Friday, April 10, 2009
Nationwide Series Needs A Good TV Showing
Like it or not, the Nationwide Series is ESPN's baby. While some of the practice and qualifying shows are produced by SPEED, the Nationwide Series races are on the ESPN family of networks.
Fans of this series for the past several years know that races like the one this Saturday in Nashville are few and far between. Rarely does the Nationwide Series get to be alone in the spotlight.
Normally, the entire Nationwide Series TV presentation is a smaller slice of the Sprint Cup Series with some backmarkers thrown in for good measure. The TV focus is on the Cup drivers and the racing often resembles "Cup drivers unplugged."
Somehow, the big guys can let down their hair and just race for fun when it's on Saturday. The pressure is off, the field is thinner and there is no Chase to make down the road.
Friday in Nashville, ESPN unveiled the network's interactive approach to practice. Basically, it gave the producer a license to continue to avoid what was really happening on the track unless it involved a chosen driver or storyline. The ESPN2 coverage was strangely twisted toward tech features and additional content that did not follow the real story of what was actually going on in the session.
ESPN2 returns at 11AM Saturday with qualifying coverage. There are 48 cars trying to make the field and they range from big names with powerhouse teams to rookies with backyard efforts. Certainly, the stories are within the cast of characters who will take to the track.
In the past, ESPN has surrounded the car actually qualifying with electronic graphics on the TV screen while offering other interviews and content in a second video box. The thrust of the coverage is not really focusing on the qualifying laps themselves, but continually talking about the network's chosen topics.
For TV viewers, the clash in styles between SPEED and ESPN where qualifying coverage is concerned could not be greater. SPEED makes an effort to show every car's attempt and follows the efforts of the teams equally. ESPN puts the emphasis on the Cup drivers and avoids putting time and effort into the other competitors.
The actual race airs at 3PM on ESPN, with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty kicking things off from the Infield Pit Center. Tim Brewer is in his Tech Center while Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree will call the race. ESPN has done a very good job of covering the Nationwide races with a stripped-down broadcast that has put the focus back on the on-track action.
It should be interesting to see how the TV team approaches qualifying and the race this Saturday. This post will serve to host your comments about the TV coverage from Nashville. To add your TV-related comment, just click the comment button below.
TDP is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking time on this holiday weekend to drop by The Daly Planet.