Tuesday, December 18, 2007

InternetTV Fills Off-Season For NASCAR Fans


The email from ESPN was very brief. It simply said there were no plans to air any NASCAR "content" over the winter.

A quick check of the SPEED schedule finds the one hour SPEED Report, where recaps of various NASCAR issues are offered from a news perspective. That is pretty much the extent of SPEED's off-season NASCAR "content."

Over at TNT, every shred of NASCAR "content" is gone from the network. It was gone the second that the final race of the "summer six pack" ended.

In the old days, one might understand that the official "NASCAR TV partners" would not have an interest in re-airing "old" programs or creating retrospective shows right after the NASCAR season was done.

The networks believed that the NASCAR fans had simply had enough, and were "done" until February. They could not be more wrong.

NASCAR TV is alive and well and living on the Internet. With the simple click of a mouse, fans can re-live almost any race and re-visit almost any moment of the 2007 season.

While ESPN, SPEED and NASCAR Images are deep into their corporate denial, this situation is perhaps the worst possible nightmare for the cable TV networks and NASCAR's own production company.

Only several weeks after the three banquets signaled the official close of the season, fans turned their time and effort to the Internet...with incredible results.

With no big cable TV bill, no pre-set program schedules, and absolutely no user rights fees, a single broadband Internet connection into a home computer has made cable TV almost obsolete.

Back on April 22nd, we offered a column entitled "NASCAR Fans Turn To Internet As TV Networks Fail To Deliver." You can read the entire column by clicking on the title.

The idea resulted from a fruitless search of the cable TV networks for any kind of NASCAR highlights the day after a Saturday night race. Then, while writing the column on my personal computer, I just typed "NASCAR Phoenix" into my Google video search engine and entered a whole new world of NASCAR TV.

My highlights were delivered on YouTube.com already edited and voiced-over courtesy of a man named Joe Foster. Other NASCAR video offerings showed whole chunks of the race, and repeated the TV network coverage with commentary included. It was amazing.

Today, just by typing "NASCAR 2007" into YouTube, there are almost three thousand results. Simply typing the word "NASCAR" to see all the online content results in a mind-boggling twenty-nine thousand responses. They range from amateur editors who recap the season to compilations of wrecks or a certain driver's year in review.

Countless other Internet sites from Yahoo! to individual MySpace pages have gotten into the NASCAR TV act by hosting all types of video projects made from the very television footage that NASCAR Images guards like Fort Knox when TV producers come calling. Yahoo! Sports alone has over one hundred NASCAR videos online.

This is a very dangerous time for the NASCAR TV partners, and here is the reason why. This three month period is the first "off-season" since the new NASCAR TV contract began. Needless to say, many fans feel that they were "under served" by the efforts of this NASCAR TV "gang of four."

With the continued reluctance of NASCAR and its TV partners to adapt the side-by-side TV commercial format, more and more fans are using their DVR's, TiVo's and computer hard drives to record the races and then skip through the myriad of commercials and promos. In essence, the "thrill" of watching live racing is being slowly removed by the TV networks themselves.

Ultimately, NASCAR races become no more than tape-delayed highlight reels, and completely lose the thrill of the live excitement and the breath-taking speed that brought the sport to the TV forefront to begin with. What an interesting situation.

Over at Jayski.com, the ESPN NASCAR videos sit frozen in time. David Spade from the Cup Banquet. The slow parade of Chasers in their show cars creeping through New York's Times Square. Jimmie Johnson with Kenny Mayne. The story tells itself, ESPN has moved-on to other sports that are still "in-season."

When February comes around, the danger is clear. What is going to be the appeal for the fans to return to more of the same bad TV? Brent Musburger at his podium. Suzy Kolber and Brad Daugherty talking basketball. Only seeing the winner finish the race. A tired Dave Despain on INC reading his tired script. NASCAR Now...still in Connecticut.

In 2008, the "TV boys" will have to present a very strong case for NASCAR fans to give up their NASCAR.com and YouTube and Sirius/MRN/PRN habits. With NASCAR.com offering all the races online, YouTube offering an almost instant "turn-a-round" of the highlights, and online radio offering live race commentary and talk, where do ESPN/ABC, SPEED/Fox, and good old TNT fit into the picture?

If the pressure was on the NASCAR TV partners and NASCAR Images in 2007 to offer an exciting view of the sport on TV, imagine how much more there will be after lower TV ratings, angry fans, and an exasperated sanctioning body.

Meanwhile, ESPN Classic is on-the-air right now with outstanding December fare like the 1995 Peach Bowl and the 2005 World Series of Poker. To add insult to injury, that network is just beginning a look back at classic NHRA races of the past. 11AM Eastern Time...for your DVR.

Brain France recently mentioned SPEED as a TV partner that he would like to see develop more original programming with his production company, NASCAR Images.

Instead, this off-season SPEED has hidden behind endless re-airs of American Thunder, PINKS, Unique Whips, Redline TV and the classic Super Bikes...where no one wears their helmet while "stunting."

The Jayski.com countdown clock to the Daytona 500 says 60 days. That's two more months for millions of NASCAR fans to get even more...computer literate.

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. Please review the rules for posting on the right side of the main page before adding your comment. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.

30 comments:

Kathy said...

NASCAR fans are resourceful and will determine for themselves what is a satisfactory presentation of the sport they love.
Being forced to watch the races on ESPN in 2007 was like being forced to wear a fine pair of shoes in a size that was too small...the possibilities were so great but the reality was painful.

Erik said...

I'm sure NASCAR fans would want to watch the race on a postage stamp sized window on their computer, rather than on their 50" HD flat panel TV they got for Christmas. The Internet is great for highlights and provides a wealth of information at your fingertips, but for live race action in HD, there is only one source.

Also, I am waiting for my daily Baseball Tonight fix. But alas, its not there!! And no baseball on ESPN Classic too! Could it be its the offseason? I'm not sure why this should be any different.

SophiaZ123 said...

I have decided that I am enjoying free time from the &$#&^$&^@ TV all day on the weekends.

I do NOT miss ESPN RUINING QUALIFYING and PRATICE, nor their butchered up, poorly directed, horrible camera and embarrassing lack of follow up during the races.

There has not been anything on tv, as you mentioned John.

I will watch the first half of the season and when PeeSPN takes over, will hopefully find MRN locally or just stop watching and get the highlights on SPEED REPORT, VL and INC.

I have decided it's been wonderful not complaining ENDLESSLY about dreadful, putrid coverage.

NASCAR does not care what the fans want. BRIAN FRANCE does not care what the fans want.

ESPee U has NO CLUE WHAT the fans want, and all the above pats themselves on the back for the 'great year' in NASCAR.

I have also gotten in the habit of watching old tv shows on DVD from the library.

I truly am NOT going to sit thru COMMERCIAL SATURATED NASCAR RACES just because NASCAR says 'it's expensive' to produce the sport. If FOX over does the commercials, I will tape the races and catch up later.

The TV coverage got too bad for me to care.

Only thinking of the guys on FOX and SPEED makes me want to watch again but even on those stations, if the influx of commercials continues like 2007, I am finding a new hobby.

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Happily, I had the foresight to tape many of the classic races they used to show on ESPN Classic, so I can just grab a DVD and watch races from places like North Wilkesboro or The Rock. It also reminds me, watching and listening to the old broadcasts without all the bells and whistles, that Fox only looks good in comparison to what ESPN gives us. It's a shame that so many of us are willing to give Fox high marks for race coverage, when they really aren't much of an improvement, overall. Seeing the races without all the graphics, tickers, ads, and coverage of more than the top 10 in the field really brings home to me how bad ALL the coverage is. A shining example, to me, of how bigger is definitely not better.

Daly Planet Editor said...

erik,

You bring up a great point that was omitted from the column. Most of the HDTV sets now on the market simply permit the computer tower to be plugged in directly to the HDTV monitor.

Suddenly, the 50" screen is now a full-size color computer monitor. This is one of the top selling points for NASCAR.com, who quietly indicated that they will have all the online races, their own pre and post-race show, and are considering making the Busch and Truck Series races free to view.

There will be more about the conflict between NASCAR.com and the NASCAR TV partners in an upcoming column.

While your baseball problem will be fixed shortly with MLB starting their own cable network, the MLB.com site actually offers a specific "off-season video package" that is is promoted as "live baseball until the start of the 2008 season."

So, it seems NASCAR is not the only sport that has turned to the Internet once the TV networks have "decided" the season is over.

JD

glenc1 said...

I do believe there's probably something of a market, particularly for some of the racing that occurs in the off season (dirt and off road, etc.). But as to NASCAR-specific programming--our season is so long that frankly, by November I need a break from good OR bad coverage, and December and January are football months for me. (And then I'm all into Daytona, and ready for the new season.) A weekly half hour news show to catch up would be nice. I would never bother watching anything on the Internet other than a few minutes of an interview or something. I'm just not that obsessed...I'd rather the networks use the off-time to vastly improve their coverage, but I'm not holding my breath, lol. I'm not sure I like the idea of the networks *deciding* that for me...but on the other hand, I guess I assume (dangerous, I know) that they've actually researched what kind of numbers they would get. And I'm just not sure what kind of 'original' programming we would get. What new stories could they tell? If it would be more of what we already have, I would not bother (and yes, that goes for FOX and Speed, not just ESPN.)

Anonymous said...

What a sad state of affairs our NASCAR fans are in isn’t it?

When I read the above comments I feel bad that this wonderful, fun and interesting sport has really come to this state. Does NASCAR really care about any of us? Maybe?

I too have found after watching and devoting every weekend for the past 9 yrs. to races that this past year was a huge disappointment. I too found myself using my DVR and skipping through the BS. I love FOX’s telecasts and announcing crews. TNT was ok and ESPN was just simply awful. But…SPEED is the best.

I don’t know the solution to our problem but hope that NASCAR is looking into fixing it. I personally wrote them a letter stating my feelings and hope more did that too. I know they are aware of the problem but a contract is a contract and they probably can’t help us as the money is just too good for them. Sad.

SophiaZ123 said... she might have to find a new hobby……..what???? I sincerely hope she doesn’t really mean that. Giving up means the networks & NASCAR wins and we all lose.

Thank you John for the great and insightful columns you provide to all of us and I hope you continue in 2008. Merry Christmas to all and a safe and healthy New Year!

NASCAR Fan from FL

Daly Planet Editor said...

glen1c,

The InternetTV issue is one that is coming to the forefront like a speeding train.

It is somehow ironic that Turner, who produced five of the worst TV races this season, is at the helm of all of NASCAR's online TV product without any oversight from the sanctioning body.

While Turner Interactive is a different division from TNT, eventually they all come under the same corporate umbrella.

My feeling is that this racing season, we may see NASCAR Countdown and the NASCAR on Fox pre-race show going head-to-head with not only RaceDay, but NASCAR.com's live pre-race show as well.

It is a classic case of technolgy battling, broadcast network TV vs. cable TV vs. InternetTV. It should be interesting.

Speedcouch said...

John wrote:

In essence, the "thrill" of watching live racing is being slowly removed by the TV networks themselves.

Truer words were never spoken, John! Since Fox came on board in 2001, they've managed to ruin a lot of my enjoyment of races because of their need to make the announcers the focus more than the racing. Plus the attitude by all the current networks about not showing drivers unless their sponsors also buy commercial time during the broadcast. We all heard that Fox/NBC/TNT planned to only "mention money' long before they started showing the races, but it's still so disappointing to see such greed ruin the races for the viewers.

Daly Planet Editor said...

sc,

I cannot tell you how this issue has dominated the past six months. The entire "electronic coverage" dynamic of NASCAR racing is just rocking right now, and it has been brought on by the poor performance of the final two TV partners, TNT and ESPN.

Some people just do not understand, but NASCAR fans are not going to tolerate missing the morning Sprint Cup practices and having their other practices, qualifying, and Happy Hour coverage destroyed by college football. Remember, one Busch Series race was totally dumped from all of the ESPN networks by football while the pre-race invocation was in-progress.

The backlash from the fans has been to seek other viewing alternatives and this time...they exist. When ESPN wakes up to the fact that fans can use NASCAR.com to eliminate all the logistical bungling of the network, it might be too late to get them back.

Anonymous said...

but for live race action in HD, there is only one source.

You mean Fox? True.

Thanks! See you at Daytona.

Trucker said...

John, I have been a long time NASCAR fan. I missed a lot of action when ESPN had it the first time around. But now that we have "cable/satelite" I can see all the races.
I have Direct tv, and had planed on getting the "hotpass" but instead got a sirius radio, and am installing it to-day.

Thanks for the great coverage this year

and hope you and all your readers have Happy Holidays

Ron

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the column today. I don't spend a lot of time on the Internet looking for videos and whatnot to watch but now that I know all of the races are available, I'll be indulging a little bit.

Like many other viewers, one of my biggest pet peeves is when the networks fail to show practice and qualifying due to other programming issues. It's especially nice when I set the recording unit to do it's thing only to come home and find that I got an hour of crap not related to racing at all and totally missed practice or qualifying. What's even nicer is when they don't show the pre-race ceremony, including the flyover. Talk about a huge slap in the face for our military....not to mention the ultra-patriotic fans that paid good money to be at the racetrack and the many fans that took time out of their schedule to sit down and watch the race at home.

I'll continue to utilize TrackPass next season so I can listen to my driver and his guys on the scanner and while I will have the race on, I will DVR it so I can watch it again and skip all of the gunk.

Busch Series Fan said...

Well my son came in 295th in the 2005 WSOP so I don't mind watching that however I refuse to watch Pinks, Baker Auto Auction (or whatever it's called) and other shows on Speed. I dig out those old vcr tapes with 10 year old Busch races on them and I'm happy as a clam! Merry Christmas

SophiaZ123 said...

Fan in FL let me clarify my "Hobby statement".

I meant I am NOT going to sit thru the TV RUBBISH for 4 hrs to see a plethora of commercials.

NASCAR is TOO ARROGANT to go the side by side route.

Also with all do respect to Mike Joy who is answering questions this week and the team in the booth at Fox, I loathe and detest all the crapy on the screen, the tickers, excess graphics.

They (AND OTHER STATIONS, not singling out FOX) could quickly show replays of the incidents on the track without showing a MOVING SWIRLING sound effect BEFORE the replay, and playing the same MOVING SWIRLYING GRAPHIC as they go back to the race, we could see more racing.

one second on TV is a lot of time. Get rid of the crappy excess junk on the screen.

I also agree ALL STATIONS could learn from CLASSIC races on ESPN FROM EARLIER years.

No ticker, not HUGE STATION LOGOS, no moving graphics...JUST THE CARS, just the racing, just TALK about the racing...I don't need to hear about somebody's fishing trip unless it's under a long caution, red flag or rain delay.

WHile Fox is much better than ESPN, compared to the days before FOX IN GENERAL RUINED ALL SPORTS with the EXCESS GRAPHICS VIRUS, they are by far NOT great when it comes to VISUALS on the screen.

Also, like the draft tracker, I also HATED FOX's 'little animated cars' on the track.

The fans DO NOT WANT THAT.

Just SHOW Us the cars on the track.

Talk about ALL 43 drivers.

Just tell us DETAILS on the race.

I will gladly sit in the car and LISTEN TO THE RADIO in the new season than lie on the couch and GRIPE about the putrid coverage or graphics overkill.

My LOVE of the sport is not going anywhere.

But if NASCAR thinks because THEY APPROVE of the GLUT of commercials, that I am going to sit thru HOURS Of it all. They have another thing coming.

At LEAST on FOX you can TAPE THE RACE.

IMPOSSIBLE to do ON PEeSPN who DISRESPECTS the sport and hisses off the fan with CHANNEL ROULETTE. CR makes it IMPOSSIBLE to leave the house and tape or DVR the race.

They move the race on a whim and the fact BRIAN FRANCE allows this is criminal to the sport and adds to the erosion of the ratings.

But BF and NASCAR are so busy counting their money, they do not care.

Sorry to be such a scrooge but those are the facts.

I will sight see during the races while listening to MRN "paint better pictures in my mind" than the lack of decent camera work.

ALSO I hope Fox decides to show ALL CARS FINISHING THE RACES, and not just at DAYTONA.

Off soapbox,

Soph
:-o

Anonymous said...

JD, you talk about connecting a computer to a TV, but no matter how nice your HDTV is, the video WILL NOT BE IN HD. A compressed online live feed like the one from NASCAR.com will look horrible a big screen HDTV. NASCAR.com or youtube.com do not provide ANY HD video. Right now, you can barely find any HD content online and none of it is LIVE. Sure the online video provides a nice off-season service, but it can not replace live HDTV.

Anonymous said...

SophiaZ123 said...
They (AND OTHER STATIONS, not singling out FOX) could quickly show replays of the incidents on the track without showing a MOVING SWIRLING sound effect BEFORE the replay, and playing the same MOVING SWIRLYING GRAPHIC as they go back to the race, we could see more racing.

December 19, 2007 4:04 PM

Now you talking about getting rid of transitions??? come on. now your just nitpicking. those "MOVING SWIRLYING GRAPHIC" transitions are not there just for fun. They have a purpose. They keep the transition from LIVE to replay video smooth so you know whats going on. Without those transitions you might not be able to tell the difference between live video and a replay.

Anonymous said...

SophiaZ123 said...
I will sight see during the races while listening to MRN "paint better pictures in my mind" than the lack of decent camera work.

December 19, 2007 4:04 PM

I don't understand that statement. The pictures form the NASCAR images crew, which operates the cameras all season long, were great. what was wrong with them?

SophiaZ123 said...

Anonymous

??????????????
R u Serious?

Was talking about the ESPU coverage..they missed HALF the action on the track.

Not Fox's cameras, nor SPEED. And at least the boys in the booth at fox CARE about engine issues, and wrecks and give follow ups.

You obviously were not on this blog or watching ESPN on tv. Camera direction stank.

Majority agreed MRN coverage better than watching anyway and gives run down of where drivers are on the track.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what I meant by my statement.

p.s. TRANSISTIONS in the old races was less fussy and folks figured out the REPLAY from the LIVE. :-)

I hate anons w/o names. THEY like to just pick on others. ;-0

Daly Planet Editor said...

I am kind of missing the HD thing. I completely understand that the Internet video is not HD.

The discussion was both the lack of any long form (30 min. or more) programming in Nov-Jan on the NASCAR TV networks, and the conflict between cable TV and the Internet.

Hopefully, ESPN will find a way to put the first practice either on ESPN Classic or make it available to NASCAR.com for iTV broadcast.

The other conflict that we just finished was the over-run of live college football on Saturdays into qualifying, Happy Hour, and the Busch Series races.

I am sorry if you felt I overlooked HD as a production issue, or course it is. With both the in-car feeds and also Hot Pass that way, NASCAR is truly an all HDTV dream. When SPEED finishes their roll-out, it will be lots of fun.

Thanks again for all the good comments.

JD

Anonymous said...

SophiaZ123 said...
Camera direction stank.

December 19, 2007 5:01 PM

Thank you for the clarification. I thought you were referring to camera operation, when in fact you referring to directing. There were issues with camera direction.


SophiaZ123 said...
I hate anons w/o names. THEY like to just pick on others. ;-0

December 19, 2007 5:01 PM

I don't think that is true. I merely stated my opinion and asked a question.

SophiaZ123 said...

Glad I clarified things anon.

sorry if I sounded cranky. Not having a good day...didn't mean to take it out on somebody on this blog.

I appreciate what JD has here.

Yes the IMAGES are fine, it's the musical chairs of camera direction..and the director needs to go back to music school. :-)

Course, if you never played that game, perhaps you don't get my humor.

I think I am showing my age 'membering musical chairs!

Listening to a radio legend who will sign off FOR GOOD in two more days.

Sigh...No NASCAR until Feb and now no more local afternoon radio...sorry if I was a jerk.

I need some SUNSHINE.

Soph in gloomy Ohio

(that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!)

darbar said...

With the writers strike and all the insipid "reality" shows taking over, this would have been a great time for ANY network to bring on some Nascar programming. I don't care if it was Craftsman Trucks, Nationwide or Sprint, producing some new race-related programming could have been a ratings winner. Now, we're stuck with mindless stupidity, reruns or sports that I don't give a darn about.

Hey, why doesn't someone at Nascar wake up and start a Nascar Network? We have the Big 10 Network, NHL Channel (and everyone knows how bad the ratings are for hockey, but they still have their own channel), Golf Channel and now the Tennis Channel, so why doesn't some intelligent person start a racing channel? And by that I mean, a channel that is all racing and not an excuse to show airheads with life-threatening fake breasts (aka Nopi)or really stupid shows like Unique.

GinaV24 said...

Like the rest of you, I was really disappointed in the coverage by the "contracted" TV services, especially TNT and ESPN. It isn't exciting to watch a race that is constantly being interrupted by commercials OR by the broadcast teams who are hyping other things than the race itself. I have used NASCAR's trackpass for several years to follow "my" driver on the scanner. I tried the raceview function and didn't like it -- I'm going to upgrade my computer for christmas and that may help it work better. Otherwise, I listen to the races on MRN or Sirius because quite honestly the telecast is a waste of time. I cannot believe that there isn't any off-season NASCAR programming scheduled on ANY of the TV stations that cover it during the regular season. I enjoy Speed, but I don't watch any of the shows, such as Pinks, that are on as they don't appeal to me. I wrote to NASCAR and I copied my letter to the owners of the teams such as Penske, Hendrick, Gibbs, etc. telling them that they need to pay attention to the product being delivered to the fans or there won't be anyone left to pay the money to watch the races.

SophiaZ123 said...

Heck, even the Cincy Reds has the HOT STOVE LEAGUE once a week for those baseball fans to listen to in the winter.

Yes, with the input of endless "Fake reality show" this would've been another prime season for some NASCAR interviews with different drivers. Maybe even (Gasp, dare I say it, drivers who did not make the chase and over age 35 !!) A well done show with interviews, by say Wendy...I would watch.

She could make an interview with a driver painting his living room seem interesting.

:-)

Anonymous said...

JD at 5:08 PM,
The reason why I bring up HDTV is because it sounds like you may be thinking of Internet TV as a replacement to the regular coverage (you mentioned Internet TV/network TV competition not in the off-season, but during the season). I don't think such a replacement is possible due to major differences in quality and HDTV.

Richard in N.C. said...

Since it is the off-season, I guess I just imagined that I just listened to a 1 hour Hot-Stove League baseball show on 1530AM from Cincinnati.

Maybe racing fans have as much "off-season" interest as baseball fans?

Anonymous said...

During the off season a group of us Michael Waltrip fans like to get together on the Nascar.com forum page on Mikey's site, well lets say we used to. A member left a prayer on Jeff Gordons site for another poster and the moderator didn't like how religious it was and removed it and then under pressure he reinstated it with some words taken out, in protest a bunch of us have left the Nascar forum and started a new web site at Yahoo, Nascar is all about God and American and for them to do this is really bad and someone needs to look into it, its a sad day when a poster can't write a prayer to someone in need.

Newracefan said...

The lack of Nascar programming is causing a great financial burden in my home. I keep going shopping cause there is nothing to watch. Please I'll even take reruns of old shows. I'll have to check out the internet maybe I'll find them there. Nascar needs to work with Speed (my preferred network) to establish more Nascar programming that can continue during the off season. Again, Real Deal 30 minute version, I would love to see what goes on in the shop during the off season or at different race tracks.
The Fox races next season will be interesting for me. Last year I only listened to Trackpass for my drivers in car but after TNT and ESPN I was using Trackpass, Racetrax, Live leader Board (liked the old version much better), and JD's Blog. At the end I was getting more information from the internet than from the TV.

Busch Series Fan! said...

Why can't ESPN go into their Nascar library and pull up some old cup or even Busch races to broadcast during the winter. The graphics aren't up to the standards we are currently used to but it would be fun to watch old DW, Earnhardt, Petty and all the great racing and rivalries.