Wednesday, December 10, 2008
With Fox Cutting MLB Pre-Game Show Is Hollywood Hotel Next?
Fox Sports has decided to eliminate the on-location pre-game show for the Sunday Major League Baseball games telecast by the network in 2009. Former NASCAR reporter Jeanne Zelasko and MLB veteran Kevin Kennedy were featured on the broadcasts.
According to LA Daily News Tom Hoffarth (click here), the Fox broadcasts will now come on the air at 1PM and the first pitch will be at 1:07PM. The thirty minute pre-game show is gone, which also means the booth announcers will have to deal with rain delays and other stoppages of play.
Several weeks ago, word came out that both ESPN and Fox were looking hard at cutting TV production costs in several major sports properties. NASCAR was high on the list for both networks. Several meetings have taken place where executives from Fox, ESPN and NASCAR discussed what opportunities were available for cost savings.
Obviously, one target for both Fox and ESPN is the custom-made TV trailers that are brought on the road to host the pre-race shows. At Fox, that is called the Hollywood Hotel. Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond are joined by Darrell Waltrip during the pre-race and then Myers and Hammond remain in the Hollywood Hotel for the duration of the event to add opinion and commentary.
This piece of equipment has become sophisticated over the years and now has all kinds of TV effects and multiple camera angles built right in. Basically, it has become a mobile high-tech TV studio.
Since Fox has now stepped forward and confirmed that they are going to be cutting the TV production on the Major League Baseball games of the week, it would seem that February's start of the NASCAR season would be next in line for the financial microscope.
ESPN also begins their Nationwide coverage at Daytona and has not said a word about the changes that it may have in store for the new season. ESPN brings the Infield Pit Studio to all the major Nationwide Series races and all the Sprint Cup events covered by the network.
That facility not only hosts the pre-race programs, but also functions to host practice and qualifying shows as well as Sprint Cup versions of NASCAR Now. Although it may be expensive, ESPN gets a lot of use from this piece of TV equipment.
ESPN also travels Tim Brewer's Tech Center, which is another expensive custom-made trailer that contains a cutaway car and lots of other racing parts. The Tech Center just might not see as many road miles next season if this trend continues.
It should be the next week or so when word comes out about the changes for NASCAR TV production for 2009. Seeing what Fox did with baseball and the recent demise of DirecTV's Hot Pass are unfortunately going to set the tone for what TV viewers will probably be dealing with shortly.
We will update the news as it happens and try to keep NASCAR fans ahead of the information curve during these very strange days.
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