Friday, January 23, 2009

France Talks Everything But TV In Thursday Remarks


Thursday afternoon at 1pm ET brought the annual "state of the sport" address from NASCAR Chairman Brian France. The location of the press conference was the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC.

This media opportunity usually provides France an outlet to address topics of his choice and those that are important for the new season. After a recorded introduction that featured TV veteran Ken Squier, NASCAR VP Jim Hunter started the festivities.

Diversity was on the agenda, but once again this topic is one that has not translated very well to the TV side of the sport. Max Siegel did not speak, but his future participation where the diversity agenda is concerned was mentioned prominently.

MRN Radio veteran Winston Kelly was up next to talk about the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He mentioned that the NASCAR Media Group is moving into HD TV studios in downtown Charlotte that include a brand new newsroom. This media area also includes a radio studio. It should be interesting to find out what use the newsroom and TV studios will be filling.

"It's been an interesting and challenging off-season," said France as he began his remarks. His prepared statement talked about the points that NASCAR wanted to emphasize. While he addressed the "tough times" affecting the sport and the nation, he mentioned that working with NASCAR's media partners was a high priority.

During the open comments section, France talked about the manufacturers continued participation in the sport. He said the sport is zeroed-in on helping the manufacturers, but said the larger issue was the jobs of the employees in the automotive industry.

It was Robin Pemberton who addressed the Camping World Truck Series issues by saying he was still discussing potential changes in the rules for this season. That certainly seemed strange with the first race only weeks away. Nothing was mentioned that directly referenced SPEED and the issues that network may experience should the series decline dramatically in the number of teams after Daytona.

Jay Abraham was on-hand to represent The NASCAR Media Group as VP Robbie Weiss had experienced medical problems and NMG President Paul Brooks was with him. We will update the condition of Weiss when it becomes available. Abraham reinforced the NMG mandate that connecting directly with the fans through TV was his primary mission.

There was a lot of talk about a new business model for the sport, but ultimately both the tracks and the teams are independent operators and have to fend for themselves. Speakers like NASCAR President Mike Helton were consistently assuring the assembled media that NASCAR had the best interests of the teams at heart.

As the media asked questions, it was clear that TV was going to take a backseat to the economy and the potential issues with team counts in each of the three national series. Ticket prices, fan attendance and even the satellite teams were topics on the agenda, but TV was not.

Also not mentioned was the new design of the NASCAR.com website, which is the official online location of the sport. Radio was also not in the mix, despite the fact that the press conference was carried live on Sirius. That radio network has been the linchpin for the fans during the off-season.

The voice of reason as usual was Mike Helton. He spoke clearly about the challenges for the upcoming season and gave the media lots of good content. Look for his remarks to be all over the Internet by Thursday evening.

While this event was disappointing from a TV perspective, it was clear that NASCAR was in the same unsteady boat as many American sports and the focus was actually on survival. There is currently only one new NASCAR-themed TV show that has been announced for 2009 and that show is on TLC.

Darrell Waltrip will be co-hosting Preseason Thunder on SPEED Thursday night at 7:30PM ET. Perhaps, it will be up to DW to finally step-out of the politically correct TV bubble and tell fans how NASCAR will look in 2009 and where he thinks it will be going.

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19 comments:

AMS fan said...

Boy it would be nice to have a job. Then I wouldn't have all this time to keep up.
Well I listened to what was broadcast. The feed from the R&D center didn't want to cooperate.
It's good to hear all the names in the diversity program. A few I've heard of, it's a shame there are more drivers than spots.
As I've said before, I think NASCAR is keeping up with what is happening in the sport. It is intersting that there have been 15 new teams submit cars for certification. Whatever the reason, even S&P, that's good.
I hear on Sirius most every day, "Where are the new teams gonna come from". Economic times do create different circumstances, some good some bad.
It's sad to see some go, but new gets started.
5 years ago not many expected times to be this bad, but they are.
This being a TV related site it is a shame they didn't say anything about TV, but that's the only thing signed and sealed for 2009, so I guess there is nothing new to talk about.
I do nominate Mike Helton for President in 2012. He talks straight, says it so I can understand, confident in what he says, and a fan of, and for, the fans.

Anonymous said...

"Boy it would be nice to have a job. Then I wouldn't have all this time to keep up." - AMS Fan

I think that goes for John Daly, too. This is obviously all a conspiracy. Now delete this post.

alex said...

Anon 4:02,
Disagreement isn't against the comment rules, though I know you're being facetious. I would hope there isn't any fluff from DW tonight. If Mike Helton can be honest at a press conference, SPEED should be able to report/comment/analyze about the 2009 future on TV tonight.

Rick Remixx said...

thanks for the info and ill be watching tonight to see what DW has to say..

Daly Planet Editor said...

AMS fan,

The only TV things signed for this season are the events and the same old shows on SPEED and ESPN2.

Other than NASCAR Wives, there is nothing on the horizon where original NASCAR TV shows are concerned.

You may have heard that SPEED just cancelled Tradin' Paint, the last opinion-based TV program that we have featuring NASCAR journalists.

No NASCAR Confidential, no programs in support of the Truck Series and nothing on ESPN to help the Nationwide gang.

No Beyond The Wheel style shows and nothing based on the drivers, teams or events.

Not a great TV landscape for 2009.

Anon 4:02PM,

How about letting us know how you feel about the topic?

JD

Anonymous said...

Whats there really to discuss about NASCAR TV? The contract hasn't changed. Its the same people bringing us the races. I just don't see anything that really needed to be addressed.

Rick Remixx said...

i have always been a fan of anything nascar on TV , even nascar angels and it sad to see a lot of shows being gone now..

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:11PM,

Good question. The TV surrounding the sport consists of several different slices of the NASCAR pie.

While the contract that covers the Sprint Cup series remains the same, there are serious questions being asked about how many teams will participate in the Nationwide and Truck Series this season.

At what point does the TV network have a problem with NASCAR? 20 cars on the track? 18 trucks?

While NASCAR Now on ESPN2 continues to be a daily show, SPEED has once again passed on the opportunity to participate in NASCAR news programming during the week. This content used to be a staple of the network.

In terms of additional original programming, NASCAR used to have great series on the air that showed the fans the same type of view of the sport that NFL Films does for football. Now, there is none.

Finally, Tradin' Paint on SPEED is cancelled. There is no program that allows the journalists who follow the sport a TV forum to discuss the issues fans want to hear about.

I would respectfully suggest that there is a lot going on with NASCAR's TV coverage.

JD

Gymmie said...

That's a shame JD :(. I don't understand why they're giving us less and less each year.

the shows we want and like are taken away or we're given a "tease" and never see again (Humpy Show anyone?). And we're hungry for something during the week. Yes NN gives us something but what about other true entertainment shows. I loved the 7 Days that showed what it took to put on a show at the track or what it takes to get a hauler from NC to Cali and everywhere inbetween. I think Indy was my favorite 7 Days, I had always wondered how they made those banners for the teams.

Deborah said...

I'm confused. There's a whole article on scenedaily.com with quotes from Brian France from today in which he addressed the TV blackout issue and how it wouldn't be happening. So at some point he clearly did discuss something related to TV. However, I'm not sure why there's an expectation for him to address issues that relate to other entities like SPEED, Sirius and Turner (Nascar.com). NASCAR may have input into what goes on with them as they do with the TV blackouts issue but I don't see why Brian France would talk about their programming - or lack of it - for them. And it seems to me there are far more significant issues facing the sport right now then the redesign of nascar.com. As for SPEED and the Truck Series, they've had short fields before, I'm not sure why less teams after Daytona would impact the way they broadcast the races when it's nothing new for this series.

Anonymous said...

Any word if the Nationwide Series and ESPN have worked out their scheduling difficulties during college football season?

Rockin Rich said...

Watched Pre-Season Thunder. The following well known saying applies:

The definition of stupidity is doing the same naive thing over and over, each time truly believing the result will be different.

I again convinced myself to watch what has almost always in the past been a frustrating waste of time, one of these during-the-week "news shows". Thursday's Pre-Season Thunder was no different.

Does anyone know if any hard, truly relevant questions were asked at the news conference. More importantly, was any meaningful attempt to forthrightly answer such a question, if one was asked, actually made?

Where can we go to find out? I haven't looked at Mike Mulhern's new website yet this evening, but I suspect that is a good place to start. I am hoping that the AutoExtremist website will also feature an article on it.

How about it JD, is there a single clearing house type of place we can go to learn what is really going on today? We sure are not seeing it anywhere in NASCAR TV Land!

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up, please refresh your browser.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Deb,

There was never a TV blackout issue, the contracts were signed long ago. It was just Bruton talking off-the-cuff.

Short fields is a huge issue because it is the responsibility of NASCAR to deliver a product on the track that matches what they sold to the TV networks as programming.

Not so sure 19 trucks is going to do that on a track like California.

This is one of the most crucial issues in the sport today. Instead, France talked about getting Al Gore to help with the "green office" program he is working on.

NASCAR.com just signed a huge extension with NASCAR and wholly represents the sport on the Internet. It is the online image of the sport and all the online offerings from Trackpass to video and live events.

The lack of a TV or Internet portion of the Thursday event shows how much the sport relies on third party journalists.

Try surfing over to MLB.com and take a look at a major league sport's website.

JD

darbar said...

With all the problems in Nascar such as falling ratings and attendance, I find it amusing that France spent so much of his talking time discussing Nascar's devotion to "going green". How absurd is this? Is France really that stupid or does he really think the fans are enjoying the racing, the COT and the Chase? Can France read or does he bypass anything that's written with a negative slant? Do those in high Nascar positions not know that fans are fed up with most aspects of Nascar including the boring racing, the high prices for ancillary things and the silly Chase?

AMS fan said...

You're right JD.
I didn't really think past what the TV networks are required to broadcast. There's not much to look forward to.

TDP said Short fields is a huge issue because it is the responsibility of NASCAR to deliver a product on the track that matches what they sold to the TV networks as programming.
Not so sure 19 trucks is going to do that on a track like California.

*Good point. That is an issue I haven't heard anything about.

TDP said This is one of the most crucial issues in the sport today. Instead, France talked about getting Al Gore to help with the "green office" program he is working on.

*With NASCAR being a million, or billion, dollar organization "going green" probably is an issue that has to be delt with. Not that it's any more important than the racing, but it may be the beginning for NASCAR.

TDP said NASCAR.com just signed a huge extension with NASCAR and wholly represents the sport on the Internet. It is the online image of the sport and all the online offerings from Trackpass to video and live events.

*This is something I can't understand. Why would you not want control of what is put on the internet, when it has your name on it. Along with the carburator this seems to be a change that they cannot seem to make.

Daly Planet Editor said...

NASCAR is locked into a situation where they have given total control over to Turner of their online text, audio and video rights for many years to come.

They rely on the mainstream media to relay their messages because Jim Hunter is trapped in the past.

Many on the PR staff understand the value of having direct NASCAR contact with the fans on a website, blog, facebook, myspace and YouTube. He does not.

This is a huge pink elephant in the room. The Turner agenda is very different from the NASCAR agenda, and that shows in the NASCAR.com website.

The NBA just gave their website over to Turner, it should be interesting to see how they feel about it in a year or so.

Imagine a fan having absolutely no ability to contact NASCAR directly about any competition or ticket or track or other issue online. Amazing in 2009.

JD

AMS fan said...

I'm still amazed that the only way to talk directly to NASCAR is to send them a letter in the mail. I have known this for a while and some time ago I spent the time to find out how to contact NASCAR, the company. It took a while.
It's simple to find once you know where to look.(lol)
NASCAR.com
Scroll to the bottom of the page.
Click "about NASCAR"
This is the only thing I've ever found on the site directly to the company itself.

TDP said
They rely on the mainstream media to relay their messages because Jim Hunter is trapped in the past.

*I agree JD. Absolutely amazing in 2009.

JD- do you know who is the root of "The NASCAR FAN COUNCIL"? I received another survey a couple of weeks ago and that was one of the questions. "Do you know who is the NASCAR fan council" I had to answer no and still haven't got any response.

glenc1 said...

I saw the blub on Jayski about the blackout thing; thank goodness someone has sense to know that that's NOT something that needs to be changed (and as JD pointed out, couldn't be for quite some time.) Bruton's sense of greed is really amazing sometimes.

I'm not sure that Brian France has any clue (actually, I'm pretty sure he doesn't) that the fans are unhappy with the actual race coverage. But he either knows and won't reference it, or he's still stuck with his head in the Daytona sand. As long as the contract is in hand, I guess it doesn't matter (and heaven knows, no one will be allowed to be honest about it.) I wonder if some of the beat writers who toured in the past will not be traveling, and will now see what we've been seeing on TV...just an interesting thought. I will say though, TV coverage is an important part of *every* sport; I do think talking about the TV partners ought to be a part of anyone's strategy as it relates to your 'product'.

As far as smaller fields go, in terms of TV--I'm really not sure I mind that, as long as 'field fillers' have a NASCAR license and have proven they're not going to wreck half the field (well...certain Cup drivers do that anyways..) Short tracks will be fine--but yes, on the bigger ones--I guess we'll have to wait & see.

AMSfan, hope it turns around for you soon. You & all the others.