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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