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.
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