Monday, May 4, 2009

Side-By-Side Commercial Issue Now On Full Boil


The twists and turns of the 2009 NASCAR season have run from bankrupt auto manufacturers to declining TV ratings. NASCAR itself is clearly in a fight to retain the national status that the sport gained over the last ten years.

The problems of the NASCAR on Fox gang are easy to understand. The economy has forced Fox to sponsor everything possible in each Sprint Cup Series telecast. We mean everything.

From full-length movie trailers to endless "sponsor inserts" during live racing, the look of NASCAR on TV has changed this year. It is not for the better. Sometimes, as with the Phoenix race, it is just almost painful to watch.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that caution flag pitstops are now often just as critical as the actual racing. This leaves almost no time available for the easy insertion of commercial breaks that sometimes run three minutes in length.

Between the "Cheez-It Bite of the Race," Aflac trivia questions and endless Ask.com mentions, there is a reality that is becoming very clear. Drowning in the Digger toolbars, AT&T Race Breaks and the Terminator Salvation Drivers Fighting Back Award are the NASCAR fans.

Let's face it, NASCAR is not going to return dollars to the TV networks that were paid to air the races. So, the TV networks have bills to pay and they are going to do just that regardless of what it costs the sport. So far this season, that price has been very high.

Over on the Versus TV Network, the IRL continues to go to commercial breaks and keep a second video box on the screen that shows the racing. The ability to absorb the commercial message and still see and feel the continuity of the racing is wonderful. ABC did it during that network's earlier IRL coverage.

The days of fans getting long chunks of NASCAR racing between two minute commercials on TV are simply gone. While the Camping World Trucks and even the Nationwide Series are not exactly in this situation, the Sprint Cup Series is completely mired in a sponsorship quagmire.

Perhaps, the answer is to adopt the side-by-side commercial approach for NASCAR. What else can solve this dilemma and stop the fans from leaving the TV telecasts in droves? The issues of COT's and boring racing are not up for discussion here, because fans aren't really getting enough racing content to let them decide for themselves.

The only way to bring fans back into NASCAR this season is to let them see the racing and the pit stops during the commercial breaks. The current situation of showing four or five minutes of racing and then leaving for three minutes is not working. The end result is that the financial dilemma of the current Sprint Cup TV network is slowly killing the sport.

In the past, TDP has addressed this issue and heard all kind of excuses from both the TV networks and NASCAR. Click here for the 2008 TDP column. The difference is that was during a time when the sport was healthy and side-by-side commercials would be a luxury. Now, this technique may well be key in limping through the season with what is left of the TV audience intact.

There is really no one to blame here, it is just a set of circumstances that requires attention. If this discussion does not take place soon, fans will continue to be faced with highly sponsored telecasts that only allow a glimpse inside the racing on the track. Rarely is there even time to follow-up on the storylines mentioned in the various pre-race shows.

TNT is up next for the Sprint Cup TV and then ESPN steps-in for the final seventeen events. What kind of audience is delivered to TNT after the Fox portion of the schedule is yet to be determined. Even more troubling is how many fans will be left by the time ESPN takes the air in July.

It's time to use existing TV technology to solve at least one issue that can help NASCAR through this difficult season.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to offer your opinion on this topic. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

TNT's "Wide Open" coverage has never panned out other than the one race. If those paying the bills determined that they were getting a better response from a "Wide Open" commercial, than a standard one, then every broadcast would have gone that way

The advertisers just aren't on board for side-by-side. NASCAR spots are so much more costly than IRL. Its much easier to take a risk that a viewers eyes will be glued to the race, while ignoring the ad when you are only paying "IRL dollars".

Though, for a Sprint Cup ad, its much harder to justify that risk. Why pay top dollar for an ad that doesn't display on the full screen, and get divided attention?

You can try to theorize people won't fast foward through them using a DVR (though that will likely still happen even with side-by-side), or won't get up to use the bathroom (people still need "to go" even with side-by side commercials).

Its still a big risk for companies that just doesn't have the dollars to throw around as causually as they used to be.

David Evertsen said...

The Directv HotPass is the wave of future. It works really well. I would love to see them do that during commercials. What does anyone else think about it?? I just watch the HOTPASS Channel..

Anonymous said...

This is all Nascar's fault. When the 2001-2006 TV contract was up for grabs, the bidding went ridiculously high. This took CBS and the old ESPN away from us after over 20 years of hard work and devotion to the sport. We got Fox and NBC in place, which started out great, but now they need so many ads to cover the defict of buying the rights to x amount of races. NASCAR took something that wasn't much of a problem and turned it into a monster.

I doubt we will see side-by-side commercials any time soon in NASCAR.

Jack from PA said...

JD,

I think side-by-side would be a great advent to NASCAR races, but like other posters have said, the sponsors would not just shell out top dollars if their product is not taking up the whole screen. I am not sure when ABC/ESPN started the "Side-by-Side" coverage, but I'm interested to see how much sponsors paid before this feature and now with the feature.

While I don't think TNT's "Wide Open" coverage has been accepted by most fans, I enjoy it. I'd rather a side-by-side than Wide Open, but at this point, I'll take anything as long as it means the commercial minutes don't outnumber the broadcast minutes.

Anonymous said...

Too bad there weren't enough subscribers to cover the costs of HotPass, otherwise, we've still have it.

This is all Big Money NASCAR's fault. I'd love to see side-by-side commercials, though, its just not economically fesible.

It costs too much to run a team. It costs too much to broadcast a race, given the rights fees.

Perhaps, after this NASCAR bubble has burst, TV rights may return to a much more reasonable level, and we can get side by side.

Unfortunatly, it won't be until the current contract expires.

The future looks bright. There will be much less money to go around. A smaller, core, fanbase will remain. And the TV situation should improve greatly.

Bigger is not neccessarly better.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The difference between then and now is that the TV ratings are sinking and the sport is not attracting new eyeballs.

The timing of this column is to again bring-up a topic that almost all parties agree is a good idea, but has not really had a fire lit under it.

Now, the sport is on fire. The amount of commercial content of all types shoved into the Phoenix race was embarrassing.

With Hot Pass effectively gone, no video available on PPV and NASCAR.com still offering animated blobs with stats, the only alternative to avoiding the clutter of these NASCAR on Fox broadcasts is turning on the radio.

Whoever could have imagined that with all the HD technology and stereo sound, it would be the over-selling of the live event that forced fans elsewhere.

JD

Newracefan said...

We basically have side by side commercials it called, NAPA what ever, Cheeze whats its, and Ask who cares, etc etc. The biggest problem with all these is that it makes it almost impossible for Mike and the boys to give us a feel for the flow of the race. This plus the excessive use of car camera shots just about ruined the race for me. Every time Mike, Larry Mac or DW raised their voice about a three wide or something it switched to a roof cam or something and I couldn't tell what was going on. I probably could handle one or the other but both was just too much. Something needs to be done weather it's side by side commercials with the action shot in the box or convincing sponsors to pay for through the fields instead of show my car and talk about nothing important. It will be interesting to see if TNT had to sell their soul like Fox has done. I love Nascar but I can't take much more. Thankfully I'll be at Dover the end of the month and I'll be able to watch the racing and the sponsors the way they are suppose to be seen and through the fields too, thanks MRN. I don't know if Nascar has anything to say about what is going on but I do know that if viewership continues to drop the only thng we will get is a giant infomercial with occasional racing highlights. Fox fix it now please or you'll never be able to get back the money you put into the Nascar TV deal and all the fans will lose out.

GinaV24 said...

I would sure like to see them try the side by side commercial broadcast. This overabundance of commercials has made it too difficult to follow the race on TV, so I have stopped watching flag to flag coverage. There are a lot of things I'd like to see Fox and the rest do better but this seems to be something that might at least help people stay interested. If you're just watching the sport for the first time, why would you ever watch it more than once if its just a long commercials with 2 minutes of racing?

Bill H said...

Though I would love to see side-by-side, I am positive if it happened it would lead to more commercials, 1. to cover the cost of big advertisers leaving due to competition on the screen, and 2. because it would remove the one barrier they have now to inserting as many commercials as they can, drop in viewers. With side-by-side they would, for awhile, be comfortable in feeling that people will continue to watch.

darbar said...

So, what's the difference between sharing a screen with racing and knowing that a good portion of your viewing audience are taping the races and zooming right through their precious commercials? I tape the races and when the commercials come on, there goes the fast forward button. Can't the advertisers understand that if they allowed a shared screen that at least their ads would be seen, albeit in a smaller square, rather than being ignored via the fast forward?

Dot said...

I'm not a big fan of side by side. When I have seen it on the IRL races, it's usually under yellow. They keep the camera on one car going around the track. Plus, no sound.

My wish is that they would break into a comml to show a crash/spin that brings out a yellow. Tell us what happened, then resume the comml. Come back for the pit stops, then more commls. NASCAR is already famous for 8 laps of caution for the smallest of incidents. I know this was done in the past but, I can't remember who did it. Made you not want to miss a comml. If the sponsors really want to win over the fans and want them to buy their products, you'd think they would agree to this. Times are certainly different now. Time to think outside the box.

@ Anon 8:54pm, kinda like buying that $300K home 4 yrs ago. Now it's worth $175K. Way too many got on some kind of bandwagon. Now we're all suffering.

bevo said...

The whole argument about diverted attention during commercials doesn't hold water for me. The widespread use of Tivo and other DVRs means you can either start watching the race at least an hour after it starts and fast forward through the commercials or pause it for occasional breaks. Oddly enough this blog is the only reason I watch the race live so I can comment during the race.

If advertisers are so adamant about the concept why do they allow Fox to run a hyperactive rodent next to the sponsors when they come back from a break?

Dot said...

@ bevo, that's the same reason I watch live too. Messed me up on Friday when I tuned in late.

JD, you should get a cut of the revenue since TDP makes us watch the races in real time.

Richard in N.C. said...

It does strike me as curious that with the explosion of cable, the new camera and broadcasting techniques, and the advent of digital and HD, commercials are basically handled the same way they have been for 50 years - breaks for commercials. I'm still not clear who it is that objects to the side-by-side approach - the networks, the advertisers, or NASCAR?

As I understand the TV deal, it does appear to me that NASCAR might be in a box since I understand that NASCAR gets to keep only about 10% of the TV money and the other 90% goes to the tracks and the race teams - and I bet there is no way for NASCAR to claw back some of the TV money and return it to the networks to reduce commercial clutter.

PACO WACO said...

I used to believe that NASCAR one day would get side by side coverage. But I realized it's all about the money! Did anyone notice last week during Talladega, FOX played the Bud logo and promo over the whole screen while the race was under green and the pack was heading for turn 3!?! I remember the days when all NASCAR races would cut off commercials for a caution, now if they wave off the green for another lap they will give us four more commercials instead of race strategy from the crew chiefs!( ESPN is worse than FOX at this even for Nationwide races) I know times change, but a 5 minute commercial break and then a green flag with a stupid digger cam,digger animation, and a crawler to order a digger ring tone! Followed by D.W.talking about Mikey and brakes to promo,(what a surprise!), NAPA brakes! Then, followed by a 3 minute break for more ads, then maybe I can see if my driver in 15th who is making a run to the front still exists to FOX! Each week I get closer to giving up on NASCAR on TV!

Bryan said...

@ Bevo, I agree about the stupid ass rat being seen, and not the still advertisement. I would not pay for a spot where the focos was on him. I thought it was just me, but it is getting harder to watch the race with all the comm., and the pxp guy cannot focus on the race. there is to much he has to do to keep the flow of the race going. This is the reason I don't think a driver, such as D.J. would want the pxp duties.

Jack from PA said...

Dot,

I agree with you 100% on the issue of breaking from commercial to show some "action," whether it be a crash, restart, pit stop, etc. NBC did it during their broadcasts of races, and it was one of a handful of high points the network had.

I'm curious to know the reasons why FOX, TNT, and ESPN cannot do this. While it will not solve all of the commercial overload we've seen, I think it will help fans see more of the race, in particular key moments, instead of the commercials.

Sophia said...

newracefan

YOU SAID IT with the excess in car cams and stuff. as have others. it's too much.

I have lost interest in the sport this season. This blog is terrific but I gotta tell ya, between the excess BLOATWARE on tv i.e. adds and adds buried in the racing picture, I enjoy this blog and garnering info than the race more. And checking on Twitter.

The racing camera work is just PUTRID. oh and nobody brought up the USELESS shots of drivers as we go to commercials. that's a good 5-10 seconds WASTED!

I enjoy side by side in IRL. If an incident happens, its besides the commercial.

Course in IRL most cars look alike & they can't go in reverse, so if they have a boo boo and bump into something, car needs to be pushed out with humans but I digress.

I'd like to tell the directors of the races and NASCAR to kiss my grits (As Flo used to say :) ) for an old sitcom reference. lol

Gymmie said...

@bevo--of course I don't have much of a choice now but yes this blog is the only reason I watch any racing live. But with the DVR 99.99% of the shows I watched were via DVR and pretty much only shows like the Biggest Loser finale were the only things I watched live.

@darbar--exactly!

fbu1 said...

The combination of A)intrusive commercials and B)racing coverage that is forced into a "scripted storyline" box, has driven me away from the TV during Cup races. With the exception of Talledega, I have not watched a whole Cup race since Daytona. I feel adequately informed by Internet and radio coverage.

Regarding split screen advertising, I am for it. I have seen it work well during high profile European Soccer games. A channel that I watched frequently while in Greece had a hybrid approach. The commercial began in full screen mode. After 10 - 15 seconds, it zoomed out to split screen. The audio for the commercial remained on top until the spot ended.

That compromise worked for me. If the commercial is well done and informative, people will pay attention. Unfortunately, most NASCAR commercials are not all that interesting.

fbu1

Photojosh said...

This is very simple:

If the TV networks want me to watch more commercials, switch to a "side-by-side" system for them.

Otherwise I'm going to continue to fast forward the Tivo, get up to take a wizz, or flip to the ballgame on another channel for a few minutes. Get it straight advertisers, I don't watch your commercials unless forced to. Side-by-side would force me to.

But if TV networks need the 500 non-commercial ads and sponsorship moments, then side-by-side isn't going to do anything to help that.

Jimbacca said...

It seems like it's now an informercial with racing as the commercial breaks. The amount of advertising is beyond now. Isn't there some law about the amount of ads vs playable footage or is that just with regular shows?

The car cameras are just ploys now. Here's mikey's roof cam brought to you by napa showing back of the pack racing. Jamie Mac was kicking butt last race if you went by the footage. Oh wait it was a crown royal race. Other races when he's doing good nothing.
For the comments about nascars cut. It is more then you think if you take into consideration ISC. So yes they do good.
The coverage. Not sure if side by side will be an answer. It will just morph into side by side commercials. I watched hot pass a few times and it does give you racing while commercialing. I would say it's just a one car view but as I'm typing... that is what alot of the coverage has become. One cars view of the racing.

Much like any industry now. A reality check is in order. If something is too overpriced to where you don't even get to view it then there needs to be an adjustment. Showing a commercial for 3 hours is a little out of hand and will lead to no one wanting to watch it and just following it online.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how you can spend November to February wringing your hands about whether or not the economics of NASCAR can support the sport as we know it in this unusually difficult economic times....

...and then when NASCAR makes adjustments to offset the revenue gaps, and they make changes to sponsorship tie-ins in order to keep the sport running, you criticize them.

I don't like the commercials and plus any more than the next person. But a) I don't find it any more intrusive than other sports, all of which are doing this these days and b) I would rather have someone like Ask.com get tons of on-air mentions rather than they decide maybe to spend their previous few marketing/advertising dollars on a SuperBowl spot or baseball promotion. If Ask.com leaves, Bobby Labonte is out of a ride (ask the 8-car about sponsorship).

So I will take Labonte on the track and the announcers mentioning his sponsor every 20 laps over no 96 car, no Ask sponsor, no Ask participation in NASCAR, and a smaller field of drivers.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Earl said...

It would be interesting to look back at this column in six months, because I'm doubtful this will get better. FOX is starting to sacrifice live coverage of pit stops for commercial breaks on the smaller tracks. ESPN does the same frequently during the Nationwide races, so it follows they will do the same for Cup. Not a pretty picture for those unfortunate fans without DVRs.

The commercialization of the coverage is very troubling for another reason. There is so much scripted material that when it comes time to do traditional PxP/analysis, the guys in the booth seem lost. In the closing laps Sat. night, DW went on and on about what an incredible driver Kyle Busch is, but little was said about the action on the track. Mike Joy would interject "5 laps to go, Busch leads by 2.8 seconds" type comments, but everything else was editorial in nature. I wonder why the production staff, who seem to script most of the telecast, disappear for the last 50 laps of every race. The outcome of the race was not in doubt and there were stories to tell, why not cover them?

Anonymous said...

Sad to say that the folks at FIX Sports paid way too much for the television contract. Period. Companies have determined the advertising impact is not there. NASCAR racing is still regional. Sure, there are pockets around the country that have some turn-out, but it is, at best, a niche sport.
IT will be worse next year. Companies budgeted advertising dollars about this time last year when the economy had not heard much of toxic mortgages and bank stress tests.
NASCAR needs to understand this. However, there are no real smart folks running the marketing part and ISA's insistence to run races at places such as California do not help. Heck the NFL has no LA-Market team.
It's a very complicated issue.

Ken said...

I think NA$CAR would be wise to renegotiate the TV contracts now so they can afford to show more of the race. If the ratings continue to drop and/or the networks lose money, there will be a drastic drop in revenue with the next TV contract. The network doesn't want to pay for programing that doesn't attract a large audience and the sponsors don't want to pay when few are watching. If things don't change, I think there will be far fewer bidders when the contract comes up for renewal.

Anonymous said...

We can be greatful of one thing. Had CA$HCAR gotten the amount Wall Street thought they should've gotten for the TV contracts, we'd have even less racing to watch than we do now because the networks would be having to show even more commercials and stickinhg sponsors on things that the networks would make up.

As to the side-by-side screen split to show commercials, Brian France said that "the sponsors" won't allow it because of "their branding". It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it wasn't "the sponsors" who didn't want us to have the split screen for commercials. You'll see some of these same "sponsors" during IRL races and they have no problems with the split screen. It's Brian France wanting to keep CA$HCAR's coverage different from the other racing series. Even if it does make sense.

Until/Unless Brian France is replaced and somebody a little more realistic about what's happening to the sport takes over, the ratings and what's supposed to be coverage will continue to go downhill.

GinaV24 said...

I wanted to add a 2nd comment since I don't watch the commercials either. Commercial breaks are long enough to be able to do something around the house, put laundry in or whatever and obviously if I record the race, I never watch the commercials. At least with side by side broadcast they would be off in my peripheral vision, even if I'm not really "looking" at them. I'm sorry to hear that Fox did such a bad job at the end of the race broadcast.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:12AM,

What are you talking about?

This topic is about the increased commercial load on TV. Nothing to do with NASCAR.

Side-by-side commercials just allow for additional logos during the breaks and let the race coverage continue without interruption.

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Bob,

Just hit "older posts" to go back to our David Poole tribute, which was posted on the day of his passing.

I am also on the Rowdy.com podcast with a wide variety of NASCAR writers talking about David.

Thanks,

JD

Zieke said...

Hey fans, look at the bright side. During all those commercials we don't have to listen to Waltrip's blathering or "back in the 'ol days" or pumping his brother. Makes me even want to buy some of this stuff I don't even use.

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw side-by-side commercial breaks on the Indy 500 race, I thought it was brilliant. It gives the impression that every second of the race is critical and that things could change in an instant -- which in fact is the case. That sounds like common sense but right now, Fox's TV presentation really does encourage casual fans to equate cautions and commercials with football timeouts. When you give viewers (who are not devoted fans) the impression nothing's happening, they'll change channels and maybe not come back. With side-by-side, that would happen less. Sponsor messages would still get presented and these viewers would feel like they can't afford to miss the action.

And with HDTV's wider format, side-by-side actually looks pretty good.

Fox really has lost some luster this season. I don't mind the in-race sponsor features so much -- it's part of every sport these days. But the whole Digger business of marketing something to kids is pretty cynical. Seems like trying side-by-side would be a more positive, fan-friendly move.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

One interesting thing about the sponsor thing during broadcasts is that on Saturday I was watching a movie on the FX network and saw Ask.com come on and do their ask type of questions. So, I see that sponsor plugs are a thing of the future for all tv coverage no matter if it is sports, movies, sitcoms, or anything.

I know that I am grateful for being able to watch the races on tv as this year due to the economy, I probably will not get a chance to get to a race.

Newracefan,

When you go to Dover, listen to the tv frequency on the scanner and report to us what the production truck tells the announcers to say and see if it truly is a scripted thing. That is if you don't mind doing that. It would be an interesting thing to see if they are told to "stick to the script" or it just appears that way.

Just some thoughts. Hopefully this makes sense somewhat.

Anonymous said...

We're far past the point of diminishing returns on this subject. The race was becoming tougher to follow last year before the influx of Cheeze-Its-whatevers appeared.

And we never, ever get the old NBC technique of dropping out of a break from a crash.

In fact, I was watching Talladega with a friend who also works in TV, and we'd swear Fox missed a restart and then played back the tape of it was if it were live, then jumped back to live action without saying a word--pretending the whole thing was live.

All NASCAR's refusal to allow side-by-side coverage is doing is driving people away...and to the radio, in my case, where I can do something else while hearing more of the action.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

Newracefan,

Please forgive me as I meant to ask you to listen to the scanner frequency for the tv broadcast instead of telling you to. I am sorry for the way that it was worded.


To all,

It might be an interesting experiment for those going to the track to listen to the scanner frequency for the tv broadcast and let us know what the truck tells the announcers to do. It might give us some sort of insight into whether or not it is as scripted as it seems.

I know that when I went to the Texas race last fall, I listened to the tv broadcast on my scanner for the truck race and there was one wreck that happened that really wasn't anything spectacular and the truck told MW to make it seem more than what it was and that surprised me.

But overall, I am truly grateful for the tv coverage of the nascar races and the sport that I love. I am very passionate about nascar and appreciate the coverage that it receives. Constructive criticism is helpful, though, and I think that is what we here are trying to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

How hard is it to comprehend? Side-by-side would be nice, but the advertisers have to shell out a heck of alot more cash for NASCAR ads than IRL ones.

Its much easier to justify risking a small amount of money for an IRL side-by-side, than it would be for doing the same thing for a Sprint Cup ad.

I don't see how you can avoid going back to the size of the TV contract as the root of the problem. That is entirely within NASCAR's and the TV networks control. That is where the problem needs to be addressed.

It isn't the resonsiblity of Go Daddy and Home Depot to bail the networks out of a horrific deal. I'm sure they'll love to go side-by-side for 1/4 of the cost of a full screen commercial.

Like getting upside down in a house or car loan, only the passage of time can cure it. Unfortunatly, the fans watching on TV will have to endure this until the TV money situation can right itself.

Anonymous said...

I wager the loss of TV Ad revenue has much more to do with the economy, than the drop in viewership. Even if the TV ratings were the same as last year, we'd still have the same number of ads being shown. Retaining fans would do nothing to improve the TV commercial situation.

Just like the economy of today couldn't support California real estate prices of 3-4 years ago, the economy of today can not support a TV contract price of 3-4 years ago.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:30AM,

Fox missed one restart, played it back as if it was live coming back from commercial and then cut to the cars on the backstretch live.

Little time-shifting experiment that I doubt we will see again. NASCAR fans do not miss a thing on TV!

JD

Anonymous said...

Split screen commercials are a very small part of the solution, so will garner very little serious consideration from the networks. The problem is the overall quality of the racing. True fans might get stiffies over pit stops, but the casual fans who swell ratings don't give a rip. Give them wrecks, Dale Junior wins and on track fist fights and drama and everyone will get rich. One more thing: interrupting commercials for wrecks is a great thing. Just remember, they can't always do that when they're in "local commercial breaks" because of technology issues that's too complicated to explain here.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:20PM,

Did you watch Richmond and Talladega?

The quality of the racing was outstanding IMHO.

There has to be a first step to solving the TV ratings problem.

Perhaps future readers who comment can address that issue.

JD

Jack from PA said...

Anon, 11:30,

I thought I was seeing things when they missed the restart and played it off as if it were live. I caught that as well and felt kind of cheated, like they didn't think fans would realize cars instantly go from entering turn 1 to the end of the backstretch (even without the plates I doubt that would happen).

I doubt side-by-side will ever happen. Which is why I'd settle for something like a ticker on the top or bottom of the screen, with one row giving the running order, and the other giving updates if a caution were to come out, someone pits unexpectedly, etc. Two lines on a screen is not a lot for sponsors to give up, and I think it would be better than what we see now.

KoHoSo said...

It would be helpful to know what Fox is really thinking here. Are they just going to torture us like this for one or two years until the economy improves, or is this how things are going to be as long as they hold a piece of the NASCAR television contract? Either way, this is not how I run things in my household. I would cut expenses rather than work myself (or an audience) to death. Unfortunately, Fox (or any telecasting entity for that matter) is only out for itself. I guess that's OK and fully their right -- as they say, it's a free country. However, when the time comes for the next contract, I honestly wonder how much NASCAR will regret not having taken more control of its product so we could have side-by-side like the IRL (something I don't whiz through even on my DVR) or some other innovation to give fans some commercial relief and retain something resembling its zenith of popularity in the Nielsen Ratings. Constant full-screen advertisements that are dadgum near wearing out my DVR sure don't seem to be a good way to attract new viewers (for which Fox could charge higher advertising rates) or hold those who have come in as casual fans over the past few years. In addition, it sure doesn't seem to help stem the criticism that NASCAR is nothing but one long commercial in the first place with its now almost constant one-car camera shots of rolling billboards.

JMHO.

Anonymous said...

JD…I was tired (thanks to a Kentucky Derby Party - started watching & took naps in between laps 100-300), it was like when Kyle took the lead – Fox had the script they wanted & was giddy (DW) that Kyle was going to win..and nothing else in the race mattered so lets phone it in, get all of our commercial spots in, & get out of town.

However: due to cautions & strategy – out of the blue – the 31 & 14 come up make it a race..and FOX was clueless. If we would have had a caution at the right time we would have a spectacular finish.

Fox did get a little bit of credit for showing Hornish coming through the field…I am shocked he received any coverage at all.

Bottom line…the FOX coverage is horrible……not really shocking the ratings are down.

With the reports of tires only holding up for 18 laps maximum at Indy it may be a long summer of bad news for NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

My race telecast is always commercial free. I never watch the race during the live telecast. I just can't live with that. NASCAR at 10 pm with a cold glass of milk and a stack of Oreos, let's go racing boys. Record it, fast fwd through the ads, works for me. I attempt to not inadvertently find out who won before I watch the recording, but if it happens it happens. Only a handful of potential winners anyway. I don't like Digger, I don't like ol' DW, and I don't like the Alabama uneducated homespun lack of diction/grammar that a auto mac-chanic turned color man subjects me to. But it is free. And it is worth at least that. For me, NBC, FOX, and TNT are interchangeably bad. Since I live way out west, the Speed pre-race is on at breakfast time for east coast races. I watch it with my Cheerios and head for the chores. What a plan? I'm lovin' it.

Anonymous said...

One more thing: interrupting commercials for wrecks is a great thing. Just remember, they can't always do that when they're in "local commercial breaks" because of technology issues that's too complicated to explain here.

I am very familiar with how broadcasting works.

There are plenty of network breaks during which they could come back to the track if a crash occurred--just as NBC did back in 2004.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the Alabama uneducated homespun lack of diction/grammar that a auto mac-chanic turned color man subjects me to.

You meant "...to which an auto mac-chanic subjects me," did you not?

Don't throw stones about others' grammar when you make mistakes yourself.

I'll accept Larry's colorful grammar in trade for the benefit of his unparalleled technical expertise.

Erik said...

Lets cut some expenses. Get rid of the extended pre-race, just 15-20 minutes before the green flag is enough.

No need for Meyers, or anyone else in the Hollywood hotel. Fire DW. Cut loose some pit road reporters, camera operators, and production staff.

Cut the number of in-car cameras by 75%, and the digger cams, bumper cams as well.

Work out an agreement with MRN / PRN to share some pit road reporting duties. That can work for all of the networks.

Bigger is not better, and its time to live within your means without bashing the audience over the head with non-stop commercials.

Though, unfortunatly, I bet most of those costs are already "sunk", so there is nothing you can do about them in the very near term.

I'd be curious to know how much each race costs in terms of production, as well as attempting to estimate a slice of the overall broadcasts rights to that single race.

I guess the mindset was the overall production couldn't change, just there needed to be more revenue streams to cover the costs.

haus20 said...

Add me to the list of those who don't watch the commercials...I just switch to a hot pass channel and turn up the satellite radio.

I don't mind everything in the race being sponsored if it was used to lower the number of commercials we see, but it doesn't seem to be doing that. It really seems this year that Fox has increased their commercial numbers.

For those who are eternal pessimists (anons) and say, it is the way it is so nothing can be done to change it, I disagree. The networks are in the business to make money. They make money by attracting viewers. They attract viewers by producing a product that the viewers want to see. If enough viewers expressed their displeasure with the current state of the broadcasts, things could change.

There is nothing wrong with a constructive discussion on how to improve the coverage of the racing we all enjoy watching.

alex said...

TBS did side-by-side for the Fall 1997 Charlotte race, and as I recall, it was received positively. Times and advertising strategies have changed in 12 years, but I don't see why it couldn't work.

The common argument is it doesn't work because the sponsors and companies buying ads must all agree to participate. With so many people watching and fast forwarding on DVR, side by side should GAIN viewers. Apparently they don't realize this. Not that I would prefer to see square-butt commercials, but if we can have racing alongside, it's better than what we have now.

Karen said...

JD said ...

I am also on the Rowdy.com podcast with a wide variety of NASCAR writers talking about David.

I just FF'd through the podcast and didn't hear you. Where in the show were you and I'll try again.

Anonymous said...

Side-by-side has been done before. There is nothing new or novel about it. If it would work, we'd be seeing it today. It doesn't matter if is was well received by the fans. The only thing that matters is if Fox/TNT/ESPN/ABC can pay the bills with it.

What is lacking is creativity. We need something innovative, that nobody else has tried before. Side-by-side is neither of that.

yankeegranny said...

I watch the race on tv with the sound muted. I listen to MRN for the play-by-play and watch RACEVIEW to follow my driver and to listen to the driver/spotter/crewchief. Idon't know why you people aren't using direct tv; I get it free, but am not thrilled with it. I am so addicted to Raceview that I really really missed it when we were at the track at Richmond this past weekend and I will miss it when we go to Darlington this next weekend.

Dave Sorter said...

Nothing is going to happen in the present, because Fox/TNT/ESPN need to make as much money as they can to support the rights fees they paid in contracts signed well before the economy tanked.

But when the contracts are up or -- and this could help the networks -- they are renegotiated, the true bottom line is how much NASCAR gets.

Looking for innovation? How about lowering rights fees for networks, and offering a commercial-free pay-per-season/pay-per race alternative: HotPass, with a channel that just shows the network feed but does not break for commercial. The PxP and analysts keep calling the race -- with more breaks to the studio team, which picks up the call so the guys in the booth can get a break.

Don't limit it to DirecTV; make it available to all cable/satellite/telco TV providers, and put the package on an HD subchannel for people who use an HD antenna. Those without an HD TV are out of luck, but by the time the current contracts expire after the 2014 season, what percentage of people won't have HD TVs?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Karen,

I am the last interview before Monte Dutton, the final writer to talk about David.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Guys,

I am just not hearing any other solutions being offered to this TV problem.

If you think something else could be changed on the screen or have any other ideas, fire away.

JD

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Last week it was reported that something like 11 out of 12 tv shows have lower ratings than last year. This also includes American Idol, which is still wildly popular but still down.

The ratings do not include DVR or Tivo, but I have read that they will start including those as part of ratings. I love NASCAR as much as possible, but work during the race, so I tivo it. This is the first job I've ever had on weekends. Now with folks work more than one job, this could be the reason why practically all shows are down.

Even the President's latest news conference was down.

Anonymous said...

JD,
It very well could be this is a problem without a solution. It just has to play out and run its course. There just isn't a quick fix.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I am not at all clear why there are so many more commercials this year. Is it because rates are down because ratings are down? OR, with ratings down FOX is having to do a lot of givebacks by running more commercials? OR, are the NASCAR races one of the few shows for which FOX can sell more commercials at close to normal prices?

Newracefan said...

Some suggestions have them sponsor through the fields, make a big deal about the NAPA car or the Cheese-it car or what ever. If that car is out or lapped do a through the field and tell us about that car anyway, how lapped, why it's out. Sponsor the ticker, sponsor a different kind of ticker on the bottom either a general commercial or that stuff we been having a race interrupted for, heck sponsor the onfo on who's off, out, getting lapped and why, what ever. This will give sponsors air time, fans will appreciate that these sponsors know the fans want to see the race. It will allow Mike etc to be able to call the race and keep up with the flow and momentum of the race.

Dot said...

@ JD, as they say in real estate. Location location location. We can say of FOX etc, coverage coverage coverage. If the races were unscripted and had less BS, maybe the ratings would be higher. It doesn't help that KyB keeps winning either. We can pretty much write that script.

The biggest complaint of any TV viewer, racing or otherwise is commls. However, they are a necessary evil. Aren't the cars considered commls? At least the ones we see?

I don't have any answers other than what I wrote earlier (cut away from comml). I just know that someone smarter than me must have an answer.

Dot said...

OT kinda, be prepared for a ton of GoDaddy.com commls @ Darlington. They're sponsoring the race.

Aven said...

I think we will just have to live through this downturn and hope broadcast rights will accurately reflect the market next time. The drop in ratings will cause a drop in ad rates or an increase in make goods which will increase the number of commercials which will cause a further drop in ad rates, etc., etc. A properly priced broadcast rights package would go a long way in correcting the problem but it would decrease the revenue of the tracks and drivers as well as Nascar which will pressure the tracks to increase ticket prices which will drop attendance which will decrease income, etc.

I think Nascar will eventually downsize and enact true cost cutting rules if it is to survive and thrive as a major league sport.

Sophia said...
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Anonymous said...

Its the economy, not the ratings forcing Fox into commercial overload. Ratings could be up 15% and we would still be in the same situation. Companies just can't pay as much as they used to for advertising. We just have to wait until the economy turns around.

Anonymous said...

Like someone said in a earlier post...Raceview is the way to go. Sure, it looks like a video game, but I am still watching it while the commercials roll. I actually tend to watch it/listen to it more than I do TV now because I can follow my driver and his team audio. I don't have to listen to the rambling announcers or what that f*&(&#g rat run around because that crap ain't on Raceview. Just my useless opinion...

PammH said...

I know I am waaaay late to this party, but here's my input..I don't listen, watch or read anything after a KyBu win. So I have saved a TON of time this wk!:)
I check headlines on Jayski, but that's it. We need something to bring the fans back...maybe better racing-WHAT a shock!!

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, for those who feel DirecTV is having problems, here's something that just came out yesterday on their profits and increase in subs (460,000 in fact):

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 07, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The DIRECTV Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:DTV) today reported that first quarter 2009 revenues increased 7% to $4.90 billion, operating profit before depreciation and amortization1 (OPBDA) declined 8% to $1.09 billion and operating profit decreased 35% to $424 million compared to last year's first quarter. The DIRECTV Group reported that first quarter net income attributable to The DIRECTV Group declined 46% to $201 million and earnings per share fell 38% to $0.20 compared with the same period last year.

"The growing momentum that we saw at the end of last year has continued into 2009 reflecting DIRECTV's brand strength and unparalleled service," said Chase Carey, president and CEO of The DIRECTV Group, Inc. "Net subscriber additions of 460,000 in the U.S. were the highest in 4 years and were 67% greater than the prior year. DIRECTV's competitive advantages, which include industry leading HD, interactive, sports and DVR services, were the driving force behind the 22% increase in gross additions to 1.18 million subscribers and the ten-year low monthly churn rate of 1.33%. We're also pleased that the overall credit quality of these new subscribers remains at our high standards and they continue to have a rich appetite for HD and DVR services.