Thursday, September 27, 2007

ESPN Explains ABC's West Coast NASCAR Problems

It certainly has been an interesting season for the NEXTEL Cup Series telecasts on both ESPN and ABC. In the first year of their new TV contract, the ESPN production team is showing all the "Chase" races on their big broadcast sister, ABC.

This past Sunday, the Cup Series was racing in Dover, DE. At The Daly Planet there was a discussion underway about the TV coverage of the race in-progress. Suddenly, about an hour into the live race, something very strange happened. People started to stop-by and ask what the heck was going on with ABC?

Following a commercial break, viewers in both the Pacific and Mountain time zones were now watching a segment of NASCAR Countdown, ABC's pre-race show. There was Suzy Kolber and her gang in the Infield Studio saying once again what they had said an hour earlier.

Somehow, ABC had begun to re-air the pre-race show out of the commercial break. This recorded program continued and the NASCAR Countdown segment actually aired in its entirety. Somehow, the mistake was not caught, and things were not made right by quickly switching back to the live race.

Viewers in these two time zones lost eighteen laps of the live race, and that is kind of a tough pill to swallow. Especially, after such a long season and inside the final ten races of the year. Once the Pacific and Mountain viewers were returned to the race, there were no more "transmission" problems, as they are called in TV land.

The reason that these West Coast viewers were upset is because apparently no one told the ESPN on ABC NASCAR team that this had happened. It should have been relatively easy to put together a quick highlight package of the missing laps, but it never happened. Chances are, the Dover crew had no idea of this mistake.

The Daly Planet contacted the ESPN Media Relations Department, and after investigating this incident, they released the following statement:

"We sincerely apologize for the human error that caused a brief distribution problem and have taken steps to prevent this from happening again."

Sometimes, in TV land, things happen that are clearly and simply a mistake. This situation was a result of a failure in communication that ABC will certainly be addressing for the remainder of the NASCAR season. No one is saying that this was intentional.

It was nice of ESPN to take the time to send their statement to us, and it certainly helps the affected viewers to understand that the network is aware of the situation and it will not happen again.

So, off to Kansas with SPEED and ESPN combining to show the practices and qualifying of both the Busch and Cup Series. Then, the Busch race goes live on ESPN2 at 3PM Eastern Time. The "Chase" continues on Sunday at 1PM on ABC Sports. Pay attention on Saturday, as the Busch Series once again sneaks in between live college football games. Have a great racing weekend.

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