Saturday, July 19, 2008

SPEED Counting On "NASCAR Confidential"

The double-edged sword that is the relationship between SPEED and The NASCAR Media Group is going to once again be on display this Sunday night.

With the Sprint Cup Series taking the weekend off, SPEED is going to fill the Victory Lane timeslot with a special program. NASCAR Confidential will come along at 8PM Eastern Time.

This series is another one from the official television company of NASCAR, called The NASCAR Media Group. Before the recent title change, they were called NASCAR Images. Lots of the older programming from that group still bears that company title.

NMG is right up the street from SPEED, a network that moved to Charlotte with the intention of becoming an all-NASCAR 24 hour TV network. The partnership between these two companies was supposed to supply the programming that would fuel the network. Things did not work out exactly that way.

Now, several years later, we see the weekends on SPEED continuing to reflect these NASCAR roots with shows like RaceDay and NASCAR Live. The network covers much of the Sprint Cup practice and Nationwide Series qualifying sessions for two-thirds of the season. SPEED also handles the entire Craftsman Truck Series and the All-Star race in Charlotte.

Sunday nights, SPEED is allowed unprecedented access to create the Victory Lane show. Coupled with studio shows like The SPEED Report and Wind Tunnel, SPEED seems to have NASCAR covered Friday though Sunday.

As most sports TV viewers know, Monday through Thursday on SPEED is a very different story. The network transforms into a lifestyle channel with programming that somehow is connected by a very fine line to the word "automotive."

Earlier this season, SPEED announced the creation of NASCAR Confidential with NMG. While fans may have wanted a new episode every week, SPEED ordered six shows in total. That would be six shows over forty weeks of the NASCAR season.

This Sunday, the new episode of the program will feature the Sprint Cup Series Race Control at the Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Coke 600. NASCAR Confidential uses a point-of-view perspective and will show the crews setting up, the race control in action and then the crews tearing-down the "nerve center" for NASCAR.

No doubt the fun will be seeing many officials at work for the first time in this setting. NASCAR is unlike almost any sport as once the action begins there is no clock and the only controlling factor is the weather. Many calls during the race are made on-the-fly aided by TV replays, video monitors and the available technology.

There will be lots of other perspectives thrown-in while the race is underway, including glimpses inside the NASCAR on Fox TV production truck. Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby and his staff are pretty buttoned-up, so it should be fun to see how all the information and coordination gets done on race day.

The downside of all this is that SPEED continues to exclude NASCAR from its new lifestyle programming ventures. Having just launched Wrecked, the series about a tow truck company in Chicago, the network has decided to walk away from real racing and imitate other networks like A&E, Discovery and even MTV.

The original lure of SpeedVision was the mix of racing that showed fans the wide variety of competition that existed around the world. At that time, the network had limited distribution and struggled with ad sales. Now, with the universe of homes for SPEED at almost 80 million, times have changed.

Perhaps, as SPEED continues to diversify the weekday programming line-up there might be an opening for other NASCAR-themed professionally produced TV series like NASCAR Confidential.

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Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to this show. I wish they'd find a way to make it weekly. I know they can find a ton of stories out there.

I miss being able to put it on SPEED and finding something fun and entertaining to watch. I loved watching the WRC while waiting for TN to come on. Or tuning in to watch an older race and hearing from one of the participants on what that race meant to them.

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope this third episode of "NASCAR Confidential" is much better than the last one (however many months ago that was). The second episode was radically different from the first episode: it was just a souped-up version of a "Beyond the Wheel" episode, with a bunch of race highlights from the first several races of the season.

Sounds like they're going back (somewhat) to the originally promised premise of the series, which was supposed to bring us behind-the-scenes coverage of the 24-hour period surrounding a race, from several participants' POV.

Hope they do a better job sticking to the concept this time around. And yes, it would have been nice if they had mentioned that the six episodes would be spread sporadically over the ENTIRE season - that wasn't the impression I got when reading the original stories about it. I got the impression initially that if the first six regularly scheduled episodes did well, more would be ordered.

I also find it very curious that each episode so far has been scheduled on an off-weekend for NASCAR Sprint Cup series - meaning that SPEED is not able to promote it as much during its regular Friday, Saturday, and Sunday NASCAR race programming. Yes, they had Trucks this weekend but that's not the same as having Cup practice, Cup qualifying, RaceDay, Tradin' Paint, etc.

Anonymous said...

JD, you typed "This Sunday, the new episode of the program will feature the Sprint Cup Series Race Control at the Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Coke Zero 400."

Did you mean the Coke 600?

glenc1 said...

I am puzzled by SPEED's lack of identity. Personally, I have no use for shows like Pinks or Pass Time (though I assume the ratings are good; at least for Pinks...) but I find the feature shows on cars somewhat interesting (Tommy Kendall doing the test drives, or the 101 Cars you Must Drive...some shows featuring a type of car like the Mustang one on the other night...) And I would think they'd appeal to racing fans. But *more* racing or racing related programs would be welcome as well. I don't think it needs to be NASCAR *all the time*--frankly, I like watching F1 and ARCA and the Sports car racing. But we liked Beyond the Wheel and team based reality shows like NBS 24/7 because we are able to see what things are really like behind the scenes, and the best of those featured the interesting personalities. The tow truck show is just too removed for me, but then, I don't care for Ice road truckers or the Deadliest Catch, either. And someone (A&E?) had one about people getting parking tickets...I can't even imagine. Instead of going this way, I think SPEED needs to get back 'on track' more during the week. And last I knew, these 'reality' type shows are less expensive to produce than many other types of programming.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:56AM,

That would be a "yes." Thanks!


Lou,Kingston,NY said...

I am looking forward to this show of "NASCAR Confidential". Just as I was/am attracted to this blog. I enjoy learning about some of the behind the scene stuff that happens to get to us. Every once and awhile if I pay attention, I learn more about our TV partners and the stuff it takes to get us the broadcasts we want. I enjoy learning the things that get us what we enjoy. I have to record this show tonight. But will watch it tomorrow when I get home. Thanks, JD. Richard, NC , said it well. Thank you for your dedicated time and effort you give us.

GinaV24 said...

Thanks, JD for telling me this show was going to be on. Considering that it is an off-weekend for the Cup series, I wouldn't ordinarily even consider tuning into Speed on Sunday night since VL wouldn't be on. The regularly scheduled programming on Speed these days is a "don't bother" for me. I guess it must be appealing to some folks, but I miss the various racing programs, man, I really liked WRC, Beyond the Wheel, and shows like that. This new stuff is just programming that I just don't like, so I vote with my remote and don't bother. I used to be so excited to come home and see what was on Speed or I'd record it if I wasn't going to be home. I used the check the on line schedule for speed in advance so I could set the DVR if I thought I'd miss it. Honestly, I can't remember how long it's been since I've even bothered to check the schedule to see what's on. Sad, really, sad.

Newracefan said...

This one looks really interesting if the commercials are anything to go by.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There will be a new post up for your comments shortly after the program is over.


alex said...

Very well done program. It was a nice touch to have Ken Squier as host.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for your comments about the Sunday night showing of NASCAR Confidential.



Dot said...

To glenc1,


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