Saturday, December 27, 2008

NASCAR TV Needs To Continue In December And January


Saturday, it was NASCAR Now Lead Reporter Marty Smith breaking the news that Elliott Sadler was out at GEM and AJ Allmendinger was in. Click here for the story.

He told NASCAR fans the details on the ESPN.com website. Where else could he do it? NASCAR Now was long since off the air.

There is so much going on right now in NASCAR and so many questions to be answered that fans are looking to the NASCAR TV partners for answers. They find none.

SPEED discontinued The SPEED Report , Wind Tunnel and This Week In NASCAR for the winter and is exposing TV viewers to marathons of "lifestyle reality" programming like Pinks and Living The Low Life.

ESPN did get Marty Smith to appear on ESPNEWS several times during the off-season, but those sporadic reports cannot make-up for the fact that NASCAR is certainly generating enough news for a weekly version of NASCAR Now.

There are several sports that have regular programs on ESPN when the season is not active in terms of events in progress. NASCAR should be one of them. Especially, when this year is crucial for ESPN in terms of generating enough viewership early in the season to make things pay-off for the network during The Chase for the Championship. The final seventeen Sprint Cup races are on the ESPN/ABC family of networks.

Apparently, one weekly TV show on SPEED of even thirty minutes in length focusing on the NASCAR news is too much to ask of a TV network that just spent millions renovating a building and then moving north of Charlotte to be closer to the NASCAR shops. That irony is not lost.

The question TDP asked during the last off-season still fits. Why do fans need any of these seasonal NASCAR news shows when websites like Jayski and others always provide up-to-date information about the sport all year long?

This is a new era of instant communications and without a year-round commitment of ESPN and SPEED to keep NASCAR news on the air fans might not be inclined to return.

Instead of dumping NASCAR like a hot potato after the banquets, perhaps taking some time to fan the embers of the remaining interest in the sport might have been a better idea.

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39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am ashamed to admit this, but I hadn't heard that Sadler was being replaced by AJ. I guess that proves your point about the news vacuum.

I know your post addresses the bigger issue of news and not this specific news story, but I would be remiss if I didn't state that switching out Elliott for Allmendinger has got to be one of the worst management decisions I have ever read about in racing. Maybe I am missing something, but I don't know why you would take a reliable driver with a solid fan base and weekly TV time on Speed who is known for appearing in ads for his sponsors, and replace him with a mediocre driver with a smaller fan base, no television commercial experience, and arguably much less talented behind the wheel. Sorry for that mini-rant, but this switch makes about as much sense to me as RCR switching Jeff Burton for Michael McDowell!

Newracefan said...

Wow this is a hugh developement, Elliot is a well liked driver and there is a possibility he's out of a ride for 2009. (I'm thinking that he will be in somewhere but still) Too bad there isn't even a 30 minute Speed Report or Monday NN to give us all the scoop and possibilities. I wonder when ESPN, Speed, etc will figure out Nascar fans don't hibernate from Nov to Feb.

GinaV24 said...

Well, that was news to me about Sadler and AJ. And it goes to your point that somebody needs to be producing a news show on NASCAR during the off season. Especially this year with all the tough things going on with the economy and the race teams instead of us having to find things out piecemeal.

Sophia said...

thanks for telling us about this story and reminding some of us how TOTALLY USELESS SPEED CHANNEL IS in the off season...sigh...(kind of like it is DURING the season Tue-Thurs)

All that worthless "Fake reality lifestyle show junk"...I have to say I would NOT watch a NASCAR show on BS PN in the off season...unless a certain reporter was on it...E.H.

But on the other hand, I LIKE AJ and am glad to see him get this chance though many online apparently think otherwise.

I hope SADLER gets a ride elsewhere but at least he has a tv gig part of the year. And is a sponsor friendly kind of guy.

Matt said...

I think there is this belief that with the internet, there is no need for TV shows during the winter. However, TV execs need to realize that we want to hear more than the headlines, we want someone to explain why this happened, we want background info, interviews with those involved, etc. You can't get that from a 10 sentence article posted on a website. In the 90s TNN used to give us two 30 min NASCAR/racing shows every Sunday during the offseason, so there's no reason SPEED or ESPN can't give us 30 min show.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice for SPEED Channel to make The SPEED Report all year round. I hate to compare ESPN and SPEED Channel, but SportsCenter is ESPNS stable program and is on the air year round. The SPEED Report has been around since SPEEDVision days (with different names of course) and is also the staple of SPEED Channel. I really think they NEED to make it year round. I think ratings would be good. It gives people more of a reason to watch SPEED in the offseason. I find myself watching SPEED never during the offseason.

NorCalFan said...

I was shocked to read on Jayski of Sadler being replaced by Allmendinger. I'm a fan of both drivers so although the sport is going through tough economic times, I hope Elliott can secure another ride for next year.

I've had BSPN on with college bowl games most of the day and their tickers haven't had any NASCAR news. Maybe there will be some mention of it on BSPN News (which I don't watch). If TV execs think in the off-season since NASCAR is "out of sight it's also out of mind", they couldn't be more wrong.

Gymmie said...

@anon 6:53--I saw a tweet earlier (what we call the messages on twitter) and that's how I found out first. Then I checked the SPEED Boards and saw a post there. What Lee said in her column was that AJA's performance in the 10 car is probably what lead to this change. He out ran both Elliott and Kasey.

I agree JD that we need these shows. Unless I accidentally learn that something is worth watching on any of the ESPN channels I don't even look at any of their news or other programs.

Anonymous said...

Wow people...it shows that some fans are driven by personality and not driving talent. The last 5 races of the season
AJ- 15,14,26,16,11
Elliott-41,25,35,30,28
Same team,same equipment AJ just blew him away.
New cars take different thinking as far as the driver's feedback on shocks and geometry. It takes more driving talent than personality to get by with the new cars.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone thought that after 38 weeks on the road, the announcers/hosts/talent (whatever you want to call them) are burnt out? Tired? Need time at home with family? While I would love to see a weekly show during the offseason, the only thing that comes to mind is who would do it? For SPEED, Byrnes, JR and the likes just did all the weeks. For BSPN, the NN crew was on all the time. Maybe it's more feasible for NN to be on once a week since Ryan Burr is now seen on other time slots. Anyway, just wanted to throw out my take on why we don't see anything. Although money does talk so maybe SPEED could pay up and get someone to host.

SallyB said...

It amazes me how Nascar totally disappears from television once the banquet is over. There are still programs for baseball during the off season, and most sports are covered with some regularity when they aren't actively competing. I guess this just proves to Brian france just how 'highly regarded' Nascar and it's fans are with the networks that have taken over telling Nascar when and (to an extent) how to run their sport. Tehy spend the race season expecting fans to support their programs, yet totally ignore us once they stop selling ads for the races. While we all know how this attitude manifests itself during the race broadcasts (too many ads, limited covewrage of the field, late starting times), we now have the perfect example of this during the off season. And they wonder why we have no great love of the TV networks?

bevo said...

I don't think there is enough content for just a NASCAR show on a daily basis this time of year BUT there is more than enough for a total motorsports show ala RPM2NITE. I know I'm sounding like a broken record wanting RPM2NITE back but this is just one of the many stories they could be reporting on.

The NHRA is having huge problems with sponsors dropping out and teams going belly up. Rod Fuller and Melanie Troxel are out of rides, Larry Dixon will be driving for Alan Johnson's new team and they are looking at a shorter season. Andretti Green racing is in GP1 and Danica Patrick will get behind the wheel for a couple of those races. F1 is up to their usual off-season intrigue.

Bring back John Kernan and start covering these stories.

Anonymous said...

Did Speed(vision)not leave Stamford, CT back in 2002 just so it could have better access to the drivers and teams for their programming? It looks like that lasted all of about 5 years only to have us fans getting no NASCAR programming (other than at the track) from Speed.

earl06 said...

9:30 Sunday morning and SPEED.com doesn't have anything about it. Besides being cluttered with crap and difficult to navigate, the website is a bit slow on the uptake.

Why is it that SPEED.com and NASCAR.com are two of the worst websites on the net?

Jayski hasn't changed his format in years and it blows these sites out of the water as far as content goes. I think Turner and SPEED vastly overestimate how many folks are looking for some sort of "multimedia experience" when they go to a site. 99% just want information, not a bunch of crappy slideshows and flash videos.

Anonymous said...

Wow people...it shows that some fans are driven by personality and not driving talent.

Yes...and sometimes, that is what people want. Looks at Michael Waltrip. Sponsors (and fans) love him, but you know his record.

Sadler is well-known, well-spoken, and high-profile despite his record. People know him and like him.

Sometimes, that's worth more than having a guy who does better on the track in your car..as GEM is about to learn.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is enough content for just a NASCAR show on a daily basis this time of year
I disagree. Sirius NASCAR radio fills an entire day, every day, so if you whittle that down to a half-hour's worth of content, you'd fill a show nicely,

majorshouse said...

I was suprised to hear this about Sadler too and wish that we had at least one weekly show during the off season to keep us abreast of what is going on. I think that Elliott is a good driver, but just has not gotten the best equipment to drive in and that even includes GEM and I am afraid to say that most of the Dodge teams are just has beens right now and look for several of the to switch to either GM or Toyota int he near future and I ahve a feeling that he will be ina ride somewhere soon.

David said...

I will be tuned into SIRIUS on monday to find out whats up with the Sadler rumors. ESPN has garbage reporting and its a shame Marty Smith has to be attached to that stigma.

Sophia said...

I totally GET and understand the tv guys need a winter break after a LONG season with lots of travel.

For a show like SR, they could rotate hosts...heck, I bet Robin Miller might do the job by remote from Indy! :-)

But really, SR kind of rotates hosts anyway, just keep it to one person if they need to keep the budget down.

Be nice to have...I always FORGET "Raceline" on Sunday morning here at 11.30 on TW (SW Ohio) I need to find them online and bookmark them...I just MISSED that show today and it always has news..it's a low budget show on year ROUND.

SallyB said...

I justdiscovered 'Raceline' on my local TV. How can a local low buget station find content to put on a weekly racing program, but the 'official' Nascar stations? Something is definitely wrong here!

Anonymous said...

Wow people...it shows that some fans are driven by personality and not driving talent. The last 5 races of the season
AJ- 15,14,26,16,11
Elliott-41,25,35,30,28
Same team,same equipment AJ just blew him away.


That's fine, but let's look at the entire season, not just the last five races of the The Chase when these teams out of contention are already expermenting for the next racing season.

Sadler: Finished 24th
Allmendinger: Finished 36th

Sadler: 2 Top-Fives and 8 Top-Tens
Allmendinger: 0 Top-Fives and 2 Top-Tens

Sadler: $4.4 million in winnings
Allmendinger: $2.4 million in winnings

Sadler: Average finish: 22.8
Allmendinger: Average finish: 28.3

I am reading that Sadler signed a multi-year contract extention with GEM in May. I hope that he is able to force GEM to pay him the rest of his contract. He deserves every penny and owners shouldn't be able to back out of a multi-year contract unilaterally without having to pay out.

Maybe, just maybe, GEM will merge with Petty and Sadler could get a ride in the 43 car (since Labonte is out). That would be a pretty nice consolation prize for a good, solid, well-liked driver who did not deserve to lose his ride to a below-average upstart. Just my opinion.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just remember how much the financial climate has affected things. Decisions that once involved personality and thought may now be driven solely by the dollar.

Last published count was 27 funded Sprint Cup Series teams and 37 teams that will try to piece together dollars to run the full season.

If anyone gets a good number on the Nationwide and Truck Series situation, drop me an email. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Last 5 races the two had same cars, same team!!!!! come on

Vicky D said...

Sounds like there will be many changes with the Nascar teams next year. Nascar has many issues to address before Daytona too beginning with sponsors/full fields etc. I agree with Bevo, ESPN shuld broadcast RPM2Night once a week and we can learn a lot of information in the racing world and be up to date when the season starts.

Dot said...

Apparently GEM can pay less to AJ than ESad. I hope they remember that you get what you pay for. As much as I wanted AJ to find a ride, I didn't want a popular driver to lose his. ESad is marketable, let's hope that works in his favor. I hope this doesn't change the wedding plans.

Btw, what's the E in GEM going to stand for now?

Aven said...

I try to keep up and I subscribe to scenedaily.com to help me. It sends a new update to my e-mail every day. It's not everything needed but it helps.

The off season programing we have is a lot like the winderness of years past. Before the internet, whenever I was out of my native Southeast, I couldn't find out anything about NA$CAR.

Anonymous said...

I justdiscovered 'Raceline' on my local TV. How can a local low buget station find content to put on a weekly racing program, but the 'official' Nascar stations?

Raceline is not produced by a "local low budget station." It is a syndicated product sold all over the US.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked about Sadler being released from GEM and AJ taking his place. However I wonder if this might have something to do with money. Will they be paying AJ less money than they would have been paying Sadler.I sure hope Sadler can land a decent ride for 2009. I know serveral teams are waiting to make their decissions or driver decission.

David said...

Comparing their seasons with Dinger and Sadler is not fair. Allmendigner didnt run the full season because he was pulled out of the seat for 5 races after 3 DNQ's 2 of which were for rain.

Also, Red Bull was fielding that 84 that had been seeking chemistry and also was outside of the top 35 and had to focus on Friday, not Sunday. Sadler had advantages. Consider this, Sadler was expected to make the chase and run for a championship, AJ had no expectations.

The last 5 races are the BEST comparison of their seasons. Cumulitively AJ had run in 3 or 4 different cars, Elliott was with the same team.

The move blows me away, but if I was GEM...id consider it.

Gymmie said...

@dot--last I heard the deal with PE is still on the table and if it does go through, it'll be Richard Petty Racing and the 10 will go away and Reed will be in the 43.

@anon 8:04--it doesn't have to be daily, just weekly. As others stated TSR rotates hosts as it is so the crew would still have their rest and family time. Heck they may not even be used. And ESPN can do one weekly show that we can know to tune into to see what's going on if they can't provide a daily one without showing the same recycled mess we've see 8 million times this season. Heck, how many times *during* the season had them seemed hardpressed to fill a midweek show with actual content.

Richard in N.C. said...

It sure could appear that the term "bipolar" was invented to describe what passes for the programming decisions at SPEED. If there is a reasonable logic to investing all the time and money SPEED does in NASCAR, F1, ALMS, and the Rolex-Grand Am series for about 10 months and then going blank for 2 months it escapes me. It should not be a matter of on-air talent availability since Bob Varsha and Lee Diffy (?) do the lead on many Speed Reports during racing season and do a super job. 2 months without any meaningful racing coverage by SPEED, in my view, is both dumb and insulting. Especially this time of year SPEED seems to be a SPIKE-TV wannabe.

It sure does seem to me that there is an awful lot going on at GEM that the media has ignored.

Anonymous said...

The last five races don't tell me squat. First of all, anyone can get hot for five races - this is a season-long sport, and AJ doesn't have Sadler's consistency. Second of all, none of us know how they were racing or why? Could it be that AJ was driving his tail off the last five races because he was out of a job and looking to impress while Sadler was working on things for next year because he had a multi-year deal and at the end of the season out of the chase he should be worried more about 2009 than the current race? Third, I think there is a GREAT argument to be made that AJ had better equipment with the Toyota support at Red Bull than Sadler had in those lousy Dodges.

Switching these two drivers makes no sense. They are still going to have to pay off Sadler (he was in a multi-year contract, freshly signed), they are going to have a hard time getting Best Buy to put a media-unknown like AJ into commercials, and I bet his on-track results won't be any better, either.

I've heard it mentioned in several articles that Dinger gets along "famously" with Kasey Kahne. Well, great. The two of them can hang out and be buddies all year long. I still don't think that makes for a better race team.

Horrible decision, GEM. No wonder Ray wants out. Everham is a WINNER. And legendary hall-of-fame winners can only support losing mentality for so long.

Anonymous said...

"I am reading that Sadler signed a multi-year contract extention with GEM in May. I hope that he is able to force GEM to pay him the rest of his contract. He deserves every penny and owners shouldn't be able to back out of a multi-year contract unilaterally without having to pay out."

How quickly we forget that Elliott famously wormed his way out of two prior team contracts before signing with EMS/GEM. As Mr. Robert Yates noted, Elliott found out how much money his buddy Jamie McMurray was making after signing with Roush(remember when Jamie was supposed to be the new Kasey Kahne, teen idol status and all?)- and it drove Elliott crazy, making him determined to leave Yates for a richer deal.

So Elliott got the money he wanted, but didn't give GEM the results (as he hasn't for years; someone above is right when they said he's the second coming of sponsor-friendly Michael Waltrip). And now the shoe is on the other foot, and his high salary is a liability.

I think if he sues, a court would look at his past deals and go "hmmm...., so now you want to sue, because someone other than YOU wants to end the contract? Next!"

TV-wise, I expect to see a lot more of Elliott because of this (unless he ends up getting the 41 because he can bring a sponsor). I'm not sure I'm happy about that. I knew it was inevitable he would wind up on my TV as a permanent talking head, but I hoped I had a year or two before he was on there all the time.

And I agree it's a shame that there is no TV outlet for discussing this story.

Richard in N.C. said...

The Gillett people apparently have been successful in other sports- but there sure do seem to be a lot of issues and questions that would be nice to see the media pursue - on TV and/or in print. I guess there's just not enough going on to interest either, except Marty.

Anonymous said...

"Switching these two drivers makes no sense. They are still going to have to pay off Sadler (he was in a multi-year contract, freshly signed), they are going to have a hard time getting Best Buy to put a media-unknown like AJ into commercials, and I bet his on-track results won't be any better, either."

Sadler will only get GEM money if he sits out, and does not race for another team...Free money, but the death of his driving life if he does that. He will sign with another team, which will void the GEM contract.

Bobby said...

The other things is that Speed is getting out of the off-season "break" now. They're starting to rack up with the NASCAR Year in Review specials, and Speed Report starts next week.

Speed is starting coverage of Feld Motorsports' AMA Supercross Series (Saturday, 10 PM EDT), with the NASCAR Group's Grand-Am with the Rolex 24 (January 24, 3:30 PM), and the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown (January 23-24, 10 PM).

As for Allmendinger and Kahne, there's something to be said when the culture of North American motorsport is teammates sharing meals, golf games, fishing, and being around each other and not being enemies. Casey Mears, while in CART Lights, taught teammate Oriol Servia the culture and it made him a better driver. Servia, in the IRL, is teaching Will Power the lesson Mears taught him to be a better driver. Juan Pablo Montoya noted F1 egos are the worst in motorsport.

The sad thing is shows such as Pinks All Out and Drag Race High (a second season starts in February) are both aimed at grassroots racing. Grassroots motorsport is what lets drivers move up to the next level. Watching schoolkids building a race car is positive for race fans watching a new generation building cars and in Drag Race High, you may be seeing the next Matt Borland, Darian Grubb, or Ryan Newman.

The Toyota All-Star Showdown also fits that mold for NASCAR with the best young drivers racing on a big stage. Two of the past three TAS champions are now Cup drivers - David Gilliland and Joey Logano.

The Allmendinger-Sadler comparison is based on equal equipment, on a short track, three intermediate tracks, and a flat mile.

Desmond said...

Marty Smith did a telephone interview with ESPNEWS last Saturday night. I personally saw it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Des,

I mentioned in my column that Marty has been on several times during the off-season.

He has been the stand-out of the ESPN bunch. I wish we had seen DJ as the expert on ESPN during the winter just as we have seen Marty as the reporter.

JD

Buzz Baylis said...

Hello,

As to the SPEED-TV comments I'd like to add that the COMCAST cable program guide (for my home area in the San Francisco Bay Area)is not listing the shows that NASCAR Media has created and that are set to be presented in the first week of January on SPEED according to Jayski.

I don't know if this is a SPEED issue or a COMCAST one but either way it is most discouraging for NASCAR fans.

Buzz