Sunday, April 27, 2008
Four Hours Of Pre-Race On Three Networks For Talladega
The age old question in TV is very simple. How much is too much? We see the clones of entertainment shows about every topic from cooking to dancing. One successful talk show seems to spring another and sitcoms swing wildly in bunches from legal dramas to moody teenage angst.
This Sunday, the issue of how much is too much came to NASCAR. The Sprint Cup race from Talladega, AL was going to start at 2:20PM Eastern Time. One thing was clear, the actual racing would be on the Fox Television Network. What had the heads of NASCAR fans spinning was the amount of TV programming before the race.
ESPN2 began the parade with one hour of NASCAR Now. SPEED followed with the two hour RaceDay that originated from the track. Finally, Fox unveiled a newly extended pre-race show from the Hollywood Hotel that ran for one hour and twenty minutes.
Just in terms of long-form programming, the NASCAR TV partners produced four hours and twenty minutes of pre-race content on Sunday. The vast majority of this programming was focused specifically on the Sprint Cup race. Ironically, this makes the length of the combined pre-race programming longer than the actual event itself.
Looking at the offerings from these three TV networks, one thing stands-out. Not one was offering anything that was truly exclusive or new. What they were all doing was covering the exact same content with different announcers involved in the presentation.
Terry Blount, Wendy Venturini and Steve Byrnes discussed the same topics as reporters on ESPN2, SPEED and Fox respectively. On those same networks Nicole Manske, John Roberts and Chris Myers hosted programs that covered the news, reviewed the past races and talked to Dale Earnhardt Junior. Ultimately, it all became a blur.
One reason that Sunday was so memorable is because both Fox-owned SPEED and the Fox Broadcast Network were on-the-air simultaneously for thirty minutes. For NASCAR fans, Fox and SPEED are interchangeable and seemingly feature one big collection of announcers who work on both networks.
The topper on this issue is that Fox was broadcasting from the Hollywood Hotel. It was located behind pit road at the start-finish line. SPEED had moved their on-air talent from outside the track during a commercial break. Roberts, Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace were now located just before Turn 1 at the end of pit road.
Quite literally, the two Fox networks were both on-the-air live from the same track talking about the same things only feet away from each other. In terms of NASCAR TV, this might have been the moment when the question of "how much is too much" was finally answered.
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