Monday, May 4, 2009
SPEED TV Rides To The Rescue In Richmond
Nothing beats live sports on TV for excitement. Sometimes, things get interesting long before the game, race or event begins. That was certainly the case with the NASCAR on Fox telecast from Richmond on Saturday night.
Cable TV network SPEED was on the air with RaceDay when viewers saw reporter Wendy Venturini suddenly standing under an umbrella. It was shortly after 5:30PM, a little more than two hours before the planned start of the race. The promised rain had begun.
Sports fans watching the regional baseball games on Fox began looking at their watches around 6PM. The NASCAR on Fox telecast was scheduled for 7PM and last year a clash between baseball and NASCAR got very ugly.
Sure enough, by the time 7PM rolled around the worst possible scenario was in place. All the Fox baseball games were still in progress, the rain had stopped and NASCAR was starting the race on time.
It was RaceDay host John Roberts who delivered the words that many NASCAR fans thought should have been said last season. Roberts told viewers at 7PM that the full NASCAR on Fox telecast would begin on the SPEED network.
Moments later, there they were. Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond were in the Hollywood Hotel and all of it was on SPEED. NASCAR fans had a viable alternative for viewing the coverage and baseball fans got to see their games end.
Credit goes to the Fox and SPEED executives who had discussed and planned for this scenario in advance. Even the Fox baseball producers in the field managed to get their announcers to mention that live NASCAR coverage was available on SPEED. That is like getting the Hatfields to promote the McCoy's new general store.
As the regional baseball games began to end, viewers could see something for the first time. A simulcast of a primetime NASCAR race on both Fox and SPEED. Unfortunately, the transition from baseball to NASCAR was rough for many local Fox TV stations. Some played over six minutes of commercials and promos while trying to sync-up with the Fox network for NASCAR.
Depending on the time zone, some TV viewers wound-up joining the telecast in the middle of the National Anthem while others caught the tail-end of the invocation. Since Fox did such a good job of making changes since last season, perhaps getting the stations quickly from baseball to NASCAR next time will be a more orderly transition.
Once everyone was on board, the Fox team thanked SPEED and the cable network returned to regularly scheduled programming. Motorcycle fans had their Supercross, NASCAR fans had their racing and all the Major League Baseball games had been aired to their conclusion.
This was a good example of planning ahead and then executing that plan as the situation unfolded. In the future, Fox will no doubt add graphic elements to the baseball games with the SPEED logo promoting the coverage. In addition, SPEED viewers tuning-in at 8PM found themselves staring at NASCAR instead of motorcycle racing with no graphic update.
All-in-all, this was the best use of the Fox-owned cable network possible. SPEED has helped out in the past with Monday races and even served as a platform to carry an ESPN-produced NASCAR race due to scheduling conflicts with the World Wide Leader.
Perhaps, using SPEED in other situations for additional NASCAR programming might be a result of this very successful Saturday night experiment.
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