Friday, August 22, 2008

Nationwide Race Becomes Background Noise

The short laps of Bristol Raceway force the TV crew to strip-away all the bells and whistles and focus on the racing action. The Nationwide Series poised just that challenge to the NASCAR on ESPN gang Friday night.

The network decided to keep the "bottom line" graphic insert on the screen during the entire race. Then, it added SportsCenter "right now" updates during green flag racing. Even with laps of under twenty seconds, ESPN added pre-recorded "bumpers" leading into the commercials that featured the drivers standing and staring into the camera.

From the start of the race, the commercial rotation was crushing and often resulted in only small "snapshots" of racing or simply recaps of missed action before another commercial. Also under green, Tim Brewer in the Tech Center provided updates without the racing action in a second video box.

By now, you may have caught-on that ESPN changed nothing for this race. In fact, features and pre-determined storylines caused this broadcast to become almost a highlight show. The racing action had to fight against the ESPN agenda. The racing action lost the fight.

Early in the event, the graphic information showed four cars had fallen out of the race. There had been no caution periods. These teams had never been mentioned on the telecast when they were running. They were never mentioned when they retired. Since they were not star drivers or star teams, they simply did not exist to ESPN.

Ten ESPN announcers surrounded the action at Bristol with four pit reporters, three on-air talent in the infield and three more upstairs in the announce booth. Ten voices trying to talk while sixteen second laps and great racing flew-by resulted in nothing more than a complete mess.

Just like last season, ESPN suddenly decided that the Nationwide Series Championship fight was going to "trump" the actual race and the network followed that agenda to the end. The focus on the potential champions left the reality of those cars running outside of the top five to become nothing more than something to be tracked as the graphic crawl went slowly by at the top of the screen.

Commercial-after-commercial ran as ESPN found themselves constantly in commercial break during incidents on the track but never returned early. Nothing was worse than the timing of the TV commercials in this race. Veteran fans may remember that this was the same problem ESPN experienced at this track last season.

With 25 laps to go, viewers had not seen any racing outside of the top ten or had a full-field recap. It was going to be the Clint Bowyer show to the bitter end until the unthinkable occurred.

The car ESPN had focused on all race long was about to be passed for the lead of the race and ESPN missed it. Not because the network was in commercial, but just because they missed it. The winning pass had to be replayed.

Some late attempts at showing other racing momentarily added nothing and made no sense. By now, Jerry Punch was just talking about what was appearing on his TV screen and any hope for a perspective on the race itself was gone.

The new pavement at Bristol allows for two-wide racing and the races take less time because of fewer cautions. With only two laps to go at 9:45PM Eastern Time, Punch had not called any significant racing action. This ended in one of the most amazing moments in recent NASCAR history.

As Keselowski made his final lap and won the race, Punch called no other cars coming across the finish line. Suddenly, silence ruled. Let's repeat that one item. The ESPN play-by-play announcer called only the winner crossing the line and did not mention one other car or team as the rest of the field screamed around on the final lap.

Cars were crashing and the normal last lap chaos of Bristol was in full-swing. What NASCAR fans nationwide heard was silence until Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree jumped-in once again and tried to help. ESPN actually had to replay the finish so TV viewers understood what had happened on the final lap.

The blunt reality of the short laps at Bristol mandate that TV networks change to cover this event like no other. ESPN was unable to deviate from the three pre-planned agendas of featuring JGR, the Nationwide Championship fight and the top two or three cars on the track. That resulted in a loss of any information on the vast majority of the drivers in the field for the entire evening.

As the network filled the remaining program time with interviews, fans learned who finished where and what really happened in the race. They got this information from the drivers. Punch and company were long-gone and it was Bestwick who led the way through the post-race interviews.

Many of the drivers interviewed had not been seen on-camera during the race itself. The stories were almost all new to those who watched the ESPN coverage. The reality of ESPN's race production problems was being exposed by the drivers themselves.

Perhaps, the opinions of the fans who will be posting their comments on the television coverage of the Friday Nationwide Series race might help to put things in even better perspective for both NASCAR and the ESPN production team prior to the Saturday night coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


alex said...

Please Nascar, BUY OUT the remaining years of the contract. You may think that ESPN brings more exposure to the sport, and you're right, but it's doing more harm than good, at the expense of the fanbase.

The AGENDA is only going to get worse through November.

stricklinfan82 said...

Re-post from the in-progress comments....

Quite simply this production truck did not broadcast this as a race. Instead of searching for a race on the track and reacting to how the race was unfolding, ESPN focused primarily on 5 pre-determined drivers of interest - the points contenders (Bowyer, Keselowski, & Edwards) and the two JGR cars that were in the news all week (Busch & Logano).

When Clint wasn't on camera, ESPN found Brad, Carl, or the JGR cars on the track, often times literally skipping right past two other cars racing side-by-side to pan back to the other "driver of interest" running by himself.

Very rarely ESPN did decide to "throw a bone" to another car that a pit reporter had a story about. Once they panned back to Denny Hamlin running by himself to tell a story, skipping past two cars running side-by-side in the process to get to him. Another time they focused on Dario Franchitti. Cars were running two-by-two-by-two just car lengths behind him but ESPN didn't care. Dario's story was told, his sponsor got some TV time, and it was time to move back to Clint, Brad, the JGR cars, or Carl running around 75 laps down.

This was very poor coverage today. The Speed Truck production truck put on a clinic on how to broadcast a race with limited racing at the front of the field. These ESPN folks despearately need to watch a Truck broadcast and take notes.

As I said yesterday, it is UNBELIEVABLE that the coverage actually worsens as the weekend goes on and the amount of people and money involved in the race production steadily ramps up from Truck to Nationwide to Cup.

NASCAR, I have one word for you as it relates to your relation with ESPN/ABC. - BUYOUT There must be one somewhere in your contract, use it!

Yippie for college football season arriving! Now we can add network shifts, pre-emptions, tape-delays, and Internet-only broadcasts on top of the already awful production of these ESPN races and qualifying/practice sessions.

Newracefan said...

I don't know where to start. I know a good race can be called at Bristol, Speed did it with the Truck race on Wed night with half the people. Granted it wasn't perfect but we knew what hapend on the track.

This race was an after thought, the only racing that was shown was by accident when they were showing Clint, Carl, Brad, Joey and Kyle. I actually muted the TV half way through and used for the PRN broadcast. That's how I knew guys were racing each other and Fox's Racetrax filled in the rest. It's pathetic that I needed to use the product of 2 rival channels (TNT and FOX) because the ESPN coverage was useless. DJ and AP try but with no PXP to work with they don't have a shot. Throw in the director not using the camera to show us the racing but the STORY they decided on earlier pushed me over the edge. I am so fearful for tomorrow that I may have to upgrade to Raceview on Trackpass since I do not have DirectTV for hotpass. Pathetic.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think that was a very big issue nrf. Fans had watched a fast-paced race from the same track on Wednesday night and it was completely different.

SPEED stripped-down the race coverage to basics and let the action tell the tale.

This was a rough moment for the ESPN gang and I am sure it is being discussed. There may be some changes in direction before the Cup race on Saturday night.

This new track is just too fast and demands a different level of attention and focus.


Anonymous said...

ATTN: ESPN Director, & truck personnel

I hope you do NOT work the Cup race -you probably will unfortunately for us fans. So try the following, instead of the slop you dished out tonight.


1 - No preconceived drama - this is BRISTOL - the guys in the cars who hate each other once they fire up those cars will provide it. Follow the racin' & you will give a great show & have lots of nice things said about you here & on other boards. Fail us & we will savage you. Ask TNT.

2 - Play by Play is a participation career. That means PbP person must speak about the action ON THE TRACK while it is occuring.

3 - It takes 16 seconds to run a full lap at this track, no tech center under GREEN FLAG racing! We miss too many laps, save it for cautions, they will come!Its Bristol.

4 - There are 43 ( FORTY THREE) drivers, they all have fans. Mention all the cars& drivers, you got a couple of hours at least.
P.S. Even "casual" fans have a driver they love ( or hate) so show them all once.

5- Let us know why cars are out of the race. And interview the drivers as they leave infield care - if they don't want to be interviewed let us know.

6- Reset the field - all the cars - not just the top 5 & the flavor of the week. Also let us know who gets the Lucky Dog. Every Time .

7- The points don't "update" during the race anywhere except the producer/directors mind. OK maybe the graphics dept. mind.
UPDATE the POINTS after the
RACE not during it. Announcers who do this sound like they've never been to a race before.

8- GRAPHICS, TICKERS et al shall be kept to a minimum. Tickers do not run constantly on espn (onlyE2)
so if football doesn't get it - we shouldn't either.

Basically show us wide angle racing shots, PbP of what is going on , and we will be happier.

You proved me wrong tonight w/ post race coverage. Kudos. To bad we had to use that to fill in the blanks you left. That is how post race coverage should be.
I should not have to use all of the following for race coverage- TV, RADIO, & THE INTERNET- TO GET INFO.

You used to have great race coverage, what the hell happened that your coverage has sunk so low?

Charlie said...

At a race that lap times are around 16 seconds, I was surprised that they would interview Kevin Harvick in the infield booth when the race was going on. Did Espn think they needed another announcer to help contribute to the broadcast?
Again the radio was better then the Espn broadcast. With the resources Espn has it is hard to believe that the radio beats them every time.

Kyle said...

Theres 3 tracks in all of nascar I would never miss willingly. Bristol Dega and Daytona. I turned off the TV tonight. I doubt that I will even bother to watch the race tomorrow. MRN/PRN is going to get a ratings boost this year.

Dr. Flashcube needs to go.

pt said...

TDP said: Perhaps, the opinions of the fans who will be posting their comments on the television coverage of the Friday Nationwide Series race might help to put things in even better perspective for both NASCAR and the ESPN production team prior to the Saturday night coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race.

PT says: Perhaps the muleheaded executives at ESPN will look down their collective noses at our comments and characterize these comments negatively because the commenters are not 'in the business' and cannot possibly understand what we are seeing. Anyone in Vegas care to lay odds on this event occuring?

If only the pigheaded ones in Connecticut could understand that our connections with auto racing and these motor contests began early in life along with the attractions we had for basketball, football and baseball. Perhaps then these people could understand we see that the broadcast standards for the telecasts of these events are much higher than for the motor contests and it is self-evident to all of us viewers. I love to see the people in these executive positions treat us with the disdain we experience as though we are not intelligent enough to comprehend baseball, basketball, football AND motor racing television coverage and somehow fans of each are mutually exclusive. Oh well, this is an example of blue-staters purposely blowing the coverage of a red-state sporting event in an effort to denigrate a group of people they believe they cannot connect with. Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

On a related note, I would love to read Stephen Green drunkblogging ESPN's coverage of a motor contest much as he did the presidential primary coverage earlier this year. No mercy.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I don't know if you were with us last year, but to ESPN's credit there were many tremendous changes in the NASCAR team for this season.

They have also been doing the Nationwide Series races with little problem since February.

While we have our opinions about forcing a reporter like Jerry Punch into calling the action, everything else has been pretty doggone good.

That is why this total meltdown was such a surprise. ESPN got a new infield host, moved Rusty down alongside of Brad, got DJ in the booth and changed "NASCAR Now" totally.

Something has just recently happened to force this new higher profile for SportsCenter and this total focus on the championship chase as opposed to the actual race.

Before you post again, please do me a favor and review the rules on the right side of the main page. I am keeping your post up because you make some good points but we try to steer our conversation down the NASCAR TV aisle on this blog.

Thanks a lot,


Sophia said...

WOW! Such a sad column about such PATHETIC coverage. Well, I shall be listening oN MRN saturday and hope the signal comes in clearer in the evening.

I was out tonight and SO GLAD I did not bother taping.
ESP U needs to be bought out.

I have no even read the in race comments but see no reason to.

NASCAR POWERS THAT BE: Try watching ESPN like the fans do and see how they are RUINING the car races. Buy a clue and buy out this contract.

It's only gonna get worse.

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem with ESPN, they cover so much that they are really not good at anything. That's just the nature of the beast. Look at Monday Night Football. They are so large now that they are like the episode from South Park about Walmart.

I agree with Alex, NASCAR should buy out the remaining contract and move it. But what alternatives are there? I don't think that there is one major network out there that can dedicate the resources to buy a whole season and do it properly. We are a few years away from a nation wide economic recovery so the money is not there. What's the other option? Does NASCAR end up on some second rate network like Indy?

It's too bad, but I think we are stuck with ESPN in the short run. We can hope that they get better, but again, they are a big behemoth and are driven by Sports Center highlights type broadcasting. Look at how the cover the major stick and ball sports. Do you ever see the lower rung teams play no. They are geared towards the lowest common denominator. That's just the nature of the beast. And until some other network can step up, we are stuck.

In the big picture, we need to remind ourselves that at least we get to see some racing and are not relegated to some obscure Comcast station.

Lets hope it gets better, but if it doesn't, it's not life and death to me. I'll enjoy it for what it is. There are bigger things to lose sleep over (Russia in Georgia and the US putting missiles in Poland).

And just out of curiosity JD how are the ratings for this years ESPN races compared with 2 years ago when they weren't on ESPN?

Thanks for the cool forum JD!!!

Anonymous said...

Im really worried about whats going to happen when ABC begins to broadcast The Chase races. I can only imagine how many drivers we will hear about. We went through the same thing last season with ESPN at this exact point if the season. Have they not learned from their past mistakes (ie: Nextel Cup Texas Fall race from 2007....3 drivers were mentioned)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:28PM,

TV is having a tough time right now because the younger folks do not watch it very much.

They prefer on-demand everything and that includes all types of media. That is why networks like SPEED scramble to produce these lifestyle shows.

Once they are done, they can simply be put on a big server and played-back over anything. Internet, PDA, cell phone or even cable TV PPV channels.

The live events are flat and that goes for almost everything. Some a little up and some a little down but flat with declinging total numbers.

NFL fans are begging me to blog Monday Night Football and college football fans are screaming at me about Gameday.

You are so right in the fact that ESPN has almost become a parody of what it once was. Now, it is just a big maching spewing different kinds of content. What a shame.


Illpolo said...

You really had to watch this race in its' entirety to get a grasp on how bad the ESPN coverage was. There is simply no other way to twist it.

Some Things That Went Wrong

**Early in the race, when Cale Gale had the lead for several laps, the crew joked around that it might be Kevin Harvick in the #33 car instead of Gale, as if the young driver couldn't possibly be good enough to be leading.

**Interviewing Harvick during green flag racing

**Missing I believe all but one caution during the race while at commercial. You can say it was bad luck, but we just saw a race on Wednesday that seemed to be live for every caution at the same track.

**Punch continuing to hype that Kyle Busch was coming for the lead late in the race, even though he was down by 7 seconds with around 7 laps left. He ended up moving up about 6 spots after a bad pit stop, but he had no chance to comeback, but Punch kept hyping that as the main story late in the race. They missed the pass by Kesolowski because the camera went back to look at Busch racing for 12th place.

**Missing the race-winning pass DURING the coverage (not at commercial) by Kesolowski and then glancing over it in a highlight as if it were a simple pass for 18th place early in the race.

**The focus on Carl Edwards coming back on the track down 70 laps while not showing green-flag racing.

**The silence at the finish line.

**Late coverage of the wreck involving Hornish.

**Rarely ever mentioning drivers like Wimmer, Vickers, Stremme, Reutimann, Gale, and Steven Wallace who I believe all finished in the Top 10.

**Not following up on Franchitti after his crew chief said he had a chance to win from 5th place on in-car audio, then seeing him drift to 11th in the closing laps with no explanation during the race.

**Not ONCE mentioning several drivers who were in the race, albeit a lap down, but who fans still would like to hear what's going on with them.

Sadly...this could be a part one.

pt said...

JD, my apologies for pushing the envelope. I was here last year mostly lurking and posting occasionally as playingtime.

It pains me personally to see Dr. Jerry Punch thrust into the position he suffers. I am a one-time Catawba County resident and a long-time Hickory Motor Speedway attendee, well aware of the history of those three men in the booth. I have always loved Dr. Jerry Punch in every broadcast role he has ever served in and I cannot understand why anyone would allow him to flounder in his present position. I cannot understand why this situation is allowed to continue unless some malice exists somewhere in the hierarchy at ESPN.

On a better note, we all must commend ESPN on their best post-race coverage to date. Planned or unplanned, that was a template for all future post-race coverage and all broadcast partners should sit up and take notice. Despite the disaster the race event coverage was, some redemption was had by the post-race effort and we should all give these people a commendation for this job well done.

Thanks for the opportunity to share our opinions in this space, and I shall strive to play well with others in the future.

ri88gir said...

I love Bristol. It is my favorite track. I wanted to give ESPN a try without reading this blog during the race; so my opinion would not be affected and I would not have access to ther race info.

Unfortunatly ESPN didn't really show any racing per se, just a lot of shots of selected cars regardless of where they were on the track or what they were doing. Cars were left in the middle of passing in favor of a shot of a car running alone.

Jerry Punch did not do PXP he just described what cars were doing as if his audiance were blind, and this was an SVP broadcast. I don't understand why a clearly intellegent man can not see he is not performing his function and alter his style to accomplish this goal. I fully believe he is capable of it so I don't understand why it is not happening. So, ignoring the drivel coming from Doc; DJ and AP were informative to a point, and funny which helps.

It seemed to me that both Shannon and Jamie were trying VERY hard to up the quality of their questions and I thought they did very well, as far as they went.

The problems were all over, and not just with the booth. Mostly it was the choppyness of the pictures. They made me sea sick and the race very hard to follow when the pictures didn't match somones words; which was most of the time. The missed cautions and lead changes were very frusterating. I knew about half way through the race that I would have to read the news, and see other accounts of the race if I were to ever know what actually happened. I have usually been able to follow the race by using the ticker at the top to watch for interesting action that might happen on the track if I can locate the cars, but with so little racing action actully on my tv screen, even this was not possible tonight. I looked to AB to properly reset the field and team stratagies at the half, but that was oddly truncated again and not very informative.

Thank heaven for the post race. Only then, were all the little things I had wondered about, (reading between the commercials) cleared up for me. I was overwhelmed with the free flow of information and driver interviews. It was by far the best part of the race and I found myself thinking why isn't this the PRE RACE show?

I found out that no, this blog does not color my opinion of the coverage, and further, that if I want to know what is happening I need this blog or one like it to tell me.

The race was dull. Dull because it was confusing both to watch and to listen to. Six more years of this kind of coverage, and even long time fans will turn away in disgust.

Clearly we can not express our collective disatisfaction any planner, I will never loose my love of racing, but ESPN is making it much more of a yoemans job than it ever should be.

wickedj said...

I never thought i'd say this, and im waiting for lightning to hit me for saying it..but i miss the early days of NBC with Allen Wally and BP

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Across all of its programming, event or otherwise, I believe there is a conscious or unconscious feeling at ESPN that they are the show, rather than the sport involved- and that if ESPN carries it, fans of that sport will watch. Also, I suspect that the legendary loyalty of long-time NASCAR fans might also contribute to ineffective broadcasts as ESPN may be convinced that hardcore NASCAR fans will watch regardless and their goal is to jazz-up the broadcast in a way to attract the elusive, casual fan. I am convinced that ESPN cannot conceive that substandard NASCAR broadcasting might drive away fans from other offerings.

Anonymous said...

I was so disappointed in the coverage..if that's what you want to call it. I ended up turning on PRN and turned the volume down. Just kept it on for the picture and to back up if someone mentioned something worth checking out I could back up the DVR.

I have no hope for improvement for tomorrow night. I'll have the pre-race stuff up but PRN will be loud and ESPN will be down or on mute. I'll use it for pictures and back up the DVR if someone mentions something and I need back it up.

I learned more in the first 5 minutes of turning on PRN then I learned all night from ESPN. You know "important" stuff like the fact that there were more than 5 cars in the race and what was going on with them.

Anonymous said...

OK - so they missed the pass for the the same exact time, Kyle Busch was pushing his way back through the field after 2, repeat, 2 missed lug nut opportunities. He was angry, impatient, and charging. That at the time was the storyline! Not preconcieved. Not made up! Did you see the replay of the lead change? Bowyer got loose and it happened in a blink of an eye. ESPN immediatetly replayed it. I suppose they could have just camped on Bowyer while this great charge was going on back in the pack. Then you would have seen the lead change, but missed the excitement of a very fast Kyle Busch in traffic.
Follow the leader, miss the action... follow the action, miss the leader....neither option will satisfy this board.

Pick a race sometime in the future and chime in with 1 good thing for every 2 bad things you write about. Maybe then, if or when the truck reads this, they might see something less than an angry mob with torches and pitchforks coming to hunt down the morbid Frankenstien!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ri88girl said...

Anon 2:16 said:

"Pick a race sometime in the future and chime in with 1 good thing for every 2 bad things you write about. Maybe then, if or when the truck reads this, they might see something less than an angry mob with torches and pitchforks coming to hunt down the morbid Frankenstien!

I'd love to. If it were possible. If you noticed, almost everyone here gave BIG kudos for getting the post race dead on perfect so please give us credit for fairness if not objectivity and on that point, angry mobs arn't always wrong.

Todd Crane said...

I watched BMX bicycle racing on tape from the Olympics. I've given up on Dr. Punch and E$PN a long time ago but love this column.

Anonymous said...

Dr Punch is useless. Just keep the race coverage simple. As Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say---"Just the facts maam."

Bill H said...

An open letter to NASCAR:

I originally was going to detail the number of problems with the current coverage, but they have been listed ad nauseum on this forum and others, so I will just give you my personal point of view:

As a fan who has driven 200 miles to go to the nearest track to see a race, purchased the diecast cars, t-shirts, mugs, posters and calendars every year, who has paid $10+ a month for the last 8 years for PitCommand on your website, who this year shelled out over $100 to DirecTv this year for HotPass when TNT took over the coverage, I feel you have let me and my family down. If improvements are not made by the end of the year I will no longer be supporting your product. I may continue to follow what happens on the track in the news, but my wallet will no longer be available to you.

NASCAR, why are you letting a TV network (ESPN) destroy what you spent 50 years building? Do you not care what the fans think? Do you not watch the coverage of your own product? Do you not have any say in how your product is being presented?

Bill H (aka BillWebz)
one of those NorthEast fans you are trying so desperately to market to

earl06 said...

As lame as the coverage was last night, I don't see the possibility of another network doing a whole helluva lot better. Before the track was resurfaced, there were always plenty of cautions to catch viewers up on what was going on in the race. Now what we have is more going on than can be communicated to the viewers in real time. The Cup race will be no different.

On a fast action-packed track like Bristol, a long post-race like last night is necessary. If ESPN had put some thought into this and had the pit producers ready to put out the stories that were neglected during the race, they could have had a real winner. As it is, we'll have to glean this information in bits and pieces from Sirius and the internet.

All we ask as fans is to go to bed the night of a race having a good idea of what happened. This is the area that ESPN, Fox and TNT fall short. I absolutely hate finding out things on Wednesday and Thursday that should have been mentioned during the race telecasts. It really makes me feel ripped off.

Thornton, Colorado said...

8 years of this. I repeat: EIGHT YEARS OF THIS LEFT. I agree with earlier posters: BUYOUT.
Just wait until the Chase begins and the only drivers you will see are the remaining twelve, but it will get worse. As the Chase wears on, and certain drivers are no longer eligible for Champion contention, they too, will be forgotten about. At Homestead, you can bet all of your money that it will be a one-man show.

majors house said...

As usual, nothing has changed with ESPN and we got short changed again. When is NASCAR going to wake up and get rid of the crap that they force us to endure?

Anonymous said...

Gosh. After reading everything that was said, I hope that I am home tonight so that I can follow my favorite drivers because I know that they won't be followed on ESPN. If not, I guess I will just look at the results tomorrow morning.

majors house said...

I really enjoyed Speed's coverage of the truck race on Wednesday night and there is no reason that ESPn could not cover their races like Speed did. As I have stated many times before, I would not mind seeing the Speed crew do all of the races and you know that they would give us our money's worth considering the chemistry they have as well as they let the racing do the talking.

Anonymous said...

The lousy NASCAR telecasts , on all networks , are still the SOLE responsibility and fault of the producer and director . PERIOD . And we all know who those producers and directors are , they have been creating " sub prime " race broadcasts for many years , yet they still have jobs . The networks however don't pay the slightest attention to blogs like this one , so they don't have any idea that the viewership complains every week . In fact , in a very bizzare twist , the networks ,instead of demanding increases in viewers each week , are proud when the numbers equal the last broadcast from a particular venue . The producers and directors leave Jerry Punch on . They think he does a fine job . Same with Rusty , and DW and his brother . Why the three or four cars on screen constantly , and rarely anyone else ? Because a certain well known , long time producer and director have been huge fans of that team for many years and think the rest of us should be whether we like it or not . And then there is the issue of producers and networks being paid handsomely by that team and its sponsors to keep them on screen . All of the above mentioned people are making very good money by doing things this way , so complaints by viewers are not going to change anything .

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Pick a race sometime in the future and chime in with 1 good thing for every 2 bad things you write about. Maybe then, if or when the truck reads this, they might see something less than an angry mob with torches and pitchforks coming to hunt down the morbid Frankenstien!

August 23, 2008 2:16 AM
I strongly urge you to go back to last year & read an in race from each coverage Fox,TNT & espn. Then read 1 from each this year.
We were thrilled about TNTs changes & actually miss them.
Compare & feel free to know what you are talking about. 2 of the 3 improved the in race coverage, the 1 you are so defensive of did not.

IF during a race they get it together - I & many others would be happy to find something good. Last night there was none.

We commented nicely about post race coverage, you have missed that. Maybe it was the late hour of your post - or too much self congratulations.

Ziggy said...

The very 1st move ESPN should make:
Swap Jerry for Alan.

Nan S said...

What a contrast between the Truck coverage and Nationwide coverage. The coverage of the Nationwide race was incoherent at best. ESPN will see their audience dwindle over time if they don't change their coverage philosophy.

Try watching Speed coverage of the F1 races. Those guys do a great job and they don't even control the live feed of the race.

I'm still stunned that people can drop out of the race with no mention at all. Its not 5 guys on the track, its 43.

Also annoying is the preconceived story lines that get beat to death like the proverbial dead horse. If you have story lines, lay them out and then cover the actual race.

glenc1 said...

Wow--I was somewhere watching a band but apparently I didn't miss much...youch...

I'm thinking I'll have MRN ready for tonight. You know, I agree on putting Al;en in for Jerry--this is just not his thing--but for the Nationwide race, it's a shame they can't beg, borrow or steal Rick Allen and Phil Parsons. They are just so good all the time.

JD, you say "NFL fans are begging me to blog Monday Night Football and college football fans are screaming at me about Gameday." May I add, the Olympics would have created *volumes*, lol, but that's poor NBC, and we always whined about them too. You know, when I expressed outrage at NBC dropping Allen for Bill, a friend who frequents the internet also told me that other message boards had Allen haters out the wazoo. I never understood that, but maybe now they're wishing they had him back.

Anonymous said...

Check out ESPN2's coverage of the US Nationals next week. Their drag racing crew actually covers the racing, of course it's easier to do at a drag race.

I don't see all that much difference between what ESPN gives us on Nascar races versus what we got with FOX or NBC for that matter. Besides Bristol has always sucked on tv, it's much, much better to watch it live at the track. Only then do you really appreciate how good these guys are.

Daly Planet Editor said...


What NBC did to the West Coast viewers with the Olympic Basketball team game was the most brutal thing I have ever seen in TV that was planned in advance.

NBC and Olympic viewers have no platform to express their outrage and that is exactly what NBC was counting on.

While Letters to the Editor and scattered Internet posts can relate the anger of the Central and Pacific Time Zone viewers, ultimately NBC does not care.

They will point to the ratings and then crawl back into the entertainment world where they live 99% of the time.

In a perect world, I would be able to expand to include all TV sports, but if that happened it would take a lot more time and effort than my small band of freelancers and volunteers could handle.


Ken-Michigan said...

My comments on last nights Nationwide race were made last night, so I'll let that stand.

I put out a challenge to someone , anyone, affiliated with the Nationwide ESPN telecast to be kind enough and take a few minutes to respond and or defend the Friday night coverage.

Was there a change at all in production truck ?

Was is the same director / producer that has been in the seat all year?

Why did the telecast suffer the way it did ?

And finally, I would love to hear the benefit of having so many voices covering the races.

A response on The Daly Planet would be a much appreciated addition.

Thanks in advance !

bevo said...


No MRN tonight, it's a PRN track. I didn't watch last night but I did listen to the PRN broadcast. Pretty brutal on the radio side too. They were too preoccupied with banter and waxing poetic about other issues in NASCAR to devote all that much time to the race itself. They have knowledgeable guys but the buddy/buddy stuff is more suited to a regular radio show than a race broadcast.

boyd said...

I've waited and given ESPN the benefit of a doubt. Now that they've almost gotten to the chase I'm really starting to think that I may have to go exclusively to Sirius to get my RACING.

I understand that ESPN is at the track, and I see on TV that they aren't showing the RACING. I get 1 car shots.. I listen to the radio I get RACING.

On this blog, the majority seem to know that Dr. Punch is great in the pits, but seems lost in the PxP role. If we look back at last year, they waited until after the season to make some well needed changes. Maybe there is a contract issue that we aren't privvy to about who does what job.

If that's the case, maybe next year I can once again watch ESPN for RACING.

Daly Planet Editor said...


ESPN employees operate under the Media Contact rules of the Disney Corporation.

Contact with the media is limited to ESPN supervised interviews and no one is allowed to blog or directly post on the Internet without permission.

We know the entire crew was the same and the struggles of ESPN to change the very big size of the broadcast presentation into what was needed at a short and intense track like Bristol simply did not happen.

The big test will be if they can meet and make some changes for tonight.

-Dropping the in-action SC updates.

-Dropping the video bumpers into the commercials.

-Using a wide shot to show the entire track for perspective.

-Keeping the race as the priority and The Chase as the background story.

-Limiting the infield pit reporter to audio inserts only.

-No Tech Center updates under green.

-No played-back features or driver soundbites under green.

-No triple pit splits because the overall action of pit road is more important on this one track.

-Two video boxes for replays so the live action does not stop on the screen.

This will be an interesting Saturday night.


Anonymous said...

Six commentators, seven with Harvick in the Infield Center and three pit reporters!

There was no room nor time for the race!

Sophia said...


I forgot Bristol is PRN than MRN.

PRN guys think "THEY" are the show and are trying out to be comedians...sigh...not sure what I will do tonight. I was out listening to a band last night and the gig got canceled tonight due to restaurant owner illness.

And not even MRN. Maybe I will watch reruns of the Young and the Restless on SOAPNET.

I truly can't take ESPN anymore. The fact I am skipping races and don't even put in a tape or when I do, skip watching it, but READ HERE instead, well, nobody cares.

NASCAR doesn't.

As is Brian France.

NASCAR top guns should be forced to watch a race from an RV just to "Experience" the PeeSPU coverage.

Let me tell you, finding alternative things to do is much easier.

But I gotta say the difference between PRN and MRN is huge as well. While neither are perfect, PRN guys make it all about them (the announcers)


Anonymous said...

how many of you ----- still think the way to televise a race is by espn? (be careful what you wish for. ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

Give it to Speed TV they do a great job.

majorshouse said...

I have to agree withthe comments made about PRN. They are a poor contrast to the great work that MRN does and wish that Bruten Smith would just get off of his high horse and let MRN cover the races at his tracks too. They are much better than these clowns on ESPN as well.

Erik said...

I disagree.

Daly Planet Editor said...


We have come to understand that you are here to disagree. What topic should we talk about this time?


Jennifer said...

I've officially stopped watching Nationwide races (haven't seen one since June) and I don't feel as though I've lost anything.

I DVR the Sprint Cup race and fast-forward through most of that. I can watch a race in 2 hours or less, and I come away with a LOT less frustration.

This can't be what NASCAR had intended to happen.

Erik said...

I like the triple pits, much better than the 4-box.

As far as commercials, those are the breaks. Only if the drivers had the magic ability to not spin-out or wreck while TV is at commercial.

On the topic of the number of commercials, I haven't seen the actual rundown, though I bet its still in the ballpark of the other races.

Commercial free, or limited commercial interruption would be great. The Masters does it. The Masters only awards a TV contract on a year-to-year basis to CBS. There isn't any bidding. The rights fees are extremely low in comparison. Augusta National doesn't need the money. In turn, the club can mandate fewer commercials. Only if Brian France thought of doing that for NASCAR, instead of collecting as much cash as possible. TV is a business. The networks hav every right to make as much profit as possible.

Other broadcast partners have the bumper music and video going to commercials. ESPN is no different.

Other networks, including SPEED, have ignored drivers at the back of the field.

Other networks have done tech center reports during greed flag action.

I'm not saying all of these things are good, but they are an indictment of all NASCAR broadcast partners, not just ESPN. And they should be fixed by everyone.

Anonymous said...


when Fox was covering the races, we picked apart the negatives during the first half of the season.

we did the same for TNT.

I'm not sure if you only come around when espn provides the coverage to defend them and don't take the time to see the comments from the first 18 races, but ESPN is not being singled out.

Also, did you actually watch the race yesterday? Do you actually defend that coverage as being satisfactory?

Daly Planet Editor said...


The double pit road at Bristol makes splits a mess. We saw them try and fail Friday night.

Waht the networks try to do is catch racing and then go to break after the pass. ESPN followed Bowyer and Edwards and went to break every four minutes.

Erik, no other broadcast partners use pre-recorded material to lead into break at Bristol. Did you see the Truck race on Wednesday?

ESPN never did one full-field rundown in the entire Nationwide Series race. Let's see if they can get one done tonight.

Fox was criticized for not using a double video box when they inserted a tech report under green flag racing. TNT was great at this.

On superspeedways, most of these issues would not be a big deal. The problem is the network has to flex with the track and IMHO that did not happen Friday night.


Kenn Fong said...

Anon 2:16 AM

In the novel (the original source), "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus," written by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein created the Monster you mentioned. It has no name.

This is a common misnomer*.

Kenny - Pacific Time Zone - Alameda, California

*"misnomer" has often been used incorrectly to mean mistake. It has latin roots; "nom" meaning "name."

glenc1 said...

I forgot about it being Bristol/PRN...arghhhhhhh....

JD, I actually wrote a letter I never sent (my laziness) at the horrendous coverage of NBC's Salt Lake City Olys. It has never gotten any better, summer or winter. We all know timing is difficult, but show things live when you can; people who care will make the effort (and I'm one of those who will tape a live event and cover my eyes/ears til I can watch it). And oddly enough some of the best commentating is on some of the lesser known events. Incidentally, I saw Marty Snider today, interviewing the women's v-ball team. Didn't even know he was there.

Maybe we should each take on a sport we care about...many of JD's readers here are articulate/thoughtful enough to handle their own blogs.

chase said...

I waited until today, Monday, to calm down and make a comment on this subject - after watching the truck race on Wed. nite and seeing and hearing GREAT race coverage, I was so upset over the coverage of the Nationwide race -- Punch, yet again, blows it completely - it is so bloody obvious that he watches the race - wherever it may be - on the TV monitors and NOT out the window of the booth. DJ and Andy do an admirable job in the circumstances but are cut off at the legs by Punch's alleged 'lead' broadcaster role. ESPN has got to get him out of the booth and do it NOW - as has been said repeatedly, there are 43 drivers driving 43 cars and we are all entitled to see them at some point in time and hear how they are doing. For Punch's very pregnant silence after the winner crossed the finish line is not acceptable under any circumstances. Of course the Cup coverage went the same way with Punch's total disinterest at the fore. Sadly, NASCAR probably doesn't see how bad these broadcasts are and won't do a thing to stop them. ESPN has great people in place but jettison Punch and Brewer and Rusty Whiner and Brad - Cheerleader Extraordinaire, put AB in the booth and watch what happens - magic, I can guarantee you! Will any of this happen at ESPN? OF COURSE NOT! Thanks John!