Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday Night Post-Race TV Coverage
What an exciting night for NASCAR fans this season as several TV networks went all-out to offer post-race programming after the Daytona 500.
This head-to-head competition between the ESPN Networks and SPEED was fascinating and at times difficult to watch. With all of the different programs and coverage, I am going to provide this page for your comments and reactions now that some time has passed. Here are some highlights:
NASCAR Now used ESPN for a one hour post-race special, and pulled-out all the stops. This show has been very effective on-site, and in this special one thing was made very clear. No one was in Connecticut. The ESPN Pit Center was used once again as the main hub of activity, and that is a welcome change.
Allen Bestwick anchored a show that featured Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty used effectively for what may be the first time in a long time. Bestwick keeps both of them on a very short on-air leash, and this works well to keep their answers concise and focused. Rusty, in his new role, was particularly effective.
Nicole Manske and Shannon Spake served as the field reporters, and both introduced recorded "soundbites" as their content. These two were professional, well-spoken and had all their information up-to-date. Manske's transistion from SPEED's glamour girl to ESPN's on-site NASCAR reporter and NASCAR Now co-host has been particulary fascinating.
Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis served-up the news, and Smith's style meshes well with Bestwick. This combination is going to be fun to watch all season long. Unfortunately, Tim Cowlishaw is a fish out-of-water with Wallace and Daugherty already on the set. The commentary Cowlishaw offered had already been covered point-by-point with Wallace and Daugherty earlier in the show.
The ESPN team matched SPEED's Victory Lane by having the winner on the set, and also provided Media Center "soundbites" and additional on-on-one interviews with the key players in the race. This program can be summed-up in one word, impressive.
SPEED's line-up of Victory Lane and then Wind Tunnel lacked the polish of the ESPN show, but as usual was a lot more raw and emotional. Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace worked hard to get the emotion out of the normally low-key Ryan Newman and owner Roger Penske. John Roberts was effective in directing traffic, and continues to raise his professional reputation with his level of on-air performance.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, no one worked harder on this day than Darrell Waltrip. Fans began the day with DW having coffee with Junior Johnson, and ended it some ten hours later with DW on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and Robin Miller.
Despain led another spirited discussion that featured all kinds of topics and even some viewer calls, but the focus was clear. NASCAR was again going to be the king of racing in North America because of the open-wheel mess. Even after all these hours on-the-air, DW made good points in this discussion with Miller.
SportsCenter and ESPNEWS both "re-purposed" footage and segments from the NASCAR Now Sunday special, but who cares? It was such a solid production that it served both those purposes perfectly. The profile of NASCAR has been greatly enhanced by the new user-friendly approach of these two groups.
As you watched the post-race coverage, what struck you as being an improvement and what did not work for you? These networks committed a lot of time and resources to this night, and it certainly was an incredible change from last season.
Just a reminder, tonight two big shows debut Monday in Studio form. The one hour edition of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 airs at 6PM. This is the Allen Bestwick hosted show that will feature the NASCAR on ESPN announcers having a "roundtable" about the weekend.
Over on SPEED, the first studio edition of This Week In NASCAR with Steve Byrnes will air at 8PM. This hour has Michael Waltrip and Kenny Schrader left over from Inside NEXTEL Cup, and the additional panelists are Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle. SPEED also indicated Ryan Newman would be along, but whether he is on the set or just being interviewed is yet to be seen.
Please feel free to add your comments about any of these shows and the general post-race TV coverage. To post your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for stopping by The Daly Planet.