Thursday, January 22, 2009
ESPN's Feinberg Confirms No Side-By-Side Commercials In 2009
Here we go again. Thanks to reporter Dustin Long, ESPN's top motorsports executive has spoken about the topic no network will touch. That is why side-by-side commercials work on the IRL races but not on NASCAR events.
As the Vice President of Motorsports, Rich Feinberg has presided over an often turbulent re-entry into NASCAR by the various ESPN television networks. He has been responsive to viewer issues and made many changes to on-air staff and production agendas over the past two seasons.
Here are some excerpts from Feinberg's conversation with Long about who is responsible for making the side-by-side concept work. Is it the network, the sponsors or NASCAR?
"It has to come from all three," Feinberg said. "We as a broadcast entity have to believe that it's something that is good. The sponsors have to be on board because, let's face it, they foot the bill for the whole thing, right? So, their interest in dual messaging, in one box is my commercial, which I paid you millions to run for your viewers to hear and in other box is competition. They've got to buy it, and NASCAR has to buy it."
"The reality of the question of why not in NASCAR and you are doing it in open-wheel, the simple answer to that is that our rights agreement with NASCAR precludes us from doing that."
"That doesn't mean someday we won't do it and we won't figure out a way to do it in NASCAR and with our partners. We've all got to come together to do it. It's a very tricky and challenging situation. I can understand how race fans want it. I love it as a race fan."
"Going to commercial while the race is going on is risky business and we've all be criticized for that too. It is a business and we've got to pay the bills somehow. And I understand but it's just not as simple as us standing up and saying we're doing it."
"You as the sponsor, if my box is going to be 60 percent smaller for commercial, then you're going to charge me Mr. ESPN 60 percent less, right? Our answer is no because the rights fees (with NASCAR) didn't go down. So, I understand the simple race fan not in our business isn't there to figure out our business and our industry and looks at the screen and says why can't they do it? And I welcome explaining it ... because the more race fans understand that it's not as simple as just saying we're doing it, it's an economical, it's a business thing."
"I think if we did it we would want to figure a way to do it consistently like we do on Indy car as opposed to a one-time stunt kind of thing (TNT's Wide Open Coverage), that gets you a little bit of media and I guess you're serving the race fan for one of your 17 Cup races or one of your 35 Nationwide races but then the first thing they're going to say is, well, aren't you going to do it again? It's a tough thing to do. It's an economic formula and sponsors want their message to come across as loud as they can. That's what they pay millions of dollars for commercials for.''
This is a very good and candid assessment of the side-by-side situation from Feinberg. Thanks again to Dustin Long from the Landmark Newspaper Group for the interview. Basically, fans can once again expect the regular commercial rotation and insertions into the live races with the exception of the summer Daytona race should TNT choose to offer the Wide Open Coverage once again.
Has the commercial load in the NASCAR races changed the way you watch the events? How many of you purposefully record the races and watch them later specifically because you are able to fast-forward through the commercial breaks?
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