Monday, January 7, 2008

SPEED Officially Begins The 2008 NASCAR TV Season

While SPEED has been covering Daytona testing for several years now, there was certainly a new look on Monday as John Roberts took to the air.

From the Daytona Infield Studio, Roberts introduced Jeff Hammond and quickly began a recap of the day's activity at the track. Just like that, NASCAR was back.

In the past, Bob Dillner has provided a wrap-up of testing as a one man band. SPEED decided last month to step-up their level of coverage. In addition to Roberts and Hammond in the studio, the network will add testing from tracks other than Daytona as well as coverage of the January Charlotte Media Tour.

What this all boils down to for fans is that NASCAR programming will be available on SPEED almost every day from now until Speedweeks begin in February. After the Sprint Cup sessions this week, SPEED will bring out Phil Parsons and Ray Dunlap to cover both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series testing.

Unfortunately, someone at SPEED or in the Fox Master Control Center made the ill-advised decision to insert a large graphic in the upper right-hand side of the TV screen which remained for the entire show. It contained a big promo for the Gatorade Duels and also huge SPEED and NASCAR logos.

As viewers could plainly see, there was already a lower third "ticker" on the screen complete with a SPEED logo that could easily been used to offer this exact same information. The insertion of the big graphic appeared to be done without the knowledge of the production team in Daytona, so it often covered the faces of the reporters and drivers. What a shame that a good first show should be compromised by such an easy thing to fix. It should have been removed after the first segment.

Bob Dillner returned with his usual good information, and SPEED was on-the-spot with interviews from Dale Earnhardt Junior and Kurt Busch. Junior was especially candid in his comments about being in Daytona despite not being on the track, and his concerns about coming back in the COT when it is his turn to test. For many fans, it was nice to see Junior once again after his issues last season.

Dillner scored a key interview with Kyle Busch in his first day on the track with Joe Gibbs Racing in a Toyota. Kyle sounded like a man on a mission, and he really made a statement by saying he didn't want his two teammates to win the Bud Shootout. His reason was simple. He wanted to win his Gatorade Duel race and be the first Toyota winner in the Cup Series. Welcome back Kyle, we missed you.

Hammond was a little bit slow getting up to speed, but he is always better with Steve Byrnes and Larry McReynolds. Once the fun starts with that bunch, it is tough to stop. Hopefully, Hammond will get comfortable with Roberts as these shows progress. Roberts is a ringmaster on RaceDay, but these pre-season shows just need him to relax and show viewers his good sense of humor and calm manner.

As a show close, the "whip-a-round" of the new teams and drivers was perfect. This show contained a great mix of hard news, interviews and commentary. Hammond's closing commentary about the fact that the COT had fundamentally changed testing was right on target.

This investment by SPEED is going to pay-off in spades. All alone without any competition, the network gets the opportunity to shine at a time when fans are looking for any scrap of NASCAR TV. As the shows progress, it will be interesting to see how they grow in production value and information.

This was a solid start to a long season for John Roberts and a welcome sight for the fans. NASCAR on TV is back.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for stopping by.


TexasRaceLady said...

I agree, JD, a good start to the season. And, that "stuff" in the upper-right was a distraction. Totally not needed.

The one thing I kept waiting for was a complete list of how all the drivers did in the testing rounds -- not just the 10 fastest.

Other than that, it was good to see the boys back in town. :-)

Newracefan said...

I agree about the upper right corner and I could live without the constant ticker.  I'll be interested to see if the flow/chemistry gets better but since this was the first show of the season I was very happy.

Anonymous said...

JD, I must point out that all NASCAR programing on SPEED has had the "NASCAR on SPEED" logo for many years. I don't know what has changed now.

As for the promo below the logo, the ticker on the bottom was removed by the end of the show, therefor I don't think there was any other place to put it. But I agree, it did seem like a rushed marketing decision that needed a little more time to get right.

Speaking of SPEED channel, they have made much of their move to HDTV, but I have heard nothing about cable companies carrying SPEED HD. I am worried that SPEED HD will not be carried on my cable system by the time the HD programing starts. Have you heard anything about this?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:28PM,

I find your comments a little tough to digest.

The on-air look of SPEED for 2008 is theirs alone to control. The old solid logos and the attached promo in the upper right-hand corner were right out of your local cable access TV station.

Transparent logos have been around for years, and promo information is normally delivered, even by SPEED, on the lower third crawl. Didn't you agree that this was awful?

As for the HD issue, I will be getting more clarification, but from what I understand SPEED is changing to HD, not adding a new HD network. In the press materials I read, the network will be going HD and to a widescreen format on a fulltime basis.

Simply put, the same channel on your cable system should get you SPEED HD. There will be a full column on this as the February change-over date nears.

Anyway, let's wait and see what Tuesday's Daytona show brings.


Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Simply put, the same channel on your cable system should get you SPEED HD.
January 7, 2008 9:43 PM

JD, I know that is not possible with my cable system. (that is how it works with DirecTV)

First of all, SPEED is not on digital cable in my area. It is an analog channel here and we all know you need a digital channel to carry the HD picture.

Also in my area, a channel needs to be physically placed in a digital "HD Tier" for me to actually see it in HD. My cable company has announced all channel additions to this HD tier up to now and has not mentioned SPEED. That is why I am worried about the transition.

As for the transparent logo, I guess you have a point. I did not think of making the logo transparent.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:02PM,

SPEED is a digitally transmitted network, or so I was told. It might be on your standard digital cable, and not on your upgraded package, but I am pretty sure it is a digital network.

I will ask the SPEED reps in the AM what gives about the transition to HD and put it in a column right away. I am also going to suggest to them that they address this point in a PR release. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I thought the clutter at the top wasn't needed or could be reduced.

John Roberts is awesome. My husband said he's like the post office. Reliable. He doesn't get a lot of credit for what he does because he's the straight man for the outsized personalities, but everybody would flip out if he wasn't there.

May I ask what if we have SPEED on basic cable? We don't have HDTV but I believe the digital cable has an HD Tier with all the channels which broadcast in HD.

Also, does HDTV transmitted on a normal TV cable channel look different? Will our basic SPEED look different? If SPEED could answer that in a release, it would be helpful.

SophiaZ123 said...

Well this is annoying.. I missed the first showing but just read your column, JD. I am appalled NASCARSPEED logo is BIGGER than last year and it looks like they added the word "on" or just made it all too damb big.

CRIPES isn't this what we have griped all year about? Too much crap on the screen period? Especially TNT and ESPN with their insipid CONSTANT bottom tickers?

This is very disappointing.

At this rate, I will read about things on Jayski, online and here.

Watching so much CLUTTER on the screen is bloody ANNOYING and just insulting the fans some more.

The repeats of the Daytona on CLASSIC should remind all fans how CLEAN the tv screen used to be and how much MORE INFORMATION we got at the same time.

Thanks for the full report on the show.

Oh, and we have a local station that brags their news is in HD....looks the same on my tv then I discovered this LOCAL station affiliate has it's OWN HD channel. I discovered this by accident when I hit the wrong channel on the remote.

You mean to tell me ALL THIS HD TV stuff means everybody needs a duplicate channel to BROADCAST in HD???

And we wonder why cable prices go up....and satellite intro prices end after a certain period. I saw where TW has a BUNCH of shows listed on some HD listing.

I am also interested in if a station is not on the "special tier" can it be in HD?

I am so lo tech but learn a lot from reading this blog.

Thanks JD.

p.s. I look forward to your writing all this clutter on the screen is GONE SOON or I won't be watching SPEED until AFTER the DUELS.

Is THIS how they are going to be now?


I hope they know what the hello they are doing. :(

Anonymous said...

JD, I am the same person as anon at 10:02. Even though my question was specific to cable carriage of SPEED HD, you can see from the comments here, there is a lot of confusion regarding HD and the overall transition to digital TV on the over-the-air side, much less the cable/sat side.

First of all, people need to understand the new technology and how to view it. Second, everyone needs to know how the cable/sat companies plan to distribute the new HD content. It is not the same with all providers.

Sorry if this is off topic and thanks for taking the time to contact the SPEED PR reps.

Anonymous said...

From SPEEDTV Website On 1-02-08

"The opening round of Monster Energy® Supercross will be broadcast live on SPEED Saturday, January 5, from 7:00-10:30 p.m. PST in HD format. The 2008 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross season marks the first time in history that the sport will be broadcast in HD format, delivering a higher-quality television product to television viewers at home."

Sounds like they are already showing some things in Hd.

Shorebilly said...

Kudos to the folks at SPEED!! They aired the show in it's published time slot, and did an excellent job of reporting the day's events at Daytona. I note that the main complaint is with the advertising logo, and it's size....if that is the only problem it can be easily fixed.
The folks over at ESPN should be made to watch "NASCAR Pre-Season Thunder", if for no other reason, to learn the new driver/car/team combinations...

Bill H said...

Speed is offering a Live (not taped) wrapup of current (not old) testing every weekday a month before any "real" testing even begins and everyone complains about the size of the logo and that it was promoting their coverage of the Duels on 2/14? They aren't making any money on this coverage, this is an investment for later in the season, getting NASCAR fans back into the habit of checking their channel for everything NASCAR.

I say kudos to Speed for showing us something relevant (in terms of NASCAR) at this time of the year.


Anonymous said...

First time I've had Speed turned on in the evening since November. This is what we want to see -- stuff about racing, not contrived "reality" shows.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year JD! °Ü°

JD--it depends on the cable provider. It may be a digital transmission, but many get it as an analog channel.

When I was in Cali, I had Comcast and it was on *both* Analog and Digital. My friends in the Bay Area also with Comcast had to have Digital to get SPEED. The reason that I know it was both Analog & Digital for my area, is because I could watch SPEED at the car dealership when I took my car in for maintenance and they didn't have a digital box.

A friend of mine who posts here gets SPEED on Comcast and it's Analog for her as they don't have digital.

I have digital here so I don't know if it's Analog or Digital (as with Comcast back in Cali I have 2 SPEED channels). Which ironically does come in handy. When it was still Comcast here, one day the lower number SPEED was acting up, but the one on Digital was fine.

Anonymous said...

Great to see the SPEED crew back.

They do need to work out the ticker vs. lower-third super problem so the ticker doesn't cover the "title line" on the super as it did Monday.

Another minor problem--that I know I'll have to live with--I don't like the "look" of HD video that's been downconverted to SD. It has an odd, film-like look to me, and that was noticeable in all the taped segments Monday. I guess I'll either have to deal with it or get HD.

Content, however, was very solid.

Anonymous said...

They aren't making any money on this coverage,

Oh, yes, they are. See those commercials? That's revenue.

Bill H said...

Anon 7:44am

You are probably right that they are making some money on it, but I don't think they are making enough to cover the cost of live sets, satelite time, ect. in a 1/2 hour show. I saw only 2 commercials that I can recall during the broadcast, unless they are getting underwritten by the Chili Bowl PPV.

One thing I noticed in the show last night, and I hope t hey go more into it, was when interviewing Chad Knaus he was stating that they are handling Daytona like an intermediatary track and not a superspeedway due to the COT. Would like them to follow up on that, maybe explain why the difference.


Lisa Hogan said...

Very nice to see the SPEED crew back. I really enjoyed the program.

Anonymous said...

That was SO refreshing.

Hey, ESPN, did you see that? Was it SO hard for SPEED to assemble a simple show and present the happenings of the day?

NO! Take a hint and run with it.

Back to the topic: I noticed the logo in the upper right hand corner. It didn't bother me; it had NASCAR race information. I also noticed that there were NO crawls or breaks to updated football, basketball and hockey.


Kay said...

I think you are all nit picking, I'm just glad that NASCAR is back on the air, and not on ESPN!

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how great I felt the moment I heard John Roberts' voice...

SPEED rules.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought: What if the "infield studio" and the whole presentation is a "practice" for a distant, but thoughtful precurser of Speed "broadcasting" NASCAR races? John, you being in the media, would know this as a "trial ballon".
Just a thought.....

Anonymous said...

Baloon (sp) Sorry

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Our cable company is Mediacom, and the stations that they broadcast in HD are different channels than the "same" station in analog. The HD channels are in 700 numbers while the analog ones are like 3,4,5 etc. Right now we have Speed on channel 50, but the cable technician that came and set up our new HD box said that he didn't know if Mediacom would be "purchasing" Speed HD. I don't understand most of this, but thought I would throw that out.

Thank you


Racingphan said...

That was so cool. Speed deserves all kinds of kudos for brining the hard core racing fans juicy tidbits like last night.

SophiaZ123 said...

To whomever has TWO SPEED CHANNELS, that could come in handy if one version had tech difficulties.

I know some digital stations here were put on lower extended basic and then basic, like ESPN CLASSIC, shifted to Digital.

I have old fashioned TV but had no idea the HD feeds all needed their own channel. WOW. sounds expensive.

Anonymous said...

Ok gang, let's calm down. Our credibility will go down the drain if we start dissecting every little thing equally with the major issues we have. We finally get a NASCAR fix and we start nit picking. I don't like all the clutter either, but it seems to be a fact of life in this day and age. So, mention the most annoying (upper right corner) and move on. Let's use John's site for some constructive criticism like texasracelady's of listing all times for all participants.

Diane...leaving Calif for Daytona, Feb 1 for 7 days parked outside Turn 1!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Ok gang, let's calm down. Our credibility will go down the drain if we start dissecting every little thing equally with the major issues we have. We finally get a NASCAR fix and we start nit picking."

If this happens the site with lose it's un-offical name, "The Bitch Board"!

Anonymous said...

SPEED was in Daytona live yesterday? I turned over to SPEED several times and never seen any NASCAR coverage!!!

Vince said...

Great to see Speed back at Daytona. Roberts did a great job as usual. Hammond, not so good. I'd rather see Larry Mac doing Hammond's role. Hammond tends to ramble and has a difficult time getting to the point. But that's just my personal observations. As for the logo everybody's talking about, I didn't even notice it, so it couldn't have been that bad. Or I've finally trained myself subconsciously to ignore the damn clutter on the screen. :)

I agree with Texasracelady, it would have been good to see a complete rundown of how everybody did. Not just the 10 fastest. Otherwise, it was a good start to the season.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 12:50:

The coverage is 7:00-7:30 eastern time every day, rebroadcast at 11:00.


JHD said...

I'm confused. Are you all talking about the broadcast at 7pm EST? Because I honestly have no idea what you're talking about in regards to the logo. I have it saved on my DVR so I'll go back and watch, but I obviously didn't notice it when I watched the show last night.

Then again it could be because I was so excited to hear a sound bite from my driver in the first 5 minutes of the show that nothing else penetrated. ;)

In addition, I disagree with your first paragraph, JD. Preseason Thunder looks and sounds exactly like it did last year. I'm pretty sure Jeff Hammond was at the desk with JR last year too, even if it was for half the show or towards the end, so again I don't know what new look you're referring to. The only thing I could find to record on my DVR is NASCAR Preseason Thunder, so if there's additional programming going by another name, someone please post so I know what to ask my DVR to record.

Lisa Hogan said...

I didn't notice the logo stuff either. I have a regular TV with analog reception. Maybe it's just you guys with all the fancy stuff that had the problem! :)

I really did enjoy the show. There was the feeling of, "ahhhh, they're back"

Looking forward to the rest of the coverage.

Anonymous said...

Kay said...
I think you are all nit picking, I'm just glad that NASCAR is back on the air, and not on ESPN!

Those are my thoughts/feelings too, but I'll add some more anyway...

I agree it was a good start to the season. Like Vince, I'm more of a Larry Mac person than a Hammond person myself, but no complaints.

I didn't have a problem with the SPEED logo on the upper right side like others have posted. Also, I thought the ticker was a good way to show all of the driver's speeds from the day, in addition to the other news items they had from the day.

stricklinfan82 said...

It was definitely nice to see some new original NASCAR programming on TV. Thanks Speed for stepping up big-time with the extensive testing coverage!

The show was simple and stayed on target for the whole 30 minutes. Other TV networks struggle to fill 30 minute daily NASCAR shows and spend most of that time airing ridiculous music videos of cars crashing and having "experts" play ridiculous guessing games. Speed on the other hand just calmly talked about relevant news stories and added in some interviews with noteworthy drivers.

I agree there was too much clutter in the upper-right corner and I found the bottom-line crawl distracting as well. I also would have liked to have seen more than just the top 10 speeds shown. There were 25 drivers there so why just show the top 10? It wouldn't have taken that much more time out of the program to add two more pages to the testing results graphic.

Other than those small issues I very much enjoyed the show. I just have one request for Tuesday's show - please don't make such a big deal about who leads the speed charts in drafting practice! The relative speeds of who's fastest and who's slowest mean nothing. It will be interesting to see HOW fast the cars run in the draft and if NASCAR has to step in to slow them down but I don't want to hear one announcer praise driver X for being someone to watch out for in the Daytona 500 because they happened to get lucky and end up being the fastest on the speed charts in drafting practice.

Anonymous said...

Oops! I completely forgot to watch yesterday's shows and missed the 18:00 show today. Hopefully I'll remember and see the one that airs at 22:00 hours. It'd probably help if I scheduled a reminder on my cell phone, wouldn't it? Silly me!

Actually, I'm really glad that they have LarryMac, Jeff Hammond and John Roberts doing the reporting. These three have always been some of my favorite on-air personalities. Bob Dillweed I could take or leave.

TexasRaceLady said...

Tuesday's show was much better. The logo was still there in the top right, but the tiny little print was gone. And, nobody's face was covered.

While the speed list was not complete, they at least gave the top 20, instead of just the top ten. Good job.

Anonymous said...

The print was gone in the corner but the NASCARonSPEED logo still seems bigger than last season.

I preferred it a few seasons ago when it simply said SPEED in a smaller font.

This of course is lost on tv show people. But thanks, JD for pointing it out for here for all to read. Babysteps.

Anonymous said...

Tuesday's show was much better. Thanks, SPEED!