Thursday, August 14, 2008
SPEED Gets A Second Chance With Stewart
Not too many cable TV networks get a chance to redeem themselves from a complete disaster. Especially a disaster that played-out live in front of a dedicated audience of NASCAR fans. Friday morning, SPEED gets that chance.
Click here to read this column from early July that detailed the complete and total mess that SPEED experienced when they tried to cover the big announcement by Tony Stewart that he was leaving Gibbs Racing and becoming a car owner.
Sometimes in TV, one little problem can cause a chain-of-events that seems almost unbelievable. That is exactly what happened in this case. A big "hum" in the audio made the overall sound unusable and then the video suddenly went to black and everything got very quiet. The audio then came back with the same problem but now the sound was being heard on-the-air through a phone line. Then, in the middle of Stewart's actual announcement, SPEED rolled a three minute commercial break.
Needless to say, NASCAR fans who did not have ESPNEWS on their cable systems were fit to be tied. After the commercial, veteran host John Roberts appeared and while never looking at the camera read some comments and then "threw" to a continuation of SPEED's regular programming. Fans watching ESPNEWS or listening on the Sirius radio knew the press conference was not over. Flat out, SPEED blew it.
Now, Stewart is poised to make another big announcement on Friday at 10:30AM in the Infield Media Center at MIS. John Roberts will again be the host and Wendy Venturini will be the reporter for SPEED. Stewart may be poised to announce Ryan Newman as his new driver and perhaps some additional sponsor details.
This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for SPEED to erase the painful memories of the network's last "live news" effort and cover this story without a problem. Venturini has a great relationship with Stewart and it should be interesting to see if she can get him one-on-one live after the formal press conference concludes.
SPEED has continued to show a flexibility and cooperation with NASCAR like no other TV network in the history of broadcast or cable TV. From breaking-into paid programming to show NASCAR news all the way to letting ESPN show an entire NASCAR race on SPEED at the last minute, this Charlotte-based group is clearly NASCAR's most popular TV partner. Let's see how things work out on Friday.
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