Tuesday, July 22, 2008
ESPN: Re-Air "NASCAR Now" In The Morning
The programming line-up on ESPN between 6AM and 3PM Eastern Time is in the middle of a major transformation. Daly Planet readers may remember this story that addressed the hiring of veteran sports TV anchor and reporter Hannah Storm.
Now, ESPN has suddenly backed-off of their commitment to originate nine hours of daily sports news and has scaled the new live schedule back to six. Here is the story from Reuters:
ESPN has scaled back its plans for a daylong live "SportsCenter" block.
The cable sports powerhouse told employees that it would produce six hours of live "SportsCenter" a day during the daytime. The previous plan, announced in May, was for nine hours Monday-Friday beginning at 6 a.m. ET.
But ESPN executives realized, a month before the show was to debut, that the first three hours of "SportsCenter" between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. wouldn't be that much of a change from the last live "SportsCenter" the night; reruns currently air in the wee hours.
"It felt like a better use of our resources" to concentrate on the 9 a.m.-3 p.m. block, said an ESPN spokesman.
The scheduled early anchors, Linda Cohn and Steve Berthiaume, will be reassigned to other jobs at ESPN. No one, either in front of the camera or behind it, will lose their jobs.
Hannah Storm and Josh Elliott will continue to anchor the 9 a.m.-noon block, while Robert Flores and Chris McKendry will co-anchor the later block.
During this time of change, ESPN could perhaps consider diversifying the three hours between 6AM and 9AM. That diversity should include NASCAR.
One of the biggest struggles ESPN and ESPN2 are having can be seen almost every day. Live event programming pushes shows like NASCAR Now, NFL Live, Outside the Lines and a host of other seasonal non-event shows to earlier timeslots.
NASCAR Now actually moves to 5PM as its daily East Coast air time just as ESPN steps into the Sprint Cup Series. The next airing of the program is at Midnight Eastern Time.
In the morning, fans that want a quick review of the overall sports night swing by the ESPNEWS Network to catch the thirty minute "wheel" of sports. Watching the one hour or ninety minute version of SportsCenter does not work for many East Coast viewers. Real life is calling.
Moving the general sports fans over to ESPNEWS would allow for a morning re-air of NASCAR Now. This is only becoming possible because ESPN2 is producing a one hour Sunday wrap-up show that would be perfect to start the Monday morning of NASCAR fans. Then, the remaining shows during the week would be the thirty minute version.
This Fall, NFL Live, College Football Today and Outside the Lines: First Report would be wonderful compliments to fill-out this never before available timeslot. For ESPN there is nothing to lose. A brand new live version of SportsCenter will be along shortly and the overnight show has already shown all the final scores and highlights.
The new 9AM live show with Hannah Storm and friends could come on-the-air without having to be preceded by three hours of the very same highlights Storm will show. Catering to an existing audience that now struggles to record or rush home to view these specialty shows would seem to be a solid idea. It might be an idea whose time has actually finally come.
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