Friday, August 1, 2008
SPEED Opens-Up "NASCAR Confidential"
Fans that tuned-in on Friday at 6PM were greeted by a very different episode of NASCAR Confidential. This program was opened-up to include live guests at the SPEED Stage in Pocono speaking with Fox and SPEED analyst Larry McReynolds.
In the past, NASCAR Confidential has been a slickly-packaged look at a NASCAR event from several different perspectives. These have included a selection of very different people from team owners to track photographers. This time, the pre-produced segments were wrapped-around on-camera question and answer sessions.
This approach worked very well to deal with a lot of outstanding issues about the Indy weekend. Seeing a slice of the reality and then having those involved talk about it on-camera is a format we see on reality-style programs on all kinds of TV networks. This time, it proved to be very effective.
While McReynolds is sometimes a cheerleader, he is also a straight-shooter when it comes to issues on the track. In this program, McReynolds spoke with NASCAR President Mike Helton, Goodyear's Stu White and NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler.
Helton is a much more effective spokesman for NASCAR than Robin Pemberton or Brian France. He speaks in terms that fans can understand and his lifetime commitment to the NASCAR world speaks volumes about his experience. In this special episode, without his customary suit and tie, Helton answered every question from McReynolds without hesitation.
Perhaps, the best part of Helton's interview was that it finally put a "human face" on the TV experience of the previous weekend. Without its own TV network, NASCAR relies on its TV partners, cable networks and local TV stations to offer video to fans nationwide. The experience during and after Indy was often disjointed and offered various versions of the racing reality.
Stu Grant from Goodyear was thorough in his explanation of what the company had done before the race, what they experienced after the practice sessions and what they intended to do to solve this problem in the future. Grant was much more effective than the on-camera company spokesman of the Indy weekend and his detailed explanations tied-up some loose ends about the Goodyear issues.
McReynolds used Elliott Sadler to relate the driver's perspective. Sadler is a regular on SPEED's Trackside show during this time of the season and has worked hard on his TV skills. His explanations of when and how teams knew this problem was going to be really big worked to add another perspective to the troubled weekend.
This episode of NASCAR Confidential was added only this Wednesday to air on Friday. Whoever made this decision did fans a favor by pushing this type of content onto the airwaves at a time when long-form NASCAR weekday programming is at an all-time low.
The downside is that fans now know what they are missing in terms of hour-long NASCAR programs that really capture the feeling of the sport through first-hand experiences and the outstanding TV production skills of The NASCAR Media group.
This single episode served as an effective TV-based message to the entire nation of NASCAR fans. It put content that will not been seen in the current NASCAR TV programs on-the-table and asked McReynolds to follow-up on the issues that arose. What a good combination of post-production and the topical use of live interview content. This program will re-air on Saturday at 11PM Eastern Time on SPEED.
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