Monday, April 7, 2008

ESPNEWS Finds A NASCAR Niche


Things have been changing all over ESPN this season where NASCAR is concerned.

The new integration of the sport into all the areas of this big company has been yielding positive results in some unusual areas. One of them is ESPNEWS.

This network has gone back to the policy it had years ago of covering the post-race news conferences after the Sprint Cup Series races. While in 2007 ESPNEWS struggled to figure out how to squeeze NASCAR into its already busy Sundays of sports highlights and news, this year is much different.

The TV arm of the sport called the NASCAR Media Group uplinks the post-race press conferences live. Simply by tapping into this raw feed, ESPNEWS has been presenting to NASCAR fans a slice of the sport that cannot be seen anywhere else.

While SPEED offers three post-race shows, only one of them focuses on NASCAR alone and that program uses on-site reporters to interview the drivers and personalities. Since ESPN2 does not produce a NASCAR Now show on Sunday night, this ESPNEWS live coverage is unique.

The assembled NASCAR media ask questions of the drivers, crew chiefs and owners. The second and third place drivers are up first, as the race winner is still involved in Victory Lane activities. As ESPNEWS viewers know from Tony Stewart's recent tire rant, lots of things can happen in the Infield Media Center.

After the Sunday Texas race, the patience and commitment of ESPNEWS was put to the test as a big time lapse happened between the appearance of the second and third place drivers and the eventual appearance by the winning driver and his entourage.

The network hung-in there and continually informed viewers that when Carl Edwards appeared, they would break-in live and have his comments. Minutes later, that is exactly what happened. Unrestricted by pit reporters and network time restraints, this coverage is raw and wonderful.

It also allows fan an opportunity to see the live interaction between the NASCAR personalities and the media members who cover the sport. This dynamic is going to be what determines the content of the stories in the newspapers and on the Internet about the event. It is fascinating to watch it unfold.

Hopefully, ESPNEWS may expand this presence to have a coordinator on-site. This would help both NASCAR and ESPN to make sure all of the comments make the air. Simply holding the drivers for one minute while a commercial clears would allow their comments to be broadcast live nationally.

When the value of this TV time becomes apparent, perhaps we will see more media-savvy drivers make themselves available to the press in the Media Center after the races. In the same manner, having the moderator repeat the media questions or using a microphone would allow fans at home to clearly hear both the question and who was asking it.

This ESPNEWS coverage has been an unexpected bonus this season, and NASCAR fans who want a little more than the usual network TV post-race show may like to see this media process unfold. It certainly is interesting to see what the drivers actually say, and what the media subsequently reports.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping by.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The other thing that I like in this type of coverage, is that there is no back round fan noise or signs to distract the viewer.
Although that does work well in VL and other network shows.
Lou
Kingston, NY

stricklinfan82 said...

I agree. I give ESPN major kudos for their fantastic post-race news conference coverage on ESPNEWS.

The ESPNEWS airing of the live, in-depth, unedited comments of Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. regarding the tire issues after Atlanta was among the very best NASCAR TV I've seen all year long.

I LOVE this added element and ESPNEWS has become appointment viewing for me as soon as Fox signs off the air every week.

Now would it be nice to see more news conference coverage? Of course. Would I like to hear all of the questions posed to each of the drivers, crew chiefs, owners, etc.? Obviously. But I understand this is a 24/7 sports news network and I am quite pleased with the extensive coverage NASCAR does get from ESPNEWS on these Sunday evenings.

Thank you very much ESPN, your changes in response to last year's debacle have been noticed and I hope you guys have been reading JD's blogs and our comments to see the compliments that you certainly deserve.

Ritchie said...

Thanks for letting us know about this. I did not realize that ESPNews was doing this. I will definitely check this out next week.

Anonymous said...

I think that NASCAR fans will enjoy this until September but once Football begins and with the baseball playoffs heating up September is probably one of the busiest months on the sports calenders. Especially at ESPN.

Diane said...

The problem with this is that a lot of us do not get ESPNEWS. It is in the highest tier of our cable company and I refuse to pay an extra $20 a month just to get two channels - ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic. The other channels on that tier are useless to me.

Anonymous said...

ESPNNEWS as of 2007 is available in 49 percent of US households.

So less than half the viewers have access to it, and less that that actually subscribe, since "available" doesn't make a distinction if the channel is on basic, digital or a higher price tier (where ESPNNEWS is often located).

This is also a problem for ESPN Classic (58 percent "available").

Anonymous said...

In the same manner, having the moderator repeat the media questions or using a microphone would allow fans at home to clearly hear both the question and who was asking it.

I see this coverage, as you mentioned, as an unexpected bonus and I appreciate it. So I don't see too much need to modify it for TV viewers. Those reporters in the Media Center are trying to do their jobs quickly to complete their stories, so repeating the question - unless the driver asks them to - I see as unneccesary and probably a time-waster for them. If this method has been working for them for a long time, no need to change it for TV viewers.

Who's asking the question is also unimportant to me (it's interesting to hear the names but not vital). I just want to hear the driver/owner/CC answer. As long as that can be clearly heard (and I've had no problems with that so far), the current setup of press conferences is fine with me. It's the same setup as the past press conferences webcast on racingone and nascar.com., and the press conferences for post game NBA and NFL playoffs.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:42PM,

Once the reporters become aware that they can be on live national TV as they ask questions, this will not be an issue.

There is a big difference between a part-time local TV station sports anchor asking a question and Claire B. Lang asking one. To many of us, who asks the question is part of the whole story. That is the only reason I brought-up that topic.

Thanks for the comment.

JD

Brrrn Rubber said...

"Once the reporters become aware that they can be on live national TV as they ask questions, this will not be an issue."

I kinda have to disagree with this and agree with the above poster. I watch live post game post race on Sportcenter and ESPNews all the time (NCAA heavy the last couple weeks) and it doesn't make a whit of difference to me who's asking the questions.

Yeah's it neat to hear the names you recognize but all I care about is if it's a good question. I don't keep track of what reporter asked what question to what driver.

And it's rare a local or part time reporter gets to ask a question. The moderators of these events know who the heavy hitters are and act accordingly. The only time you really hear part-time reporters are the pre race pre game conferences. That includes NASCAR, which has midweek teleconferences for that purpose.

Plus the regular reporters know they're on TV. I believe someone from the media posted here when someone a few weeks back when someone mentioned the rambling form of some of the questions in the Dale Jr Tony Stewart interviews.

He/she said that's (the picking at their question style)why they should not be televised b/c they're not here for us, they're there to get their questions answered. And he/she was right.

Brrrn Rubber said...

Add: I said he/she because it was an anonymous post.

Gymmie said...

I forgot about it the last few weeks but I really enjoy this "OT" :). I know I mentioned before back in 2K2 FOX used to send us over to SPEED to watch the press conferences and then the boyz would do a wrap up. It was a nice "extra" to hear more from the driver and top finishers. I had been missing that!

I hope they continue with it and if as mentioned once Fall gets here and sports, they find a way to continue to do this. But of course I'm not holding my breath :)

PPistone said...

As an FYI, NASCAR media relations asks media to indentify ourselves and the outlet(s) we represent when asking questions in any track weekend press conference.

Pete Pistone

Daly Planet Editor said...

Pete,

Thanks for stopping by. Do they pass around a wireless mic or just ask you to speak directly to the folks up at the front being interviewed?

The coverage is great, but sometimes not knowing the question that the person is responding to can be tough.

Thanks again!

JD

PPistone said...

JD-
They do pass around a wireless mic but from time-to-time it cuts out and that may be why questions aren't always heard.

Pistone