Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"SportsCenter" Drops The NASCAR Ball


It was perhaps the best 30 laps that NASCAR had seen in a long time. Adding to the thrill of the Sprint Cup Series race from Dover was the fact that all three top cars racing hard at the end were from the same team.

TV viewers also saw a revitalized Mark Martin and a focused Jimmie Johnson lurking just behind the leading trio waiting to see if Jack Roush's "hairball" scenario would play-out. It did not.

After the race, three hours of programming on SPEED and one hour of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 paid tribute to the Dover race and how it had impacted those 12 drivers involved in The Chase for the Championship.

The SPEED Report featured Jeff Hammond reporting from the track and Doug Richert in the studio breaking-down the race. Victory Lane caught the excitement of Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace as they talked to a breathless winner Greg Biffle and a pumped-up Roush.

Topping the night on SPEED was Dave Despain tipping his cap to some good racing and talking about the dynamics of the remain Chase events on Wind Tunnel.

Over on ESPN2, a full hour of gushing was in-progress on NASCAR Now and lots of talking heads were making sure to tell fans exactly how great this event had been from start-to-finish.

Monday morning, however, brought a completely different vibe to ESPN. In the strange world of SportsCenter, NASCAR simply did not exist. The Yankees had closed the stadium, the Dolphins had upset the Patriots and some kids had done a Happy Gilmore smack-down of those nasty Euro golfers. A stick-and-ball frenzy was in full swing.

NASCAR fans may have spent Monday morning spinning the dial between ESPN, ESPNEWS and ESPN2 for a mere mention of the Dover race.

SportsCenter's fancy new line-up card on the screen made no mention of the event. Mike and Mike had a lot to talk about, but it did not involve NASCAR. Even the dependable ESPNEWS had made a switch and only paid lip service to NASCAR after a season of strong follow-up on every race.

Ray Evernham appeared briefly with Dana Jacobson on First Take for a couple of minutes. Jacobson was informed and asked good questions about the race and The Chase. This was the only sign we saw that Evernham was on the ESPN campus in the morning.

ESPN is NASCAR's largest media partner. The company handles the Nationwide Series, the final seventeen Sprint Cup events and has an exclusive daily show serving the sport. ESPN.com's NASCAR webpages are among its most popular and ESPN also owns the Jayski.com site which continues to attract an incredible fan base.

How is it possible that the newly revamped SportsCenter fell out of this loop? It is early in the NFL season, baseball has not yet started the playoffs and the Ryder Cup is a one time event. The ESPN TV networks provided over seven hours of live coverage on Sunday of closing day at Yankee Stadium. That was before the final game actually began.

NASCAR fans were just looking for some highlights, a couple of interviews and maybe some Ray Evernham day-after comments. SportsCenter seems to have a side desk for the analysts in every single other sport, can't NASCAR at least get a folding chair?

After seven months of hard racing and a lot of national media attention, NASCAR is two races deep into a playoff format that will crown a national champion. Millions of Americans follow the sport with the same fervor of baseball or football.

This struggle for acceptance at ESPN in these busy sports months is what NASCAR went through in 2007 until something happened. Click here for the TDP column about the Code Red that went through ESPN last year on the eve of the final racing weekend. NASCAR was suddenly inserted into every show from PTI to Mike and Mike in the Morning. The results were embarrassing.

This season, ESPN had been doing an outstanding job of keeping NASCAR fans informed on ESPNEWS and SportsCenter. ESPN's own NASCAR announcers have been frequent guests and the fans have been drawn back to ESPN's mainstream shows because of that effort.

Now, the commitment of the network to NASCAR is going to be put to the test once again as the multi-year TV contract between ESPN and NASCAR continues. As the guys in the ESPN screening room would say about this Monday's SportsCenter, it was "a swing and a whiff" where Dover and NASCAR were concerned.

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61 comments:

bevo said...

I'm not surprised at all, even put it in the comments Sunday. Once football starts up the only thing that gets any attention is the Yankees and the World Series. NASCAR ratings always dropped hence The Chase to try and get some attention. ESPN also carried day 1 of the Ryder Cup and the demo for that is off the charts.

Not saying it's fair but as the old saying goes "the fair only happens once a year"

Anonymous said...

How is it possible that the newly revamped SportsCenter fell out of this loop? It is early in the NFL season, baseball has not yet started the playoffs and the Ryder Cup is a one time event. The ESPN TV networks provided over seven hours of live coverage on Sunday of closing day at Yankee Stadium. That was before the final game actually began.

Ummm, here's your answer:

1. The NASCAR "playoffs"just aren't that big of a deal.
2. If Daytona closed their track after next year it wouldn't be 1/3 as big as Yankee Stadium closing.
3. The Patriots losing was a big deal. They had won 25 straight regular season games. When a NASCAR driver wins 10 straight races, and then loses, it'll be a big deal.
4. The Ryder Cup is a once every 2 years even that brings about national pride via a very tense and exceptional golf tournament.

The Sprint Cup race at Dover never really had a shot. Just because the race was good, didn't make it any more newsworthy than any of those things.

Ritchie said...

To give credit, I have noticed that they have been promoting the race during the Saturday night College Game Night. However, that is about it as far as on-air promotion is concerned.

I have said it before and I still don't comprehend the philosophy. In the past I have watched ESPN obsess about a single play in an insignificant baseball game for two solid days, yet they totally ignore NASCAR on Sportscenter. That, to me, is an upper-management issue.

I'm sorry if the on-air pesonalities grew up with baseball, basketball, and football. I'm also sorry if they don't understand racing. There are times I cringe as I watch the anchors on SportCenter stumbling through the highlights. It is pathetic to know so little about a sport when they are supposed to be in the business of covering sports. Its time to learn. Treat them like everybody else who goes to work every day. If they don't want to cooperate, dock their pay. If they still don't, fire them.

That is the way the rest of us have to live.

GinaV24 said...

I'm not surprised to hear this -- I never bother with SportsCenter because they don't cover anything in a way that matters to me. I've tuned in a few times when they were supposed to be talking about NASCAR,but its still done with malice and snickering, and not treated as a "real" sport, so why should I watch this program. The last 30 laps of the Dover race were indeed the best racing of the season -- that's a sad commentary right there though on the just plain bad racing this year. I'm a NASCAR fan, so I follow it anyway. I agree with the poster -- NASCAR's playoff's are just not as compelling as the other sports playoffs -- even though it decides the so-called champion each year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:59AM,

Let me help you a bit:

"The NASCAR playoffs aren't that big of a deal"...to you.

"The Patriots losing was a big deal." Unless you actually follow the NFL and then you know the QB problems and the fact that the Dolphis used a bunch of trick plays to win.

"The Ryder Cup is a...very tense and exceptional golf tournament."...if you care about golf.

Your stick-and-ball defense simply does not fly. SportsCenter should have devoted one story to NASCAR and they purposefully did not because they are blinded to the reality of this sport and have been since it returned to ESPN.

While Yankee stadium is a venerable institution, seven hours of live coverage the day prior might have told the tale as the club moved across the street.

NASCAR is over fifty years old and helped to keep ESPN on the air and define that network in both the 1980's and 90's.

Despite your personal dislike for the sport, these playoffs were created with TV in mind and ESPN was right in the thick of the conversations.

As I said in the column, SportsCenter dropped the ball.

JD

Anonymous said...

Whomever EP's this show clearly doesn't get NASCAR (like most of his or her ESPN counterparts), and ought to be replaced with someone who realiizes that the show is not titled "Stick-and-BallCenter."

These are the same people who proudly tell us on the air that they don't understand the Chase format. (I am waiting for the day they admit they don't understand how the pennant race works in MLB.)

You'd think they would want to look knowledgeable about a sport that attracts many tens of thousands to the track each weekend and millions to the weekly TV broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Why does SportsCenter "owe" NASCAR anything? Its NASCAR that cashed the big check at the peak of the NASCAR bubble. Ratings have been in a sharp decline, only to finally have bottomed out. That bubble has burst.

In essence, NASCAR ended up being like one of those bad home loans to ESPN. If ESPN was able to sell their part of the contract, they'd get nowhere near the value they've paid for the remaining portion.
Maybe Congress should bail ESPN out as well.

I'm guessing you probably want those truck races covered on SportsCenter at the same degree as the NFL.

Anonymous said...

Why does SportsCenter "owe" NASCAR anything?

Because the show covers sports news, and NASCAR is (a) a sport, and (b) one with millions of fans.

Races typically outdraw NFL and MLB games, too.

Ritchie said...

anon 9:54

Bail ESPN out? Bail it out of what?

ESPN could easily cover the truck races also. An avg. sportscenter spends a lot of time breaking down trivial issues that mean very little to most people. Then they follow sportscenter in with Mike & Mike, on which they discuss the exact same issues that were discussed on Sportscenter. I've seen them spend days debating whether a misplayed ball during a game should be ruled an error or a hit.

If you throw the other shows in that discuss sports,
Sometimes I believe ESPN has an obsessive/Compulsive disorder.

Therefore, I say that they should cover the trucks, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup extensively on Sportscenter. Then they can turn around and re-hash it on NASCAR Now.

Anonymous said...

ESPN has gone from being a sports network (pre ABC) to being a stick and ball network to now the network apparently that covers only regional stick and ball sports to any great degree. To the highly predictable daily sports reporters that's turned newspaper writers into some kind of wanna be TV celebrities to the daily dosing the Yankee's, Saux, Giants, Jets, and Knicks are doing because someone in Bristol just know we care it frankly makes it unwatchable. When you resort to having your on air personnel pimping prime time programing during an event and your style of race coverage rivals that of the Hollywood Insider in depth of subject matter you have major problems.

Anonymous said...

I am a big sports fan, and also a big NASCAR fan. As good as this weekend's race was - and it was the best finish in a full season - Dover is not a bigger story than a) the closing on Yankee Stadium b) the Ryder Cup upset win by the Americans or c) an upset in one of the biggest football games of the season.

I would be willing to hear an argument that the Dover race can compete with option c) on a news level... but the other two? It isn't even close.

Anonymous said...

oops - in my last comment I said "biggest football games of the season" and I meant to say "biggest football games of the weekend"

Anonymous said...

Those defending ESPN's coverage need to understand a simple concept: no one is asking that NASCAR get MORE or even 'first-up' coverage on Sportscenter, just that they actually get SOME sort of coverage for their playoff event. Spending less than a minute on the sport does not do it justice, and that's without the fact that ESPN covered the Cup race on their own network.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 4:59pm: No one said anything about the Dover race being more newsworthy than the items you mentioned.

But it was NEWSWORTHY. Even if you went NFL, Ryder Cup, MLB playoff race and Yankee Stadium, and THEN Nascar...you would at least be giving the sport the respect that it deserves as one of the top five major sports in the country.

Anonymous said...

If it involves the Yankees, Red Sox, Patriots, Brett Favre, and maybe one or two other stories, you can forget about the rest of the sports world. Sportscenter is not much more than a tabloid-style of journalism anyways.

Anonymous said...

ESPN claims worldwide leader in sports, yet almost never covers major worldwide sports like soccer.

It's no surprise that Nascar gets the red-headed stepchild coverage once again.

Anonymous said...

ESPN made Yankee Stadium the big story of the night on Sunday, even though there was an important NFL game between the Cowboys-Packers taking place. Since it was on NBC, however, the focus was on a game between two non-playoff teams.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a network whose home base is Bristol, Connecticut. Yes, we NASCAR fans can spell, ESPN. Living on the Left Coast, we're used to the Yankee, Red Sox love fest as well as the Least Coast bias. So it shouldn't be surprising when a sport not based in the greater New York area doesn't get it's due. To most of them we're treated with a very condisending attitude. It doesn't matter how many MILLIONS of NASCAR fans there are out there. Bring back FOX. midasmicah

Anonymous said...

Bring back FOX. midasmicah

Quit dreaming about Fox. You are delusional if you think Fox would pick NASCAR over the NFL during the fall. NASCAR schedule's its races and ends its season at the worst possible time, and because of that, will always be relegated to the back pages, if it even makes it.

Anonymous said...

As a NASCAR fan for the past 40+ years I think this thread is much ado about nothing. I know where to go on tv and the internet to find racing-specific programming. I disagree with those who claim NASCAR should have a presence on SC because it is a major sport. It is entertainment, if it was a sport it's rules would not be written on an Etch-a-Sketch.

Desmond said...

The ignorance of the SportsCenter anchors about the chase is pathetic and inexcusable. Why would ESPN pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights and then not have its anchors learn anything about NASCAR?

And this is on top of Kenny Mayne's per diem joke about Jimmie Johnson and Mike and Mike in the Morning's live broadcast from Texas Motor Speedway, in which NASCAR wasn't mentioned until the very end.

Anonymous said...

Again, we understand that there are other places to go for Nascar coverage.

The column is pointed at WHY espn and sportscenter do not cover the sport very much at all.

How can someone say it shouldn't be covered as a major sport? What are the major sports anymore? Football is the clear number one, and since it has the summer to itself and they play every day, baseball would be number two.

After that, what is considered the next major sport? NBA? Do the ratings reflect that at all? Definitely not hockey? Golf, doubtful...

How anyone can still say Nascar should get little coverage from the network that broadcasts it is mind-boggling.

Richard in N.C. said...

I have not been at all impressed with the morning edition of SportsCenter, and choose Mike & Mike over it.

S-Center is supposed to be a sports news show, according to ESPN. The Dover race was clearly news and deserved appropriate coverage - but I would have to say that I would peg Dover no higher than 3rd or 4th among the stories noted, and I virtually never watch golf.

haus20 said...

It is good to see all of the anons out today...ESPN would be proud.

I was amazed when I found out that ESPN was going to devote 7 hours to the closing of a stadium. Yes, it is historic Yankee Stadium, but seven hours?

I am also amazed at the lack of coverage ESPN gives to NASCAR. All weekend long ESPN news promised post race press conferences following Dover, but nothing ever came of that. It seems to me that if you are going to pay a gazillion dollars to have the rights to show something, that you would want to show as much of that something as possible (practices, qualifying) and promote it as much as possible to get the most return on your inve$tment. Evidently, ESPN just assumes that since the Nascar fans are the most loyal fans in the US, that it doesn't matter what they do, because the fans will still be there to watch on raceday. Fortunately for the fans, more and more alternatives are available to them and ESPN and their race coverage is becoming less and less needed.

So go ahead ESPN, keep up the attitude that we need you more than you need us. We'll check back to see how things are going at the end of this NASCAR contract. I think you will be the one who is disappointed.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think it's important to remember as this discussion rolls-on that ESPN did a very good job of handling NASCAR from February through September 1st.

It was the start of the college and pro football seasons that wiped NASCAR off the map with SportsCenter. That is the rub.

NASCAR fans have already enjoyed seven months of excellent ESPN coverage only to essentially have it discontinued by two sports who just began to play.

There is some irony in there somewhere that it was basically the NFL that pushed NASCAR into the Chase format. Now, it is the NFL that pushes the sport off of ESPN's sports news shows.

JD

majorshouse said...

I am not really surprised that ESPN has dropped the ball here, but that usually happens the most around football season and let's face it, football is probably watched in more households than NASCAR is. I do not excuse them for dropping the ball, but that is something that the powers that be in Daytona Beach need to deal with especially when the next television contract comes up.

Anonymous said...

Sportscenter cares about NASCAR only if:

1. Somebody is killed.
2. There is a "spectacular" accident (e.g. McDowell at TMS)
3. Scandal (discriminatory lawsuit)
4. Something they want to be a scandal, but isn't (Ron Hornaday)

Mary

Anonymous said...

The Chase has been a miserable failure, if its goal was to steal major media attention away from the NFL and focus on NASCAR.

ESPN may have paid a big check to NASCAR, but they have paid an even bigger one to the NFL, and all of the college football conferences. Just recently, ESPN made an even bigger investment with the SEC instead of letting them form their own network like the Big 10 did.

The hard, cruel reality of the situation is the chase has failed at its ultimate goal. I can only see two options. Either just live with reality that football dominates, and casts a rather large shadow across the American sports landscape, or do an even more radical approach of reshaping the season such that it doesn't conclude during football season.

NASCAR can start up its own TV network, but if its looking for love from SportsCenter, that just will never come to pass.

JD said...

If there's no NASCAR race on ESPN, I don't watch ESPN.

Ritchie said...

JD, you are correct to say that they have shown NASCAR more this year than last. However there are little things that irk me. For instance, when was there a racing highlight that made the top ten plays of the day? I remember the pass that Kyle Bush made on Jimmie Johnson at Chicago and I thought to myself it would make the top plays, but no. Just a bunch of homeruns.

I'll admit that I don't watch all of them, but I watch enough to know that if it happens, it is rare. However, let somebody hit a home run and the Sportscenter announcers fall all over themselves.

Somebody needs to drop the hammer on those guys. Simply showing the highlights isn't enough anymore. I want the sportscasters to be drooling on themselves when they talk racing.

Richard in N.C. said...

I might be a bit biased, but it does seem to me that SportsCenter is in need of a serious cluster fix. According to ESPN, S-center is supposed to be a sports news show. I am convinced that the results of the Dover race was a bigger sports story across the country than 2/3 of the baseball games played Sunday.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion - you have to take SportsCenter for what it is: a clips show. That means it has to hit the broadest possible audience.

If you are a diehard NASCAR fan, you watch NASCAR Now. If you are a diehard MLB fan, you watch Baseball tonight. Etc. Etc. Those shows feature all the in-depth info and then some. SportsCenter at it's best for almost any sport, is a shortened, rehashed, lite-version of those more in-depth shows.

If you are a casual fan, the most casual of sports fan, then you skip those in-depth shows and watch SportsCenter. That's who it is designed for. People who only read the headlines of the newspaper. To these people, NASCAR ranks behind NFL, MLB, NBA, everything - especially special events like the home of Babe Ruth shutting down or the once-every-two-years Ryder Cup.

ESPN programs SportsCenter for the casual sports fan. And for that, I think they programmed this just right. I'm no big ESPN-backer, but this is a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

If there's no NASCAR race on ESPN, I don't watch ESPN.

September 23, 2008 5:50 PM

Since ESPN is usually between the #1 cable network and the #5 cable network in the country (last week, it was #1 for yet another consecutive week, averaging 4.46 million viewers in primetime), you are in the minority.

To be fair, SportsCenter did show Dover highlights, both Sunday night and yesterday morning live. They did NOT skip the Dover race all together. Unfortunately, the highlights were very brief and late in the shows, after myriad football/baseball highlights had been shown, with no driver interviews. But they didn't ignore it completely. It was about two minutes of each show.

With the Chase for the Cup underway, NASCAR appears to be running out of gas.

ABC drew a 2.8 overnight for coverage of the Camping World RV 400 on Sunday afternoon, down 15% from a 3.3 for the comparable Dodge Dealers 400 in '07. The 2.8 is tied as the lowest overnight rating for a NASCAR race on broadcast since at least 2004.

Through two races, ABC is averaging a 3.0 overnight rating for its coverage of the Chase for the Cup, down 3% from a 3.1 overnight through two races last year.

While the 2.8 overnight is poor for a NASCAR race, there is a possibility for a rebound once the final numbers are released. Last week's Sylvania 300 drew a 3.1 overnight rating, but finished with a 3.8 final.

Daly Planet Editor said...

2 min. of highlights? Where the heck did you see that?

Anonymous said...

Races typically outdraw NFL and MLB games, too.

That's a ridiculous statement. If you're really going to measure the "draw," then you have to include every NFL game and add them all together. NASCAR's Sprint Cup race is the only game in town. All of the teams in their sport compete at the same place, at the same time, on the same channel. No matter who your favorite team is, they're playing in the exact same place. Plus, there are only two national NFL broadcasts each week, Sunday and Monday night. Last week's Monday Night Football game between the Eagles and Cowboys was the highest rated program in cable history. Say what you want about NASCAR's "draw", but not one race is in the top 10 cable programs in history, yet there are a number of Monday Night football games on that list. What's funny, is that most people aren't even fans of the two teams playing on Monday Night Football, yet it outdraws NASCAR. The three largest audiences on cable all year are the first three MNF games. Finally, sure, NASCAR races sell out to over 100,000 fans, but the game only comes around once, and to the lucky tracks, twice a year. Again, if all the teams show up at the same place, how hard can it be to sell tickets? If anything, it's shameful when a race doesn't sell out. Could you imagine if the NFL only had two teams and they travelled to different cities each week? There'd be a 50 year waiting list to get tickets in every town.

John, you can analyze the Patriots loss and the QB situation all you want. But that doesn't change the fact that they had won 25 regular season games in a row, and the Dolphins aren't that great of a team. The fact that they got dominated was a huge story.

ESPN was treating the Yankee Stadium thing as an event. Routinely, when ESPN covers a major event, they lead SportsCenter with that event, and often go back out to the site during the show. They do it with MNF, they did it with Yankee Stadium, and they do it with the Final Four and the Super Bowl and all their other major events. And yes, they do it with Daytona. They'll also do it from Homestead in 2 months.

The Ryder Cup is a major golf event. And you can keep saying, "if you care about it," but the ratings were up 22% this year as the event did a 3.3, while the Dover race did a 2.9 and was down from a 3.5 last year.

So, if Sportscenter, as an all encompassing show covering all news, covers things based on fan interest and ratings, I would say on Sunday it was NFL, Yankee Stadium, Ryder Cup, more baseball, and then NASCAR. The numbers don't lie. ESPN often doesn't put every NHL highlight in their shows come the fall. That's because the NHL's ratings are bad, and obviously if people aren't watching the games, they can't care that much about seeing the highlights.

Finally, the NASCAR "playoff" isn't a big deal. In what other sport would the team that wins the first two weeks not be in the lead? In what other sport would regular season results matter once you get to the playoffs? In what other sport would the teams that weren't good enough to make the playoffs get to have a direct effect on the teams that are in it? And in what other sport are the playoffs so insignificant that the winner can be decided 3 weeks in advance, making the final race one big victory lap. Sorry, but NASCAR is the only sport in the world where winning isn't that important, and people feel like their owed coverage of a guy who finishes in 43rd place. Even the drivers, after a race, often don't care. They race for points. Imagine if the Olympics consistently covered the runner who finished 10th, the same way as they covered the guy who won the gold, silver, or bronze?

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
2 min. of highlights? Where the heck did you see that?

September 23, 2008 7:59 PM


I posted it yesterday, JD, on "ESPN Adds Some New Wrinkles for Dover". I was complaining about the lack of post race coverage on ESPN NEWS, which I think is a much bigger issue, since they actually promised coverage "through the end of the season" in little promos. Yesterday was not the first day they've skipped coverage. Last week wasn't the first week they've skipped coverage. They've been doing it for a very long while.

At best they the show the winner, and only the winner, for 3-5 minutes long after the race is over. The showing of press conferences with the 2nd and 3rd place finishers and then the winner, owner, the crew chief went by the wayside weeks ago.

I don't understand why you're cutting them so much slack. SportsCenter never promised coverage, ESPN News did. They also show more of a lack of knowledge of NASCAR on ESPN News than on SportsCenter, IMO.

I wrote: Not much coverage of the race on ESPN News and SportsCenter. I watched the first live SportsCenter this morning and they didn't mention NASCAR until 9:43 am (show started at 9) and were done by 9:45. No interviews, no sound bites from drivers. Same thing I saw on SportsCenter last night. Very late and very brief coverage.

Anonymous said...

I was amazed when I found out that ESPN was going to devote 7 hours to the closing of a stadium. Yes, it is historic Yankee Stadium, but seven hours?

Even someone who isn't a stick and ball person can't be this shortsighted, right? Yankee Stadium has hosted:

26 World Series
3 visits by 3 different Popes.
Arguably the greatest football game ever played.
Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought at Yankee Stadium.
I haven't even mentioned the countless amazing moments from baseball like the pine-tar game and Larsen's no hitter.

I'm a Red Sox fan and I know Yankee Stadium deserved that kind of coverage. It's the most important sports venue since the Coloseum closed in Rome.

Anonymous said...

Someone else is talking ratings on here, wow.

Anyway, anonymous 8:05 is correct. Even though NASCAR likes to say it is the #2 most watched sport on TV, that's a carefully parsed statement that USED TO BE more acceptable if you look at the excellent weekly ratings back in 2003 and 2004. But even then it was completely inaccurate if you look at the cumulative weekly ratings for regional MLB, NBA and college football games for the week. Many more people watch those than NASCAR if combined and tallied for a week.

And even individual games in MLB and College Football are catching up to NASCAR's lower ratings now. For instance, the Yankee game mentioned above got a 2.6 overnight rating (NASCAR barely beat it with a 2.8).

The long Yankee pregame on the YES network - which is not ESPN but the Yankees regional network - peaked at almost a million viewers. Add that on to those who watched ESPN's pregame. That's a lot of people who showed interest in the pregame ceremonies.

The West Virginia-Colorado game on ESPN Thursday got a 2.7 rating. That's a final rating, not an overnight rating like NASCAR's 2.8, but it shows you how many people are watching just one college game - even on a Thursday night.

Daly Planet Editor said...

You stick-and-ball guys are making a case for the wrong cause.

SportsCenter has been on-the-air since 1979. The TV ratings for sports have never been the deciding factor.

The decision is up to the Producer to create a program that captures the day in sports. That is why my column is about the re-vamped Monday shows.

In the "old days" there were no complaints because the Sunday late night SportsCenter repeated during the morning. It had everything but the kitchen sink and made the careers of many on-air talent.

Now, we have this "new look" SportsCenter on Mondays with Hannah Storm and the show is very different. It features as many discussions about the highlights as it does actual highlights.

There are more "side-bars" in this show than in the OJ case. Over-and-over again experts pop-up and just talk.

This is what has pushed highlights of non-stick and ball sports off the map. That is where I was trying to head this discussion.

JD

Anonymous said...

For recent posters who apparently have a hard time reading: no one is asking that Nascar get MORE attention than the other sports mentioned in the article. This shouldn't even be a matter where we look at what event or game got which ratings and so on. Quite simply, every sport - football, baseball, golf, Nascar, and anything else that happened on Sunday should get coverage on the highlight show.

I'll tell you what other sport a team would not be in the lead in after winning their first game...the NFL, which gives a bye to the top two teams and the others play first-round games to see who advances to play them.

There are several sports with a different system - such as Premier League soccer, where each team plays each other twice (home and away), and the winner is the one with the most points (wins + draws). Or cycling, where stage races mean that an individual can win the day's stage but there would be a different overall leader. Or decathalon, where consistency would help win the combination of all ten events.

How about college football...where at the end of the season teams are "selected" for different bowl games and there is no playoff, and deserving teams don't get a chance to play for a title because of money.

By the way, anyone realize that without the Chase, Edwards would be in the lead over Busch by 32 points or so?

Anonymous said...

I like the new SportsCenter. It gives more attention and analysis of the important sports. If you are a fan of a marginal sport, just use the Internet to get your news. ESPN doesn't need to clutter up its programs with stuff people don't want to see.

Anonymous said...

The "important" sports? Why, because ESPN says so?

Anonymous said...

When hockey left ESPN, it was easy to see how the network basically made hockey an outcast and barely covered the sport and showed any highlights.

What's hard to understand is ESPN actually covers Nascar on their network.

Anonymous said...

If by covering important sports in-depth, you mean creating and then overcovering things like Brett Favre, Yankee Stadium, steroids, and on and on, then yes, you are watching the right network for tabloid sports journalism (the last word is a stretch, by the way).

John Reremy said...

I would argue, and I think ESPN would agree, that Sportscenter is no longer intended to be a highlights show. It's no longer intended to be a wrap up of the day's news. That's what ESPNews is for. If you want every highlight from the day in 30 minutes, go to ESPNews. If you want a bunch of highlights surrounded by 3-4 big stories that get broken down piece by piece, you go to Sportscenter.

To people who claim that "ESPN loves the anonymous posters." Why do you always think if someone is against what John is saying and doesn't want to give their name, they work for ESPN? Isn't it possible that they like Sportscenter and don't want to see 10 minutes of Dover coverage. Or isn't it possible that they just disagree? Plus, why do I have to give my name? I don't need anyone knowing who I am.

John, you're too idealistic in what you expect from Sportscenter. You say it's up to the producer to "capture the day in sports." I would say that for a company whose major source of income aside from subscriber fees, is advertising. Ratings drive advertising dollars. If more people watch football and baseball, then that's what ESPN's gonna cover because that's what gets the ratings. Furthermore, it's even more specialized in that there is a large concentration of population from DC up to Boston, so those teams get the most coverage, because they're what drive ratings for Sportscenter.

Finally, to the poster who tried to compare other sports and saying winning doesn't matter. You're just plain wrong. Sure, if the wild card team in teh NFL wins, they're not "in the lead." But they get to play a division winner in the next round, and the 10 teams with losing records don't get to participate. The Premiership is run very much like Hockey. You get points for wins and ties, and the team with the most points wins. But again, winning matters. In NASCAR, it's possible for a driver to not win a single race in the Chase and still win the Cup. In Soccer, the biggest club tournament of the year is the Champions League. They play two games, most goals win, home and away. Ultimately, it's a winner take all. NASCAR is a "winner sometimes gets a trophy" sport. Just like last year. Kenseth wins at Homestead. How awkward is it for him to get out of the car and celebrate when Johnson is getting handed over the real trophy? It's ridiculous.

In College Football, teams aren't selected for anything. While you may not like the system, ultimately, a formula picks two teams to play for a championship. Also, these are amateur athletes you're talking about. This isn't a professional sport, no matter how much it's treated as such. And again, at the end of the year, a poll chooses the #1 and #2 team to play each other. They may not have a tournament, but last year when LSU beat Ohio State, they weren't handing the trophy to LSU while USC celebrated winning the actual game.

Finally, you can bring up the decathalon, and that's all well and good. But ultimately, you're talking about an amateur display of athletic ability. And if you're really comfortable saying that NASCAR is justified because of an event that matters to so few people and really only matters every four years, then so be it. 10 years from now, the average sports fan won't be able to tell you who won the the decathalon in Beijing in 2008. Just like they won't be able to tell you who won at Homestead in 2008, because ultimately, winning doesn't matter.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I would respectfully suggest that if you tie TV ratings for individual sports to SportsCenter as a show then you can just chuck the Producers and let the highlights be sorted by machine.

This discussion is about crafting the newly revamped Monday morning SportsCenter, which is a process currently underway at ESPN as we speak.

We are simply throwing in that as NASCAR fans, we have seen one treatment of this sport since February, and now because of some NFL early season games we get wiped off the planet?

The classic SportsCenter rundown used to start AL first then NL, commercial...everything else.

At least with Hannah you get a mix of sports in the first block. Not a whole lot after that, but a nice mix in the first four minutes.

JD

Adam T. Martin said...

Shame on SportsCenter.

For over a few weeks, there have been news worthy NASCAR races finally.

Unfortunately, the memo did not get to SportsCenter.

Anonymous said...

"SportsCenter has been on-the-air since 1979. The TV ratings for sports have never been the deciding factor."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

JD: You were laughing when you typed that, correct? Monday Night Football just got some of the best numbers ever. The NFL primetime games overall are getting some of its best ratings ever. The NBA's ratings went up this year.

Do you think SportsCenter - the SportsCenter of today, not the SportsCenter of 1979 - doesn't care about, or isn't planned around, that fact? Or that the Monday morning SportsCenters aren't going to focus on promoting their biggest franchise, the NFL and the MNF game coming up that evening?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:34am: Again, can people not read and comprehend what they are reading?

JD is not saying to make Nascar the lead story on Sportscenter. He's not saying that Nascar should be given priority or that it should get as much coverage as the NFL or the MLB pennant race.

All that is being pondered is why Nascar WAS covered earlier in the season and now is not covered as much on the same show. It's an important question because of what happened last year where all of a sudden ESPN put a strong emphasis on Nascar and starting including it all over the place.

Several anon's have completely missed the point and can't seem to grasp the concepts of a simple article/question.

Anonymous said...

All that is being pondered is why Nascar WAS covered earlier in the season and now is not covered as much on the same show.

Because there are a bunch of NFL teams and a bunch of BCS contenders taking a good portion of the highlights airtime. They didn't have NFL and BCS highlights to air before August, now they do, so they have less time for NASCAR. How hard is that to understand.

I have read the thread and my comprehension is fine...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:51AM,

How is that hard to comprehend?

Um, let me see. The bias of the new SportsCenter production staff toward a sport they do not understand and do not watch?

Making no use of the available NASCAR on ESPN announcers on Mondays as a regular feature just like all the other top pros sports?

Promoting sports that are not directly on ESPN over one that is on the ABC TV Network and produced by ESPN?

The SportsCenter Producer and his boss make the decisions of what highlights to show and what to drop. They don't have a ratings list or an agenda. That is what SportsCenter has prided itself on while other shows like College Gameday have become nothing more than ESPN promotional tools.

It should be interesting to see how they respond next Monday.

JD

John Reremy said...

The SportsCenter Producer and his boss make the decisions of what highlights to show and what to drop. They don't have a ratings list or an agenda. That is what SportsCenter has prided itself on while other shows like College Gameday have become nothing more than ESPN promotional tools.

Problem is, most of the people who were Producing or EPing Sportscenter 10 years ago are now bigwigs at ESPN. So even though the Producer and EP are making decisions, you know there is plenty of direction from up top. And that direction is without a doubt, "Maximize value to shareholders." Aka, if it's a big rating, show it, because more people will watch and we'll sell more ads and can up our subscriber rate. The people in the big ad firms work in big northeast and western cities. NASCAR isn't on their radar. Therefore, when they see Sportscenter and see Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Lakers, Patriots, Giants, Favre, they think, AD SALES!

And you can mock College Gameday all you want, it won an Sports Emmy last year, so they must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...

You think you got it bad? You should be a cycling fan.

Richard in N.C. said...

If asked, I presume ESPN would say that SportsCenter is the premier sports news show - and my Time Warner digital TV guide puts S-Center under news. S-Center can have it one way or the other - its focus should be either news or entertainment. S-Center can't expect to be news when it says it is and entertainment (non-news) when it says it is - but it appears ESPN thinks it can. If S-Center is supposed to be news, then at least on Sunday and early Monday the weekend's NASCAR Cup race should get at least as much attention as the average NFL game - and more as the Chase winds down. If S-Center (ESPN's flagship) is not news, then everything it broadcasts should be taken as the sports equivalent of Entertainment Tonight.

Unfortunately too much ESPN Kool-Aid is drunk at ESPN and the appear to believe that they can make the rules up as they go along - or have no rules at all, such as when they might be making an attempt to try to do serious news. Weekday morning S-Center and First Take are increasingly clear indications that quality is a lost concept at the Wide Wide Leader in Sports.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:20PM,

No one is mocking College Gameday. A while back they made a decision about that show and it was a Disney decision.

It would stop being about college football and begin being about the college football on ESPN and ABC.

Now, it has become a cartoon version of anything legit with acting, over-the-top antics and advance crowd control on-site that rivals the Superbowl. You should see it in action sometime.

You know the joke of the Sports Emmys? The company with the biggest production group for that sport always wins. Guess Raycom needs to hire about three thousand more freelancers.

JD

Anonymous said...

You know the joke of the Sports Emmys? The company with the biggest production group for that sport always wins.

Well, I doubt NASCAR on FOX is planning on feeling bad about the huge production crew which enables them to win the Sports Emmy they win virtually every year, so...I don't begrudge GameDay or ESPN its Emmys either.

John Reremy said...


Now, it has become a cartoon version of anything legit with acting, over-the-top antics and advance crowd control on-site that rivals the Superbowl. You should see it in action sometime.


How is crowd control a bad thing? When Gameday came to my school, and it came at least once per year, the crowds were huge. They put a large plexiglass barrier behind the talent now because people started throwing things if an analyst said something they didn't like. How is it acting? It's 4 guys sitting at a desk saying what they really feel about the game in question. No one plays devil's advocate, they just chat for three hours.

You can say all you want about them covering the ESPN/ABC games, but the fact is, they go to a school each week that is the ESPN/ABC game. This week, looking at my schedule, they'll either be in State College, PA, or Georgia for PSU/Illinoi or Georgia/Alabama. Both of those games are on ESPN. Actually, most good games are on ESPN. Their show focuses on the important games of the day, mainly the top-25 and any top programs that this year have fallen out of the top-25.

What station's games would you like them to do tons of coverage on? I know they always cover the one other big game that's on, which is the marquee SEC game that CBS chooses each week.

What's funny is that you forget that other stations prevent ESPN from covering their games. Example: Fox holds the rights to the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange Bowls, and National Championship games. This week I was watching ESPN's daily college football show and they did a segment on famous two point conversions. The most famous in recent memory, was Boise State's against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl from a few years ago. For all of the games they showed, for that game, the only showed still images. So I did a little digging and learned that Fox charges thousands of dollars "per play" for any footage from a BCS Bowl, and that ESPN is only allowed to show a highlight the night of the game, it can only be less than two minutes, and they can only continue showing it for a week. After that, it goes into Fox's possession and they can charge what they want for usage. This is long winded, but my point is, I find in many instances, when I do a little digging, that many networks, especially Fox, Fox Sports, and CSTV put huge restrictions on their footage where ESPN does not. ESPN appears to have the philosophy that they'd rather their footage be shown, where CBS and Fox want to keep their highlights limited and even invisible on ESPN.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Am I mistaken or is John Anderson asleep in the picture above?

Daly Planet Editor said...

john,

First of all, nice nick. You only have to think back a ways to understand the difference between running ESPN before Disney and now.

New priorities and things like national rankings suddenly take second place to other things.

They would include what games are on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN regional outlets. Other national and regional college games are suddenly moved to the back burner regardless of the importance of the game or the ranking of the team.

This was a huge issue a while back when Gameday decided one season to simply eliminate any mention of Notre Dame because they were going to be televising their games on NNC.

TV sports always walks a fine line between reality and entertainment.

That line has never been more clear than when viewers tune-in to see well-staged cheerleaders, fans and students "acting" for the cameras the minute they turn on.

As for the highlight issue, I have no clue who told you highlights were somehow an ESPN problem. As you may know, use of highlights for news purposes within the 24 hour window is one thing, re-using the footage later in the week is quite another.

Almost all conferences have nicely sophisticated video departments that handle this footage issue.

If watching Gameday in its current form is what you consider the best of college football, be my guest.

JD

John Reremy said...

My point was that ESPN is restricted from using a lot of video from the most important games played the last few years since Fox got the BCS, with the exception of the Rose Bowl.

Notre Dame is a bad example. Again, NBC has strict requirements on use of footage of games that take place on NBC. Furthermore, that doesn't stop Notre Dame from being the most covered team on ESPN along with USC and the SEC teams.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I would certainly suggest that there are many Notre Dame alumns who would disagree about the level of coverage.

Still not sure about the footage thing, the normal issue is either in-progress or wait till end of game for highlights.

The only other issue is outside of the 24 hr. news window, which is how you see college football highlights on your local TV station.

JD