Sunday, May 25, 2008

Anyone Heard From TNT Lately?


The TNT.tv website stares back at NASCAR fans with the faces that they have come to know all too well. Kyra Sedgwick is still The Closer. Holly Hunter is still Saving Grace.

One click of the SPORTS button reveals the love of the network for the NBA. There are videos, articles and even an NBA Message Board section. At the bottom, there are lots of pictures of Dennis Rodman celebrating his birthday. Apparently, they were taken prior to Rodman being arrested for domestic violence and checking into an alcohol rehab facility.

What there is not on the TNT website is any mention of the fact that in less than twenty days the network will be taking over the TV coverage of one of the biggest professional sports in North America. On June 8th, TNT will cover the Pocono 500 live as they begin a six race TV package of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

Over at NASCAR.com there is a link to NASCAR on TNT. The updated video content is directly from the NASCAR.com site. The headline on the page says TNT information will be "coming soon." TNT announcer Bill Weber's last story is from November of 2007. Where NASCAR is concerned, TNT seems to be frozen in time.

At Pocono, TNT will not be televising practice or qualifying. Those sessions will be carried on SPEED. The first time we will see the TNT crew is on the pre-race show for the Cup race on Sunday afternoon. How long that show will be is not available, as TNT only provides the program schedule online two weeks in advance.

Last season, it was TNT's own Marc Fein who handled the show host role. Fein does some on-camera work for NASCAR.com, but hosting a multi-hour live high-profile race telecast was over his head. He is comfortable on-the-air with stick-and-ball sports, but since TNT originates no other NASCAR programming, Fein is out of the NASCAR TV loop.

Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds are the new kids in the TNT mix. Last season, they continually rescued the fractured telecasts with their veteran perspectives. Despite the problems Petty experienced in Sonoma, he got comfortable in his analyst role very quickly.

Throughout the telecasts, TNT primary analyst Wally Dallenbach was relegated to the role of beginning every sentence with "just like Kyle said." Having two drivers in the TV booth did not work. There was a good reason why.

Seated down on TNT's outdoor spinning stage was Larry McReynolds. Relegated to the infield by Dallenbach, McReynolds continually performed as if he was actually in the broadcast booth. Focused for the entire event, McReynolds provided strategy and technical knowledge. The telecasts often turned into conversations between McReynolds and Petty.

Viewers know that Weber has been around NASCAR for a long time. Last season, it often appeared that he wanted to be anywhere but at the track for TNT. Fein had taken his pre-race host role, Petty and McReynolds dominated the telecasts and the surprising pit reporters filled-in the gaps. It didn't take long for Weber to get mad, and stay mad.

After the problems that ESPN experienced in 2007, that network made wholesale changes in both personnel and production. The results have been the most dramatic turn-a-round in recent NASCAR TV history.

With less than three weeks before being live on-the-air, nothing has come from TNT about their NASCAR plans for 2008. What elements will change, what will remain the same and how TNT will approach the July race in Daytona are certainly going to be interesting issues to discover.

The featured information currently on TNT.tv is that all-new episodes of The Closer will be coming in July. That may be the last thing some fans want to hear, but it is almost certain that they will be reminded of it a time or two this summer.

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31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wih no investment in the overall NASCAR product, TNT has no reson to be any better this season than last. Honestly, NASCAR should not carve up the contract this way and allow one network to carry six races in the middle of the season. It is a recipe for the kind of mess we saw last year.

Tabula Rasa said...

That seems kind of unfair knowing as you do that NASCAR.com is part of the Turner Sports umbrella and that throughout their portion of the season they promote NASCAR.com as opposed to TNT.tv

Seriously, have you EVER heard them trying to drive traffic to TNT.tv through their NASCAR broadcasts?

Geez said...

I always found it annoying to have someone suddenly walk across the bottom of the screen during a race. :-)

Daly Planet Editor said...

tr,

Certainly did not mean to be unfair in any way, just looking for TNT information like many fans.

Last season, TNT.tv had a NASCAR section and links to NASCAR.com's pages. Now, that link is gone.

NASCAR.com had lots of TNT advance information that was also posted on lots of NASCAR-related websites.

I am hoping we get an update from TNT about what NASCAR fans can expect from this six race portion of the Sprint Cup schedule.

I have a good relationship with the NASCAR.com guys and I would like to keep it that way.

JD

SophiaZ123 said...

I for one LOVE the CLOSER but detest, loathe and despise the pop up animations during the races...and many tv stations do this 'moving animation' stuff for a commercial during a tv show. It's so **** aggravating and certainly detracts from the race.
Then again, in all fairness, so do all the "sponsored graphics/in car/bumper cams" etc.

But it would be nice to see less of this on TNT.

Then again, we can buy pop up blockers for computers...wish somebody would invent something to get rid of tv 'bugs' and adds during the shows for our tv sets.

:-)

Newracefan said...

Soph, Pop up blockers for TV's what a great idea. I too love The Closer but after watching the nightmare it made of the race I couldn't watch it. JD how soon before the season started did ESPN let us know who was doing what? I'll be the optimist maybe they haven't gotten all the details of Larry Mac's contract straight so he can be in the booth with Kyle. Wally is an ok guy so they need to find something for him too but not sure what.

Anonymous said...

I just hope Lindsay Czarniak is back in the pits!

Otherwise, I may just take the summer off.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10PM,

Without a doubt, she was a surprise and it was too bad she could not find a place in the sport.

I really enjoyed her intensity and ability. I have never seen her as a local station reporter or sports anchors, but I understand you have to pay the bills.

JD

Anonymous said...

What a shame. The ratings have been up for, if not all the races, all but one. Moving to TNT may just be a ratings killer. Also, maybe I missed this info somewhere...why does TNT have 6 races anyway? Why didn't Fox and ESPN just split the season??? JD? Anyone?

Diane

Anonymous said...

If you believe their commercials, TNT knows Drama. So maybe this is some sort of drama they're playing out with not updating or promoting the race season.

But after seeing their coverage in the past, it's 6 weeks of promoting TNT, not covering the races. Expect a downward spike in the ratings during those 6 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Oh,great,TNT covering NASCAR. Weber was annoying last year. He has a broadcasters voice,the inflection and cliches down pat, but showed absolutely no in depth knowledge of the sport. Same for Wally passing judgement on drivers for whom he couldn't carry their helmet bags.

GinaV24 said...

Oh joy, TNT is about to begin their NASCAR coverage! I can't wait (that is sarcasm folks, pure sarcasm). The coverage they did last year was so bad and I'm betting that in this case, no news is NOT good news. I'm not looking forward to seeing Bill Weber and his bad attitude again. I watched the first couple of races TNT broadcast last year and that's what I'll do again this year. There are a lot of choices out there to use to follow a race. The networks (all of them) have to impress me a lot for me to invest my valuable free time to watch the races. Interesting that there have been NO updates from TNT about their coverage at all. Maybe they'll give it back and NASCAR could divide it up 3 and 3 between Fox and ESPN, that would be better than dealing with TNT

Anonymous said...

I sense I might be in the minority on this but I hope they bring Wally back. While obviously understated in the booth, he seems to be of the few people covering NASCAR who hasn't gone to professional broadcasting and/or acting school. He's not your down home friend, he's not trying to blind you with his pearly whites. He just talks.

dawg said...

"TNT will not be broadcasting qualifying, or practice from Pocono. It will be on Speed."

If NO ONE broadcast practice, qualifying, OR the race from Pocono. Maybe then NA$CAR would finally, get the message. That this snoozer shouldn't have 2 dated!

red said...

hey dawg! i agree. i have a choice between dover and poconos each year and i refuse to go to pocono, even tho' it's closer to me. bad track to watch a race from (bad angles, places where the track all but disappears, traffic control non-existent) and even watching it on tv has become a challenge. too long a race and i dread cot back on that track. my heart goes out to the broadcast team who has to try and make it interesting.

Anonymous said...

JD,

Just FYI, those pics of Dennis Rodman were taken AFTER his stint in rehab. Great example the NBA (and TNT) set, huh?

Diane Mc said...

I don't care how bad TNT might be because anything is better than Fox. I'm in heaven knowing I won't have to listen to or see Darrell Waltrip for the rest of the year. No more boogity, no more Digger, no more Chris Meyers, no more Shannon Spake, no more "let's go racin boys", etc., etc.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

anon 0906

Ya know I kinda like Wally also. Yes two drivers in the booth may not work, and Kyle may have had the upper hand last season. But for some reason, which I have no excuse/reason for I still like him in the booth. And did enjoy them both. To me it did make the race broadcast bearable .

ttc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

ttc,

You are going to have to adjust that comment a little bit and then re-post please.

The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page.

Thanks,

JD

haus20 said...

This is the time of the year where I get my money's worth out of hot pass!

Adam T. Martin said...

Ugh!

TNT for six straight weeks and Bill Weber.

I wish ESPN could get here sooner!

Adam T. Martin said...

No matter how many times TNT promotes The Closer, I won't watch it.

Anonymous said...

Diane Mc...
Shannon Spake is on ESPN, not on Fox. Fox's female pit road reporter is Krista Voda.

Bobb said...

hey JD about the closer

Thanks for looking it up so we wouldn't have to.

I hope they bring that no commercial/open coverage to Daytona on July 5th. (I looked the date up - ok you know the rest)

I also like Wally. Having been to races in second half of year when he worked with BP and listening to scanner at track he is not as phony as he comes across on TV. (Hope that didnt come out wrong - bit of sarcasm thrown in)- but the booth of Bestwick/Parsons/Dallenbach was something special even if you don't like Wally.

I also won't go to Pocono instead going to Dove o New Hampshire instead. Went to one Pocono race and you can't see anything and fan area is small and track is in the middle of nowhere.

Erik said...

O' ye of little faith!! I have full confidence that TNT will produce a package of excellent races at the highest of broadcast standards. They're just a bit busy, understandably so, with the NBA Playoffs. I have no doubt it'll be a summer to remember and TNT will set us up nicely for the final races leading up to the chase.

Dot said...

The only NASCAR related thing I've seen on TNT is the AFLAC commercial with Carl & Jamie. NBC also shows it. Just saw it a few minutes ago. I had to check the channel to be sure.

Other than that, crickets.

RPM said...

I agree that TNT needs to get out of the NASCAR business. Split the races between ESPN and Fox. Let's just all pray that Bill Webber will not return to the TNT crew. Webber is the King of the hissy fit.

I do hope Wally Dallenbach returns. He and Kyle did'nt mix well, but maybe they have worked on the chemistry a bit.

Larry Mac is a lifesaver for the whole broadcast.

Diane Mc said...

Anonymous said...
Diane Mc...
Shannon Spake is on ESPN, not on Fox. Fox's female pit road reporter is Krista Voda.
May 21, 2008 5:30 PM

My bad, of course Spake is on ESPN. Sorry for the mistake. And I do like Krista Voda. Plus Wendy V. on Speed is great.

Anonymous said...

I have full confidence that TNT will produce a package of excellent races at the highest of broadcast standards,

They didn't come close to doing this last year. Why will this year be any different?

Desmond said...

John, I just checked my DirecTV on-screen guide. It shows the same pre-race setup as last year, with NASCAR on TNT Live! followed by Countdown to Green. I will assume the same hosts and analysts.

Kyle Petty will definitely return. He will miss Dover this weekend because of his daughter is getting married, then he will join TNT and not return to the car until Indy. He will not repeat the in-car setup from last year.