Friday, April 24, 2009
NASCAR Reality TV Still In A Lurch
Anyone seen those missing NASCAR wives? Click here for the link to the TDP story back on January 6th talking about the new program series being produced for the TLC cable network. The working title for the series was NASCAR Wives.
Promoted as a behind-the-scenes look into the reality of being part of a racing family, the premise of the series sounded promising. Adding into this docusoap the names Kelley Earnhardt, Delana Harvick, Shana Mayfield, and Angie Skinner just made it that much more appealing. Where reality TV was concerned, this had all the makings of a winner.
The first episode of the program was delayed because producers wanted to wait until after the Daytona weekend to include that footage. TDP was told the rest of the program was done and after editing the Daytona content, the show would air in late March or early April.
Well, it is the last week of April and searching the TLC website for information about the show has been just what many fans have been doing. The results are less than promising. The only mention of NASCAR Wives is an old schedule page that shows the series beginning in late April. There is no video clip, no airdates and no updates on the episodes.
It seems that NASCAR Wives has joined NASCAR Confidential, Beyond the Wheel and 7 Days as more quality TV programming with no place to go. Veteran fans can click off many more shows from the good folks at The NASCAR Media Group that are no longer on the air. What a shame for the sport.
On a brighter note, former DEI executive Max Siegel has turned his attention to NASCAR's diversity program. Siegel is trying to grow diversity in the athletes who participate in the sport and he is going to use TV to help. This time, the network is BET and the title of the series is Changing Lanes.
Click here for a link to the NY Daily News story about the new TV series. Scheduled to air in 2010, BET has already ordered ten episodes of the show that will feature the efforts of two drivers to get a foothold in the sport.
The NY Daily News story also mistakenly states that TLC is already airing the NASCAR Wives series. As fans unfortunately know, there are no full length post-produced NASCAR program series on the air to enjoy. The best fans can hope for is an old race on ESPN Classic or one of the regional sports networks.
Part of the fundamental appeal of the NFL was the quality programming from NFL Films. Whether it was a sincere look at a great game or a hilarious thirty minutes of funny plays, the quality of the editing and the feel of the overall program made an impression that brought new fans to the sport and satisfied the veteran fans as well. It is this element that is missing from the NASCAR TV experience.
It seems ironic that several of the top NFL Films production staff are now working for The NASCAR Media Group. These are talented folks who are just waiting to be allowed to create another solid program series. After looking at some of the offerings on ESPN2 and SPEED, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that there are timeslots available that could be served by this type of NASCAR programming.
Perhaps some new networks will step-up and take advantage of the fact that the NASCAR TV partners are passing on this product category. It might be a great opportunity for new TV networks to get some NASCAR product on their TV screens without the big rights fees paid for the actual races.
Either way, you know it's been a tough year for NASCAR reality programming when the NASCAR Wives can't push their way through The Heli-Loggers and the Cake Boss to get on TLC.
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