Sunday, April 6, 2008
In Progress On Sunday: "NASCAR Now" and "RaceDay"
The battle of the Sunday morning NASCAR shows continues with two very different networks taking two very different approaches to the very same topic.
ESPN2 has a one hour version of NASCAR Now on Sunday's at 10AM that is anchored from the network's Bristol, CT studio. Ryan Burr and Nicole Manske rotate the hosting duties and use the studio as the base of operations. ESPN sees the racetrack as a location for reports and features. In line with the ESPN dress code, the on-air talent wear suits and ties while the ladies wear business attire.
Over at SPEED, they continue to do things just a little bit differently. RaceDay is a two hour pre-race show that encompasses almost every TV element surrounding NASCAR that viewers can imagine. From hardcore technical information to the up-to-the-minute news from the garage, the network certainly has NASCAR covered. This Sunday, the show is on-the-air at 11:30AM Eastern Time.
SPEED changed to a philosophy of moving the studio to the track for the weekend several years ago, and it has paid-off. Since that network has the Charlotte All-Star race as their only Cup or Nationwide Series related event, this is a smart way to be associated with the Cup Series on a regular basis.
This week, Denny Hamlin, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray will be guests on the program. Veteran Wendy Venturini will present a Real Deal report on the struggle for sponsorship. It will focus on how teams integrate multiple sponsors to achieve success. The program will have a Texas flashback and also track the current Top 35 situation.
RaceDay is offered in a casual and relaxed environment. Venturini is kept apart from the panel of Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace. She is the news person who has to deal with the tough topics in the sport on a regular basis. The polar opposite of Venturini is Rutledge Wood. Designated as the class clown, Wood's last report featured the fact several drivers had flex-locked a bicycle to a fence. Sunday, Rutledge is going to file a report on his trip to a Texas rodeo.
The sophisticated ESPN attempt at a one hour Sunday morning show fell apart in 2007. The wrong studio hosts, the wrong reporters at the track and generally the wrong approach to the sport caused a big mess. Now, ESPN has changed course and is catching up quickly in the world of NASCAR TV.
Marty Smith has stepped-in as the Lead Reporter, replacing the "pool reporters" that formerly filed the news reports. Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick have joined Burr as co-hosts, and the entire ESPN broadcast team at the track has been integrated into this program.
As the series reaches the Cup race at Texas, it should be interesting to compare RaceDay and NASCAR Now. Two very different approaches to the same subject matter that are now competing for the same set of NASCAR fans.
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