listen to in years. I for one can not wait for them to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Instead, what greeted them for the Daytona Busch Series race was the trio of Brent Musburger, Chris Fowler, and Brad Daugherty. The only two people missing were Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski.

JD, that's classic! I can still remember how puzzled Fowler looked, like he ended up at the circus by mistake. A colossal misjudgment by ESPN and very unfair to those of us who expect a knowledgeable host for a big race.

You act like they were wearing Armani suits and ties. I saw two drivers in shirts and jeans. Did you want them to show up with untucked shirts like Jr to make them seem more "tough"? (Jr and a number of other drivers are way too old for that look, by the way.)

I didn't see the interview, but if Jimmie and Jeff were dressed decently, good for them. Talk about cringing - I cringe whenever I watch Dale Jr making a TV talk show appearance - Regis and Kelly, Jon Stewart - or press conference public appearance - his #88 announcement - in a wrinkled, untucked button-down shirt. I can't remember the last time I've seen him dressed any other way. Great for wearing around town, not great for TV.

Busch Series Fan! said...

Carpentier is going to make a lot of fans next year he was terrific on NN.

PJ said...

ESPN.com has an article from Tim Cowlishaw in which he details the ways he thinks NASCAR can improve the chase and to improve attendance/viewership. One of his comments is to move more of the races in the fall to Saturday nights so they don't go head to head with the NFL. I've been attempting to post a comment to that article telling him he is insane, but for some reason ESPN's website won't let me.

Can you imagine what the viewership (especially from southern markets) and attendance numbers would look like if fall races in Atlanta, Texas and Talladega had to compete directly with college football?

I know many, many people who are on campus on Saturday for a football game and at the racetrack on Sunday for the race. If a choice had to be made between the two, however, the season tickets that have been in the family for years would win out 9 times out of 10.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything that we, the fans can do to change this? I have been so terribly disappointed with ESPN's coverage. What is the problem? How could they mess this up so terribly? I really wish that Speed would take over all broadcasting of all NASCAR events. We need a network devoted to our sport. How is NASCAR feeling about this? They keep worrying about losing fans, they had better wake up before the rest of us turn off the TVs.

Anonymous said...

I too tried to comment on Tim Cowlishaw's article without success. I thought it somewhat amusing that he brought up several things that need to be fixed with NASCAR. However, he failed to mention that what needs fixed MOST is his own network!

Photojosh said...

It will be a sad sad day if ABC dumps the end of the race to go to a second-rate awards show. how pathetic.

Although, to be fair, for what JD has said sports is the ugly step-child on ABC just like NASCAR is the ugly step-child on ESPN. So it wouldn't exactly surprise me.

At the very least, I'd like to know beforehand where the race is going to go so I can set up my Tivo correctly. I'm sure that won't happen though.

Mike said...

Problem with the announcers in ALL sports these days is that they are like puppets, being paraded around by the clueless owners of the networks that seem to think they know what is right all the time. I wish they would step back and see that "reality TV" doesn't work with live sports. Get some announcers that aren't idiots too. I like Dale Jarrett when he does the Busch races....someone please hire him full time!!!! Get rid of Brent Musberger and some of these other clowns who think they know something about cars. Most of them are lucky they know how to turn the car on and put it in drive. My only wish is that SpeedTv would get rid of their junk TV shows and put on more grassroots racing. If they actually put on some live short track racing against NASCAR, they might do REALLY WELL! I know I would watch some short track dirt over NAPCAR anyday of the week. I use to love to sit and watch a race on a Sunday, but anymore, I find myself switching channels more than ever. No wonder the ratings are slipping....NO ONE IS WATCHING ANYMORE!!!!! Wake up Broadcast America!

Anonymous said...

I cringe whenever I watch Dale Jr making a TV talk show appearance - Regis and Kelly, Jon Stewart - or press conference public appearance - his #88 announcement - in a wrinkled, untucked button-down shirt. I can't remember the last time I've seen him dressed any other way. Great for wearing around town, not great for TV.
That's his image. His fans like it.
They don't want to see him wearing a crisp, white, button-down shirt, tucked in, while he holds a glass of wine.

And you can bet that Kelley made sure to negotiate that image into his HMS contract, too. Because she knows that acting like Jimmie and Jeff and dressing like them will alienate Junior's (considerably larger) fan base.

Anonymous said...

If they actually put on some live short track racing against NASCAR, they might do REALLY WELL

No. No chance. NASCAR's spending money to promote short track local racing. Know why?

Because not enough people care to go see it. It's cheap and they still can't fill the seats. So there's no way it's going to be shown live on national TV.

Cup racing, whether you like it or not, is seen as the Major League.

If "nobody" is watching it, then even fewer people are going to watch short-track racing with people thy've never heard of driving.

elena said...

I have no idea why some here have said they cannot comment on Cowlishaw's article on ESPN. I posted a comment and see that there was a comment posted 11 minutes ago. So the problem in not in ESPN's site, it's yours.

elena said...

JD, great comments as usual. One of the things I have noticed though, the coverage is not the only thing that NASCAR has to worry about. I have a sense from reading all these different blogs, that the tv coverage is not what's on most fans minds.

No matter how bad ESPN is, I will continue to watch it. I love NASCAR and want to keep up with the race, so what choice do I have? I'm glad that you and others are holding their feet to the fire to give us a better product.

The thing is that many here bring up the ratings and how they have gone down since 2005. Well, maybe it's not the tv coverage, but the Chase. I mean the anger out there is growing with every article.

I find it amazing that someone from Nascar Images, Ryan McGee, would write an angry article blasting fans. How on earth cannot that be put in the equation when judging why NASCAR viewership is declining? So it isn't only the disrespect shown on ESPN the television format, maybe we need to consider ESPN the magazine that Ryan writes for.

Anonymous said...
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elena said...

Ryan McGee' article was on ESPN.com not the magazine.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Tony Kornheiser, in one of his few comments on NASCAR, make a crack about Junior's appearance at his press conference? I believe he said something like, how important can this announcement be if the guy can't bother to dress up for his press conference?

tony's influential, like it or not. There's a lot of bias against NASCAR and that kind of stuff just feeds into it. I'm not saying it's right, but I think we're going to see a lot more of it in the next few years on ESPN if Junior does appearances and stuff like that looking kinda like a slob. (I'm a fan, I'm used to it, but looking at it objectively, I can see what the poster upthread is saying). He may need to grow up a bit in his TV image, not saying he has to drink wine or anything.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your column since early this season (thanks to Jayski) and I must say it is a very informative and entertaining site and it has become part of my daily reading regimen. Thank you for your hard work, John, it is appreciated.

The more I read about ESPN's NASCAR coverage in your column, the I more I wonder about the amount of animosity that remains from their loss of the TV deal in 2001. I was a big fan of their race coverage and was very disappointed to see them having to conduct driver interviews from the track parking lot every week. It wasn't long afterwards that (at least from my vantage point) ESPN began ignoring NASCAR across the board. Am I way off base in thinking that there may be a little payback at work here?

Scott said...

Totally agree!

This past weekend one football announcer said to the other(in a manner of disbelief) "so you are A FAN of the big left turn?" Followed by big laughs...

I couldn't believe it!

The only thing ESPN could do to make things worse is to shove Tony Kornheiser in the both with Rusty, Jerry and Andy!

Lord, please bring Eli Gold back to the NASCAR TV booth!!!!!!!!

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- As a long-time racing fan, what fascinates me is the conspiracy within the majority of the print media to offer no criticism at all of the TV media - and especially to virtually never mention that the decline in TV ratings may reflect how fans view the TV presentation of the NASCAR product, rather than the product itself. Obviously members of the print media have some self-interest involved since a member of the print media who criticizes ESPN can count on never being invited to appear on ESPN.

AnnOminous said...

FYI, that Busch series "Rookie Final Exam" footage has been shown before.

Shades of NASCAR Images!!!

Lisa Hogan said...
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Anonymous said...

The decision to leave or stay with the nascar race will not be left with individual staion. ABC will have set network "ground rules" well prior to the event with all eventualities covered. They write these things down to the second, with "if/then" instructions (ie IF the green flag fall after 7:55 but BEFORE 8:00 pm, THEN the remor e will execute a panic (10 second) close and sign-off which will lead to a :93 second station break ....etc etc.
The network fees to the staions will be switched from New York. The stations won't have a choice of NASCAR or the Music Awards.

Anonymous said...

Obviously members of the print media have some self-interest involved since a member of the print media who criticizes ESPN can count on never being invited to appear on ESPN.

Doesn't matter. It's not their job to appear on TV. Some reporters' newspapers won't even allow it.

I see no conspiracy--I've read many stories written by print reporters that address NASCAR's TV ratings and attendance issues.

elena said...

The comment about Jr's casual dress reminds me that this past weekend come comments from the booth about Kasey having dyed his hair black. And sure enough, when he was interviewed that was I think the first thing that was asked of him. I wanted to through a shoe at the tv. Would they ask a female athlete is she was a bleached blonde? Race track interviews should not sound like coming from taboids.

Richard in N.C. said...

Except for 1 story in the Bristol, Va (Tenn?) newspaper a couple of weeks ago, I have not seen any articles this year commenting on even the possibility that how FOX, TNT, or ESPN are presenting NASCAR might have an impact on the decline in ratings. The inference is always that fans are tiring of NASCAR - not that they might be unhappy with how the networks are presenting the races. NASCAR seems to be a favorite target of the NASCAR racing, print media - maybe because negative press sells. In the day of falling circulation, a reporter's getting on TV and thereby getting their paper TV exposure is likely to be prized by most newspapers.

Anonymous said...

In the day of falling circulation, a reporter's getting on TV and thereby getting their paper TV exposure is likely to be prized by most newspapers.

Really? When you see a reporter on TV, do you go out and buy that reporter's newspaper?

Me neither. No benefit to circulation.

Anonymous said...

they might be unhappy with how the networks are presenting the races. NASCAR seems to be a favorite target of the NASCAR racing, print media - maybe because negative press sells.

Wouldn't a story about how badly ESPN is doing also be "negative"?

Anonymous said...
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Amy said...

Okay, I agree that ESPN has its faults, but why does everyone see the drop in ratings as being related solely to the way ESPN handles its broadcasts, rather than looking at the fact that NASCAR itself is no longer what it used to be? I am frankly tired of cookie-cutter tracks and BORING races, and of NASCAR taking the fans for granted, and of tracks charging ridiculous sums to attend races. It's become a joke. And it seems nearly everyone who covers NASCAR is so concerned with sucking up to NASCAR that they won't point out the problems resulting from Bruton the Bully owning nearly every track on the planet, or from NASCAR's unpredictable and unfairly-applied penalties. I listen to ESPN and Claire B. Lang talking about how great Bruton is for the sport, and how the fans in New Hampshire are so fortunate that Bruton bought the place, and it makes me want to scream. And while reporters jump on football and baseball teams who want the public to pay for their new stadiums, it seems nobody who covers NASCAR has any problem with Bruton wanting the taxpayers to subsidize their profits!

I used to love NASCAR. I've been a fan for nearly my whole life and I used to schedule my Sundays (or Saturday nights) around races. No more. I barely watch any longer. Yeah, ESPN is lousy and it ticks me off to watch their coverage. But FOX is not much better and DW drives me just as bonkers. Still, I could put up with inept broadcasters if the sport were any good. But it's broken in my mind and I simply don't care to watch. It would be great if ESPN would fix its coverage, but more fundamental to me is the fact that NASCAR needs to fix itself.

Anonymous said...

elena said...
"Would they ask a female athlete is she was a bleached blonde?" Race track interviews should not sound like coming from taboids."

Yes, they would. Follow any tennis player, figure skater, or female soccer player in the media and their appearance (hair color, weight, clothes, makeup) is continually noted. And in exchange, many of those athletes make millions of dollars from marketers who want to make money from regular folks who are fans of those players in part because of their appearance. It's the way of the sports world.

Asking about a hair color change doesn't seem tabloid-ish to me, especially during practice or qualifying which are more relaxed events. If TV reporters were asking questions about something more personal, like a driver's ever-changing array of girlfriends, that's different and shouldn't be done on air.

If NASCAR fans don't want it to be part of the general sports world -which includes media that mentions personal information like marriages and social lives (look at Tony Romo), that's understandable, but also understand that the general media coverage of the drivers will suffer. Fans might be OK with that, but I don't think Mike Helton, the Frances and the upper folks will be.

Anonymous said...

'Several anons are upset about Jr.’s wardrobe choices; while another anon understands that Jr. is comfortable in his choices. As long as Jr. is comfortable, his sponsors are comfortable, and his fans are comfortable, I feel that it’s not my concern.'

I direct you to JD's original post, which said 'What viewers got was two buffed and polished "actors" sitting side-by-side in cozy chairs and fashionable clothes talking about togetherness and camaraderie. Several Daly Planet readers suggested these two had gone from "fearless racing drivers" to "stylish metrosexuals" in one interview.'

Why is it OK to for those readers to criticize Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for the way they dressed? Obviously it is of concern to someone if they emailed JD. J/J's sponsors are comfortable with them and have been for many years- so why are they open to criticism if they're comfortable with their wardrobe choices? why is it of concern here?

Richard in N.C. said...

ANONYMOUS 4:10 & 4:11- A positive appearance by a reporter on TV(such as on ESPN) might make me check out his articles on the internet - which is one reason I frequently read Jason Whitlock. The point I was trying to make is that an appearance on ESPN is prized by print reporters (and probably by their editor) and criticizing ESPN is likely to guarantee no further ESPN appearances - e.g., Jason Whitlock. It appears to me that the sports print media does not criticize other parts of the sports media - especially ESPN, since ESPN is TV, radio, and print.

Yes, NASCAR TV ratings have declined for reasons other than ESPN - but its TV ratings have declined for reasons other than the quality of the races and it is now possible to follow the races other than just by radio and ESPN/FOX/TNT, which I have not seen mentioned in sports articles criticizing NASCAR for falling ratings.

Anonymous said...

Hey JD, got to love you for trying to get ESPN to stay in the box, but what box do you think they were staying in? All your talk and articles are not going to sway a sports television company from doing what's best for the fans. You must remeber just how bad ESPN got during their last years televising NASCAR, and hell they even prerecorded the truck races at the end and lost that coverage to Speed. So these people have nothing to fear, and the seasons almost over and most people will just forget about them (ESPN) till next year.Does anyone that follows NSACAR think that NASCAR the corp side could really give a hoot about the TV viewer?? Don't think so...

As it was brought up in an earlier article on here, ABC bought the rights to keep them from going to another network, and NASCAR could care less, that is till Bill France and company see the bottom line start going SOUTH,and I'm not talking as to the South where NASCAR should of stayed.

DC

Anonymous said...

ESPN spin on nascar.com

--ESPN executive vice president of content, John Skipper, said the network has seen positive results from its return to NASCAR.

"As we've said from the beginning, our multi-platform approach means success for us goes beyond TV ratings," Skipper said. "NASCAR has been a highly rated addition for ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC."

More than 122 million people have watched NASCAR on ESPN this year, and ABC's Sunday afternoon races have rated more than five times higher among key male and adult demos than the programming that was in the same time slots last year. "We did attract new, younger fans to the sport, and new fans in some major markets like New York," Skipper said.

bowlalpo said...

If they are losing the "55 and older" group NASCAR is not alone...


National ratings through seven weeks, CBS' NFL games are averaging 9.8%, up 7% over last season, while Fox games are averaging 10%, down 4%. (NBC's Sunday primetime games are drawing 10.1%, down 9%, while ESPN's Monday night games are drawing 7.3%, down 18%.) (Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY)

It seems ESPN is screwing up the NFL broadcasts too!

Not totally; the CBS increase is only due to Indy-NE; the NBC drop is because many conservatives are boycotting them because of Olbermann. But ESPN HAS made MNF pretty much unwatchable as previously ref'd by a NY Post article.

Lisa Hogan said...

anon anon- Sorry you are upset. I guess you missed the :)
Hope you feel better now. :)

elena said...

anon 4.35
I follow sports quite a bit. I guess I have missed when an athlete has been asked if they bleach their hair. I DID NOT SAY THEY DID'T COMMENT ON THOSE THINGS. Even with obvious changes like the William sisters who often wear hair extensions, not a word to their face.

Anyway, this blog gives me an opportunity to express myself. I stick with my opinion. I felt so sorry for Kasey when he was asked. He really looked like he was blind sided and said nothing for a prolonged moment. He was clearly embarrassed. Then he blurted something quickly and the interview went south. I don't think he's thinking of adversitzing for hair coloring.

vive la difference

elena said...

to lisa hogan

Nice touch. :>)

John P. said...

Words cannot express what a terrible job ESPN/ABC has done with NASCAR programming this year. Worse would have been an impossibility !!

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Anonymous said...

All your talk and articles are not going to sway a sports television company from doing what's best for the fans.

Great, when is ESPN going to start doing that?

elena said...

Right now on NN they have interviewed both Jimmie and Jeff. Pretty good interviews. I mean how many ways can you ask the obvious questions you'd ask of the 2 top contenders? Nice interview with Rick Hendrick. I liked seeing Todd Bodine and seeing him getting some camera time. They should have been doing this all season long.

Anonymous said...

Why is it OK to for those readers to criticize Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for the way they dressed?

Because that's symptomatic of the larger problem.

We want Ricky Bobby, not Jean Girard, as the face of NASCAR.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for all the great comments, I am just coming on to get things back on-track.

To Anon 2:51PM...I was very surprised to learn that the ABC local stations are considered their own little businesses.

After a big mess earlier this season where many ABC local stations left a NASCAR broadcast before it concluded, the ESPN official Media Person for NASCAR told me ABC was different.

Because this is ESPN on ABC and not part of ABC Entertainment, stations can choose where to go and what program to take. The ABC 8PM Music Awards will be the primary program of the evening.

My column merely reference the fact that the broadcast network scheduling of ABC has put the NEXTEL Cup Series in a very tight "on-air box" during The Chase.

Often, it meant little or no post-race with absolutely no additional NASCAR content showing up on ESPN News or SportsCenter. There was a time, before ESPN got NASCAR back, that ESPN News used to carry the NASCAR post-race interviews from the Infield Media Center live.

What we talk about on this site is TV, and not driver rankings or fan chatter. TV drives the NASCAR bus, and this season it has taken a wrong turn.

The only question for passengers like us is...who is really driving?

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now wasn't as good tonight as it was Tues/Wed, Maybe because most of the focus was on Gordon and Johnson again. But it is Thursday and those two are in Miami, so I suppose it's fair to go back to concentrating on them. I missed seeing features on other drivers, though.

anonymous 9:30pm, they still didn't mention Robbie Reiser today, even though David Poole and others have talked to Robbie today. I guess they don't think it's important? Hard to believe but I guess that's the way it is in ESPN-world.

Re: Dale Jr. and the untucked shirts on TV - it's a free country and his fans put a lot of pressure on him to be the anti-Jeff Gordon. He should be able to have the image he wants, so if that's what he wants too, great. But...all I can say is I saw a group picture of all four 2008 Hendrick drivers and Mr. Hendrick in identical Chevy polo shirts some time ago. Dale Jr. was the only one who had his oversized shirt hanging out and heading towards his knees. Unfortunately, in that setting, it didn't look rebellious or individual. It merely looked like he forgot to tuck in his shirt; therefore he ended up looking somewhat silly.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Are the AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS an ABC production - an ABC property? If so, couldn't ABC delay the start for a short time if necessary? And, if so,is there any chance they would? As I recall, it has not been unusual for CBS to delay the start of 60 MINUTES when an NFL game ran long - even when 60 MINUTES was No. 1 or 2 in the ratings. Thank you.

Sandie said...

@elena--it *could* have been ESPNs site when they tried it. It happens from time to time, folks posting on message boards asking if others are having trouble with a particular site (it's a site related to the forum topic). Many times at that particular time others are as well. Often someone will see the post a few hours later and try and not have an issue. So it *is* possible when they tried there were issues and no problem when you went by 3 hours later.

Anonymous said...

Are the AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS an ABC production - an ABC property? If so, couldn't ABC delay the start for a short time if necessary? And, if so,is there any chance they would? As I recall, it has not been unusual for CBS to delay the start of 60 MINUTES when an NFL game ran long - even when 60 MINUTES was No. 1 or 2 in the ratings.

60 Minutes is a recorded show.

The awards ceremony is a live show with hundreds of people in the audience.

Not the same thing at all.

Anonymous said...

He should be able to have the image he wants, so if that's what he wants too, great.

We're talking about the image his fans want.

They went ballistic on message boards just because his hair was combed more neatly for the announcement.

Change his style of dress, and they'll revolt.

They don't want a polished, sharp-looking guy. They want the good ol' boy (who drinks Bud) from Moorseville. They'd prefer to see him in t-shirts.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the days of Goldberg and Wells at ESPN...come to think of it what's happened to NASCAR? John, who's producing/directing the Cup races at ESPN these days? Who would be the person within ESPN to "fight" the internal battles on behalf of NASCAR fans? LOVE this site...keep up the good work!!

Steve from MD said...

John,

Several points:

After first reading about your concern about overlapping live broadcasts at ESPN, I agree they really need to do something and either cut back on all the sporting events it broadcasts (suddenly everything is now on ESPN it seems), or as you have earlier stated, create another channel.

Been watching Stu Scott it seems forever on SC and I do not see any evidence of his disliking NASCAR. He is reading a prompter, isn't he?
Not really sure if I can pinpoint what sport is his favorite? Can't really box him into a corner and wondering why you stated your feelings so strongly? I will take him over Segway Man anyday!

All these cross-promos and guest appearances on MNF make me crazy! Agree that it was sort of goofy to have Gordon and Johnson in street clothes by the fireplace and not in uniform (on the otherhand, kind of re-freshing not to see sponsors for once not jammed in our face). I am sure someone came up with the idea based upon MNF demographics.

I am happy to read that people in broadcasting, NASCAR and even a driver are reading your blog!

Your right about ESPN and the Torre news conference. Not necessary to air it live and only adds to the accusation of "ESPN East Coast Bias".

Presently as I write this I am experiencing "Barry Bonds overload" on ESPN. At least they are throwing in some NASCAR promos.

Anonymous said...

my guess - like others is that ABC is out of there at 8PM Eastern come winner or red flag or rain as a whole across the network - no choices by stations. There could be a switch to another network but unlikely.

8PM Sunday watch DESPERATE NASCAR FANS live on ABC live perhaps even on the West Coast.

Desmond said...

ESPN is available on Sunday night after 8 p.m. ET if necessary. It has College Football Live in that time slot, but it could be bumped in whole or in part as needed. A scheduled 90-minute show was canceled last night due to the indictment against Barry Bonds.

ESPN2 is not available, as it is showing the championship game of a college basketball tournament from Puerto Rico.

To stricklinfan82: the tennis is not live. It was taped earlier today in China. Expect qualifying to be on the air live at 3 p.m. ET.

The music awards should be interesting. Jimmy Kimmel will have to ad lib all the jokes because the TV writers are still on strike.

And finally, to answer Richard's question, the awards are produced by a company owned by Washington Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder, who of course is also the boss of NASCAR team owner and Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. What a storyline that is!

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