Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sunday TV Doubleheader Comes With A Price

During my college days at VCU, a Sunday doubleheader normally involved some barbecue from Bill's and a walk over to The Diamond to see the Richmond Braves. After the weather from Tropical Storm Hanna, a Richmond doubleheader has taken on a whole new meaning. Although, there will probably still be some barbecue involved.

This weekend in Richmond was supposed to signal the transition from ESPN to ABC of the Sprint Cup Series. Trading in the world of cable TV, NASCAR was going to get a chance to hold one of the most anticipated races of the season in prime-time on Saturday night. It never happened.

Now, after a cluster of what seems to be bad decisions by the sanctioning body, both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races have been shuffled to Sunday. Clearly, the focus of the weekend was the Sprint Cup Series race. The final regular season event before The Chase begins, this racet was being discussed all over the Internet, TV and radio. Now, it is about to take-on the NFL head-to-head.

At 9PM on Saturday night, the TV schedule listed none of the NASCAR TV changes for the weekend. No one had moved the Sprint Cup race, the Nationwide event, or any of the support programming. Any fan who went to for TV information and checked the listings was disappointed.

Over the last two years, ESPN has made a decision not to mention the website on-the-air. There is plenty of time to promote this ESPN-owned business on NASCAR Now, NASCAR Countdown and the races. Ironically, fans who want to know what is really going-on with NASCAR head to Jayski for the most up-to-date information. The situation with Richmond was no different.

One big winner of the weekend shuffle was SPEED. That network handled the Craftsman Truck Series race from Gateway live on Saturday and showed most of its taped SPEED Stage programs as well. The big bonus was the fact that NASCAR Raceday was going to take center-stage on Sunday afternoon.

Normally ending one hour before ESPN takes the air for the NASCAR Countdown show, this time RaceDay gets to air from 11AM to 1PM. ESPN could not find a TV network for NASCAR Countdown, so RaceDay has no competition. In essence, RaceDay on SPEED becomes NASCAR Countdown and leads directly into the ESPN race.

ESPN has NFL Countdown from 11AM to 1PM Sunday and over on ESPN2 there is the live finale for the Indy Lights Series at 12:30PM. Unless the company chose to use ESPNEWS or ESPN Classic Network for the NASCAR Countdown show, there was basically nowhere to put it.

At 1PM, ESPN will carry the Sprint Cup Series race and then at 6:30PM it will be ESPN2 hosting NASCAR Countdown and the Nationwide event.

Currently, there is no NASCAR Now listed for 10AM Sunday morning. But, there will be a wrap-up version of that show immediately after the conclusion of the Nationwide race.

As many of you know, NASCAR and RIR are planning to empty the entire racetrack of fans after the Sprint Cup Series race. Then, they are going to open the gates for the Nationwide Series event scheduled for 7PM. This process may be just as interesting as the racing action.

If all goes well, there should be a two hour window to make this transition. The key words there are "if all goes well." Should rain, numerous caution flags or several red flag periods push this race back it could end much later than the anticipated 4:30PM. This element should be interesting to keep in mind as the race unfolds.

ESPN has one announcing team that serves both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. That means that Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will basically be calling back-to-back races on Sunday. With the announcers usually in position about two hours before the race start, this should make for a ten-to-twelve hour day on-the-air for the booth announcers.

Playing a critical role in giving that group a break will be Allen Bestwick and his team of Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Studio. Bestwick can carry the commentary anytime and is usually used coming out of commercial break to give the guys in the booth a breather. Look for that more frequently than normal on Sunday evening.

Unfortunately, while the live Nationwide Series race is running on ESPN2, SPEED will be showing their popular Sunday night line-up that includes The SPEED Report at 7PM and Wind Tunnel at 9PM. The latest information is that SPEED will delay Victory Lane until 10PM, but we will work to verify that on Sunday and update this page.

That is going to split the audience a bit, but hopefully technology will help most race fans record one while they watch the other. Speaking of technology, is offering Sprint RaceView free for the Richmond race. This is an Internet broadband computer application that lets users control three cameras, listen to driver and team scanners and lot of other fun things. Just click here to be taken directly to the free RaceView page.

TDP will have a new post up for the Sprint Cup Series race at Noon Eastern and will update any additional information on this page until that time. Please feel free to add your TV or racing-related opinion on the Richmond weekend rain out to this post.

Just click the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for dropping by.


Dot said...


Went to to waste my time before coming back here to comment. Yeah, you warned us, no info.

I did read Hinton's column. Boy, what the fans (ex?) are saying.

I blame NASCAR just as much as I blame the TV partners. Why are we being treated this way? No news about what's on, or when. Why is NASCAR allowing this to happen? I have some thoughts, but I'll act like a lady. Thank God for you JD.

If there was some way to get the ratings to tank more than they have, I'd be in on it. I could go to the pool tomorrow instead of watching the races, but I'm only one person. Maybe if all the TDP commenters wrote to all the car sponsors, something might happen. I'm at a loss.

Anonymous said...

-I bet a lot of Tivos miss the race - it seems none of the major "TV Schedule" companies that provide content to cable, dish, and fiber-optic have been updated -- which means all those "Season Passes" programmed into DVRs won't catch the race.

-No way they will be able to empty and then re-fill the stands. None. Where do the Nationwide fans park? Oh, they are going to not get there until the Sprint fans' cars are exiting? Hahahaha.

-Prediction: Jerry Punch will not be able to conceal his irritation on the air. Hey, a 12-hour broadcast day is tough for anyone. But I don't think he will be able to keep it together.

-Clint Bowyer will be an interesting story of the day -- on the bubble he could potentially miss the Chase and then be forced to drive a Nationwide series to maintain a points lead. EVen though he is on the bubble, I don't think ESPN has covered him much. My guess is they will mention Kahne a million times. He's good looking and the only Dodge up front and Ragan is a rookie. Can Punch juggle Bowyer into the storyline, too? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Now, after a cluster of what seems to be bad decisions by the sanctioning body, both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races have been shuffled to Sunday.

What bad decisions did NASCAR make? Other than the dumb decision to clear RIR after the Cup race and make people re-enter for the Nationwide race? I really hope we're not questioning their decision about the weather.

I saw some other folks on yesterday's blog entry second-guessing NASCAR's decision to postpone the race since the rain was gone from Richmond by Saturday afternoon. Which I told my wife would happen, since some people don't seem to realize there are more important things in life than racing. Or that perhaps the people who work at the track and live in Richmond had other priorities this weekend. One said:

We froze our fannies off in Martinsville in the spring, steady rain and miserable conditions. But they didn't postpone the race - and we sat through it.

Some people don't want to do that. Some people also have health conditions that don't allow them to do that. Some children can't do that. Nobody with any sense wants to sit at a track during a tropical storm, which forecasters predicted would be in the area during race times. The forecast turned out to be incorrect (rain but no wind or lightning events). It happens.

I hope NASCAR doesn't get the idea that the majority of people at the track want them to hold a race - or exactly half a race as it often seems to be - in extended miserable conditions, like cold freezing rain. Or in tropical storms.

NASCAR was being smart and cautious this weekend, following the forecasters and the law enforcement folks' information, and now people want to rip them for it. I'd love to see what the same people would be saying if high winds, tornadoes, lightning, and closed roads and interstates had surrounded the track while they were on their way to the NW or Cup race, or were already at the track. Then NASCAR would have gotten ripped for not postponing early enough.

NASCAR makes a lot of bad decisions. Postponing these races for safety was not one of them, no matter how it affects the TV schedule or if it creates more TV competition.

Grover said...

WOW would not want to be working the track tomorrow trying to clear out a bunch of fans with tickets for the next race that have been sitting there for 5 + hours drinking!!!!!

Man I hope the ESPN brass do some changes to the line up. To expect ANYONE let alone punch do 2 races on the same day is asking for trouble.

They need to put AB and rusty (god did I just say that) and perhaps brewer up in the booth to call the nationwide race. Keep the sprint crew in the infield to take over those duties.

I know I wont be missing wind tunnel or heck speed report and VL if they use the same crew for both.

Anonymous said...

i flew from san diego to richmond cause the track's website said all day tuesday and all day wednesday and thru the thursday morning update that it was going to run as scheduled.

so i came east.

and all that time i was checking didn't know what hanna would do...but it appeared it would be over saturday afternoon.

so friday--FRIDAY--they postpone saturday's race.

at 3p saturday, the rain stopped. at 8p it was a beautiful sunset sky.

nascar could've run this race no problem on saturday. hanna was a wimper here in RIC. not even any thunder.

so now, nascar misses having free ABC network on saturday primetime. they now get put on ESPN and confuse fans and DVRs and have to go up against opening day of NFL.

and me, i'm sitting here at RIC on two full flights to get home and miss the first two hours of the race cause my DVR ain't set for a sunday ESPN race.

why did they have to postpone it friday night...26 hours before scheduled green flag? why not wait and see what wrath (or not) hanna would unleash.

for almost $1000 for air, hotel, tickets i got no race and too much waffle house.

i'd understand if it were raining last night at 8pm.

i guess when i get home i'll just watch the chargers game.

Anonymous said...

Is Saturday night on ABC really that much more of a ratings bonanza than ESPN Sunday morning? I understand that there is a prestige both with being on a "big three" network, as well as running on that network during "prime time"...

...but what is the audience really like (size-wise) on a Saturday night? It has always been my understanding that Saturday night is somewhat of a ratings vacuum across all the networks. Meanwhile, when I think of Sunday morning - I think about sports.

ESPN is a smaller outfit than ABC, but in this age when nearly every household has cable or a dish - I really wonder what the raw number difference in in ratings between the Cup race on Sunday as it is now rescheduled vs. a typical ABC Saturday night viewership.

Editor, do you have any numbers for ABC Saturday night to compare with the ratings from this weekend?

Anonymous said...

Re: my above comment - I should have said "Sunday afternoon" instead of "Sunday morning" but I'm in California where the race will be on at 10am.

Bill H said...


How are the TV guides, for example DirecTv, updated? Do the broadcasters send in the information for updating, do the broadcasters update it themselves, or does the operators do all the updating.

On Directv I saw that it updated yesterday to show the change in the nascar schedule for the cup and wide races, listing them on espn and abc showing a movie last night, but as of the morning Speed still lists the Star Mazda race at 11 am, not the moved raceday.

Bill H

Anonymous said...

what part of planning do people not GET? You can't predict with certainty, and they don't claim they can--you just have to go with your most educated guess and *give* everyone time to do what they need to do. This isn't just about *race fans*'s about the state of Virginia with other things to do than direct traffic for 100,000 people in & out of a race. What if it had hit harder and all the cops were busy with that? And then you've got to worry about them all in the parking lot...sheesh...I'll never understand people who think the sun rises and sets for race fans and they lose all common sense. They said it wasn't just NASCAR's decision, they mentioned 'public safety officials', so they were probably asked not to.

The naysayers are probably the same people who, after a disaster, ask why people didn't get out....darned if you do, darned if you don't....

Anonymous said...

As someone who watched Hanna, Ike and Josephine (may she rest in pieces!) line up like airplanes heading to land on my community, I applaud NASCAR's decision to postpone these two races. The National Hurricane Center, at the time the decision was made to postpone the Cup race, showed Hanna practically right over Richmond at 2pm on Saturday. This means SUSTAINED winds up to 73mph, with potential for higher gusts. Should the track crews be out in that, to get an evening race in?

For those who have NOT experienced a Tropical Storm and/or Hurricane (and there was concern that it might reintensify to hurricane strength before making landfall!), it is dangerous, destructive, and deadly. So, of course, it is a good idea to have up to 100,000 people on the roads, crowding the highways, taking up the time of law enforcement and emergency crews, to hold a race in the middle of it. Plus, Hanna was a LARGE storm - even though the EYE may have been forecasted for Richmond for the afternoon, the extensive bands would have kept wind and rain in the area for hours.

Those of us living in Hurricane Country know that storms can grow in intensity and change direction in a heartbeat. (See Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Andrew.) Taking no chances with staff, broadcaster, track, crew, driver and fan lives was a wise decision.

Anonymous said...

PS - Comcast in SFL has already updated its info to show the Cup race on ESPN at 1, and Nationwide on ESPN2 at 7 (with the Countdown show).

What surprises me is that ESPN is still showing 2 hours of NFL Countdown from 11-1 - why not shorten that by 1 hour, and do a one-hour pre-race show? Or, since they're not AIRING NFL ball, dump it entirely for the lead-in to the event they ARE airing?

Bill H said...

If they would just do what DW said a few years ago we wouldn't be here talking about the race on Sunday, it would have happend on Friday and Saturday.

Put a roof over the track and away go the rain issues!

Bill H

PS Imagine the oxygen concession stands for all the fans suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Nascar is missing out on a major revenue stream!

PSS Don't get me started on Shamwow sponsering the track drying efforts, but I can see it:

Dr. Punch: "We have had a brief shower pass through but the Shamwow track drying efforts are underway, you following that camera guy? Rusty did you know olympic divers use the Shamwow?"

Rusty: "I tell you what Jerry, that cat is made in Germany, you know they make good things."

glenc1 said...

grover...not sure if you've been there, but even when it's a night race (and people have been drinking for 8 or 9 hours...) it's not that bad. It's not even 'most' people. I've rarely seen people passed out in their seats. And the thing is, once they've had to go up and down a few times to take care of nature's business, they seem to give up and not come back. I can't see why they would give ushers a hard time. And you see people streaming slowing toward the exits starting with about 100 laps to go so they can beat traffic. Personally, I'd have made an announcement saying 'all bets are off' with reserved NW seats and let them all stay, but I'd still be po'd as a fan if I'd paid extra for those and I'm sitting with those who paid nada...anyways, I may have to eat my words but I just think they have a plan....

I do feel bad for the people who TIVO and such, but generally, stuff happens...I have on occasion called people to ask them to record something for me that I know has changed. I don't really think fans are being treated that poorly...ESPN had a pretty tough decision how to rearrange this and while I might have made it a little different, I don't envy them trying to figure it out...

anon 1:17--I don't think parking will be a bigger issue than it *normally* is. It's usually a hassle anyways, but I expect they'll be especially diligent on cramming them in, plus *most* of the fans will already be parked.
You raise a good point on the schedule thing. I've had my DISH lineup updated with last minute things once in a *great* while, but mostly, it never seems to get changed, and I always think, don't they have someone there to reprogram?

Racingphan said...

Here in the northern ny area, we are getting the Jets vs Miami at 1pm. Do I watch the debut of Brett Favrrrre, or watch the racing??

Anonymous said...

My Tivo had updated the ESPN schedule. And the ESPN schedule was partially updated on the ESPN family of networks on DirecTv.

Interestingly enough, SPEED's schedule didn't update on either device to show Race Day at 11. On DirecTv, everything from 8pm on is listed as TBA and on the Tivo, it's still the old schedule.

I'm interested to see if ESPN Classic will still be showing the 1992 Atlanta race at 1. Unfortunately I won't be home to find out.

Lou said...

Sunday TV Doubleheader Comes With A Price

Yes it does. Looking forward to NFL this afternoon. Another time and place, well I would have stayed w/NASCAR.

But I will check w/TDP during the race. As w/this site you do not have to watch the race or muti task and still get the feel of the race.(BTW, I enjoy doing the multi task stuff.)

alex said...

I for one am happy there's not a full day of pre-race junk. We already know what the ESPN agenda is (especially if you watch ESPN during the week you've seen the commercials).

Thankfully we can skip an hour of the Nascar Countdown show and just get to the race. That's what we're all here to watch, so so they can just do that instead a full day pre-race.

It's gotten to the point where I don't even watch ESPN's pre-race anymore, so this time I can actually tune in at the scheduled time and see the race begin.

Newracefan said...

Hind sight is always 20/20. If Nascar had not postponed the race and it became a rainy mess or heaven forbid the tornado that possibly hit in Allentown PA went thru by/at the track everyone would be screaming bloody murder that EVERYONE knew Hanna was coming and why didn't Nascar postpone. While I would have preferred sitting inside watching a race when it was pouring outside my home instead of today when it is sunny and warm I'm OK with the decision.

OBTW Comcast has no updated schedule therefore DVR would have been problematic, if this happened next week I would be frantically calling my son to reset the DVR because I would be recording a whole lot of nothing while I was on vacation, I may just record the reair that should not be affected.

Anonymous said...

Brighthouse never changed the tv guide listings so my dvd of Raceday didn't start recording. Even with Kenny on the screen it still says Star Mazda Series Racing. Thanks Brighthouse

Anonymous said...

I was going to read the comments and then post - I got as far as the mis-informed doltish comment by ANON@5:53 am & had to reply to that.
The world does not revolve around NASCAR or its fans. You could have changed flights (your choice) or left early when you found out the races were re scheduled. I live in Florida now, I have only been in a Level 1 hurricane - not pleasant & nothing I would wish on anyone sitting in the stands at a race or track workers.Hanna was supposed to be much worse. I have helped friends & family clean up ( or find what they could) after Hugo, Andrew & Fran.

Hurricanes are LARGE POWERFUL storms systems.

You and the poster who talked of sitting in freezing cold ( we have done that at many races) would have been screaming bloody murder if Hanna HAD been what they expected & YOU had been trapped at the track or god forbid a highway or parking lot ( open flat areas in a 'cane is not the best place to be).

I am glad that NA$CAR , for once recently, opted for safety of everyone. Locals, Fans, Competitors & Emergency Workers - and did not worry about ratings & the almighty$$$$.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for RaceDay because of the new style show they are doing today from Richmond.

Looking for your comments.


SonicAD said...

I emailed John about this but he hasn't had time to put it up yet, and we're only an hour away and if people want to watch it they need to read about it, so I'll stick it up here as well:

NASCAR Countdown will be seen on ESPN2 at 12:30PM. I presume this means the Indy Lights race will be moved back to 1PM, but that's just a guess right now.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3AM,

NASCAR never should have sent anyone out on the road with a tropical storm/hurricane forecast for Richmond.

This was not a rain storm, a thunderstorm or even a tornado.

NASCAR send hundreds of crew members, drivers, officials and TV crew members directly into the storm for one reason.

There is no off week in the remaining Sprint Cup Series schedule.

While the millionaire drivers and owners flew home on the private jets, the TV crew members and thousands of fans who traveled to the location were left just sitting in the middle of a Tropical Storm. Why?

In my opinion, simply because NASCAR had no place to put this race if it had been cancelled.

I am a long-time safety advocate and this decision to drive almost two hundred tractor-trailers up to Richmond and them make them all sit in the path of a potential hurricane was horrendous.

Pointing to the fact that no one was killed is irrelevant. My emails from the TV crew members and fans who spent all their money and vaca to travel to Richmond reflect the reality of this decision.


Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

DirectTV has a feature where you can set your DVR online at their website. Used it for the first time when I realized I had forgot to DVR the opening ceremony of the Olympics when I was traveling.

BruSimm said...

"At 9PM on Saturday night, the TV schedule listed none of the NASCAR TV changes for the weekend."

And as of the last 15 laps of the Nationwide race, my Cable schedule for ESPN says I'm watching the World Series of Poker.

Wow, considering these folk at the network are supposed to be at the top of the game, it's a bit disappointing to see how negligent they've acted in not updating their menu selections.

Ho hum... are we getting used to this treatment yet?

-Bruce Simmons