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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Anonymous said...

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.

The problem is ESPNEWS averages 58,000 viewers per day and isn't in very many homes. ESPN and ESPN2 are in virtually every American home, and ESPN averages 700,000 viewers a day.

I can wake up and watch the first 15-30 minutes of SportsCenter while getting ready for work, which is all I really need to watch. Many viewers can't access ESPNEWS in the same way and would be very disappointed if there was no morning SportsCenter in the 6-7 AM or 7-8 AM slot. Even if real life is calling, it's good for people who go to bed before 11 PM to be able to see what they might have missed before leaving for work.

ESPN probably can't move its viewers over to ESPNEWS until that channel gets into some more homes.

3KillerBs said...

I miss Nascar Now most days because DH is not much of a race fan and balks at more Nascar on weekdays.

I could watch a morning re-air daily.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:49AM,

Those are great points, but I would add that ESPN is focused on the 9AM Eastern start time of the new live SportsCenter.

The last thing they need is to kill their own audience by airing all the scores and highlights for three hours before Ms. Storm and company take to the airwaves.

Maybe, if they put some different programming in the 6 - 9AM timeslot, viewers who want scores will migrate to ESPNEWS and help those numbers grow.

Thanks for your comment.


Dot said...


Is the 6-9am eastern time? Would that be 3-6am west coast time? (alot of us are sleeping) Or is it 6-9am for both time zones?
This is what messed me up on that Mad Money guy show. It was on at 7pm in both time zones. Good grief.

NN would be a good show to reair sometime in that 3 hour block. Or maybe do a highlight version every x minutes. Like the Weather channel does with the local weather on the "8s". It wouldn't have to run that often though. Just put in on at the same time so the viewers won't miss it.

Daly Planet Editor said...


ESPN only has one feed. The times we talked about are in Eastern Time. 6 to 9AM.

Dot said...

Thanks, JD.

I'm not going to worry about this. I'll be sleeping.