Sunday, November 9, 2008

Phoenix A Watershed Moment For ESPN Team

Update: There is a new post up that breaks-out the ABC Network TV switch issue for discussion. Just refresh your browser or click on the TDP logo above.

No one can blame the NASCAR on ESPN gang if they were a little grumpy and tired going into the Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix. It had been a very long season and there was only one more event in Homestead after the Sunday afternoon racing was over.

Instead of turning-in another bland effort, the entire ESPN team seemed to be energized and organized for the first time during the 2008 Chase for the Championship. It was actually amazing to see the changes in this telecast.

Allen Bestwick had Ray Evernham as the fourth member of his Infield Pit Studio team with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Bestwick did a solid job of setting the table for the race, including showing TV viewers the Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series highlights from Friday and Saturday.

The panel addressed a wide variety of issues from The Chase to the economy. Bestwick referenced the fact that Brian France had a press conference in Phoenix, but no video was shown to viewers.

It was the Producer and Director that changed the direction of this telecast. Suddenly, the ESPN pit reporters were interviewing the non-Chase drivers who were out of the race. During a brief rain delay, there was even a Tony Stewart appearance during an impromptu interview with Shannon Spake. Both of these things have been unheard of over the past eight weeks.

Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree have taken to adding race descriptions to their color analyst roles. Regardless of the reason, Jarrett and Petree have taken to filling-in the gaps left by Dr. Jerry Punch as he continues his low-key approach to his play-by-play role.

It was really the wonderful selection of cameras and the lack of hype that helped to make this one of ESPN's best races of the season. Stories were followed-up as well as can be expected and the crew tried at least twice to give a field rundown.

Even with the ticker at the top of the screen, this was a race where fans of non-Chasers may have been forced over to Foxsports or for some additional details in terms of live scoring. This is a hole in the ESPN coverage that something like RaceBuddy could fix where additional cameras are made available to TV viewers using the Internet. ESPN would be well-served to add an online component for next season.

Credit goes to pit reporter Dave Burns, who was clearly under the weather all day long but hung-in for the entire race. While not exactly pulling what has come to be know as "a DW," Burns was croaking his way through his updates and pit stops. Burns often flies under the radar, but he is a TV veteran who could hold his own in the studio or host role.

Just like earlier in the weekend, the audio from PIR was outstanding. It just worked well to complement the camera angles selected by the Director. There was no over-use of in-car cameras, no gimmicks like Draft Tracker and limited use of Tim Brewer in the Tech Center.

Allen Bestwick and his crew were used several times to provide updates and recaps of the race, but they cannot reset the field before a caution or during the race. Ray Evernham meshed well with the crew and brought a more technically-oriented perspective to the panel.

The stars of the show were definitely Jarrett and Petree. At this crucial time of the season, it helped to have former champions in the booth. Jarrett worked to keep things in perspective from an overall race viewpoint and Petree was outstanding in relaying the crew chief concerns of the Johnson and Edwards teams.

During the final red flag for a late race wreck, Bestwick took control and allowed Ray Evernham to offer his perspectives on the options available to those teams chasing Johnson. This is Evernham's strong point and surely makes him very attractive to ESPN as a possible full-time member of the TV team in 2009.

As the delay ran past 7:20PM Eastern Time, Bestwick informed viewers that ESPN was going to split the viewers into time zones. Eastern and Central time zone viewers had to move from over-the-air TV to cable and tune-into ESPN2.

Meanwhile, the Mountain and Pacific time zone viewers would continue to watch the ABC network feed. This served to effectively allow both groups to watch the race until the end. Only those in the Eastern and Central time zones watching ABC without cable TV access were left out of the equation.

Unfortunately, DirecTV got bit and had to pull their race feed because it was suddenly America's Funniest Home Videos. The driver channels had no problems, but the DirectTV control should have been up-to-date on this issue. It returned shortly before the end of the race.

When racing finally resumed with 23 laps to go, Punch again stepped aside and let Jarrett and Petree call the action. Their excitement is contagious and it really helped to bring this telecast home. ESPN failed to reset The Chase points at this time, which would have helped to set the overall picture.

Ultimately, the telecast staggered home through several more caution flags and ended at 8PM Eastern Time. Hopefully, the issues with later race start times will be something taken into consideration for next season.

What was your experience in watching this race? Only one race remains in the season, so let us know how you liked the ABC and ESPN2 coverage from Phoenix.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


SonicAD said...

Do you know why and/or are working on finding out why they had to cut away? It's absolutely ridiculous that they would have to do so, and I think myself and all the other fans watching want an explanation from ABC as to why they really had to do it this way.

BruSimm said...

We had a good race, and the closing laps were exciting, but the channel swap by ESPN / ABC was disappointing.

Advertiser responsibilities or what not, the East Coasts should not have been subjected to America's Funniest Videos in place of this intense race finish.

Bruce Simmons

alex said...

ESPN seemed to do pretty good for the first half of the race. But once it seemed there might be a problem at Hendrick, they went back into story mode and went to the script. One of the ESPN toys that bugs me the most is the in-car camera looking towards the driver. These cameras are pointless, and ESPN insists on using them during green flag racing, sometimes drivers together. If they must use an in-car camera, at least point it straight you can see something happening on the track. It's a waste of space as it is now.

As for the ABC/ESPN2 fiasco, I'll copy my thoughts from the race thread:

ESPN wonders why they run into these problems in the east coast. Maybe next year they won't schedule a race to begin in the late afternoon and expect it to end by 7:30.

When a football game runs long, the Nationwide race is shuffled to Classic sometimes. The never move a game because the race is about the start. Isn't there a provision in the Nascar TV contract that the cup series cannot be channel shifted? I guess not.

I find it hard to believe that Nascar would overlook that possibility in creating the contract, or can't put their foot down and make FOX/TNT/ESPN/ABC do it. They should be embarrased.

Nascar needs to cut their losses and get out of this contract. It will be better in the long run, because they're turning me backwards from die-hard fan to casual fan. At least there's only one race left.

Daly Planet Editor said...


On ABC the entertainment division owns the network at a certain time.

It has happened before. Luckily, just the Eastern Time Zone feed was affected. If that can be considered good news.

Those shows are contractually obligated and as Brad Daugherty would say, "its primetime baby!"

It might make for a fun race next Sunday. Same issue.

Richard in N.C. said...

I wonder whether anyone at ABooC considered the possibility of something happening to Carl and Jimmie wrapping up the championship on ESPN2 ?

Nan S said...

I'm watching Victory Lane on Speed so I can see some post race coverage.

Anonymous said...

Central time zone lost the race at 6:30 pm as well. I noticed it was mentioned only the eastern time zone lost race coverage, but central did as well. This was embarassing. I hope this doesn't happen next week during the Championship Event!

Richard in N.C. said...

It sure is a shame that NASCAR does not have a website so its fans can communicate their feelings to it with ease.

Sophia said...

AB DID mention EST and CST both would be changed.

Sorry if you missed was still annoying as all get out and will be IGNORED by NASCAR all week I am sure.

ALL IS WELL with the sport. :(
(sarcasm alert)

Kyle said...

SonicAD: They had to show America's "Funniest" Home Videos on the East and Central.

Jamie McMurray commented on that during his post race press conference in the PIR media center, I may do a small story on it on my website later on tonight on what he said once I get it transcribed and the post race story done...

Anonymous said...

If Brian France or anyone at NASCAR Media who negotiated their tv contract hold any misconceptions about the sport's rank as compared to NFL, MLB or even NBA, they need look no farther than tonight's debacle at 7:30pm eastern.
Dumping out of a "playoff" event for funniest home videos???
This would never happen in a pennant chase, an NFL playoff game or even a NBA playoff on network tv.
What a sad, sad commentary on the incpmpetence of the contract negotiators for NASCAR-and even sadder for fans who get jerked around.


Anonymous said...

@anon 8:10--I was thinking about that as well! Could you imagine what a mess that would be! I was reviewing all the settings for next week and the TV window is scheduled to run right up to 8 pm eastern...where Extreme Makeover:Home Edition is scheduled to start and it says "New" in the description.

Anonymous said...

Alert - words in CAPS are emphasis only-

Next year when e$pu takes over I will have Sirius radio. I can not have a dish where I live so it will be Sirius Radio for this apartment.
I will not put $$$ into espu/abc pockets with the Tivo recording races.

Let me start from the end - the part where a Sporting Event IN Progress was BUMPED in favor of a show which could have started later, AFV is not exactly the state of the union.

The PxP as done by Doc was uninspired and boring. Thank heavens for AP & DJ.

If you want to how I thought the rest of the race was - well- it was a smidgen better than last week. Not enough to get happy about. Even if e$pu got it PERFECT at this point it too little too late.

I'm disgusted by them, the disrespect, the patronizing, lowest common denominator "coverage" we have received by the "so called" world wide leader .....
"coverage" is SUPPOSED to HIGHLIGHT not cover UP the action on the track. No FULL FIELD recap, full screen of Chad, or whoever during green flag ( that means the race is going full throttle on the track) is covering up the race !!! THIS IS UN ACCEPTABLE.

I will not deal with it next year. BTW - I have been a race fan since childhood ( I'm 53+ now) so its not like I'm a casual fan.

I'm DISGUSTED with e$pu on abc

Vicky D said...

I can't believe that nascar/ABC can't figure out to start the races earlier so this wouldn't happen. And I'm glad I didn't have tivo set I would have been upset with the changes. For the most part, I thought the broadcast was better than previous races. They didn't keep up with the free pass cars though and I hate to sound so critical about a little issue like that.

ri88girl said...

What a huge difference. Last week, I left the race in the middle to watch a movie, that's how bad the ESPN coverage was. This week, with the lowest of expectations I tuned in again ready to jump ship if necessary. What I found was a solid if not brillent broadcast that was finally hitting on all cylindrs. Last week I couldn't wait for the season to end. Perhaps, after next week, ESPN will manage to leave me wanting more.

Like JJ, ESPN has stepped up and met the pressure. That pressure is interwoven all over the track, garage and media so that is no small feat. I wonder, if like some race teams and drivers, ESPN is feeling the economic crisis more accutely than we are aware.

I will add on caviat to my praise, if they snatch the football al a Lucy again next weekend, I won't be back next season. I'll spend my money on Hot Pass.

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SonicAD said...

Yes, I know they had to leave for AFV, but what I want to know is WHY. Sports overruns happen all the time on other networks, surely there should be something the in TV contract that allows for this, without having to bump it off the network.

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Anonymous said...

I'ma Johnson fan and the ESPN/ABC coverage was an abomination at the end.

Anonymous said...

Not once has FOX ever left before the race is over. NBC may have had post race on CNBC, but they waited until the race was over before they switched. I wish ABC would do the same.

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3bud said...

I have to say this seemed like a big step in the right direction for ESPN/ABC, cutting to AFV aside they seemed to get the whole idea today of following the race ,from on track to off the track they seemed to follow the race. I usually spend the majority of Sunday with The Allen Parsons Project on HotPass 796 following Jr. or going where Larry Mac is but the broadcast today on ABC/ESPN, seemed different and I followed it. They followed up on non chase drivers on and off the track.They showed racing where it was happening. Those simple things are what race fans want, plain and simple following of the race and that is what I pretty much saw.Maybe ESPN/ABC could make NASCAR their priority in their allotted time slot and give some leeway when things run over as they do on Saturday with college football.

ri88girl said...

Anon 8:37

I don't appreciate a personal attack and I chose not to comment on the network switch because the blunder is obvious and slef explanetory. I'm sorry you are having a difficult night.

Sophia said...

I find it bizarre that for DECADES watching a tv show like 60 minutes was a crapshoot for viewing or taping.

Just a fact on Sunday night due to football fans.

But AFV is more deserving than the end of the race?

No matter how good the FIRST part of the race was, regarding camera work, etc, it all negated backwards with the channel roulette game.

Let's face it TONIGHT we found out who won the champion this year (most likely)and those taping or DVRing got screwed again.

Thanks for the site JD and sorry you have been so busy today.


Anonymous said...
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ttc said...

JD: First off, you should have mentioned that November is a (ratings) sweeps month and unfortunately "America's Funniest Home Videos" gets higher ratings than Sprint Cup.

Here on the West Coast, I continued with the ABC affiliate but after a few minutes the High Definition was lost. So I switched to ESPN2 which was HD to the end.

Finally, for various (NFL) reasons, I watched most of the race without sound so I wonder: did the announcers ever explore the possibility of Jack Roush possibly ordering McMurray to allow Edwards to pass him for third place and five more points?

Daly Planet Editor said...

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Bluster said...

I definitely thought this was the best race coverage yet on ABC/ESPN. Yes, I'm annoyed that they switched the final half hour to ESPN2 but for the first time we got full race coverage rather than whatever story ESPN decided was important beforehand.

My biggest beef is with DirecTV. It's hard for me to imagine that they couldn't have foreseen that the race could run over and had a contingency plan in place. I enjoy listening to the scanner chatter and while I was able to switch to ESPN2 I think we got cheated.

That said, I still think that today's coverage was the best of the season for ESPN. Of course, as my mother always says, you can't fall out of a basement.

Newracefan said...

Today's race was heads above any others that ESPN has done, they sort of lost it at the end when the hard racing started and we got a few too many car camera shots. PXP still needs work but I could follow the race much better than last week. They moved off the leader when he was just logging laps and found racing. The switch to ESPN2 is an entirely different manner and totally unacceptable, we are talking AFV not the State of the Union as another poster stated. Dave Burns needs a shout out too he stepped up and they obviously gave him a rest because he was able to interview JJ in VL. Rest up, your helping to carry that Pit Road, Skeeking of pit road I thought Jamie and Shannon did well too.

3bud said...

JD the forum idea sounds like a great idea.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Network ground rules for live sports events are set in advance at operational meetings.

Windows are established for the events to run long and ground rules are published for every live event.

If Entertainment was on the air firm at 7:30PM on the East Coast then everyone knew the game.

This was not a ratings decision on the fly, because of the millions of dollars of advertising involved.

It should be interesting to see what ABC and ESPN say about it, suggesting that an earlier start time would elminate a lot of the headaches this season.


ccc said...

I taped the race on DVR so I missed the end completely because I had no idea ABC would switch the race over to ESPN2. Kinda hard to be a fan when you cant watch the entire race on one channel. They (espn) make such a big deal about NASCAR by forcing it onto Sportscenter but can't let one of the final races air to the finish. No way they do this during a college football bowl game that runs long. But what do we really expect from ESPN? Not much.

ri88girl said...


What about the fact that ESPN did a half hour commercial free. Did they plan that or couldn't they take the commercials with them? I thought this was one of the oddest things tonight, although very enjoyable.

Vicky D said...

RI88girl at 8:534 you mean that America's Funniest Home Videos were showing Old Spice Horse/Man, Cashew Girl & 20 Min Ab Commercials and we were ad free for once!

rich said...

JD, as usual a fair concise recap of the race broadcast. I have a new recording setup now so I was able to surf more and watched a good deal of the network broadcast with team audio via Hotpass. I was surprised that it was a different broadcast. Obviously someone in the truck was in charge who had some new ideas.
However in the final two laps there was way too much dead air. PXP was missing. Of course, the overrun and resultant shifting of networks was expected.
I think that we will see much more of Ray next season.

Newracefan said...

Dot did you notice your personal chase has shown signs of improvement. 47 is in 84 is out.

Excellent VL by the way, Jimmy on why Jamie didn't move over and give Carl the spot "because we are real racers". Too funny.

bevo said...

Well to comment on the actual race coverage I'll get one thing out of the way. The switch was bad but that is a corporate thing.

As far as the nuts and bolts go from what I saw on HotPass looking at the ESPN box and switching to the audio occasionally they made vast improvements. They showed more action going on in the pack and not as much in-car camera shots. DJ and AP were really into describing the action. The replays caught all of the incidents from multiple angles. They filled the red flag time well and the interviews didn't go too long, they avoided that dreaded "one question too many" they've been guilty of in the past.

For the HotPass coverage the big mistake was the national feed not making the switch and the loss of the driver to crew audio. The driver channels were fine including the box with the national feed which I don't understand. Larry Mc did a superb job once again as a play-by-play guy as well as Randy Pemberton. Wendy did a great job getting information on the 20 car which they weren't even covering. It doesn't matter which HotPass channel you watch, you get great coverage of the whole race.

Hopefully ESPN can keep this momentum for next week. It's just a shame that it took them so long to improve.

Andrew said...

I missed the end of the race because I wasn't home this afternoon, and just TiVoed it to watch tonight.... missed the last 40 laps because ABC decided that AFV was more important than NASCAR! Very disappointed, and this furthers my strong dislike of NASCAR coverage by ESPN/ABC.

Anonymous said...

SonicAD said...
Yes, I know they had to leave for AFV, but what I want to know is WHY. Sports overruns happen all the time on other networks, surely there should be something the in TV contract that allows for this, without having to bump it off the network.

November 9, 2008 8:28 PM

This is November sweeps, the ratings period where the networks set their advertising rates based on the ratings they get for their programming during this portion of November. Obviously ABC feels they will get higher ratings for America's Funniest Home Videos than they will for NASCAR. They probably looked at the ratings data from last year when making this decision. Networks are suffering just like the rest of the economy, and every tenth of a point counts.

Compare the ratings of Saturday Night College football on ABC (great ratings and getting bigger) and the ratings for NASCAR (not so great and not growing) and you can see why the entertainment division made the decision about its primetime real estate.

I disagree with John that this has happened before. It did not happen during the last races of the Chase in 2007, though IIRC another race was moved because of rain. Last year ABC gave NASCAR the benefit of the doubt and let the race/postrace run over into America's Funniest Home Videos during the Chase when AFHV was scheduled to begin at 7 PM EST. None of the last Chase races were moved for AFHV and ABC didn't rush off the air after Homestead; they had a good postrace.

This year, they are not doing that. That's a big hint for NASCAR. All NASCAR can do is get the hint and move the start times for these last three races back to 1 pr 2 PM EST, like they should have in the first place.

Still, it's very embarrassing for NASCAR and it's disrespectful to the race winner. JD, I'm VERY surprised you are not upset about this; you seem unusually calm about this. I personally think it's ridiculous that they dumped out of a live sports playoff event for AFHV. Half the nation got dumped; those with DVRs, even manually programmed with extra time, did not get to see the end.

IMO, a NASCAR TV blog should be absolutely outraged about that. Those fans got no notice, or nothing in the news or on Jayski letting them know "If the race runs one minute past 7:28 PM, it will go to ESPN2." If the NASCAR broadcast team knew this (and JD, how are you so sure that they knew? I'll bet you the NASCAR broadcast team and NASCAR itself didn't have a clue, based on the precedent set last year) they should have shared that with the media so fans would be aware of it this morning.

The fact that the West Coast got to keep watching should be no consolation.

This sets a very bad precedent.
It will be quite entertaining to see what NASCAR does about it. I doubt they have the pull to do anything right now, except start the race at Homestead about 45 minutes earlier next week.

BruSimm said...

Did I just hear Bill Weber make some sort of case for a separate points system for the Cup Chasers themselves?

Sophia said...

for hours before the prerace show on Abc (which I never watch) were 3 or 4 hours of INFOMERCIALS.

why can't they make the race earlier?

I am outrage about the channel switch due to empathy for those taping or dvring who were SHOCKED to miss the end...let's face it if you tape or dvr, you try to avoid all news until you watch your show (and tape a piece of paper at the bottom of a station that runs a crawl if watching another sport) :)

Anonymous said...

Headline of David Poole's Race Rewind column on

Billions to put NASCAR on TV and viewers get this?

Poole's comment:

Hey, watch this! Sorry, just kidding

As an 18-minute red flag comes to an end, ABC bails on the final laps and dumps the Sprint Cup telecast to ESPN2 so ABC can get to the last half-hour of an episode of "America’s Funniest Videos?"

Make up your own joke here."

Anonymous said...

except for any inconvenience to people who were dvr'ing the race, i truly fail to see the big deal in making the switch. what is the big deal?

SallyB said...

I thought that ABC must have had to start their broadcast of "Heidi" to switch the race to E2.

Anonymous said...

coverage was decent for a ABC/ESPN production. Studio was top notch, ray has to be in there full time from now on. Still gotta put punch back in the pits, and put someone exciting in that play by play role that can blend in perfect with dj and andy. DJ and Andy are quickly becomming 2 of the best commentators in the sport

Anonymous said...

Unbelieveable - NASCAR wants to be a big league operation?
There is NO excuse to leave a national network feed with a few laps to go in a major race for "America's Funniest Videos".

Does the NFL do it? NO - they hang on and the network prime time shows run late.

Brian France and his "team" should be ashamed. Another nail in NASCAR's coffin with rating going down down down.

Daly Planet Editor said...

anon 9:12PM,

The reason I am not upset is because a big part of my early TV career was in a department called Network Operations.

Before a live sports event takes to the air, ground rules are established that everyone knows.

In this case, this is the second season that the race started around 4PM Eastern.

Unlike cable TV, ABC is comprised of different disivions. The Entertainment Division was scheduled to be on the air at 7:30PM for the East Coast.

Once the race ran up against this "window," ABC sent the East feed viewers to ESPN2, which is a basic cable network.

Affected were East and Central time zone fans without cable TV or fans recording the race on a DVR or TiVo for later viewing.

It was clearly the best decision keeping in mind that the 7:30PM primetime line-up was not going to move back in time.

This race had a 30 minute rain delay and a red flag for an accident that took 20 minutes to clean-up.

If these two events had not occurred, things would have been fine.

Fox saw a baseball game cause havoc earlier this season. ESPN had to be bailed out by SPEED when they ran out of networks for a Nationwide Race. Bestwick has hosted multi-hour rain delays that moved entire races to cable. It's just live sports on TV.

I am happy ESPN re-focused their coverage and did a much better job with the first 85% of the race.

Unfortunately, the reality of trying to put NASCAR on a broadcast TV network like ABC (which I was not in favor of) is going to continue to cause logistical problems down the road.

Rain in Homestead should be fun....


Richard in N.C. said...

I will have to check Poole's column as I do not recall his ever having criticized ABC or ESPN at all in the past.

Dot said...

Boy, you guys have been busy. I go to the store, eat dinner, do dishes and I'm this far behind? lol

@ Bluster, I like your mom. Any more Momisms?

@ nrf, thanks for the info on my Marcos. I hadn't gotten a chance to see the OPs.

@ JD, this is why I like your site. Fellow fans looking out for each other.

JD, you answered my question during the race about the feeds. Does ESPN/2 run the same feed all over the country? Is that why the race was on there and ABC on the west coast? (A tidbit here, Nevada is supposed to be on Mountain time. It isn't beacause of the CA tourists. Gotta give them that extra hour).

If Direct TV/Hot Pass was trying to get fans, from what I've read, losing coverage isn't a way to get them to sign up. I'll keep my cable/phone/internet package.

Regarding earlier start times, wasn't that NASCARs idea to start them later? If so, they should rethink that idea. I would have no problem watching a race at 9:30/10 am.

Anonymous said...

Anon@ 9:30, what makes it such a big deal is that live sports overruns in other sports do not get treated like NASCAR, especially during the playoffs.

Other than the FOX baseball game earlier this year mentioned by J.D. (not a playoff), can you think of a playoff game in NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. you've watched in the past few years which has asked you to move to another channel late in the game, when it's run long or had a weather delay? No, they just keep playing and the primetime schedule is pushed back. Except...for NASCAR.

It's a status thing. After today, NASCAR can now be plainly viewed as low on the sports status totem pole at ESPN/ABC (at all the networks, I guess) and sinking lower. Don't think tonight's actions - moving a live in-progress playoff sporting overrun in order to broadcast a taped entertainment show - won't be noticed by execs (and the commissioners) in other sports, execs at other networks, and advertising/sales execs who buy time with Sprint Cup.

Ask yourself if this would have happened in another sport and you'll realize why it's a very big deal.

Adam T. Martin said...

"the in-car camera looking towards the driver. These cameras are pointless, and ESPN insists on using them during green flag racing, sometimes drivers together. If they must use an in-car camera, at least point it straight you can see something happening on the track. It's a waste of space as it is now."

Agree. Who thought that was a great idea?

Heaven help us if we must miss America's Funiest Home Videos (sarcasm). That is why NASCAR must start the races earlier despite time zones.

Luckily, I changed it to ESPN 2 and despite the staggered telecast, I didn't feel like shaking my head in disbelief this weekend.

-Good coverage in the pits
-Nice finish
-nice pictures and audio (can we ditch the top 40 bumper music? Annoying and unfitting.)
-I just enjoy Andy and Dale together.

Hope these improvements can pave the way for a much needed change in the booth. Position swap anyone?

darbar said...

Why is it that ABC doesn't seem to have contractual issues with their Entertainment Division when it comes to their coverage of other sports? If sports that ABC covers, such as golf or football or whatever, goes into overtime, they merely push back their primetime shows and start them later. CBS seems to have no problem with this, and neither does Fox. If the NFL runs over their allotted time, you can bet that 60 Minutes will start at 7:30 rather than at the appointed time of 7. So, why does ABC's Entertainment Division choose not to do this?

Daly Planet Editor said...


See if this makes sense. Broadcast TV networks like ABC send a satellite signal to local TV stations who then send it to homes in the area over-the-air.

Cable TV networks do not have local stations. The satellite signal ESPN sends from CT goes directly to the cable systems across the nation and right to your home.

Networks like ABC provide the national programming that local TV stations use in the morning, during the soap opera block, during primetime and then during late night.

Stations do their local news, community programming and lots of local syndicated shows like Oprah and Dr. Phil. The stations themselves are a little business.

Cable networks are powerhouses. They are on the air 24 hours a day, do not have FCC regulations to deal with and can basically do what they please in terms of starting and stopping programs.

That is why many of us objected when NASCAR decided to move the races to broadcast TV. We all know red flags, rain and sometimes numerous caution flags can sometimes delay races for hours.

That does not work well for either the local stations or the broadcast networks. This new ABC deal has been a learning exprience for ESPN and it has been a rough one.

Hope that helps a bit with the difference between over-the-air broadcast networks and cable sports networks.


Matt said...

I would just like to second the shoutout to Dave Burns.. very underrated.

Daly Planet Editor said...


ESPN gave him an opportunity to host a couple of NASCAR Countdown shows when the Nationwide Series had stand-alone races and he hit it out of the ballpark.

If things shift in the off-season, he might be a good candidate to move into the studio.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Because like I said it is all planned well in advance.

Everyone from NASCAR to the sales department to the race producer are on-board with what will happen if it rains, is cancelled or runs long.

Tennis, golf and NASCAR are the sports that drive TV networks completely nuts.

I once worked a Davis Cup tennis match with Andre Agassi that went for (I kid you not) eight hours live.

It just sports...

kang said...

Yes as the column said Espn needs an online component.Put the "points now" trash online.ESPN can name it to get them to put the time interval back up.

Anonymous said...

I may be the only one here living in the Stone Age, yet still having access to a computer. To explain, my local affilate, KVIA, El Paso, Mountain Time Zone, went to local to news at the bottom of the hour instead of continuing with the race. While they certainly have some lovely young women working on-air at the station, I really would have prefered to see the end of the race, as opposed to reading about it.

JD, from my perspective, I must say that for improvements were made in the broadcast that you enjoyed and your understanding of network obligations, you have still totally missed THE story of today's race.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
That is why many of us objected when NASCAR decided to move the races to broadcast TV. We all know red flags, rain and sometimes numerous caution flags can sometimes delay races for hours.

The Nationwide Series faces similar problems with delays, moves, and preemptions when broadcast on the cable network ESPN2, does it not? As do Cup activities such as practice and qualifying. I don't think it's so simple to say that the broadcast networks are the issue. Something bigger - something dealing specifically with NASCAR - is underlying there. As noted above, FOX and NBC (until the last year of its contract when it moved NASCAR whenever it could) dealt with long races running into primetime or local news.

The shift made USA TODAY's Sports TV Column (for Monday's paper):


NASCAR's ABC race Sunday was shifted to ESPN2 in the Central and Eastern time zones at about 7:28 p.m. ET. Says ESPN's Mike Soltys: "We're protecting the ABC prime-time lineup and offering a good alternative."

lacboi said...

NASCAR and abc just lost a fan tonight.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:32PM,

Do you not have ESPN2 on your cable system?

I am sure that the issues with ABC extending beyond the scheduled time are going to keep popping-up over the next several days.

I don't know if you were here with us last season, but the ABC portion of the schedule was a disaster. Some TV stations went to news even if the last laps of a live race were in progress.

As I said in my earlier post, I am not a fan of NASCAR on broadcast TV.


Bluster said...

Dot said...Bluster, I like your mom. Any more Momisms?

She's got a few good ones, which I'll save for when they're appropriate responses to what's going on. *g*

Anonymous 9:30pm said...except for any inconvenience to people who were dvr'ing the race, i truly fail to see the big deal in making the switch. what is the big deal?

The inconvenience is that there are still some people who don't have access to cable and therefore don't have the option of switching to ESPN2.

Plus I think it's far more than an "inconvenience" when people who record a race invest 3 to 4 hours watching a race they've recorded only to find they won't get to see the end of the event. I don't care what sport it is but if I've invested that much time and the network cares so little about me as a viewer that they dump the ending it makes me far less likely to mess with trying to record the next event, even if it is the season finale.

Dot said...

@ JD, thanks. I get it now. So why would NASCAR agree to ABC knowing that their programming would bump the race coverage? Another one of the Emperor's brilliant ideas?

With rabbit ears coverage going away next year, won't TV viewers just get cable? I've heard about those converter box things. Does that mean they'll still only get regular TV channels? Does anyone know people without cable? Watching TV without even basic cable seems so primitive.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:32PM,

The ESPN issues with the Nationwide Series races are completely different.

You are talking about two cable TV networks (ESPN and ESPN2) that carry live sports programming.

The Nationwide races are simply shifted to ESPN Classic, the third network if live events are still in progress on ESPN and ESPN2.

This local station issue is a sports show running up against a huge primetime lineup that is simply a concrete wall of money and ratings. It will never move.


bevo said...

Just to add on to your point JD about an online presence for ESPN and NASCAR. Look at what NBC has done for Sunday Night Football with the NFL. Combine that with a RaceBuddy-type application. Maybe the redisign of coming in January can facilitate that.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Originally, NASCAR and ESPN thought it was for higher ratings.

Don't forget, we had the same exact thing with Fox and TNT.

We have been yelling about later start times for two years now.


haus20 said...

JD, If I understand everything correctly, this is really an example of a poorly written TV contract by NASCAR.

As others have said, beside Fox moving a baseball game for another live sporting event (NASCAR race), I also can not think of one NFL, NBA or MLB game being moved because of overrun. Obviously their TV contracts are written differently. NASCAR should take some notes.

I was one that was affected by this as I just finished watching the race on my DVR. Fortunately, I was recording the HOTPASS ABC/ESPN feed so I only missed a little bit of the race. I must say that other than this issue, the coverage was probably the best that ABC/ESPN has had so far.

Dot said...

One thing I forgot to mention. Doesn't prime time start at 8pm? At least here it does.

SonicAD said...

haus: I can think of one just a couple years ago. An NHL playoff game on NBC was bumped to Versus when it went into overtime for an hour of horse racing pre-race.

The difference there was that, at least, the horse racing contract preceded the NHL contract, so even though it was a pretty bad situation, I can understand their reasoning.

In this case, however, NASCAR obviously made a big mistake when it came to this TV contract, because they should've had something put in there to make sure this wouldn't happen. I'm sure they were livid about it.

SonicAD said...

Networks start their primetime at 7PM on Sundays.

Anonymous said...

I think the comparison with NASCAR/primetime AND NFL on CBS/Fox primetime is a little unfair. As someone mentioned earlier, NASCAR's ratings have not done as well as execs/whoever cares would like to see.

Why doesn't the NFL get bumped to another network? The NFL is big ratings for these networks. And for CBS, as an example, a game running late means a good overrun of viewers going into their primetime lineup, something that NASCAR on ABC/FOX can't guarantee.

While start times should be taken under better consideration, the priorities of the networks, aside of sports, usually gets in the way, meaning ratings and ad revenue.

Anonymous said...

What about people in hotels or college dorms who may not have ESPN2? And I can only imagine the groans in sports bars all over the country when they had to change the channel. The bars would have ESPN2...other places, I don't know.

And yes, Dot, there are plenty of "primitives" who don't have cable, and I expect those numbers to grow as cable is an expense that can be cut more easily in tough times than heat or food. There are basic cable packages out there that offer little more than the original ESPN, TNT and CNN. Some people are cutting back to those.

Dave S. said...

*Earlier start time--It was about 1:50 in Phoenix when the green flag fell. One reader doesn't have a problem watching a race at 9 or 10 a.m. People who go to church would.

*ABC should have let the race run the course and simply delay the prime time shows by however long it took. Remember Pat Summerall on old CBS football telecasts always saying "60 Minutes will be seen in its en-ti-re-ty"?

*On the other hand, the "Heidi" comparison listed earlier is moot. If, in 1968, you had the cable/satellite setup you have now, NBC could have shifted the last 1:34 of that Jets-Raiders game to CNBC and ran "Heidi" on time. ABC had that kind of option today.

Anonymous said...

Bob Margolis's (and Jamie McMurray's) opinion in his "Phoenix Observations" column on Yahoo Sports:
"It was a real slap in the face to race fans and a measure of the lack of respect that the ABC/ESPN network has for NASCAR and auto racing in general when it made race fans living on the east coast switch from ABC to ESPN2 in order to watch the final laps of Sunday's race.

"I can't imagine 'America's Funniest Home Videos' would take priority over us," Jamie McMurray said after the race. "I mean, I like that show, but I'd rather watch the race, you know?"

This manner of doing business isn't new for the network, which has a long history of displaying its lack of respect for auto racing. I can recall numerous times when I was forced to watch other sports to their conclusion on ABC or ESPN only to join racing in progress.

And please don't hand me the "it was still on live" on another channel line. Even CBS delays the start of its No. 1 show – 60 Minutes – when a football game runs long."

Dot said...

@ Sonic, thanks.

@ anon 10:55, I realize that there are folks without cable. And more will probably downgrade or get rid of it totally with this bad economy. I justify my cable expense as our major form of entertainment. I can't afford to gamble or much else either, so cable it is.

Sophia said...


My sister never watches tv except maybe a few hours a month..she does not have cable.

My room mate's mom and sister have the most basic cable packages but all can afford cable, just don't like tv and most of the rubbish on it. And are huge readers.

And NONE are into sports but my sister is a 'casual golf'fan and watches when Tiger Woods plays. :)

I think a band member in the band I listen to doesn't have cable either. They also don't have a cell phones in their families, or caller ID...just basic landline. They can well afford anything but in general, think tv stinks. :-)

I know they have friends that don't have cable either. And with converter boxes, some folks around here in a lucky location(according to a newspaper blog) gets about 18 stations for free, though some are the same network affiliate in two cities. That's handy when weatherman break in for a snowflake.

all those without cable mentioned DO HAVE internet. DSL.

But back to this blog, if you love racing you are out of luck without cable (no f1, no IRL, and other races)

i still think this was a HUGE ERROR though I understand JD's viewpoint as someone who was in the tv /biznesss.

But think how many we have not heard from yet that are just now finishing their tape of the race??

p.s. we rarely if ever go out to dinner, never buy/rent movies (I get all from library) and so cable is our 'entertainment as well.' Heck two tickets to a movie twice a month and snacks easily costs as much as basic cable. A small bottle of water at a local movie theater goes for 3.50 and a bag of popcorn the size of a lunchbag, 4.50.??????

So I can understand families justifying cable..especially since any sports lover cuts the budget watching from home...ANY sport.

Daly Planet Editor said...

You guys can try to compare it to stick-and-ball sports all you want, but almost all of the NFL and college games run right on time.

They are controlled by a clock and even have a set format for overtime.

NASCAR is a mess. One year a race could take three hours and the next year the same race could take six hours.

If you guys remember, I was advocating a NASCAR TV network that could finally give these series a home and pay them the attention they deserve. Here are some reasons why:

Fox Sports = no NASCAR TV shows.

TNT = no NASCAR TV shows.

ABC = no NASCAR TV shows.

SPEED = no Truck Series show, no daily or weekly news show.

ESPN = no Nationwide Series TV show.

Ultimately, this type of problem is either going to drive the sport down the drain or create a NASCAR TV network.

As of Jan 1st, the NFL, MLB, tennis, and golf all have dedicated TV networks. Even the NHL has an online network.

The type of problem that ABC experienced today is only going to go away when NASCAR airs the races on its own TV network.


Ben in NC said...

"Windows are established for the events to run long and ground rules are published for every live event.

If Entertainment was on the air firm at 7:30PM on the East Coast then everyone knew the game."

yeah well I didn't get the intra-office memo about that and neither did my DVR. You have got to be kidding me. It is like this sport is TRYING to drive me away. No pun intended.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please JD. NASCAR isn't that different than stick and ball when it comes to allotted length of the event. How many Busch/NW races have had the prerace show interrupted because college football ran long? And baseball games run over the allotted three hours all the time.

Most NASCAR events stay within their allotted times (or like college football or pro football, run 10 or 15 minutes over) because they ARE allotted longer broadcast slots than other sports.

You've never seen weather (rain, snow) delay a broadcast in BCS, NFL, or MLB? Remember that recent event called 'The World Series'?

Come on. This was a bad call by ABC. And it wasn't because NASCAR isn't stick and ball. It's because NASCAR isn't getting the ratings it used to get and its leaders have no influence and/or a poorly written contract.

The supposed unpredictability of the length of the race has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

As of Jan 1st, the NFL, MLB, tennis, and golf all have dedicated TV networks. Even the NHL has an online network.

The type of problem that ABC experienced today is only going to go away when NASCAR airs the races on its own TV network.

All of those entities - including the NBA which also has its own network - air all of their ***playoffs and major tournaments*** on network TV, TNT and ESPN.

If NASCAR doesn't do the same, it will disappear from the "major" sports world.

Sicklajoie said...

JD, I can't for the life of me believe that you're actually giving ABC the benefit of the doubt here. People that DVR'ed the race got royally screwed.
A lot of little stuff that you make a big fuss over - sometimes write entire columns about, and you try and take a situation like this and smooth it over??
I think the switchover that ABC did today was the worst move for NASCAR coverage all year.

TexasRaceLady said...

Dot said...
With rabbit ears coverage going away next year, won't TV viewers just get cable? I've heard about those converter box things. Does that mean they'll still only get regular TV channels? Does anyone know people without cable? Watching TV without even basic cable seems so primitive.

November 9, 2008 10:44 PM

Dot, there are a lot of people who simply do not have access to cable because they live outside the town limits. I'm lucky, because I can afford satellite --- large numbers of my neighbors can't.

They have to rely on at least a 75-foot antenna and hope they get some kind of signal from the local station 50 miles away.

Richard in N.C. said...

Some things never change. Contrary to Bob Margolis' accurate analysis, Lee Spencer makes it sound like ABC made the decision to switch because JJ was making the race boring.

I haven't watched it, but I do believe I get an NHL channel from Time Warner.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Anon 10:32PM,

Do you not have ESPN2 on your cable system?

When I said "Stone Age," I probably should have specified that I don't have cable. My fault there and now my post probably makes better sense. But my point still stands. The top-level NASCAR series really shouldn't get bumped like this.

Anonymous said...

A lot of little stuff that you make a big fuss over - sometimes write entire columns about, and you try and take a situation like this and smooth it over??
I think the switchover that ABC did today was the worst move for NASCAR coverage all year.

November 9, 2008 11:57 PM

Agreed. And it's the one getting the most notice. Based on the comments here noting the NASCAR writers talking about it, I Googled and found those comments and some more articles. I'm sure there will be even more over the next 48 hours. plenty of them (including Dustin Long's blog and Sports have great comments about it. The has comments from Rick Hendrick, and Jimmie Johnson among others, BTW.

Unlike this site, where this broadcast is apparently a "watershed moment" for ESPN/ABC for a completely different reason.

Anonymous said...

Last year ABC gave NASCAR the benefit of the doubt and let the race/postrace run over into America's Funniest Home Videos during the Chase when AFHV was scheduled to begin at 7 PM EST. None of the last Chase races were moved for AFHV and ABC didn't rush off the air after Homestead; they had a good postrace.

November 9, 2008 9:12 PM

That's why I simply don't believe NASCAR brass knew about this hard deadline for sending the second -to - last Chase race to ESPN2 when it wasn't in rain delay. I just don't. I think they were blindsided and I have a feeling we'll see some comments to that effect within the next couple of days.

Just because the folks at ABC Entertainment and - perhaps - ESPN elite level management were "all on the same page" about what they were going to do with the race doesn't mean they let ESPN on NASCAR and Mike Helton and Co know what page they were on.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Easy on the conspiracy theories. I am absolutely not giving ABC a pass at all.

Unfortunately, this was scheduled by NASCAR and ABC a very long time in advance. The Homestead race next weekend will not start until 3:45PM and that is Eastern Time.

Nothing has been right since NASCAR was convinced by the TV networks that later start times would help ratings.

Rather than focus on the problem of the race running beyond 7:30PM, it would probably be a lot more helpful to focus on the race not starting until 4PM Eastern.

I agree with all of your points, but there is no one who "made a call" or a decision to do this.

If the program ran beyond a certain time, it was going to cable and what I am saying is that both NASCAR and ESPN knew that a long time ago.

No one is giving ABC a pass on this, I am just trying to present a realistic example of the fact that these things are not done on the fly.

Now, Fox and baseball on the other Different story.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:17AM,

And how many of those writers have any kind of TV background at all?

No one is giving anyone a pass. You guys usually accuse me of hating everything ESPN. This is an interesting shift.

This stuff happens all the time in TV and it happened Sunday. Bestwick explained why and fans changed channels.

It stinks, but they handled it as well as could be expected.

If you took even a moment to actually read my column, you would understand that the coverage of the race itself by the ESPN crew was very good. That is the headline comment.


Bobby said...

I had set the DVR to record the race and allowed the extra time because I was out at a Point of Grace concert.

Didn't expect this Heidi move to happen, when you consider historically what the networks and NASCAR have done in the past.

But this is ESPN, and they've pulled a Heidi. Again. When I came home to watch the final 35 laps all I got was Home Videos.


The "Jamie McMurray Rule" NBC used in 2002 when the Lowe's race ran long (started at 4, finished at 7:30) is not adopted by ESPN. Fox has used the "McMurray Rule" a few times.

Fox imposed the McMurray Rule when the 2005 Nationwide race at Talladega went into 8 PM ET, and made history as the first NNS race to air on network prime-time. Note how Fox tried their hardest and even put the Auto Club 500 this year at Fontana into prime-time and late night attempting to even race through the weather.

It's ridiculous ESPN does this to sports fans. Their "franchise tag" for Desperate Housewives seems to have struck again.

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm sorry JD but to me on a day like this the efforts of the ESPN TV crew on-site in Phoenix (good or bad) must be put on the backburner.

This better have been the final nail in the coffin as far as ESPN's involvement in NASCAR goes. As if two years of pre-emptions, tape-delays, blackouts, and disrespectful and otherwise horrible coverage by ESPN weren't already bad enough, today's events finally crossed the line and pushed the envelope to the point that I don't think NASCAR can continue to "look the other way" or "bury their heads in the sand" any longer.

It is a complete disgrace that this television network again dumped a NASCAR race in-progress for other programming. Last year's Kansas Cup race ABC dump was tough to swallow, but at least in my anger I could understand the reasoning behind the decision. ABC just reached the end of its program window, it was pouring down rain, and the race might have never restarted. I felt the same way earlier this year when ABC dumped the Bristol Nationwide race. The dump was disrespectful but they had again reached the end of their program window, it was pouring down rain, and the race might have not finished for another 3-4 hours. In both cases the defense of "well, we didn't know if the race would finish or not so we made the safe call and didn't pre-empt the rest of the network's schedule for the day" at least made sense fundamentally.

Today's circumstances crossed the line however. To pull the plug while the cars were on the track and near the race's conclusion was completely inexcusable and totally disrespectful.

I'm not here to argue about what's written in the TV contracts. I'm not here to place blame on NASCAR for allowing such provisions to be in the contract, and on the flipside I'm not accusing ABC of deceiving NASCAR or anyone else. I'm not here to argue that Extreme Makeover isn't a better draw than NASCAR and I'm not here to argue about the concerns over local and national commercial revenue involved in primetime network programming.

What I am here to do is point out that what happened today was a terrible insult and injustice to NASCAR fans, the sanctioning body, the drivers, race teams, sponsors, and everyone else associated with NASCAR. We all deserve MUCH better than what happened to us today.

I made this point loudly during the Fox MLB vs. NASCAR issue at Phoenix earlier this year, and now that the shoe is on the other foot I will still hold the same stance. When fans of a major sport have dedicated several hours to watching a major sporting event, they deserve the right to expect coverage on that channel to be sustained through its conclusion (barring an exceptionally long delay), no matter what follow-up program stands to be pre-empted or cut into.

Today was not an excessive delay by any means, so the race should have stayed on ABC until its conclusion. Extending 30 minutes past a network's scheduled off-time to account for a minor delay should NOT be too much to ask for or expect from a TV network covering a major sporting event like this.

This wasn't a case like California in the spring when the race wasn't called until 2AM (which Fox did dedicate themselves to stay with, by the way) and this wasn't a case like Fox dumping last year's rain-delayed Mansfield Truck race for Major League Baseball (while I love the Trucks, I concede it is not a "major" event worthy of pre-empting MLB for). This was a major NASCAR Sprint Cup race (a Chase race nonetheless) running less than 30 minutes past an allotted program block and being dumped less than 30 minutes from its conclusion.

If this television network can not allow even the slightest wiggle room in their program lineup for major NASCAR races like these, they have no business covering this sport. Period.

It is time for NASCAR to man up, admit they made a terrible mistake by bringing ESPN/ABC back into the NASCAR fold, cut their losses now, and move on to greener pastures. What ESPN has done in the last two years has been nothing short of disgraceful and a complete failure. Period.

Anonymous said...

stricklinfan82, Who are you to make statements like that when you have no experience in television and have no involvement in the process?

JD said...

I constantly see comparos between NASCAR races and NFL football games. Folks constantly say NASCAR should follow the NFL model that's proven successful.

I'll concur to the extent that NASCAR Sunday races should green flag at 1 PM Eastern.

Another JD

Bill H said...

Guys you need to be more compassionate for the AFV Fanboys. How can just be delfish and think about yourself and not care about them getting their giggling baby or skateboarder meets hand rail fix?

And what about the hard core Texas Holdem fans? They where left wondering who won when their show was cut in 1/2 and now thay have to wait till tomorrow to watch it again?

On a more serious note, one more week of paying for's Raceday and DirecTv's Hotpass and then Nascar gets no more money out of me.

Next year I'll watch the race, if I have nothing better to do, but no more planning my weekends about such a poorly executed sporting event that is then overly hyped and badly broadcast.

Bill H - Once a Nascar Fan

JT said...

Someone said, ABC switched to AFV because the ratings were higher. That's pretty simple. I know most on this blog would find it hard to admit, but there are lots of people who prefer AFV to Nascar. Also, I find that with the later starts, I have a tendency to get involved with an NFL game or another activity around the house. When I switched to the race at 2:45 CST, the engines still hadn't fired. I agree with JD, Starting the races earlier seems like the logical fix.

Anonymous said...

stricklinfan82 said, "this wasn't a case like Fox dumping last year's rain-delayed Mansfield Truck race for Major League Baseball (while I love the Trucks, I concede it is not a "major" event worthy of pre-empting MLB for)." This kind of statement is why I love reading this blog. Everyone has a sacred cow and as long as it's not getting gored all is fine. I think many truck fans would disagree with SF82 and were as upset about that as yesterday's move.

Anonymous said...

Poole had a good theory: ABC used up all the commercials allotted to NASCAR programming. The money ran out so they switched. It's all about the mighty dollar.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Anon 12:17AM,

And how many of those writers have any kind of TV background at all?


Whether they have TV experience or not, they have the sense to know when something is amiss, as do the fans. So they wrote about it and are talking about it.

Since you have the TV experience, your next column should be a thorough explanation of exactly what happened last night, with quotes from ESPN and NASCAR - shouldn't it? Not what you think happened, based on past experience (the decision-making about moving the races has obviously changed from just last year, so how can you assume you know what happened?)Otherwise, your TV experience doesn't apply. I'm finding out more about this and more comments from ESPN from other places and other writers with no TV experience than I am at TDP this morning. We need to find out the current situation and if this is going to happen next Sunday. Is the championship celebration going to take place on ESPN2? Will it be moved mid-sentence if it goes past 7:28?

Anonymous said...

I live in Wyoming and it is Mountain time zone, and I had to switch to ESPN2 also to finish watching the race. That should never happen for any race!!! For Anybody, in any timezone.

Tom said...

Poole and company are having a field day with this today on the radio. Calls are mostly about this issue. Interesting to see wherethis leads.

Inverness, FL

GinaV24 said...

Unbelievable that a major network would switch from coverage of a live sports broadcast to go to a pre-produced show! Just goes to show you where NASCAR ranks for ABC/ESPN coverage. Really poor choice on their part -- do they really wonder why people are tuning out? Besides the lousy racing, that is -- and this was actually a pretty good race to watch -- better than Texas by far.

Uncle Dan said...

I don't know what race you were watching, but I thought the race coverage was typically awful. There would be a side by side battle and the cameras would leave that racing and go back to a single car while the announcers are talking about the cloud cover affecting the track. Seems the announcer talk ABOUT the race and instead of being IN the race. The only decent race coverage is on Speed and their coverage of the Truck Series. Those guys ALL know how to make it fun and exciting. Thank God for Speed and MRN.

GinaV24 said...

Network ground rules for live sports events are set in advance at operational meetings.

Windows are established for the events to run long and ground rules are published for every live event.

If Entertainment was on the air firm at 7:30PM on the East Coast then everyone knew the game.

This was not a ratings decision on the fly, because of the millions of dollars of advertising involved.

Everyone but the fans, that is.

Broomfield, Colorado said...

JD, I disagree with the coverage being great. It was almost an hour before they found out about Jamie McMurray's bad pit stop. And do you know who the reporter was that broke the story? Jamie Mcmurray.
I live in Denver, Colorado, and they switched to ESPN 2 as well.
One more race of patheticism.
At least Friday's race is on SPEED...

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me to see the attitude of race fans who constantly think they're being treated more poorly than other sports. I am a figure skating fan--ratings have become so low that this year, there is NO COVERAGE of the Grand Prix series except for Skate America. None. And even though I love skating, I understand that you are not going to get attention for sports that are not as highly has nothing to do with whether or not the fans or the sport is 'worthy''s simply a business decision based on ratings and sponsors. That's life. If I want skating, I could switch to broadband and watch the IceNetwork; it would be my choice if I thought it was worth it, but yes, I would have to pay a lot more for it (broadband, not the IceNetwork) and I don't have that kind of money.

Speaking of money--this is a little off topic, but I find myself wondering if some of the people bragging about their HD on their big screen TV's can still pay their mortgages? I have to believe the economy is going to have an effect on how many people can pay 'extra'. There are tiers out there for a reason. And I still think when February 17th rolls around, there are still many people who are going to be shocked that their TV's don't work anymore. Lots of people *already* can't afford even basic cable. I guess I'm just saying some of you act like HD is the norm of what everyone has, and it's just not true...I have to believe the percentage is relatively small.

stricklinfan82 said...

Anonymous said...
stricklinfan82, Who are you to make statements like that when you have no experience in television and have no involvement in the process?

November 10, 2008 2:39 AM

From 2001-2006 no single-day NASCAR race (Cup or Busch) was dumped to another network because of any kind of overrun. NBC pre-empted SNL and stuck with the '05 Pepsi 400 at Daytona until 3 AM. Fox was on the air at 2 AM with full intention of airing the final 170 laps of the spring California Cup race this year. Fox stuck with long rain-delayed Busch races until dark at Texas in 2002 and Talladega in 2005. Only once - 2001 at Charlote when conflict broke out overseas - did a single-day NASCAR race ever get moved.

Unfortunately now NASCAR is on a network that doesn't allow any wiggle room. 3 times rain has affected a NASCAR race on ABC and all three times the race was dumped - twice while the cars were under tarps and this time when the cars were on the track just minutes from the race's completion.

Not once did I ever suggest that ABC violated the terms of their contract, suggest that NASCAR didn't know it was coming, or suggest that it wasn't the right move from a dollars and cents standpoint (you know, the stuff someone with involvement "in the process" would talk about). The only thing I suggested is that NASCAR fans deserve better than a network that chooses to provide no wiggle room for even the slightest of delays. This network (for whatever reason, it's their right) chooses not to be flexible with their schedule when it pertains to NASCAR races, so in my opinion NASCAR should be elsewhere, on a network that would be.

I'm not saying that every TV network should be expected to stay until 2 or 3 AM like NBC and Fox have committed to do in the past, but I am saying that an extra 30 minutes should never be too much to ask for from a TV network covering a major sporting event like this, in my opinion.

And in my opinion I don't need to have a background in TV to find leaving a NASCAR Sprint Cup race with under 40 laps to go while the cars are on the racetrack fundamentally flawed and disrespectful to the sport and its fans, but you certainly have the right to your own opinion as well so we will have to agree to respectfully disagree on that one.

Anonymous said...

Why are you guys comparing the NASCAR TV contract to other Stick and Ball sports TV Contracts? If im not mistaken this is the same blog that always says not to compare NASCAR to stick and ball sports.

3KillerBs said...

Dumping a major live sports event that way was utterly unacceptable.

You said, "Before a live sports event takes to the air, ground rules are established that everyone knows."

You mean "everyone who is a TV insider with specialized information about how such things are run knows."

If setting a time to dump sports off the network is standard practice how about letting the people who matter, THE FANS, know? Put it right up front on Jayski with the rest of the race information.

Some of us have kids and those kids have lives -- meaning activities and commitments. This means that we tape/TIVO our beloved races when there is a conflict.

IF it is really known in advance that a switch will occur when the race runs long then give us the time that will happen so we can set our TV's to autotune to follow.

You simply cannot use insider information unavailable to even hard-core fans to justify a network's dumping a major, live sports event in favor of badly-made clips of people doing dumb things.

When a fan misses the live sports event its gone forever. No re-broadcast later in the week can take the place of not knowing how the race will come out.

When someone misses a pre-taped entertainment show they know they'll get to see it in re-runs later. That should be what sets the broadcast priority.

Bruce Simmons said...

Poor Dave Burns. I hope he gets well in time for next week.

I understand the technicality of a contractual obligation to move forward with programming.

I understand that other networks have handled similar situations differently, some better; some worse.

I also understand and am not surprised how ABC handled this event.

This is more than likely be an amazing historical event in the annals of NASCAR if Johnson takes a 3rd consecutive Cup home to Hendricks.

Something like that might have warranted a plan B on the event, if a plan B had ever been drafted.

When ESPN took over again, I pondered if they were going to do the same things they used to do when they had all the eggs in one basket way back when. I was surprised when they did / are.

When a scheduled college game ends on time, and then to preempt the pre-show for a 2nd game they jumped over to that was 95% over said it all some weeks ago. I can't recall the game or race... because I just chalked it up it be how ESPN handles this cash cow called NASCAR.

I can only hope that for however much longer ABC / ESPN holds this contract, that NASCAR addresses this loophole in their legally binding documents with ESPN and add an amendment to be able to provide excess coverage to events that run over, whereas ESPN treats NASCAR on a much more level playing field with it's other favored sports.

I'm ticked too... I agree with everyone on this fubar of a programming issue where an old, used up standard for television programming is held to it's time slot while NASCAR history was in the making.

I raised H*$$ when Fox messed up the earlier Phoenix race on many different fronts to the point that I got an email from someone higher up the food chain... But eventually, Fox seemed to care.

The bottom line, being an entertainment critic, is all about the advertisers, ratings, and the lead-in show on Sunday nights to trap viewers, keep them happy, and slide them into the next time slotted programming. AFV viewers aren't NASCAR fans and this is an unfortunate side affect from having outside pressures have the starting time pushed back to take advantage of ratings, viewers and other marketing demographics.

This economy sucks, and this may very well have been an affect from that with a hard lined approach to soothing the programming money.

Yes. It bites. Don't confuse my pragmatic observation with not being peed-off.

Bruce Simmons

3KillerBs said...

As for the quality of the ESPN broadcast? Who cares? Dumping the end to another channel invalidated any possible improvement they may or may not have made. I finished watching my tape less than an hour ago and cannot recall anything about the quality of the earlier broadcast because the magnitude of the final error overshadowed everything else about the race.

As for the race start times, while I dislike late start times on east-coast races (2pm is just right because I can get home from church and make lunch without missing the start), it is completely ridiculous to criticize a west coast race for starting early in the afternoon west-coast time.

David said...

I think it was horrible for them to swap the Playoffs of Nascar to another channel with few laps to go. I have heard on Sirius that NASCAR is not happy. Then let the faceless nameless "NASCAR" who is not happy relay this to people instead of through unnamed sources.
I am just over this lack of respect by ESPN/ABC and NASCAR for the fans that pay the bills. Which is those that watch on TV.. I am done...

glenc1 said...

I just want to say--I think one of JD's points is, IF the races were on ESPN, there wouldn't be as many issues as dealing with ABC, so I'd be all for putting them BACK on cable. NASCAR wanted its races on 'broadcast' TV, well, be careful what you wish for; it ended up back on cable anyways. And back in 'the old days' racing was not often on broadcast TV save the occasional 'Wide World of Sports' moment, or the Daytona 500 (and didn't CBS sometimes broadcast Michigan?)

Anyways, I get that a lot of people don't have or can't afford cable, but I think majority rules, like in most was no big deal to me to turn over, but I have sympathy for those who record--*however*--if it's a race I *really* care about, if I'm not home I will ask a friend or relative to make sure I get whatever broadcast is on in case of a delay, because you never know what kind of a wreck might happen, and it takes time to fix SAFER barriers or extricate cars from each other even if there's no rain in the forecast.

On the broadcast itself--I never had one of those 'geez, I have to turn on MRN' moments, so that in itself is a good thing. I admire Dave Burns' fortitude, but you'd think they could have switched the 48 team to someone who could talk (I get that they 'study up', but they ought to be ready to 'punt' if necessary.) But at least I knew he wouldn't ask how Jimmie 'felt'... I was glad they finally acknowledged Dave's voice with the 'valve spring' comment, that was funny.

As a fan of McMurray's, I'm bemused that he became part of the story...and fortunately today, they didn't ignore him...they even interviewed Larry Carter, that was a shock....of course, it was during the wreck delay...

red said...

just a quick comment that our daughter asked me to pass on to everyone: she's an IRL fan as well as a nascar fan. at the time the race was switched to the deuce, we were at a home that does not have cable (nor any sort of internet access so i was tapping into the default wi-fi netwrok in the area so i could at least keep up with TDP and know what was going on!) we had no options available to us for watching the finish of the race as a result. when i told her the race had been switched to the deuce with some 40 laps remaining, she answered:

"yep. just like they did to irl, except then, they put it on espn classic, which we don't have and i had to try and watch the rest of the race on the laptop. so, i know how everyone feels."

she then went on to criticize espn/abc for pretending they have a committment to showing a race to conclusion but jettisoning it as soon as it runs over. she even mentioned that "they never do that for football or baseball, do they? but racing? seems to be no problem for them."

she's 17 and she gets it.

(and anon @ 9:42AM: that would be the answer to your question. the comparison to stick and ball is NOT the event, the game, the race. it's to the broadcast CONTRACT and that is, in my opinion, what makes it a valid comparison.)

Anonymous said...

Im interested to see if this has anything to do with the sports events on ABC being produced by a seperate company. What I mean is when it was ABC Sports the ABC network had direct part of it. Now its "ESPN on ABC" with ESPN producing the sports. I believe if we were still in the ABC Sports era this would not have happend. I believe ABC told ESPN last night they HAD to leave the air and there was nothing ESPN could do. Its the ABC Network Execs. to blame here, not the ESPN production team.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this will be discussed on tonights round-table edition of NASCAR Now? Allen seems like a classy guy. Maybe he will give a real explanation of why they pre-empted the race.

David Saturley said...

My family and I got home about 7:30,left the SIRIUS in the car and ran into the house to watch the end of the race. By the time we found it, Johnson was waving at the crowd. ESPN/ABC let NASCAR fans know exactly where they stood last night. I'll be listening to MRN at Homestead and eagerly awaiting the return of FOX.

terri said...

I just have two comments on the race coverage itself:

Kudos to ABC/DSPN for finally talking to drivers as they leave the infield care center. I think they got everyone except Casey Mears.

But PLEASE enough of the "let's talk to Carl/Jimmie/whoever" on the in-car during a caution. PLEASE use the time to reset the field.


Adam T. Martin said...

"Its the ABC Network Execs."

Whomever it is, I still find it unacceptable. How they can keep jobs is unbelievable.

Also, I'm tired of "In-race reporters". I'll take it over the Digger Camera (Fox), but I can do without either of them.

NASCAR is to blame here too. They should have started the race earlier.

I'm also on board for the forum. Maybe the studio heads can stand up and take notice.

Switched over to ESPN 2 because of America's Funniest Home Videos? Unacceptable, unprofessional, and just plain dumb.

Everything is wrong with the sport and the telecasting.

I just needed to vent more.

diane said...

People should finally understand that Auto racing is not in the same league as football, basketball and baseball. No matter how many times Nascar spins the "XXX most popular sport", it just doesn't have the wide spread audience the other sports have here in the US.

The Indy 500 and Daytona 500 have a special status and would be shown to the end by a network, other races......

I was a huge WRC fan, but barely followed it the past several years because TV coverage was dropped.

Zieke said...

That was a pretty good broadcast by ESPN. I always enjoy Shannon's interviews because she is such a doll, but she seems to be asking much better questions as the season has gone on. Even Tony was quite cordial to her. I wonder why no one ever shows a complete restart from the in car camera, ie. seeing the speed increase and going through the gears until top speed is reached.

Anonymous said...

"Only those in the Eastern and Central Time zones watching ABC without cable TV were left out of the equation." ONLY! We were 2 of those (for philosophical reasons my friend does not have cable). I'm sure there were thousands more. With only a few laps left, we were most disappointed. And even more so when we heard what STUPID, non-timely show was coming on the air. America's Funniest Home Videos! Please. Give us race fans a break! Here it is the next to the last race of the season and ABC decides AFHV is more important than the race??????

Anonymous said...

The numbers are in - from

ABC’s Sunday line-up -- NASCAR (#2 : 4.5/ 8),

a half-hour edition of
America’s Funniest Home Videos (#3: 3.8/ 6)

The only thing that beat NASCAR from 7-7:30 was the CBS NFL overun...which was a 18.4 rating

Now lets see how ABC wants to spin this!

midasmicah said...

I keep hearing that only the eastern and mountain feeds were affected by ABC switching to ESPN2. Bull!!! I live in Sacramento, CA and when I came back from a rr break there was no race on ABC. No warning that I heard. I finally found it on ESPN2. What a joke. This is what you get when you sell your soul to the devil.

Rick said...

What an ignorant group of people making decisions at ABC/ESPN.

They are always chasing after and catering to the elusive casual fan, but miss out on this opportunity to grab the attention of the casual fan by pushing back their primetime schedule and letting the race complete on ABC.

If they had just left the race on ABC who knows how many new fans could have been made by just letting them watch the last 40 laps of the next to last race of the season.

peggyann said...

Andy Petree was a total gem in the coverage. DJ was good, as usual. They both are tactful in covering the dumb things Doc (who I loved when he was a pit reporter) says.

As I am a person with a disability, watching NASCAR is important to me. But all the folks in here who are carrying on so about the station switch should deal with some real problems. It wasn't that big a deal. The race was shown later on ESPN2, I believe.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a now a new post up to continue the topic of the ABC Network switch without the other TV production issues.

I will also be talking with Dave Moody on Sirius Speedway at 3:40PM ET today about all the excitement.

To see the new post, just refresh your broswer or click the TDP logo at the top of the page. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

This is why I set my DVR to tape "The Amazing Race" on CTV, not CBS. Every other week, football pushes "60 Minutes" and the rest of the CBS lineup back at least twenty minutes.

I must imagine some of the drivers yesterday didn't appreciate Dave Burns leaning in to them and spraying them with his germs!

Did I hear there's a hurricane coming to southern Florida next weekend?

alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alex said...

That's because they don't have an in-car camera that actually points forward.

Anonymous said...

In the defense of Hot Pass, the regular driver channels (24/48, 99, 88, 29) never lost the ABC feed. They made the switch. These are the channels that 95% of the viewers watch.

They have an additonal channel called the SuperChannel which is essentially ABC broadcast with the option of listening to in-car audio of the top-12 plus a few fan favorites (like having a scanner at home). That is the signal which was delayed in getting switched.

Paul said...

Did anyone hear Dr. Punchy welcome the WEST Coast audience to the ESPN2 telecast? He MUST go. Alan Bestwick would do a wonderful job...

Anonymous said...

All of these sorts of problems can be traced back to the NASCAR TV contract.

NASCAR needs to codify the conditions under which its races are shown, i.e., all the Chase races must be shown live in their entirety on the ABC network, etc., and specify heavy penalties if these rules are not followed.

Considering how this network treats NASCAR coverage, it's obvious they didn't do that.