Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TNT Unveils "RaceBuddy" To Shake-Up Your Summer


We knocked on the TNT door and asked them to come out and play. The response was certainly not what we expected. This page over at NASCAR.com has some of the most interesting TV and Internet information about the sport that you will ever read.

There will be a full column posted about TNT's RaceBuddy promotion as soon as we finish filling-in all the details. Chances are, if you went to the page link above, your interest is peaked as well.

TNT fully intends to shake-up your NASCAR summer in a very big way. Let's take a moment to get an overview of what is happening. NASCAR.com is a website run by a company called Turner Interactive based in Atlanta, GA. That Turner company is a sister to Turner Network Television, or TNT.

As most fans know, NASCAR.com has the Internet video rights to all of the NASCAR races and allows fans to watch for about $20 a month on something called Sprint RaceView. This Internet streaming is accompanied by all kinds of audio links and live info and camera choices. You can even pause and replay the races from your computer.

Fox and ESPN cannot dip into this technology or use this type of connection with NASCAR.com to their advantage. But, TNT certainly can. The RaceBuddy promo that appeared this week opened-up some new doors for cable TV viewers by inviting them to use their broadband access computers as a "companion piece" to the TV set.

If you would like some background on how all of this ties together, this is a past column talking about "convergence" and how it is rapidly approaching for all of us.

Needless to say, the TNT promo information contains some items that viewers have been wanting to hear for some time now. One, that the live race will be streamed to your computer for free and you can control the camera angles. Two, that your questions can be sent directly to the announcers as the race is in-progress and they will answer you on-the-air. Three, that you can upload a video question in advance and see yourself being played-back on the TNT broadcast. Well, all of this kind of puts "Digger" in a new perspective.

TNT is rolling-out an integrated NASCAR concept that will fully incorporate your laptop or desktop PC actively into the broadcast. To fully participate, you will need to have something more that "just your TV" even if it is an HDTV. Talk about convergence.

We are working with TNT to offer a full column and several updates on RaceBuddy as we approach their first race weekend. On the TV side, the on-air crew remains the same and the format of ninety minute of pre-race does as well. Once again, TNT will be going up against RaceDay, but this time they will be using a couple of new tools.

If any additional information becomes available over the next couple of days, it will be updated here. Otherwise, look for a full TNT column on Monday as the lead-in to what may be a very interesting series of six summer races.

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

35 comments:

l_long said...

I am so sick of marketing, merchandising and MONEYGRUBBING by everyone in any facet of sports, entertainment, or even LIFE these days that I could SCREAM.

Whatever happened to turning on your TV or radio and just watching the program as shown without loading it down with CRAP most of us would rather NOT have, and expecting to charge us through the nose for the privledge?

I'm lucky I can afford to have cable, much less all that junk. Bleh.

Tabula Rasa said...

FYI - Trackpass Raceview is only $12.95 a month or $80 for the whole year and it includes with Scanner and Pitcommand.

SophiaZ123 said...

l long

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matt said...

On that NASCAR.com link, Larry Mac is listed as "roving reporter." What the heck does that mean? Does it mean he won't be interacting with the booth as much as last year? If that's the case, it's bad news for TNT.

Anonymous said...

Any news on Lindsay Czarniak - the crown jewel of TNT's coverage?

Anonymous said...

@ I_long

Wow, I expected completely positive response to this FREE idea TNT is providing. Who wouldn't like to be able to control the camera feed and chose which camera to watch the race from? No longer needing to make excuses about not being able to follow your favorite driver (or miss anyone other than the winner finishing). To me this is awesome newS!!!

Curious in DC said...

Will they have the same lineup of booth and pit reporters as last season? Will Lindsay Czarniak be back?

alex said...
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alex said...

anon 11:26,

I agree this is a great idea. It's inevitable that they'll have on-air promos for this thing, I just hope they don't go "digger" crazy in telling people to get on their computers.

haus20 said...

I think "free" is good as well!

I look at it as TNT finally putting ALL the revenue generated from ALL of the commercials during the races to good use.

Maybe TNT will be surprise number 2 this year.

SophiaZ123 said...

I could not click on anything on the link but the cartoon looking thingie and a PHOTO of the alleged camera shots.

Were we supposed to see moving video samples? Will there be commercials to sit thru or do I have to be a member of NASCAR.com pay site to see this. How "free is this". The idea sounds great in JD's blog but I can't believe I just have to log on to watch for free?

I am just curious what I missed Anyway,,,look forward to the Daytona 400 where I hope they again do the almost commercial free side by side kind of thing.

MY FAVORITE RACE LAST SEASON tho many complained about it...TNT or not I thought it was fantastic.

I don't want to HAVe to log on computer to see things...nice just to kick back on tv and not multitaske...that was what my Amen was about to Longs comment.

:-0

bevo said...

Interesting concept but I see servers crashing, that's going to be a lot of bandwidth.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Hey gang,

As I mentioned in the column, all the on-camera crew will be returning to the coverage.

I will have more details in the full story early next week.

JD

Mary said...

Raceview is only as good as when it works - there seem to be frequent sections in every race when it freezes. I find it frustrating to pay all that money not to receive the product - I have emailed them on several occasions only to receive a reply that they are "presently having problems"!

Bill H said...

I like it!

If they are using same system that nascar.com uses for its pre-race and post-race video / chat show (ESPN simulcast) there is a trick you can use that I have used many times.

[Warning geek stuff follows] If they open the stream in a Windows Media window on the website, right click on the video and select properties. Then copy the Url of the media stream (not the website address). Open Windows media Player and then File, Open Url. Paste this link in.

Now you can watch the race in media player without any size restriction, website ads or scrolling chat.

BillWebz

Adam T. Martin said...

Oh no. Not a Digger sequel!

Lisa Hogan said...

I do enough multi-tasking in my "real life". Like Sophia, I just want to watch the race on my TV. I have no interest in TNT's online product.

I'm a "glass half full" kind of girl so I will wait and see how all of this effects the actual TV broadcast.

Interesting how the Lindsay fan club finds each TNT column. :)

Anonymous said...
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Nan S said...

Thanks Bill H., I'll try that.

Anonymous said...

This new gizmo of TNT's, Race Buddy, sounds pretty nifty and I'm sure many techie types will love it. I'll check it out, too, but I'm quite content with my subscription to TrackPass Pit Command.

My only hope is that we viewers are not subjected to countless plugs for Race Buddy much like we were with the moronic 'Digger Cam'. Advertise the little guy but don't contstantly 'hit us over the head' with it because all that does is annoy people.

haus20 said...

As I have mentioned I am all for this, however, in reality, I think there will be a lot of frustrated people trying to watch the race on TV and the alternate views on the web. There is a strong possibility that the two will not be synchronized due to a multitude of reasons.

If any of you use FoxTrax or Nascar Raceview/ live scoring, you know what I am talking about. Sometimes those things are off by several laps.

That will be the problem.

Several people have commented about how they don't want to have to do this or don't want to pay anything to watch the race and I agree, but no one is forcing anyone to do anything. This is just an extra option for those who want more in their race viewing experience. Everyone will still be able to kick back and watch the race on TNT as they did last year.

Anonymous said...

I see the option to utilize several different camera views and angles but I do have a couple of questions.

What about being able to listen to the drivers (via the scanners) during the race? How many camera views will be available on pit road? One? Two? It would be really nice if there were several which would allow the fans to pick the camera that is closest to their favorite driver's pit box.

I tried TrackPass Race View earlier this season and there was only one camera view of pit road-at the end, or pit road exit, if you will. If I can't watch my favorite driver's team during the pit stops, I have no interest in a pit road cam.

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KoHoSo said...

l_long...I understand your sentiment and mostly agree. I have a feeling that you're like me in that you remember the days when all there was on TV were the three networks plus PBS and a local independent station (if you were lucky). And, in this modern media world, I often think of these lines written by Tom Petty in The Last DJ:

As we celebrate mediocrity
All the boys upstairs want to see
How much you'll pay for
What you used to get for free


However, those of us who want everything all in one place are a passing breed. Like it or not, we have to face the fact that the younger generations (and thus the desired demographic by broadcasters and advertisers) are fully into multitasking and choice. And, if that's what they want, that's what they're going to get. If media outlets don't provide it, they will get left behind. That's how it is, and it's not going to change very much if at all.

As for the marketing, merchandising, and money-grubbing...the best way to deal with that is on a personal level -- don't buy those products.

In general on RaceBuddy...I understand those who have their reservations about it. I have some as well any time I see some "bad boy" cartoon logo. However, none of us have seen it in action. And, considering how bad TNT was last year plus how much improvement we've seen from ESPN after our complaints, let's withhold judgment on RaceBuddy until we see what he can do. He might turn out to be pretty cool. If not, believe me, I'll be near the head of the line to let his pale cartoon butt have it!

MelissaAnne said...

When I first saw RaceBuddy pop up on NASCAR.com a few days ago, I was aghast. "What in the He(double hockey sticks)can this be now?" When I clicked over, I was surprised. If they can pull this off, it might be an answer to a lot of our prayers. Maybe they'll keep the race feed open during commercials? Can you imagine?
And free. Free!
I usually have my laptop up and running anyhow to listen to the (delayed)feed from the scanners, so managing to make it do one more thing is fine.
I'm curious. I'm hopeful. TNT's experiment with the "no" commercials was pretty good, I thought. I say lets see what they can do. Maybe for once someone is thinking of us. (Free! Something in NASCAR for free!)
And thanks for answering how in the world they are able to offer it for free! The Turner/TNT connection isn't something I would have thought of.

Anonymous said...

I think this sounds pretty cool. Plus, considering how boring most of the summer races are it can add a little bit of excitement and intrigue to the whole thing.

As much of a bad rap as TNT gets, at least they are trying something new. I hope it works out for them and the good parts become part of all of our weekly NASCAR experiences.

Anonymous said...

I can't WAIT for Fox's portion of the season to be over.

Anonymous said...

Any word on any graphical changes to TNTs coverage???

I know alot of people did not like the ticker last year because the intervals and driver name were on the same line and it took forever to run alkl the way through.

Richard in N.C. said...

From past experience, TNT's coverage is likely to be substandard as long as Bill Weber is involved. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

playingtime said...

My interest is certainly piqued. Where can I get one of those RaceBuddy Tshirts? And I think RW in Swahili would be better:-)

Karen said...

Anonymous said...

I can't WAIT for Fox's portion of the season to be over.

May 29, 2008 1:55 PM


I predict you'll eat those words.

Desmond said...

Guys, I understand your frustration over Rusty Wallace, but this is not the place to express it. Wallace doesn't even work for TNT; he's at ESPN!

Newracefan said...

I'm game and as long as I can still hear my drivers scanner. Thanks Bill I copied your directions too.

AndrerFromTN said...

@haus20

You're spot on about synchronization issues.

While the laps off issue you mentioned certainly can be addressed. There is no way to be 100% synchronized.

Since I got my DirecTV with HD, I've seen that the HD channels can be 3 to 6 seconds behind their standard def. counterparts. Plus, even the SD satellite signal is 3 - 6 seconds behind getting the signal off rabbit ears.

But, I'm sure most of us would be pleased if they could get there.

For myself, this is not an issue, as I usually time shift my race watching so as not to be tied to the TV. Plus, I can FF through the commercials.

Now, if someone could synchronize delayed playback with data. That would be awesome.

But, I'm sure that is some time in the future as "on demand" stuff like that would use even more bandwidth.