Thursday, July 3, 2008
TNT Not Getting A Lot To Work With From NASCAR
What a nice change of pace the TNT summer Sprint Cup TV package has been so far this season.
Once the network made it through the road-course race at Sonoma, there was a collective sigh of relief all around. New Hampshire would be a breeze.
This little six race TV deal is tough to produce, but the freelancers working hard to put this package together have had to deal with one big obstacle. NASCAR and the drivers have given them very little good racing to work with so far.
Yes, we did see some passing at Loudon and Kyle Busch winning at Sonoma was a surprise. But, the racing has been far short of spectacular and even the upcoming Daytona race threatens to be another COT "aero-fest."
TNT's best move was to add Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds to the broadcast team. Although things were a bit rough in year one, this season has signaled a remarkable change of pace. TNT has slowed things down, opened things up and let the announcers have some fun. It has paid-off with the fans.
Bill Weber has mellowed and emerged as a solid announcer this season despite his limited TV exposure to the sport. Wally Dallenbach has thrived with Petty alongside and McReynolds down in the infield. Often, there is a very fluid conversation in-progress with input from all of the TNT personalities. Weber spends much of the broadcast directing "TV traffic."
While Loudon is a bland track in TV terms, the use of medium and wideshots from the TV cameras worked well to keep things in perspective during the telecast. Even though the crew missed a couple of incidents, they were up-front about the situation and explained the reasons why. Many fans are just fundamentally happy that "Digger" and the endless in-car camera shots are long gone.
The TNT graphics package continues to work well, as does the lack of excessive music while the race is under green flag conditions. This season the commercial breaks have been integrated as well as possible and Loudon was tolerable where restarts were concerned.
On a flat one-mile track there is just not a lot going-on sometimes. Petty was the saving grace for the telecast with his ability to talk about any issue and continue the discussion with McReynolds and Dallenbach. Their efforts at keeping a running commentary during the very boring parts of this event made the telecast work.
The RaceBuddy concept created by the TNT and NASCAR.com folks has been getting great reviews and lots of use. Again in this event, both the in-car camera and the battle-cam angles proved to be effective as an adjunct to the main telecast. It was tough to sometimes see battles in the pack and good racing that were just a little too far back to make it to the TNT screen.
It has been fun to watch this concept get tweaked as the races progress and it may be tough for fans when ESPN comes along and the only online option once again becomes Sprint RaceView. Maybe the RaceBuddy application can be used for other NASCAR events in the future.
Finally, we would be remiss in not mentioning that TNT left the air several minutes early once again and directed fans over to the Jack Daniels post-race show on the NASCAR.com website. At first, it was the TNT gang doing some post-race analysis. Then, the Turner folks at NASCAR.com took over and the fan reaction was not good.
Led by Beau Estes, the Turner online gang was less than professional when it came to the post-race show. They mocked Michael Waltrip and even said he would never finish this well again in his career. They continued with this type of "chat room talk" to discuss more drivers in a very different style than TV viewers are used to seeing.
This included making comments about Kurt Busch's wife and even imitating Juan Montoya's Colombian accent while discussing the Kyle Busch incident.
Perhaps, this is the format that Turner believes will draw fans to NASCAR.com after the race and make them interact. The Daly Planet got comments that included the words rude, insulting and awkward about this online show. Fans saying that the NASCAR.com online show is insulting to NASCAR is certainly a new one for us to hear.
All in all, an interesting day with a surprising outcome to the race. If you would like to add your comment about TNT, RaceBuddy or NASCAR.com please click the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. We do not want your email address and there is nothing to join. We just want your opinion.
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