Thursday, May 1, 2008

Historic TV Simulcast Calms Angry Fans


Thursday was a very interesting day in the history of NASCAR TV.

What began with an on-air scheduling problem for ESPN2 has resulted in a series of moves that can only be described as amazing.

The Internet posts began to appear early on Thursday detailing the fact that ESPN now had an NBA playoff game on Friday night. It had to be aired nationally. With the ESPN network busy with other events, ESPN2 was going to be the only option. That was going to cause a problem.

The result was a decision by ESPN executives to move the Nationwide Series race at the Richmond International Raceway on Friday night from ESPN2 to the ESPN Classic Network.

This TV network served on many occasions in 2007 to handle NASCAR product when the two main ESPN networks were live with other sports events. The results for NASCAR were not good. The network is non-HD and has very limited distribution on a digital tier that often requires additional monthly cable fees.

It was shortly after this decision was announced that emails began to pour into The Daly Planet that NASCAR was not happy. A highly-rated and much anticipated night race at RIR was going to be moved to a relatively small cable TV network whether NASCAR liked it or not. What other options were there?

That answer came just a bit later in the form of a mind-bending announcement from NASCAR and the TV networks involved. Veteran NASCAR fans might want to sit down.

Simply put, SPEED Channel will simulcast the entire ESPN production of the Nationwide Series race from Richmond.

“SPEED is happy to lend a hand to NASCAR and one of our fellow NASCAR television partners,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “It’s a great way for SPEED and ESPN to come together to best serve the race fan.”

So, that means the Friday night race will be on both ESPN Classic and SPEED live for the fans with ESPN announcers and commercials. That's right, it will be Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree. The NASCAR on ESPN gang will be live on SPEED.

Shortly after that email, things began to shake on the Internet front. As most fans know, Turner Interactive in Atlanta, GA is the company that runs NASCAR.com and has done so for years.

ESPN360.com is ESPN's video streaming website that serves almost every kind of sport and is one of the newest projects for the family of ESPN new media.

On Friday night, both NASCAR.com and ESPN360.com will "stream" the live broadcast of the Nationwide Series race for free to Internet users. This makes the race available live on two TV networks and two Internet websites.

Incredibly, that was not the end of this issue. ESPN then made sure to say that after the NBA game is over, ESPN2 will either join the rest of the race live or will immediately begin a full-length replay of the race if it has ended.

So, let's try to sum this one up. The Friday Nationwide Series race from Richmond got "bumped" to ESPN Classic. We knew this early on Thursday.

Several hours later, the same race is going to be live on SPEED Channel, NASCAR.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Classic and ESPN2 when the NBA game is over. In the late stages of the race, the Nationwide Series could be airing live on three national cable TV networks simultaneously.

Update: SPEED will not carry the 7PM NASCAR Countdown show, so that thirty minute program will be appearing on ESPN Classic and ESPN360.com only. Instead, SPEED will originate a half hour version of NASCAR Live. SPEED will then join the ESPN crew at 7:30PM for the entire race.

As we mentioned earlier, this certainly has been an interesting moment in NASCAR TV history. The reality of it will not really hit home until fans tune into SPEED to find Marty Reid and his ESPN2 microphone flag and graphics. It should be interesting to see what SPEED chooses to scroll on the bottom of the screen during the race.

If you have any suggestions for SPEED, please feel free to pass them along below.

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

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Question. I have read some places that the race is being broadcasted on ESPN360.Com and then others say ESPN.Com.

So is the internet feed on ESPN only for those who get ESPN360, or will it be on the main site ESPN.com?

TexasRaceLady said...

JD, I'd turn cartwheels but I'm too old. LOL

At last, maybe someone, somewhere started thinking about the fans that pay the bills.

If NASCAR threw their weight around to get this done, I may even begin to like the powers-that-be. ROTFL

haus20 said...

A definite positve for NASCAR! NASCAR and the broadcast networks actually solved a problem instead of exasperating it.

KUDOS!

haus20 said...

The ESPN NewsHD side bar is saying 360.com.

Brian said...

What a crazy turn of events, I guess instead of being mad we can be thankful that they put it on Speed for those who don't have ESPN Classic, and if that wasn't enough you can catch it online, or all on ESPN 2 later that night. At least they made something good out of a bad situation.

Anonymous said...

JD,
Thanks for the updates
Lou
Kingston, NY

Anonymous said...

This is amazing. Three different TV Companies that are normally rivals are all coming together to broadcast a NASCAR Race.

ESPN (Disney), SPEED (NewsCorp), And NASCAR.Com (Turner).

tom in dayton said...

Mr. Daly:
I noticed that Nicole Manske also mentioned that the Friday race would be on Classic and SPEED at the conclusion of tonight's NN broadcast and she seemed to me to be a bit amazed!
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is great. We should all say thank you to JD! If is wasn't for his Daly Planet I'm sure this would never have been considered. And we would have never had a place to vent and make suggestions!! Thank you JD!

One question, possibly obvious, but you never know...will the broadcasts on Classic and Speed stay for the whole race and not switch to ESPN2 when the game is over? I have to DVR race as will be home late...west coaster.

Diane

Newracefan said...

This entire turn of events has me in shock. I was tied up all day and the first clue I had was during NN when I caught part of a ticker that said on ESPNClassic and Speed. I missed the beginning where it said the NW race so I was really confused. When Nicole finally explained the plan at the end I was floored of course the next thing I did was check The Daly Planet. This is a fantastic development and one that would not have ocurred last year.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how far we have come in a year. Last season SPEED and ESPN has a known rival. Niether would mention eachothers network on air. This year they began to cross promote and now SPEED is helping ESPN out in a tough situation.

Perhaps we will see a partnership similar to how NBC/TNT worked with SPEED in the coming years?

lohur said...

anonymous 7:56 pm

ESPN360.com can be accessed from ESPN.com. Now for the difficult part (and one of the reasons NASCAR.com is streaming this online as well): Only Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that have a contract with ESPN will be able to access the ESPN360.com events (Verizon is one ISP that has access). An easy way to find out if your ISP carries ESPN360.com is to go the ESPN360.com website (The website can tell by your IP address).

If you don't ESPN360.com, you can always go to NASCAR.com.

SonicAD said...

So, how does the NBA contract work then? I think this situation has been handled pretty well, but... why couldn't TNT or NBATV show the 3rd basketball game? TNT has nothing but Law & Order reruns, I'm sure they would've been happy to have another game. Quite a few 1st round games have aired on NBATV this year, as usual. I think the NASCAR people worked great in getting this situation worked out, but why did the race have to be moved, when there was a perfectly good national outlet for the basketball game in TNT? That would've been fair both to NASCAR and the NBA (if not so much to ESPN, having to drop a playoff game).

I think it was mostly handled okay, and agreeing to a SPEED simulcast is impressive, but I can't help but wonder why they couldn't have done what I outlined above.

Daly Planet Editor said...

diane,

That is a great question. Yes, the entire race will be carried until the end of the ESPN broadcast on SPEED.

The ESPN.com issue is being sorted out, right now I am waiting for a reply about ESPN360 access being open to everyone through the ESPN site.

Will update ASAP.

JD

bevo said...

I doubt that ESPN360 will be available for everyone. I have it on AT&T. As I understand it they have dedicated lines for it, the quality is extremely good and it eats up a lot of bandwidth.

haus20 said...

One of the possible reasons it will be on SPEED is because Classic doesn't come in HD, and this race was obviously going to be in HD on the deuce.

Vicky D said...

Wow finally a tv station finds the Nationwide Series worth the extra time and effort to get it televised live. Finally!!!!!

stricklinfan82 said...

As I said before the bump from ESPN2 doesn't affect me because I have access to ESPN Classic and it happened well enough in advance to allow me adjust the DVR accordingly.

JD,

What I'd like to see is more information as to how this seemingly "last minute decision" to bump NASCAR off ESPN2 for basketball took place in the first place.

Surely they had to plan for a game 6 in these series, so is it safe to assume that ESPN knew all along that if the BOS-ATL and CLE-WSH series both went to 6 games this NASCAR pre-emption was going to occur, and they just hid it from NASCAR fans and kept their fingers crossed that it wouldn't get to that point?

It just seems strange that this Cleveland-Washington game fell out of the sky into ESPN's lap so I'd be very interested in knowing the specifics of how and why this game ended up on Friday night on ESPN2. Was this planned from day 1? Was TNT or NBA TV originally scheduled to air this game?

I'd just like to have more information as to how no one in the world seemed to see this coming when the TV contracts for these things should have been done well in advance.

PammH said...

If ESPN is going to all this trouble to try to please the Nascar fans (broadcasting over high speed websites that some of us can't access) & 2 channels that some folks don't have (not me luckily-I have SOME luck, thank goodness) why do I STILL feel the red-headed stepchild in all of this????

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Wouldn't it be safe to assume that ESPN was just as obligated to carry the N-wide race on one of its primary channels as it was obligated to carry the NBA game on one of its primary channels - and that either someone from Daytona or someone from legal at ESPN reminded the appropriate ESPN people of such overlapping obligations?

I am amazed by how quickly it appears the deal came together, and REALLY do appreciate everything ESPN & SPEED are doing for the fans.

Anonymous said...

As annoying as it is for practices to either not be covered or be tape delayed this year - I do give a hearty thanks to both ESPN and SPEED for making this possible for the fans.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Richard,

I do think it is safe to assume that somebody reminded somebody of something.

Other than that, it's all speculation.

JD

haus20 said...

As Stricklinfan noted it is strange that this conflict ever existed in the first place... or at least that the solution was concealed for so long...As JD has noted before these schedules and contingincy plans are implement way in advance...if this truly is a schedule conflict, than someone wasn't doing their job. They should have seen this from the moment the N'Wide schedule as well as the NBA playoff schedule was released.

Gymmie said...

I'm so glad to hear this! I also have access to everything so the DVR is set.

I'm glad to see everyone was able to come together and devise a plan that hopefully the majority of fans can watch on at least one media source. Heck even folks who might have to work but can access the internet can watch :).

I'm not sure how it all came down, but I'm glad those in the "know" found out and did an 11th hour save.

Anonymous said...

i'm watching SPEED!

wickedj said...

LOL@ Someone reminded somebody.

i can picture it now

"Hey Bob?"
"Yeah Jim"
"Hey, uh, the Caviliers lost last night and, uh, we're suppose to air game 6 on Friday night"
"Yeah, so?"
"Uhm, Well we also have to carry some kind of race or something at the same time"
"OH, $%^&!"

i'll be in town ALL week :) try the veal!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they worked out a deal between the 3 companies ...


BUT


Disney needs to take a long hard look at their priorities and contracts ... Then look at just how many homes Classic is truly available in ... It's a LOT FEWER than SPEED ...


I KNEW there would be days like this (scheduling problems) when Brian France announced in late 2006 that Disney would have "all of the Busch series" coverage ... And Disney / NASCAR keep proving me right ...

Brian seriously needs to re-work and re-negotiate the tv contracts ... News Corp needs to buy more of the coverage as Mickey Mouse and Goofy are stuck under the stron hand of Scrooge McDuck ...

Anonymous said...

Its amazing that they managed to work this out with competing broadcasters. Maybe people learned something from the reaction to Fox's mishandling of the rain-delayed baseball game?

I'll bet the original plan was to just bump the race to Classic and expect that no one would care. Then they found out just how much Nascar fans care.

I like this arrangements. I turn the TV on Speed at 1pm and leave it there all day until Trackside is over and I'm ready to go to bed. That works nicely.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE PLEASE - attention NASCAR TV partners: Fox - TNT - ESPN

now is the time for cooperation to be permanent. Cross promote - Funny how I was channel surfing and found a NBA playoff (ugh) on TNT and they were promoting that the next game was on ESPN - hey maybe same game as tonight-actually probably is - but I digress.

Fox has been promoting NNS race on ESPN and TNT (and NBC before last year) does the same.

Time for ESPN to go to the next level. Use your announcers for NNS qualif and practices on Speed. Benny Parsons and Bill Weber and Allan Bestwick did it during NBC's tenure.

------
just a obscure thought and I don't live in Canada but what will TSN be doing? They have rights to (I believe) NBA and NASCAR from ESPN but I may be wrong on the NBA part - perhaps Rogers has that.

Anonymous said...

let us not forget that Fox has another baseball/NASCAR doubleheader Sat night in Richmond.

Lets hope there is no rain in the baseball cities - forget which game is national one.

Anonymous said...

looks like Chicago Cubs at St Louis is national game - any rain for St Louis Sat?

Anonymous said...

The network is non-HD and has very limited distribution on a digital tier that often requires additional monthly cable fees.

I don't see how this helps as many people as you make this it to be. The same comment could be made about SPEED itself. They may broadcast in HD, though hardly any cable company is picking them up at this time. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?

They too, are a specialty network, that normally you have to subscribe to a digital package in order to get. In fact, for me, Classic is in the expanded basic. So I pay extra for a digital package, mainly to get SPEED.

NASCAR.com and ESPN360.com have been (or had been) streaming the races online for some time now. While the simulcast may be unique, but in terms of the size of distribution, we're still in the same boat.

The race may wind up on in a few extra homes, but its far, far less than a ESPN2 broadcast. And the HD part is nearly non-existant for the vast majority of race fans.

The real story, the one that still affects way more people, is still quite disappointing, an NBA playoff game bumping a Nationwide race back to the roads less traveled of specialty cable networks, away from the glitz and glamour of networks just about everybody could pick up on a basic package.

chase said...

John: What a great 'idea' to cross-feed the Nationwide race!!!! Had I not accessed your site each day I would have blithely gone home and turned on ESPN2 and not find the race! Perhaps NASCAR in its very 'questionable' infinite wisdom has taken this mess very seriously -- now, if only they could take other things equally as seriously then we'd all be in fine shape! Thank you SO much for your report and I can see from the other posters that your information was vital to our 'satisfaction'!

3web88 said...

ALL racing should be on SPEED and SPEED only!
Those HACKS at espn are NOT race fans and are only in it for the revenue. SPEED is run BY race fan's FOR race fan's.
Any network that put's a former basketball player in to comment on NASCAR is a network run by IDIOTS!

Anonymous said...

I think that alot of folks are missing the point. Sure kudos for fixing the issue BUT remember, ESPN made a strong commitment to the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
To relegate it to ESPN Classic with no HD and many folks do not receive this channel still shows that NASCAR is second rate in their minds.

Anonymous said...

Hard to say this without feeling like a whiner.... but here it goes anyway. I have Dish Network so the only thing this means for me is now I don't get the race in Hi Def. That being said still glad they got it resolved for the folks that don't get classic.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thanks for keeping us posted, JD.
I am very happy to be able to watch this race on SPEED.

I guess we'll never know exactly how all of this came about. I just appreciate the fact that it happened. :)

Anonymous said...

there would be no way for ESPN to know that there would be a playoff game tonight way back in Dec 2007 or Jan 2008 when NNS series was announced. NBA playoff games dates are made on the fly.

BUT with that said and as mentioned ESPN has put NASCAR as their second-rate sport. Just as in Fox baseball debacle ESPN has two MUST-CARRIES and has snubbed NASCAR fans to the point that watching the race in HD is virtually non-existant except for fox-owned direct tv and perhaps dish and few cable companies. Very sad for ESPN that promised NASCAR 100% coverage.

Anonymous said...

This is one race fan that is not calm. I am still livid. I can't watch the race in HD due to SPEED's lack of HD distribution. SPEED should have gone to HD over a year ago, and maybe, it would have started to trickle down everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Just watch out what you wish for - you just might get it.

between 2001 and 2006 FX and TNT showed Nationwide races with very little risk of overflow but the Eriks among us wanted the races back on ESPN like in the 1990's and now look at what what you have. You guys wanted ESPN and now you have to pay the price.

where is mizlou and Nascar PPV (at Pocono mid 80's) when you need it.

SonicAD said...

anon 11:24:

Of course NASCAR is second-rate in this case. It's NBA playoffs vs. Nationwide race. Since it doesn't seem like they could move the NBA game elsewhere, at the least they have done EVERYTHING they could to accommodate the NASCAR fans. This DOES show commitment to NASCAR, in ye olden days they probably just would've scrapped the race coverage altogether and all we would've got was basketball.

glenc1 said...

It sounds like ESPN has had their arm twisted a bit and their reaction was to 'do the right thing'. I'm not sure how they can anticipate *every* conflict, but you'd think someone ought to have checked.

But--I'm curious if these numbers are correct (I got them from SPEED & ESPN networks.) According to them, ESPN Classic is in 63 million households, and SPEED is in 78. I don't know that I'd call 63 million a relatively small number, but maybe it is--the mother ship (ESPN) is in 90 million. Granted, if you're the one without them, you're going to be po'd. When they first scheduled the Richmond Cup race on FX years ago (2001)we didn't have it. If memory serves, I think maybe the cable people got it at the last minute, but we were at the race so I don't remember. But I'm sure lots of people had to go to a bar or something.

Anonymous said...

sonicad - I get your point - of course TV has more options than twenty or thirty years ago - I understand that. NASCAR fans ARE being accommodated with at least three ways to watch the race.

Funny how it boils down to the new technology - HD TV. Back in the day the race would have not been seen but now fans complain of no HD - strange isnt it?

JD wonder how far up the NASCAR ladder this deal went = all the to Brian France? or just the Nationwide series folks?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Wow! A Mizlou Sports network mention on TDp!!

Bill Schwing would be proud!

JD

Anonymous said...

The reason we have this conflict tonight - I am not a NBA fan but read this on speedtv forums - LAST NIGHT Lebron James either made or didn't make a shot and we go to game six tonight. Now of course ESPN knew it MIGHT HAPPEN and should have planned accordingly but apparently didn't.

Blogger wickedj said...

"Hey Bob?"
"Yeah Jim"
"Hey, uh, the Caviliers lost last night and, uh, we're suppose to air game 6 on Friday night"
"Yeah, so?"
"Uhm, Well we also have to carry some kind of race or something at the same time"
"OH, $%^&!"

Anonymous said...

I am confused why people are livid they cant see the race in HD? Your lucky you have HD in the first place. Your lucky you can even watch the race on TV.

Anonymous said...

Yes, just glad to get the race on all the outlets. It is a step forward.
Lou
Kingston,NH

Anonymous said...

kingston, NY sometimes can't typw

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing course of events and has all ended well. I know that this is a NASCAR related column, but it still is mindboggling that people are upset and can't understand why an NBA playoff game should take precedence over a Nationwide race. Am I the only one here who enjoys other sports? It seems to me that the fans here wish all other sports would vanish or think they are all silly and irrelevant. I think the NASCAR coverage we get now is fantastic. Of course, I'm a long time fan and remember how it used to be.

ri88girl said...

I am stunned that ESPN has looked after the fan so well, even if contractually forced to. Allowing SPEED to simlcast made sure to leave no one out. hmm sounds like coopatition to me. Thanks to ESPN for becoming a real part of the sport again.

Desmond said...

I want to thank NASCAR and its television partners for their quick response to a fast-changing situation.

To address some points made earlier:
*The NBA issues a master schedule with all the games in all the series listed. According to this schedule, up to four games could have been played tonight. Also, according to the DirecTV program guide, ESPN2 was prepared for a possible game telecast at 10 p.m. Eastern time, possibly from an arena in the Western Conference. As it turned out, the third game was from an arena in the Eastern Conference.
*As for why TNT could not shown a possible third game, the contract with the NBA as written gave ESPN exclusive national telecast rights for the entire night on Friday. ESPN also has similar coverage during the regular season.
*As for NBATV, there is not only the issue of limited carriage like ESPN Classic, but also possible antitrust issues. I heard that some members of Congress complained when NFL Network began televising games, and NBATV is also league-owned.

Richard in N.C. said...

This is fascinating. To my surprise, this AM my Time Warmer digital program guide had been updated to reflect the N-wide race broadcast tonight on ESPN-C & SPEED.

wickedj - thanks for the transcript of the programming meeting. SUPER.

Anonymous said...

desmond makes interesting points - this is why speedtv is NOT NASCAR owned but Fox/News Corp owned and not in any way affected by anti-trust.

Makes you think back to Dec 26 and both CBS and NBC televising the NFL owned NFL network telecast of Giants v Patriots.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to The Daly Planet, I now have a place to go to find out what is going on! Now I know what to expect when I set my TV reminders, only to find something else on the channel. I don't get ESPN Classic, so I am glad they are showing the Nationwide race on SPEED.

ESPN is finally realizing that there are a lot of NASCAR fans out there who are passionate for their sport. I am glad the networks are working together, as well as NASCAR.com.

I hope this network cooperation will carry over to the Cup series. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are doing the flyover tomorrow, and I would hate to miss it.

glenc1 said...

anon 1:24--I kinda share your general thought. I watch other sports and they get moved/interrupted/shuffled sometimes too--it's not some conspiracy against race fans. It's as if people think no one will be watching the other sports....I think the networks have done some things right and others wrong as far as programming, but people have to understand that contracts and ratings play into this (as many have noted). There are plenty of football games I have missed because of some of the crazy broadcast rules the NFL has set up, so it's not only networks, but in any case, I found the radio or watched the helmets bob up and down the field--ya get used to it.

Anonymous said...

glenc1 said...

anon 1:24--I kinda share your general thought. I watch other sports and they get moved/interrupted/shuffled sometimes too--
===========================
I beg to differ - name one NFL game that was moved. Name one MLB game other that Yanks/Red Sox a couple of weeks ago that was moved.

NBA? doubt it. NHL - apparently NBC moved one recently cause of golf. Speaking of Golf cite a golf match moved?

Interrupted is another story and cannot be controlled. Local stations moving a game are also another story - but we are talking today about a cable television sports giant and a few weeks ago a national over the air television network that have both moved NASCAR races.

Dot said...

Finally, co-opetition amoung TV and the internet. Fan happiness should be top priority.

Thanks to JD and all of the commenters for helping those up the NASCAR/TV food chain see the light.

WickedDJ, YOU ARE TOO FUNNY, and sadly, probably right.

haus20 said...

Anonymous said...
I am confused why people are livid they cant see the race in HD? Your lucky you have HD in the first place. Your lucky you can even watch the race on TV.

May 2, 2008 12:59 PM


I don't think that anyone is "livid" that they can't see it on HD if they don't have Speed HD, however, there are those of us who have invested money in upgrading to HD and pay extra monthly fees to have HD programming with one of the primary reasons being to see the NASCAR races. For that reason, I can see how a person would be disappointed...it by no means is the end of the world. I was out of town last week and watched the Sprint race in standard def. Not only did I survive, but I also still enjoyed the race.



The DirecTV guide has also been updated to show the programming change on SPEED, but they are showing "Nascar Countdown" as the pre-race show on SPEED as well.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised with how fast all this happened. The COX cable guide is already updated. however it also still does show SPEED airing NASCAR Countdown at 7:00.

Great decision on all sides.

Gymmie said...

@richard in n.c.--yes I was pleasantly surprised to see that as well :). I have the Countdown on SP but for whatever reason the individual races won't SP. So I was double checking the settings and saw the countdown was listed as recording on Speed from the deuce and then saw they moved all the listings over to Speed and Classic :)

@haus20--anonymous @12:06 mentioned they were livid over not having the race on HD, I believe that is what anon @12:59 is referring to. See below:

Anonymous said...

This is one race fan that is not calm. I am still livid. I can't watch the race in HD due to SPEED's lack of HD distribution. SPEED should have gone to HD over a year ago, and maybe, it would have started to trickle down everywhere.

May 2, 2008 12:06 PM

Coffee said...

I loved the fact that they git the word out on Jayski's in time for me to see the race! Finally, ESPN did something right. Now if they had just gotten rid of ESPN's talking heads and used SPEEDS...nah it was better than watching basketball I guess.