Saturday, June 27, 2009

Carl Edwards' Excellent Drag Racing Promo

ESPN2's NASCAR Now is in its third season and going strong. Well, strong except for one completely embarrassing high-profile problem. Nothing drove this issue home like Carl Edwards' recent NASCAR Now appearance.

Edwards was Mike Massaro's in-studio guest on Thursday. Massaro conducted the normal driver interview segment, but then Edwards was allowed to flex a little TV muscle and participate during the entire show.

Marty Smith's door-to-door segment featured an Edwards opinion and then Ed Hinton came along to make small talk with the Cup driver. But, the most jaw-dropping part of the program took only fifteen seconds.

Late in the show, Edwards read the NASCAR Now promo page for the upcoming motorsports weekend on TV. In a very professional voice, Edwards read the promo for the Nationwide Series race on ABC and the Camping World Truck Series race on SPEED. Then, a magical TV moment happened.

Edwards read the final promo for the featured Sunday race. Amazingly, the veteran NASCAR driver was promoting the NHRA drag race on ESPN2 Sunday night.

That's right, NHRA drag racing was the featured Sunday TV race on NASCAR Now with Sprint Cup Series driver Edwards in the studio reading the copy.

Incredibly, NASCAR Now has avoided promoting every single Sprint Cup Series points race in 2009. TV viewers have seen IRL promos and NHRA promos, but none for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

The reason given to TDP for this, believe it or not, is television.

ESPN demanded promotion of the ESPN Nationwide Series events in the live Fox and TNT Sprint Cup Series races. In return, ESPN would then promote the start time and TV network of those Sprint Cup Series races on NASCAR Now.

In other words, ESPN was using the only daily NASCAR TV show as leverage.

Fox is now gone and TNT is about to step away from the Sprint Cup Series for another season. Those two TV networks don't care about NASCAR Now or ESPN's promo demands. Neither of them even blinked.

Once again, the only folks being used as pawns in this game are TV viewers and NASCAR fans. In a couple of weeks, ESPN will inherit a sport struggling with lower TV ratings, declining attendance and a much lower national media profile.

All of this boils down to just one question. Will five months of a complete lack of on-air promotion by NASCAR Now help or hurt ESPN's own Sprint Cup Series TV ratings? We should know the answer shortly.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Dot said...

I saw Carl on NN. He looked nice in his suit.

I missed the drag racing promo. I guess it doesn't really matter if BSPN mentions the CUP race or not. True fans know when it's on. NASCAR/BF catering to the casual fan really paid off, didn't it? Where are they now? Racing was just a fad for these people.

I liked what Carl said about the CUP drivers in the NW series. I hope Joe Balash and the Emperor use his ideas.

I'm glad DJ is finally back.

Matt said...

I think it's only fair of ESPN to want their races promoted if they are going to promote the races on the other networks. Of course, the one to blame here is actually NASCAR. NASCAR should require the networks to cross promote, as is done during baseball/basketball playoffs. It would be in the sport's best interest.

Hotaru1787 said...

Did Carl read the weekend promos? I had my tv muted then.

Them not reading the Sprint Cup series race time STILL irks me.

Sophia said...

Dot, WHAT did Carl say about the CUP drivers in the NW series. Different scoring?

They can't carpetbag all year and steal trophies from a series beneath them?/

INDEED if NASCAR TRULY CARED about their own sport, they should be MORE CONCERNED at the horrible treatment by it's broadcast partners across the board (TNT exempted)

I continue to care less and find myself even checking Jayski less and less and just stopping by here and Twitter. All I need.

In the contracts of promoting, NASCAR SHOULD PUT SOME RULES IN STONE.

ESPECIALLY with the lack of attention/sponsors in these struggling times.

Daly Planet Editor said...


The title of the show is NASCAR Now. Perhaps, it could be changed to NASCAR on ESPN Now if this continues.

In just a couple more races, ESPN will have made it all the way through the Fox and TNT races without ever promoting one.

That really working for ya?


True fans are not the question and this issue is huge. Not doing a promo for the entire race just because you have to mention the TV network on which it airs is somehow OK? I would disagree.

How does this sport pick-up news fans without any other NASCAR TV on during the week other than NASCAR Now?

Fox and TNT are event networks, they have no other NASCAR shows. SPEED has the weekend shows but only TWIN on Mondays.

ESPN's six days a week of NASCAR Now is key to exposing new fans to the sport.

Even on the Sunday morning Sprint Cup Series version of this show, there is no promo at all for the very race the show is previewing.

Must be good to be king.


Anonymous said...

I watched the show and thought it was dreadful
It was as if a quid pro quo was set with Carl...If you show up, the half hour will be all about you


Bray Kroter

red said...

hugh laurie looks decidedly unimpressed with what's going on "off picture" there.

as for this continuing battle between espn and the others: childish. just flat-out childish. pretending that a competitor doesn't exist by never mentioning them is silly and would be amusing if it didn't have an impact on the sport.

aside from actually being a moment to provide information to fans about when the cup race happens (b/c we all know the times slide around and finding when a race is being broadcast is a weekly task!), this pettiness doesn't speak well of our sport -- yet again.

no, it's not just this one moment, of course. it's this moment coupled with digger, adding in the grant/david fiascos, throwing in the cot, blend in the inconsistent broadcasting across the season and topped with the capriciousness and irrationality of the nascar organization itself. that, my friends, is the recipe for plummeting ratings and a factor in weak attendance.

i believe my self-imposed boycott of "all things espn" from last year will extend itself into this season as well. so, no bookmark of the espn site, no buying the magazine or watching the channels. i'll watch the race -- b/c "they can't take that away from me" -- but that's it.

the only way to deal with childish behavior is to ignore it. so, i'm putting espn in the corner for a time-out and won't reward their bad behavior with any attention.

Unknown said...

Don't flame me for this, but at least ESPN has started to promote the truck races. I don't remember that being done before, but I could be wrong. It has happened the last few weeks.

Some of Carl's ideas about Cup drivers in NW were:
1: Have the Cup guys start in the back no matter where they qualify
2: Have points awarded for qualifying (can't remember if it was for Cup guys only)
3: Fans want to see the Cup drivers and it helps to fill the stands.
4: And of course, sponsors and promotors want the Cup drivers

Anonymous said...

ESPN does not promote FOX races because David Hill refuses to do the same for ESPN citing affiliate conflicts.

NASCAR Now often promotes NHRA as part of thier weekend ESPN motorsport menu - Carl was just having some fun playing tv host

ESPN does promote NASCAR Speed races because Hunter Nichole agreeded to do same for ESPN - UNLIKE David Hill

These are facts I'm sure your ESPN contacts can confirm.

Haus14 said...

How sad. Once again those that broadcast the sport seem to forget that the good of the sport as a whole benefits everyone.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:36AM,

We are well aware of those details.

Why should Fox or TNT promote ESPN events in their live races?

The difference is very clear between a daily news show that is supposed to be dedicated to the sport and individual races that are the property of the TV networks.

When you see an NFL quarterback promoting an ESPN MLB game on the NFL Live show, you let me know.

Karen said...

Any thoughts that ESPN might be sabotaging itself so NASCAR has to renegotiate before the Cup series is nonexistent b/c of crappy ratings? There has to be something in fine print for nonperformance by ESPN. Even BF and his bevy of lawyers could do something before NASCAR crashes and burns. Just a thought.

Dot said...

@ JD, I get your point about the infighting among the racing TV partners and BSPN. All it does is make them look childish and arrogant.

All other cable TV networks show promos for other shows on a different channel. Why does BSPN refuse to play along? Are they afraid they're going to lose viewers? BSPN's race coverage is already doing that to the NW races.

Anonymous said...

Dot when you see a commercial for TNT on USA it is usually not run by USA but rather by your cable or sat provider.

TV networks as a rule do not take commercials for other networks.

Now on to cross-promoting sports during a telecast. This is only done by NBA (TNT and ESPN/ABC) and possibly NHL (VS and NBC).

One more - MLB during playoffs when games are among different channels

During NFL wild-card playoffs you will not see ANY mention of a game on another channel. Certainly not by FOX

Dot said...

@ Anon 2:49, thanks for that info. I've always wondered about that. You never see ABC for instance, promo American Idol that's on FOX. Or when a celebrity is on a talk show, they always say that their show is on "another network".

TV is so different now from back in the olden days. Why can't they all just get along?

Vicky D said...

I don't think Carl went far enough with his answer regarding the cup guys in the NW races. What about when there are 17 or 18 cup guys in a race? He didn't say what his opinion of that problem was. Other than that maybe it would somewhat help but will the series survive? I'm worried about truck series surviving before the end of the season.

Haus14 said...

I like Carl's idea of the Cup guys starting in the back, but I still think the answer to this whole problem is simply placing a limit on the total number of races that any driver can run in the top three series combined. Say we threw number 50 out there. That would allow cup guys to run the cup series + some truck and NW races. It would also allow the drivers in the other series to move among the series' as they needed to as well. Finally, it would insure that a full time driver in the specific series won the title while still allowing the tracks and sponsors the opportunity to use cup guys to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

Promotion 101. (deep breath)
Sportscenter doesn't say "you can see the Cowboys Sunday afternoon at 4pm eastern over on CBS" after doing a story about Tony Romo. Neither does CBS do a promo saying "you can see all the highlights of this and all the other NFL games today coming up tonight on Sportscenter".
Remember that all of this programing (football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR) is just fill material to go between advertisements. And, you want people watching your advertisements on lets say a drag race as opposed to someone else's advertisements on lets say a Sprint Cup race. AND just maybe, when the Sprint Cup race (that you know when and where it's on 'cause casual fans do not just sit and watch Nascar Now) gets boring, you will remember Carl saying something about a drag race over on ESPN and flip over there for a few minutes to see if it's any more interesting and end up watching a few commercials. Mission accomplished! Ads watched! Money made! (deep breath)
That's the longwinded version of promoting events during a show and why you don't usually put another networks show on yours.
Thank you for your time.

Robert Upchurch said...

Sorry JD, I just can't get worked up over this. Several issues:

- Remember, this got started way back when FOX got its first NASCAR contract. FOX shut ESPN out of the racetrack and restricted their access to footage of NASCAR races. This had the result of killing the only daily racing show of that time, RPM2NITE. This has likely not been forgotten by folks at Disney. And fans like me, who haven't had a daily general racing show since, except for the one year that Wind Tunnel was a daily show.

- You can't say that NASCAR Now doesn't promote the Sprint Cup races...they spend a considerable amount of time each week doing just that. What they do not do is list the race broadcast on its calendar screen, and:

- This is really of little importance these days. With TiVo/DVR and modern TV viewing, most fans know (or can easily find) where the race is shown and ignore the calendar screen anyway. I know I do.

- The fact that it was Carl who read the calendar screen is irrelevant. I know you are upset about this subject, because you have discussed it before, but Carl was just playing it straight as if he were a regular member of the on-air crew and really not at fault for it.

I'm much more upset about ESPN2 (and SPEED) not sticking to their program times so those of us who must use DVRs to watch racing and racing news don't get shut out. For example, I was hoping to see if Mike Joy had something to say about Tom Thrash's unfortunate demise on Wind Tunnel this week, but the delayed start time caused me to miss the last 15 minutes of the show. Maybe you will rant about that practice in the future.


Daly Planet Editor said...


This has nothing to do with the NASCAR Images issue of footage restrictions many years ago. That issue has nothing to do with the TV networks and everything to do with NASCAR's new media company.

My entire point is that NASCAR Now devotes considerable production time and effort into the Sprint Cup Series races, only to have an executive above the program ban them from mentioning or promoting where TV viewers can find the race to watch. This has NEVER been done this season.

Most cable TV viewers do not have a DVR and the TiVo penetration is tiny. The portion of the TV audience that does not have a mechanical recording device and is not a hardcore NASCAR fan is exactly what this post is about.

The fact that Carl read the promo is completely relevent. It is the first time a Cup driver, on the show because of a nearby race, was forced to read a drag racing promo on a NASCAR show instead of saying the race is on TNT at 2PM.

When something is wrong Robert, you can either try to correct it or make excuses. This was the biggest on-air embarrassment for this program since Erik Kuselias and Doug Banks.

Our goal here at TDP is to push change in the TV coverage of the sport when something is wrong.

This is an outstanding example of that.


The Loose Wheel said...

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

JD - you say "forced Carl to read".
Admit it - you don't know if he was forced - typical spculation by you with no facts or insight...

Anonymous said...

Carl is great. Give us Carl and Nicole on NASCAR Now every night and the show will be worth watching. Give Mike Wallace the seat when Carl can't make it and it would be the best race show on the air.

By the way, anyone else notice that ESPN does not embed the intelligence into their NN program that allows PVRs to pick each new episode up as new? My PVR picks up every episode, repeat or not. Does not do that with any other show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:59AM,

Out of that whole column and this entire issue, that is what you can comment on? Typical of you.

Edwards read the promo as it was scripted. Forced does not mean he was held at gunpoint to do it.

His only other choice was maybe to ask why he was promoting an NHRA event in a NASCAR show instead of the Sunday race on TNT.

That did not happen.


kbaskins said...

Trackside Live is on right now. John Roberts just gave a rundown of NASCAR programming on TV today. Right smack dab in the middle of the list of SPEED programming was the Nationwide race on ABC. Their logo was next to the name of the race, and Roberts actually said the other station's name.

That's how you play nice. You give us fans the information we need.