Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lots Of Stories To Follow For The ESPN on ABC Crew


The biggest challenge of The Chase format has continued to be tough for the ESPN on ABC gang to handle. Suddenly, the TV crew has two storylines to deal with for the entire event. Sunday at Kansas, this issue was certainly front-and-center.

Trying to serve two masters is tough. From the drop of the green flag the network skipped back-and-forth between the Chase and the race. The results were not very pretty.

Allen Bestwick led a strong pre-race show that ran the gamut of topics and used Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace in a very effective manner. It included an interview from the Infield Pit Studio with Jack Roush. Bestwick also brought-in Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree for commentary.

Dr. Jerry Punch took the ball and ran with it once the race began, but it was the direction of the telecast that made it tough to watch early-on. Skipping the rest of the field and concentrating on The Chasers was tough for fans of the other 30 cars.

The first field recap was done with only The Chasers. Those cars were already highlighted on the scoring crawl and many were simply mired in the back of the pack. Fans really needed to get a full field summary, which has been the weakness of this TV crew in The Chase.

Bestwick presented video highlights at times during the race, but that is not the same. Once again, NASCAR fans who wanted to follow a team not in The Chase were motivated to move to the Internet, radio or DirecTV for more information. Perhaps, that was not the original aim of The Chase format.

Pit road proved to be a crucial location for action and ESPN struggled with the correct camera shots. The triple split was often not used and many incidents on pit road that should have been followed-up live were done through replays. Breaking the pre-arranged format and covering the action as it happens continues to be tough to do.

The pit reporters were aggressive and informative once the race began. There was a renewed emphasis on allowing them to talk during green flag racing and not just during pit stops or after incidents. The result was good information, but unfortunately it was tough to put in context.

It was clear once again that the emphasis was going to be on presenting The Chasers and tolerating the racers. Stories that included Chase cars were told in detail and followed-up. Stories from the rest of the field, including those of Casey Mears, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs were not.

Just like the reality that trying to serve the "casual fans" last season did not work, this approach of featuring The Chase cars is also not working. Fans do not change their loyalties just because a driver did not make The Chase. Deciding to update and focus on only twelve drivers when 42 were running is not making the grade.

Bestwick again appeared during breaks in the action to lead discussions with all of the analysts, but then the telecast was once again turned-over to Punch for the play-by-play. This transition often resulted in a change from excited and animated conversation to the now familiar low-key approach of Punch.

Over-and-over again, Punch asked questions and made comments rather than call the action on the track and leave the analysis to Petree and Jarrett. The result was another race with no memorable moments of commentary or excitement.

ESPN once again made good pictures and delivered good sound. The network played seemingly random "bumper" music going into the commercials, even as the natural sound of 43 Sprint Cup Series cars boomed in the background. There was no theme to these selections, and this element really cheapened the program.

While viewers may see Draft Track next week in Talladega, the ESPN gang left it on the shelf for Kansas. This was one of a series of good decisions on this Sunday. Tim Brewer and the Tech Center did not interfere with this program and the Infield Pit Center gang was limited to being on-camera only under caution.

The commercial breaks did not cause any problems and viewers were well-served with the limited promos inside of the live race. ESPN also used some additional live radio traffic between crew chiefs and drivers. This is what fans want to hear, not the recorded and edited playbacks the network is now famous for doing.

At the end, the final few laps could have added a memorable moment to the ESPN NASCAR resume. Instead, TV viewers will probably be hearing the MRN radio call when the highlights are shown. Punch let Petree and Jarrett call the last two laps and never inserted himself to cap the race with an exciting call.

An extended post-race worked well to let the drivers talk about the afternoon in a casual manner. The pit reporters again did a good job of chasing down the stories and interviews to fill this thirty minute timeslot. Shannon Spake faced-off with a non-cooperative Kyle Busch and stood her ground. Next time, she may have some slightly better questions ready for the moody driver.

Closing out the program with Bestwick and the Infield Pit Studio crew allowed viewers to get at least a fundamental understanding of what happened to several teams in the race. Next week at Talladega should be another challenge to mix the race with The Chase for this TV crew.

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78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is ABC going to go the entire chase without interviewing Tony Stewart? After the race today, with a rare ability to do interviews and not be rushed off the air, they interviewed everyone short of AJ Allmendinger mom.

Also, I started counting how many times Jerry Punch told viewers that the 48 car was Jimmie Johnson. Seriously, the two-time Sprint Cup champion and we need to be told who he is? Anyway, I thought it would be really clever to count the times and then post it here after... but at lap 210 I lost track at 27 times. No, I am not joking. An average of every 8 laps we have to be reminded who the champion of our sport is. Wow.

boyd said...

After the race today, with a rare ability to do interviews and not be rushed off the air

I'd rather use the term time. Ability is what may be lacking at times

Adam T. Martin said...

I'm also tired of the "chase only" focus.

However, I prefer this coverage over anybody else but it has it's major faults.

-top 40 bumper music (it needs to go)
-in-race reporter (that needs to go)
-Dr. Punch's PxP (seriously, switch him and Allen Bestwick and ESPN will probably have a winner)
-in car camera's focusing on driver's instead of race (seriously, I want to see what the driver's are seeing, not see them turn the wheel.)

Jo said...

By serving 2 masters - none were served.

There were 43 cars, altho' we never heard about most of them. They aren't chasers & JoLo.
Non chasers were ignored even if they ran upfront. Just a brief mention, and then back to the chasers. OH and could we have gotten 1 more KyleB moment? No we got them all, all day, all race.

Fans again were left to multi task in the extreme. The SCRIPTS were written & followed - no matter what was happening on the track.

The PbP such as it was , could have been done by anyone. Clearly that problem will not be resolved soon. Doc had more excitement in his voice POST race rather than in the last 2 laps where he never spoke. Thanks DJ &AP for the call of the finish.

Replays, graphics & pre-taped junk while green flag racing is underway is STILL a major problem, for fans watching the TV. NOTE: we want to SEE the RACE.

The last thing that was done to INSULT FANS was the one thing that has gotten the most PRAISE. Today the field WAS NOT shown CROSSING the finish!!!!!!!!!!!

So we got decent post race. Why bait Jr? He sits after every race with towel(s) over his head outside his trailer. He was not OBLIGATED to talk to reporters so why not say he chose not to talk - not the "unable" - puhleez! And the questions, well, high schoolers have the ability to ask better questions.

Uninspired same old same old questions.

Just once I'd like a driver to say " Feel? How do you think I feel ? I did not come in second! I'm the first loser! I feel like hell. I am mad as hell we should have won!"

Todays race "coverage" was a joke.

Anonymous said...

Also, I started counting how many times Jerry Punch told viewers that the 48 car was Jimmie Johnson. Seriously, the two-time Sprint Cup champion and we need to be told who he is? Anyway, I thought it would be really clever to count the times and then post it here after... but at lap 210 I lost track at 27 times. No, I am not joking. An average of every 8 laps we have to be reminded who the champion of our sport is. Wow.

Punch does this for every single person he talks about. (There's Greg biffle in the 16 car. Biffle won the last two races in a row...") It's as if he needs to remind himself of who there are or possibly uses that time to stall for a second while he decides what to say.

Dot said...

Even though KyB is an a$$, I can understand why he would get pissy about being asked "how do feel about running like crap today?" It is such a stupid question. The answer is so obvious. Tony was smart it run and hide. I wonder who had that "black bean"? They got lucky.

Remember before the Chase and KyB said that the Lord was praying for him to win? The Lord got confused today with that hurricane forming in the northeast named Kyle. He's with those possible victims.

Anonymous said...

Remember before the Chase and KyB said that the Lord was praying for him to win?

I think Morgan Shepherd coulda warned him about counting to God to help you win races!

Anonymous said...

Just once I'd like a driver to say " Feel? How do you think I feel ? I did not come in second! I'm the first loser! I feel like hell. I am mad as hell we should have won!"

Nope, I want to hear, "How much do they pay you to ask a question so dumb it's a joke? Come back when you actually have a question related to today's race."

Dot said...

@ anon 6:32, right on.

Jo said...

@Anon 634
Priceless - lets combine the 2 answers!!

red said...

huh. posting this here even tho' it carries over from the race thead: i just watched the post-race interview that phil parsons did with dale earnhradt jr. yeah, the interview that espn said he was "unable" to do. the interview that came AFTER dale signed a little boy's shirt and then asked parsons' camera crew to follow him into the shade for the interview. yeah. THAT interview.

huh. how about that, espn? guess he was "able" to do ann interview after all -- just not with you.

red said...

(bandaid back on the finger: sorry for the typo on dale's last name. yes, i really doo know how to spell "earnhardt"!!)

TexasRaceLady said...

red said...
huh. posting this here even tho' it carries over from the race thead: i just watched the post-race interview that phil parsons did with dale earnhradt jr. yeah, the interview that espn said he was "unable" to do. the interview that came AFTER dale signed a little boy's shirt and then asked parsons' camera crew to follow him into the shade for the interview. yeah. THAT interview.

huh. how about that, espn? guess he was "able" to do ann interview after all -- just not with you.

September 28, 2008 6:38 PM

*****************
Way to go, Junebug ! ! :-)
ROTFLMAO

Anonymous said...
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Jo said...

Anon said...
I'm actually following what JD says. I am putting it into perspective. The call of the race, the camera angles, etc, are meaningless when compared to potential major financial problems for all of us.

September 28, 2008 6:55 PM
----
Actually there was little if any talk of sponsorship problems for teams. No talk of lowered attendance. My question is how much lowered was the amount spent on "extras"? Race tickets and rooms etc. are bought months in advance (at least we do and so does everyone else we know). So the real test if you will would be all the extras, impulse purchases. It would be interesting to know!

Anonymous said...

It's time to get AB in the booth. JP ruins every exciting moment in every race. I've been watching racing for over fifteen years and have never been so bored listening to someone talk about the action on the track.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:55pm is so confused. The post never said ESPN would say anything about the economic situation. It was more about the consideration that networks could/should give to the situation or perhaps to talk about or address it in relation to the sport.

And if it helps you, since you spent three days waiting to post what you did, while I watched the race and multitasked to also follow MLB and NFL, I was also doing some financial calculations, looking at potential homes for sale in the event we move in the next year or two, and reading more about the bailout deal circulating in Washington today.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let's move on beyond that issue. He will not get it if he has not gotten it by now.

JD

Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daly Planet Editor said...

OK, let's get back to the race stuff please....

Anonymous said...

This is from the live race comments:

Anonymous said...
ESPNews at 5:55 showed one lap- the final lap - of the race. And that's all. No full highlights. Then they showed part of Jimmie Johnson's VL speech, but not the whole thing.

September 28, 2008 6:01 PM
________________________________
ESPNews aired the same clip at 6:55 p.m. Last lap and VL interview. Nothing live or taped from the Media Center, though they showed the KC Chiefs coach for a long time at his press conference and also part of some others press conferences(Favre, MLB)

NASCAR is totally being ignored today. Again.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I was just researching that one. Isn't that amazing? They actually clipped a bit off the winner interview and played the final half lap. Wow, what a change for the worse at a time when NASCAR needs it most.

JD

Sophia said...

I had the race on for a bit then when it was the same old same old CHASE talk non stop, I vegged out, did some research online and listened to a ONE HOUR LECTURE online..sigh.

Checked here a few times and saw i missed NOTHING.

Then, I watched the last 30 laps. I was stunned at the exciting try by Carl to pass Jimmy for the win as Andy and DJ went nuts and *Crickets chirping* silence from JP.

Sad. Jr DOES look exhausted and I wonder what his deal is but I am glad somebody got an interview. And I can't stand Kyle B but Shannon does ask idiotic questions as does Jamie. "FEEL" should be REMOVED from the vocabulary when asking about a wreck, blown engine or bad luck. Overstating the obvious just is not needed.

I wince to think of how badly they will BUTCHER TALLADEGA next week.

But I hardly paid ANY ATTENTION to the tv and found out some things here. I am tired of multitasking and complaining here. The season is done for me.

Actually MY ENJOYMENT ended with TNT's last broadcast as I knew it would.

That statement still shocks me. :)

Jo said...

Why expect espn to give follow up/wrap up after we got a post race? This is racing, it does not matter to them. They act as if the Horse racing is the end all be all, right around the KY. derby then nothing much all year. Why treat cars any differently? I just don't understand
why they bid to carry a sport they hate.

SallyB said...

I guess ESPN thinks that race fans only care about the 12 drivers in the crapshoot. There might as well be only those 12 cars on the track for all the attention they get from TV. Since I don't find the contrived crapshoot particularly compelling, I found myself unable to watch most of the telecast. I got lots of cleaning and some alundry done. What's the point of having all 43 cars on the trakcs if you're going to virtually ignore 3/4 of the field? I will be very surprised if sponsors of those cars don't start bailing on those final 12 races. It doesn't matter if their cars are running well (ie. Allmendinger and Sadler), you don't exist. If this is what Brian France considers 'excitement', no wonder Nascar is losing viewers and attendance.

haus20 said...

I agree, if I am a company and I am trying to put together a partial year sponsor package for a "second" tier team, I certainly don't want to sponsor any of the last 12 races. Horrible ROI on that.

Anonymous said...

"Daly Planet Editor said...
I was just researching that one. Isn't that amazing? "

It isn't amazing or surprising to those of us who have been watching ESPN News every week. They've skipped out on postrace for weeks now. Or the channel shows the winner for a few minutes more than an hour after the race, nothing more than that: total lip service. You're behind the curve on this one, JD, though many people have mentioned ESPN News lagging on its promised coverage.

They haven't been giving it to us "all season long". They started off great with extended postrace coverage in February, but petered out as soon as baseball began its season, the Final Four came around, and the NBA went to its playoffs.

They got a little better in the summer, showing more of the winner's media interviews than they were in March/April/June (they still skipped 2nd and 3rd place most of the time), but stopped again in mid-August as soon as college and pro football picked up.

Overall, ESPN News has done a poor job "all season long".

Anonymous said...

JD- When is ESPN's contract done/up for renewal?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Six more years and there is no other game in town. Fox has NFL and CBS and NBC don't want NASCAR.

The only way NASCAR will change is if they move The Chase from a broadcast to a cable TV network.

ESPN also does the International distribution for NASCAR and has a lot of other business relationships.

My advice? Let's just keep on them to fundamentally make the telecasts better.

JD

Dot said...

I'm watching NN. There was an ESPN microphone is the picture (no reporter visible, just an arm) interviewing Dale Jr. Why didn't we get to see that in the post race?

Matt said...

I think if we can just bear through these last 7 races, ESPN will make the right changes in the off-season, and we will start to see great telecasts next year.

At least that's what I'm hoping anyways. I don't want to see NASCAR dropped to cable for the Chase. That's not what the sport needs.

Daly Planet Editor said...

dot,

Probably a different crew that consisted of an Associate Producer and an ENG (handheld) cameraman.

Junior gave some interviews, just not live right after the race.

JD

ttc said...

Is ABC going to go the entire chase without interviewing Tony Stewart?

Smoke finished 40th and is virtually out of the chase. What value would there have been with a post race interview except to provoke an outburst?

And related is teammate Kyle Busch. Except to provoke the "moody driver", there was no reason for Shannon Spake to talk to Kyle Busch after the race.

Also, I started counting how many times Jerry Punch told viewers that the 48 car was Jimmie Johnson.

Yet when Larry McReynolds obnoxiously does this with every driver, there are no complaints around here and Larry Mac is considered a genius, the dean of NASCAR analysts!

Hypocritical?

Daly Planet Editor said...

ttc,

What got into your carrots?

Stewart is only one of twelve Chase drivers and ESPN had thirty-five minutes of post-race to get him.

He might be a jerk, but he is also a former series champion jerk.

As you may remember from our ealier discussions, Larry McReynolds is not involved in the play-by-play call of the race.

Sure, he drives some folks nuts with his grammar, but old time crew chiefs always refer to the car numbers.

That is a lot different from hearing the numbers for three hours from the PXP guy. Maybe we both are agreeing that Jerry is in the wrong role.

JD

Adam T. Martin said...

"And I can't stand Kyle B but Shannon does ask idiotic questions as does Jamie. "FEEL" should be REMOVED from the vocabulary when asking about a wreck, blown engine or bad luck. Overstating the obvious just is not needed.

I wince to think of how badly they will BUTCHER TALLADEGA next week."

C'mon, Jamie and Shannon are alright. Take it easy on them. Personally, I like John Kernan and Jack Arute more, but Jamie is improving.

"
Yet when Larry McReynolds obnoxiously does this with every driver, there are no complaints around here and Larry Mac is considered a genius, the dean of NASCAR analysts!

Hypocritical?"

Very hypocritical.

"I think if we can just bear through these last 7 races, ESPN will make the right changes in the off-season, and we will start to see great telecasts next year."

Well, it is a few steps up from last year and I like it more than Fox and TNT's blunders that happened over the past two years. At least ESPN doesn't want to make me punch a wall in frustration like last season or earlier this season with the other networks.


"My advice? Let's just keep on them to fundamentally make the telecasts better."

Best advice JD. Thanks for the blog. Anyway, I'm OK with ESPN/ABC despite the flaws.

Anonymous said...

Does Fox do Up To Speed?

Anonymous said...

JD when this site asks for Full Field Rundowns what does Fox and TNT do?

ttc said...

Stewart is only one of twelve Chase drivers and ESPN had thirty-five minutes of post-race to get him.

JD: Correct me if I am wrong, but Jeff Burton was not interviewed and ditto Junior and Harvick. And Burton finished in the top 10 and is 4th in points. Harvick is 5th.


Maybe we both are agreeing that Jerry is in the wrong role.

JD: I have previously posted here that I would rather have Bestwick doing play-by-play.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world does ABC play Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" every time the driver takes the checkered flag from the flag waver? Not only is the song older than half the field driving, but it just doesn't seem related to NASCAR in any way shape or form (70s hard rock and NASCAR?).

Just a weird choice by ABC in my opinion. There must be some guy on staff who loves that song.

Anonymous said...

Let's agree on a couple of things. There are complaints about Larry McMurray here when Fox has the coverage, but they don't right now. Not only does McMurray do this, but he also has the grammar problems that have been pointed out. But like I said, Fox isn't on now, ESPN is, and no one should have to settle or restrain their complaints because Punch does this every broadcast for 3-4 hours.

Second, there's a big difference between a Larry Mac doing this as an analyst and the actual play-by-play announcer doing this the whole time. When Larry Mac does it, some don't complain because it's a part of his style...when Punch does it, it becomes painfully obvious that he doesn't seem to know who is in what car from race to race and doesn't flow well when he simply says "there is the 88 followed by the 16..." and that's it.

Anonymous said...

If they aren't going to interview Tony Stewart, then why show him running over the Vickers crew 100 times and why show him spinning through the grass (before flipping off the 83 pit box) 50 times.

While I there may be more "worthy" interview subjects (debatable), you would never know it from the highlights ABC pushed. From their highlight reel, Stewart was most of the pre-finish action of the day. Why leave us hanging?

Anonymous said...

With Fox and TNT, one major difference between them and ESPN is that they do a much, much better job of covering the field throughout the race. There are 43 drivers, and in my opinion, Fox does the best at telling the story of the race. If a car has had something happen to it, whether it's down a cylinder, hit the wall, blown a tire, it doesn't matter what place the driver is in or if they are a fan favorite or not, they usually cover it as one of the major stories at the current time.

If a surprising driver is in the Top 10, they will talk about that driver, explain why, and cover things about that driver.

With ESPN, if a driver is in the Top 10, they just don't talk about it during the race. We get a "How about the 84 car of Allmendinger..." after he's been in the Top 10-15 spots for over 100 laps.

TNT is a step down from Fox in this respect, but they made a RaceBuddy addition and also tend to focus on the racing in the middle to back of the field if there is some action.

ESPN will stick to their story and stick to it regardless of what is happening.

Dot said...

Why do I have to read Jayski to find out who did what wrong? There's a whole list of penalties the drivers committed. Here's an idea for ABC/ESPN. Instead of those pre-fabbed driver clips you insist on showing us, tell us who got penalized for speeding in or out of pit road, etc. Also, instead of showing these clips, you would have time to run through the field once in awhile.

@aon 12:19, Larry's last name is McReynolds.

alex said...

If we want to make ESPN happy, we should agree to just end the season right now and have 7 chase-only exhibition races. You wouldn't notice a difference on tv anyway..

alex said...

About the naming of the car number....

I watched football on NBC tonight, and I never heard the announcers say, "Donovan McNabb in the 5 hands to ball of to the 28 guy" (in place of "car").

It was also assumed by the broadcasters that we understood the rules of football, and basic strategy.

I don't even buy the casual fan argument. Anyone who has seen 2 races (especially on ESPN), knows who drives the 48, 99, etc.

It's fine once or twice a race at most, but not dozens of times.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If you don't like what ESPN or ABC is doing, don't watch. Cable and satellite systems keep a record of what everyone watches. They measure audience so they can charge the local advertisers more for placement during certain programs.

That's not how it works.

TV networks (and local stations) use numbers provided by A.C. Neilsen to determine the ratings. (They pay a good deal of money to get these numbers, by the way.)

Neilsen ratings are derived from a statistical sample generated by viewers who are supplied with a ratings meter, which measures what you watch, or a diary, which you fill out.

If you don't have one of these, you're not part of the sample, and thus, your particular viewing choices are not counted. In that case, not watching the races doesn't matter if you're trying to influence the network.

And YES, you absolutely know if you're part of the sample group.

JT said...

ESPN once again made good pictures and delivered good sound.

JD:

Am I the only one who has troubling hearing the pit reporters over the ambient engine noise during the race. Yesterday at one point they had the race sounds, team radio communications, and pit reporters all at the same time. Anyone else find this annoying?

happymom said...

You know, I'm not such a diehard fan that I know the number of every driver's car. But, if I'm not sure, I have a couple options--I either ask the friends with whom I'm watching, or, I watch the ticker. I frankly tend to block out most of the commnetary as white noise!

Anonymous said...

We listen to ABC until Shannon or
Jamie starts screaming into the mics from the pits,then it's bye bye ABC hello MRN. Please don't tell me others do it,if you listen
they don't.
Tks.JD. Ron Il.

Anonymous said...

Someday, before next year, if we are very lucky, ESPN will finally come to understand that, although there are 12 cars in the Chase for the champsionship, there is virtually no one watching the race just to see those guys run.

Unlike other sports--and that phrase continually confounds ESPN--people who choose to watch NASCAR races already have favorite drivers, and if that driver does not happen to be among the top-12, they do not suddenly stop caring what happens to that driver and start following a championship contender instead.

The fact that ESPN does not comprehend this is just another indication that the network does not "get" the NASCAR culture, and does not ever wish to get it.

The Worldwide Leader insists on trying to bend the sport to its own template, and that just isn't working. NASCAR fans are more loyal--to their drivers, to their drivers' sponsors, and to the sport itself--than most other sports' fans are to their teams.

Until ESPN can be educated on this point, the network will continue to fail miserably at presenting good race coverage.

red said...

honestly, there's nothing new to be said about espn's broadcast of the kansas race: it's been said before and there's no new "wrinkle" that we can provide espn to help them improve their work.

i've done what i can after each race to give espn feedback and i've worked to craft my input so that the emotions don't get in the way of the point. alas, it's been to no avail. pick any espn-broadcast race and the same critiques can be read because espn hasn't acted to change the broadcast dynamics. what i've been advocating are changes that the producer and director can -- and should-- make each week.

it's just so basic:
* show us the race first and foremost. that means, reduce/delete all those driver "big head" segments, the "chase points as of right now" information, the repetition of the "human interest" stories about drivers' hometowns, etc.
* show as much green flag racing as is possible. save all diversionary "stuff" for caution flags and let us see the actual race.
* show us the field frequently and reduce the attention on a leader who's wayyyy out front: even if i'm a fan of that driver, it doesn't add anything to just put a camera on him and follow him around the track.
* ALL drivers matter so please tell us about those guys who are midpack on back.
* the story behind any car/driver being off the track needs to be told and all drivers in accidents, regardless of where he was in the race, need to be seen post-wreck. we all care about the safety and health of all the drivers.
* reduce the use of the various "toys" that are available: bumper cams should be used only if it will add dimension to the moment. too often, it does just the opposite. before yesterday, i would have said "lose full throttle" but there are those who were clear in why they enjoy it so i'll simply mute it.
* several authentic "thru the field" recaps must be done each race and the field must be set after every caution. that information is important and matters more than telling us anything else at that moment.

finally, the chase. no doubt, it's made covering the race more complex b/c there are two stories and they don't often mesh. but it's not "the be all and end all": it's an aspect of an entire season and to lose the rest of the season because of it is wrong. update us on the chasers every 50 laps or so but shift the focus to the actual race for the rest of the time.

i love our sport and i won't stop watching the race on espn for the balance of this season. however, i won't stop pushing espn to make production changes that will bring a better product to the consumer. espn gang, you simply can't rely on another amazing finish to bail you out for a third week. you can't rely on the race finishing early so that a post-race show can actually be done. these things might happen but then again, they might not and then folks will be left with the poor quality of the broadcast as their final thought.

so, espn, here's my suggestion (one which has been made by others as well): take a 3 hour chunk of time out of the planning process for the next race and, as a production team, watch the race. don't tivo thru the commercials: watch it the way the "average fan" would watch it at home, without anything other than the tv. see what we see and then read thru the comments. try to understand how frustrating it is for us to have to go to several sources in order to know what's happening at the track. see your work thru our eyes for one 3 hour period. then have your meeting to decide how to cover sunday's race.

i'm already boycotting everything except the race. will your continuing poor production of just that one moment move me to subscribe to one of the alternatives available to me for next year so that i can eliminate your organization entirely? is that desirable from your end? prove me wrong and i'll be your most loyal consumer. keep on this path and i'm gone and i'll take as many people as i can with me.

Gymmie said...

With ESPN, if a driver is in the Top 10, they just don't talk about it during the race. We get a "How about the 84 car of Allmendinger..." after he's been in the Top 10-15 spots for over 100 laps.

Oh I know! That bugs me to death! I hate the "Where'd HE come from?" HELLO! If you had been paying attention for the last 100 laps you'd know he was in the top 10 the majority of the time!

@alex--definitely agree, even when I watched off and on for years before I came aboard full time..I knew who was in which car. Not every driver was memorized but I did know a good number. They may not know Tony Raines or Johnny Sauter, but they'll know Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jr. and Tony Stewart.

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Tracy said...

ESPN owns the right to these broadcasts for the next six years, and JD said they're the only game in town. In other words, ESPN is in the driver's seat. (Pun intended). Why should they bother to change what viewers don't like? The Powers that Be obviously think they're doing a swell job, and the diehard Nascar fans who complain about their coverage are a bunch of nitwits.

IOW, there's no incentive to change. ESPN holds the cards, and they like them just fine.

Thank heavens for MRN.

DJ of Texas said...

Do the book reports the Pit Reporters do drive any one else crazy? Usually they talk about everything but the race. If they do talk about the race then they are repeating something we already know (Jeff Burton's tach being replaced) or the booth repeats it right after the report. TALK ABOUT THE PICTURES. Not about what the crew chief said before the race or even at the last race

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm just tired of ESPN's garbage. I have already dealt with enough grief over the years from friends, colleagues, and media members that were "NASCAR Haters". I respect everyone's right to their opinion though and I've just learned to deal the fact that some people just plain don't like or respect NASCAR as sport.

However, what I do not respect and will not "learn to deal with" is having one or more of these obvious NASCAR Haters working these ESPN race broadcasts. I can find no other possible explanation for the constant covering up of the on-track action during qualifying, practice, and the race with pre-taped garbage than someone in that production truck deeming NASCAR "boring" and finding the need to "spice things up". The 'ignore the track' philosophy is an "ESPN exclusive". There is a very good reason this method isn't/wasn't used by the Fox, Speed, TNT, or NBC production trucks.... IT'S TOTAL BS!

As a fan this is completely unacceptable to me. It's one thing to have to deal with NASCAR haters throughout the week, but when I sit down and turn on the TV for a NASCAR event I have an expectation that the people covering that event will treat the sport with RESPECT.

ESPN has crossed the line by hiring whatever individual or individuals are responsible for this blatant NASCAR hating. It is an absolute must at this point in time for ESPN to determine who specifically is at fault and kick them to the curb. NASCAR is not "Cheap Seats" material and should not be openly mocked as such on the air, as someone in that ESPN production truck is choosing to do.

If ESPN's not going to fix their own problem I hope NASCAR fixes it for them.... by buying them out. JD, I hear what you're saying about the advantages of over-the-air TV, but if dealing with this disrespectful garbage coverage is a necessary side-effect of being over-the-air, I'm going to say "no thank you" and support the cable option.

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Anonymous said...

Sorry buddy, this has nothing to do with Fox and their broadcast since they wrapped their part of the season up months ago. This is about ESPN and their failure to cover Nascar races on a weekly basis.

Watch a truck race on Speed to see what real race coverage should be like.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:33PM,

You are welcome to return and re-post. Please turn off the caps and phrase your comment in sentences that reflect your opinion of the topic being discussed.

Thanks,

JD

Anonymous said...

As bad as Dr Punch is, Dale Jarrett always shows how knowledgeable he is without being obnoxious. Stewart is in no hurry to talk to ABC/ESPN and especially after his dustup with Vickers. Sure did look like he tried to spin Vickers and it backfired.

Anonymous said...

I do want to give ESPN credit on one thing: For the first time this entire ABC/ESPN season, the on-air announcers noticed a crash happening BEFORE it was shown on screen.

When Matt Kenseth went sideways and did his amazing save, Andy noticed it right away -- he was actually watching the track, not the TV monitors.

That is honestly (and unfortunately) the only time the ESPN crew has been ahead of the cameras for crashes (unlike FOX, which is always ahead of the cameras on crashes). I will give them a little credit for this. Keep watching the track, boys!

Jeff said...

I can't speak to the coverage yesterday since I was at the race, I'd beinterested to know though, besides the coverage issues with ESPN/ABC what did you think of the race how did it play on TV.

I've been to every race at Kansas since they opened the track, this was by far the most boring race I've ever attended, anywhere, from my viewpoint most of the passing was on pit road. Except for the last 2 laps when Carl made a race of the finish this was a snoozer, not so with the Nationwide race the day before. I attribute to this wonderful thing they call the CoT. I hate that car, the way it looks, the way it races, it's just terrible.

I'm just curious if they could spice it up on TV more than being there. This was the 1st race I've been to with the CoT, I wonder if they are all this boring in person?

red said...

jeff, i've been to dover and pocono before and since the cot was raced/driven and i have decided that, until the engineering of that thing gets straightened out, i won't pay for another ticket. it is, as tony famously said, a brick and it's only two redeeming values are the enhanced safety features and the fact that you can smack it around and still stay on the track: we had 42 cars still on the track yesterday at the checkers. would carl ahve tried that pass with the old car? hell no! it wouldn't have even been a possibility. so, the cot's "endurance" made that move possible.

can tv make it more exciting/interesting? i think so b/c tv -- when done well -- has the ability to add information that we don't have access to at the track, information that enhances the race, not detracts from it. and that's why i get so pissed at espn: that is one of the major aspects of the race that they have all over the in-person fan with his/her seat in the stands and they squander it.

maybe next year will be better as more teams get experience and find success with cot. by then, tho', i likely will have abandoned espn all together b/c they don't even show an inclination to look at what they're putting out there, let alone change it.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is petty and vindictive . They will not interview Tony Stewart , Tony spoke up against ESPNs poor performance . Now they feel they have the upper hand . In truth , MRN is far superior to ESPN anyday .
Again , Punch showed clearly that his presense in the booth is completely unnecessary . Petree and Jarrett do just fine on their own .

Anonymous said...

Hello...
Jo said...
So we got decent post race. Why bait Jr? He sits after every race with towel(s) over his head outside his trailer. He was not OBLIGATED to talk to reporters so why not say he chose not to talk - not the "unable" - puhleez!
Septermber 28, 2008 6:28 PM

red said...
huh. posting this here even tho' it carries over from the race thead: i just watched the post-race interview that phil parsons did with dale earnhradt jr. yeah, the interview that espn said he was "unable" to do. the interview that came AFTER dale signed a little boy's shirt and then asked parsons' camera crew to follow him into the shade for the interview. yeah. THAT interview.
September 28, 2008 6:38 PM

Dot said...
I'm watching NN. There was an ESPN microphone is the picture (no reporter visible, just an arm) interviewing Dale Jr. Why didn't we get to see that in the post race?
September 28, 2008 10:49 PM
ttc said:
Also, I started counting how many times Jerry Punch told viewers that the 48 car was Jimmie Johnson.

Yet when Larry McReynolds obnoxiously does this with every driver, there are no complaints around here and Larry Mac is considered a genius, the dean of NASCAR analysts!

Hypocritical?
September 28, 2008 11:08 PM
Adam T. Martin said...
"Yet when Larry McReynolds obnoxiously does this with every driver, there are no complaints around here and Larry Mac is considered a genius, the dean of NASCAR analysts!
Hypocritical?"
Very hypocritical.
September 28, 2008 11:31 PM


Red, where did you find the Phil Parsons interview? I saw his interview after Dover, but it was put up on dalejr.pitstop.com. He does a good interview.

I like JP. I think he is balance and calm in an intense situation. I get tired of manufactured excitement to bring Nascar coverage to life. I realize that these folks are paid to do just that...but JP offers balance to go with the rest. As they say, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.
Marybeth

Anonymous said...

Wait. So ESPN didnt interview tony stewart and you gjuys are mad? He is a chase driver who finished 40th. They interviewed drivers like ragan who werent in the chase.

You dont want the chase shoved down your throat and it to be all about the 12 chase drivers. But your mad they didnt interview a 40th place chase finisher?

Anonymous said...

I dont know what will please you guys. Nothing seems right in your mind when it comes to ESPN. I went on the other TV boards on the internet and they had good things to say about ESPN. I still believe this site has a strong bias against ESPN. And it is lead by you JD....you dont have to admit it. Because you admit it through your blogs.

AMS fan said...

red said...
A Mouthful on
September 29, 2008 9:53 AM

Very well said!!!
I'll second that!

I don't necessarly boycott all ESPN broadcasts but I don't go to the effort to watch or record the shows like I do/did when the other network shows NASCAR

Anonymous said...

No, I think one commenter said something about ESPN not interviewing Tony Stewart. And it's a valid point because they didn't interview him before the race, spent a great deal of time covering his mishaps during the race, and then didn't follow up after the race.

Anonymous said...

So if I watch a Nascar race on ESPN, I'm not happy with the coverage, and I wish it would get better, what should I do? One thing is to come to this site, read the posts and comments, and then make comments of my own.

Other than that, why would anyone have a bias against ESPN for no particular reason? Doesn't make sense. This blog has consistently called out TNT last year when it did a poor job, hammered Fox this year for DiggerCam and DW's love of all things Kyle Busch, and made constant complaints about Rusty Wallace and ESPN's coverage last year.

I'll be honest, if the coverage was solid, I don't think I would check this site or comment as much or at all. But it's not, many say the same thing, and so I return and have an outlet for my frustration.

Another thing I don't understand is why anyone would come here often, post comments that don't relate to the coverage at all, and simply say that readers are biased against ESPN.

I wish those that defend ESPN would actually state why they think they do such a good job. I'd like the positives that maybe I don't see pointed out so I can look for them.

red said...

anon 6:54: the hotpass interview has made it's way to youtube but i initially watched it via the site you mention in your post. (and MANY thanks to the poster on that site who did the work so that i could watch it!)

(and sorry i'm so late getting back to you on this but i've been entering a TON of data for the campaign all night.)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:49PM,

That is taking the easy way out and you know it.

Next time you swing by, make your case like everyone else.

ESPN has fixed NASCAR Now and added a Sunday night show for The Chase.

They have changed the Infield Pit Studio and dropped the goofy show elements like Draft Track and celeberity interviews.

The two things they are struggling with are keeping Punch in the PXP role and focusing on only The Chase drivers in the final ten races.

Listen to the final two laps from Kansas and tell me if that is good PXP work from a top TV professional in the highest-profile NASCAR job in America?

If your driver is outside of The Chase, did you get to see him maybe twice at Kansas when they did a field recap that consisted of positions 10 through 20?

This coverage could be fixed and they will not do it because of egos and agendas.

If they choose to only cover the 12 Chase drivers at Talladega, good luck keeping viewers for the rest of the season.

JD

Adam T. Martin said...

"I wish those that defend ESPN would actually state why they think they do such a good job. I'd like the positives that maybe I don't see pointed out so I can look for them."

The positives of ESPN/ABC:

-no Bill Weber (why ishe in PXP and how did he get Allen's job?)
-no Gopher Cam animation or DW.
-less obnoxious pit reporters.
-good pictures and sound most of the time (Fox's camera work this year drove me nuts).
-none of those stupid video bumpers during green flag racing
-the minimal sponsor readings AFTER a commercial break (annoying on Fox and TNT)

I'd rather take a current ESPN/ABC then TNT or obnoxious Fox who have practically nosedived to ridiculous in only two seasons. Maybe I'm a fan of nostalgia when it comes to ESPN/ABC.

ESPN/ABC will get even better when they...

-focus on non-chase drivers
-get Allen Bestwick in the booth to do PxP.
-bring back John Kernan and Bob Jenkins. Would Ned Jarrett be willing to come out of retirement?
-Put Dr. Punch on pit road.
-drop "full throttle" and tech center (that goes for ALL the networks)

Zieke said...

Many of you comment on the stupid questions that Shannon and Jamie ask of drivers when things go bad for them. Well, maybe ESPN hired them because they are good looking. Ever think of that? Not a bad reason to watch if you ask me. Next time they interview Kyle maybe they should say "Well Kyle, your team has sure screwed up the chase for this year. So what do you plan for the last few races, try to go all out to win or coast along & try something radical now & then?"

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