Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday: ESPN2 vs. SPEED

As Championship Week gets underway, we find the two primary NASCAR TV partners matching-up each day with news and preview programs.

Monday, ESPN2 hits the air first with a one hour edition of NASCAR Now at 6PM Eastern Time. This program is hosted by Erik Kuselias, and features Stacy Compton and Boris Said as the on-set analysts. ESPN and ABC pit reporter Mike Massaro has been stopping-by with a daily update on The Chase, and the program also features the NASCAR Now "Insiders" with the latest news and updates. Often, Shannon Spake reports from Mooresville on this show.

Over on SPEED, the ten year-old one hour program Inside NEXTEL Cup hits the air at 8PM Eastern Time. Dave Despain is the host, and this program features three NASCAR drivers on the panel who review the Cup, Busch, and Truck Series highlights. Last week, Michael Waltrip said he would not be present for this program. Brian Vickers is often his replacement. Greg Biffle and Kenny Schrader are the other regular driver panelists.

The current version of INC is a shadow of its former self, with live guest interviews, features from the track, and informal conversation all dropped from the program. Now, it is a hit-or-miss TV series with programs that range from "kind of fun" to "what was that?" Last weeks program was so bad Kenny Schrader apologized in his closing, and asked fans to give them another chance. Well, here it is.

This is the first day of this head-to-head competition, as this is the debut season of NASCAR Now. ESPN's program is based in Bristol, CT at the ESPN headquarters, and features a lot of conversation and commentary about on-going situations in NASCAR mixed with some hard news. This Monday wrap-up show has been a source of fan frustration this season by repeatedly failing to show Busch or Truck Series highlights or results. The Busch Series races were actually on...ESPN2.

Please help us get feedback by giving us your opinion of these programs as we go though this final week of the season. To add your comments, simply click on the COMMENTS page below and follow the instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not want your email address. At The Daly Planet, we just want your opinion.


Anonymous said...

Watching INC is sometimes like the old saying. "A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work". I'd rather watch INC even if it the boys do not have a good show that night. It is far better than taking any chances with NN. At least I know I'll see all the highlights from ALL of the racing from the weekend.

Carl in Alaska said...

Like the previous post, I do not rely on ESPN/ABC for anything other than race brodcast. Even then I'm on the computer with Pit Command listening to my driver or the field to know what is going on such as cautions or restarts. After the hoopla of the great ESPN coming back to NASCAR, I have been disappointed to the end. Technically they may be ok but from a personnel stand point there is only a few announcers or reporters that are OK such as A.B. They have failed to capitalize on the good will they started with and correct errors in judgement by the fans. Sorry to say I'm glad to see the season end, at least FOX will be back in three months. Thanks for the vent box, John.

stricklinfan82 said...

I don't really consider this a "head-to-head battle" since they don't actually air at the same time. If ESPN wasn't such a mess I'd watch both, but since they've ruined their credibility as a NASCAR network I will only be watching Inside Nextel Cup.

If they were airing head-to-head it would be a no-brainer for me. Who do you want to go to for your NASCAR information:

Dave Depain vs. Erik Kuselias,
- I'll take Despain's years of all-encompassing motorsports knowledge over the ESPN Radio "stick and ball" guy with no prior NASCAR knowledge until this year.

Compton/Said vs. Schrader/Biffle/Vickers
- I'll take Speed's trio of two full-time Cup drivers and a 22-year veteran of Cup Racing who has run several Cup races this year over ESPN's duo of a part-time Truck Series driver and a part-time restrictor plate and road-course only Cup driver. Nothing against Boris or Stacy. I think they're nice guys but I'd prefer to get my analysis from drivers that have extensive Cup experience and are at the track every week as active participants.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter to me, and I'm sure a lot of other people, that Kenny Shrader no longer drives full time in the cup series. He is so full of information about racing, and also has the best sense of humor I have ever seen. He and Michael are great together, and I have noticed that Greg has been chiming in also. I even think that Dave is doing better. I certainly hope that SPEED keeps the show going, and goes back to having guest and doing some of the things they used to do.

Thank you

Rick said...

Erik's hosting NN.

Click - back to Stargate.

SophiaZ123 said...

Ditto Stricklanfan and anon 2.11 & 5.27

If SPEED is STUPID enough to get rid of SCHRADER, they miss the ENTIRE POINT of this show! And I agree he and Michael are great, Biffle is much improved, and I am not on the I HATE DESPAIN band wagon. I enjoy him on WT and INC.

I LOVE the show and agree, even on a bad day MANY of the fans LOVE it no matter what anybody tries to tell others to FEEL. We like it and hope it returns next year. Wouldn't be NASCAR Season without it.


SophiaZ123 said...

YIKES! Just read on jayski the overnight ratings are down SEVENTEEN PER CENT.

Though Brian France says all is well.

Ha. Some of us do not drink the Kool Aid. Just because somebody says something is a certain way, does not mean it is. (NASCAR is solid and things are just swell)

Oh, did anybody catch WIND TUNNEL last night...a couple callers said the dumbing down by the broadcasters was turning off the fans and I forget what the second caller said...both alluded to the tv coverage.

Busch Series Fan! said...

I hope that Speed keeps INC next year. I'm able to watch it here in Central Time Zone at 7 I don't watch NN because it's on too early for us here. Yes a couple of callers last night stated that the coverage on ESPN/ABC wasn't very good. I think Jeremy Mayfield is on INC tonight as a guest that is exactly what the show needs a hot seat guest and a racing question emailed or called in.

SophiaZ123 said...

Busch series fan

Biffle and Waltrip are NOT on tonight. They said last week they would not be on and on Wind Tunnel last night, Dave said the panel tonight would be Vickers, Waltrip and Mayfield. No hotseat guest or anything.

Just wanted to clarify things for you. :-)

Anonymous said...

My NASCAR Now expanded version verdict: Not worth watching. I'll try to check here onsite the next couple of days and if someone says an episode is good, I'll DVR the rerun. But there is just no *substance*. You don't leave feeling either informed or entertained. It's totally vanilla.

After a race, why only have the exact taped interviews that we already saw either during the race, Victory lane, or the postrace? Seems they're not interested in filming anything new or extra that would be exclusive to NN. Heaven forbid they should tape interviews with other drivers who did well for use on Monday's NASCAR Now. Other than Hamlin and Edwards, every single Chase Contender finished in the top 12. Why not tape them and save those interviews for this hour?

And one of the taped interviews they managed to show was the full Jamie Little interview of Kasey Kahne, who is nowhere near contention. Why?

Erik: "Some of the most candid comments you'll ever hear from a driver!!!!"

To be fair, Erik is pretty calm and he seems to have developed a decent rapport with the Insiders and the people he interviews. It's just pretty good, though, and that's not good enough.

So much concentration on the 48 and 24. Interviews with the crews chiefs (good) and five or six separate segments or discussions on the 24 and 48, not including the CCs (bad). This is not Colts-Patriots, which ESPN fails to understand: While the 24 and 48 are top two teams, there will be 41 others on the field (track). An 80 percent/20 percent ratio of coverage all week isn't going to make anybody stick around and watch, including those who are fans of the 24/48.

Marty Smith is down in Homestead. I wish the show would just let him do his own stories instead of having to "tell" everything he has been told for the story to the host. Instead of telling us about the interview with the track president, why not film it?

And on and on. Better luck next year, guys (and ladies).

SLO Mike said...

John --

Could not agree more with Stricklanfan82. I'll watch Speed and won't even sample ESPN.

While I was sorry to see Alan Bestwick (my favorite host and commentator) leave IWC/INC, I don't have a problem with Dave Despain. He does a great, high-energy job of covering a bunch of stuff on Speed's WindTunnel, but INC is a different type of show. You beat him up when he doesn't control "the boys," and you beat him up when he does. These past few weeks, he's seemed to have the "deer in the headlights" expression due to all the criticism.

If I were in Dave's shoes, I'd feel that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. On his worst night, his show's better than anything I've seen on ESPN, and like others who've commented, I no longer watch anything on ESPN except the race. And since it's been on ABC/ESPN, I watch it with the sound muted while reading the Sunday paper (no MRN radio out here on California's Central Coast). Sometimes I have C-SPAN2 on the headphones (they spend weekends doing book-related programs, and some are really interesting -- certainly more interesting than anything anyone on ESPN will say).

As many of your commenters have said, I don't need any information on Carl Edwards' mother (I have no doubt that she's a nice lady but don't really care) or any wives or girlfriends (who needs a People magazine version of NASCAR?). I'm old fashioned -- I watch to see a car race (what a concept) even if the cars are becoming more and more like spec racers.

Great site you have here. If/when I see lots of comments that ESPN has realized that these are car races they are covering and not golf or bowling (where you surely need all the hype you can get), I might sample some of their support programs.

Off on a related tangent:

A few weeks ago I got a random call from a telephone surveyor who was obviously doing a survey for ESPN (Lots of ESPN plugs in the questions. Did I say LOTS of ESPN plugs? Just wanted to be sure you didn't miss it. There were LOTS of ESPN plugs), and I'm sure that until he called me, he was unaware that anyone out here in viewer-land watched ESPN for NASCAR coverage ONLY. By the time the 20-minute interview was over, he knew for sure that there was at least one guy who could care less about football or basketball and had no idea who any of their on-air "talent" is.

Keep up the good work.

SLO Mike

Richard in N.C. said...

Erik K has been such a disappointment that I had not watched NN in many weeks until I read on the Daly Planet that Marty Reid was on. INC is not what it used to be, but I still expect it to be better than NN with Erik K - and I cannot really put all the blame on Erik K, as ESPN management deserves more of the blame for NN's failings for putting an unqualified host on NN.

Busch Series Fan! said...

Sophia I was just wishing and hoping for next year they will change the format of INC to include a hot seat person & technical or racing question emailed or called in. Well they had this a few yars ago and it worked well I thought.

elena said...

I agree that ESPN does not spend the resources for new interviews. The recap of the race is fine, but not the same interviews we saw on Sunday.

I liked the Chad interview and thought the piece on Mr. Francis Jr was a nice touch.

Maybe they will cover this sometime during the week: all the rookies and the rookie of the year winners--for all the series, not just Cup.

About the ratings-- Sunday: NBC

Football Night in America 3.4
Sunday Night Football 5.7 down 15% from last week.

FCC could impose regulations that would force cable companies to air channels or shows they don't own. That might be good for a NASCAR channel, and not have the problems that the NFL has had for 4 years. Of course the cable companies will fight tooth and nail.

Steve L said...

Good, no Waltrip on tonight. I might be able to watch a full show of INC for once. His (MW) 'take it or leave it' attitude this year has really turned me off with the show. It's bad enough to have Dave Despain as host of this program but when MW starts his 'if you don't like it you can leave' rants guess what, I leave.
I never give NN a chance because the one or two times I've tried to watch it, after a few minutes of brainless mutter, click and I'm gone.
Thank goodness this year of NASCAR is almost over. Can't wait till spring and some decent coverage. Not sure if INC will survive, but if it does, I hope DD and MW will be replaced.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments, I was surprised Jeremy did not speak-up more on the show.

Vickers continues to develop his TV abilities, despite being a bit on the light side in the info category sometimes.

Schrader did a great job keeping the show together, it kind of makes you wonder if he should be given a change to host?

NASCAR Now was pretty bad. No original soundbites from the winner or second place, just a replay of the race interviews. Chad Knaus did a good job, but you could tell he was waiting for a good question that did not come. Just the same "rookie" softballs.

It was nice to see Rusty finally on the program, but he deals with Kuselias like he deals with Brad Daugherty...not well.

ESPN really needed to shake things up and make a statement, and all they did was the normal show. Maybe tomorrow will be different when they begin their expanded editions.

By the way, heard it through the grapevine that things on NN will be very different soon. I think "black Friday" really shook-up the Bristol gang.

Newracefan said...

NN was back to it's old ways, the fact that they used the Jamie Little "Driver error or COT" ? says it all, they could have played all but that question and gotten the point across and then some. INC was very informative and I did enjoy it but I missed Michael and the laugh out loud he gives me sometimes it's the only one I get.

greg8370 said...

"Schrader did a great job keeping the show together, it kind of makes you wonder if he should be given a change to host?"

Interesting idea and the INC shows he's on are usually the best of late

SophiaZ123 said...

BS Fan

I remember the hot seat shows and wish they would bring them back.

Also I wish they would just call the show INSIDE NASCAR and talk about the CUP series, mainly, then more time for Busch and Truck series...that way the hot seat could be ANYBODY.

THAT would do more to promote all the series AND KEEP on my FAVORITE NASCAR PERSONALITY we NEVER see enough of, Schrader. He can work well with Mikey but I loved hearing more of KS tonight.

If he was a HOST, we would not get to hear all his comments about drivers and spotters and stuff.

But SPEED needs to KEEP this show the way it is, mostly, imo..just expand it to 90 minutes and keep the discussion group as is...then bring on the hot seat for a couple of segments.

Sorry, I just cannot watch NN. EK is just major turn off.

But I GOTTA say, like Kenny has GOTTA RACE, INC is just not fun when Schrader is missing. :-)

Anonymous said...

MW was not there...and after I discovered this, neither was I.

Ritchie said...

Mr. Daly,

Ken Schrader as host of INC is a very interesting idea. I truly believe as a fan of the show, that I could get behind that idea. He does a great job of keeping a conversation going, has a good sense of humor, and his racing experience is beyond measurement. However, if Mr. Waltrip is on the show it will not matter who hosts.

Last night's INC was exponentially better that last weeks even if the production was still lacking (they switched to a camera shot of Mr. Despain reading his notes while Mr. Schrader was talking). It was refreshing to hear drivers talk racing instead of having to sit through a Waltrip racing sermon. What a concept, a show about the race instead of self promotion. Honestly, where else could viewers have heard a former empoyee of Hendrick Motor Sports (Mr. Vickers) admit that Jimmie Johnson's team is not sharing all of the information with Gordon's team. Everyone is thinking it, but I haven't heard ESPN ask Mr. Vickers that question.

To me, that is what differentiates SPEED's coverage from ESPN's racing coverage. Just like NFL players seem comfortable coming on ESPN to talk football, racers seem more comfortable talking racing on SPEED.

Lisa Hogan said...

I agree that INC should be renamed Inside NASCAR. I have felt that way since Johnny was shown the door.

Schrader is the main reason that I have watched the show for years. I don't want him as host because we wouldn't hear as much of his humor.

I still think that John Roberts should be given a chance to host the show next season.

I have wondered why SPEED hasn't shown Jr.'s show Back in the Day after INC. I think that it would be a good fit, especially if the show went to 90 minutes.

Anonymous said...

My personal opinion:
I very rarely watch NASCAR Now. I did not like the show's aggressive style, especially since it was obvious that the host did not have a clue. Erik K was clearly a mismatch as host.

With the heads up by JD, I watched much of last nights show. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. The loud bombast was turned down and Erik conducted decent interviews. He even followed up as if he understood the responses. Is it possible that Erik K is finally comprehending NASCAR?

While I would prefer a different host, it appears that ESPN is sticking with Erik as the lead anchor. Perhaps after a horrid beginning, the NASCAR learning curve is starting to be effective. I'll try to keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Soon as I saw Eric K. I switched off NN. Just don't like him. I do the same thing when Riki hits Race day. Enjoyed INC without MW. I like Dave too. A lot of times he asks good questions, like asking Vickers if JJ team really shares everything.