Sunday, July 5, 2009

TNT Sets The New NASCAR TV Standard

It took a little while for fans to get the hang of TNT's Wide Open coverage. The network inserted a white-framed video box in the lower right corner of the screen and played the commercials in the box. Meanwhile, on the rest of the screen the Sprint Cup Series race from Daytona continued without interruption.

This was very popular when TNT did it last season and this year it was even better. Host Marc Fein is pictured above on the infield set with guest Richard Petty. Fein set a relaxed tone with panelists Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds on the pre-race show. The conversations on this program are mixed with a variety of features.

To have TNT take the time to profile veteran owner Junie Donlavey by sending his former driver Wally Dallenbach to handle the interview shows that the TNT guys just get it. Lindsay Czarniak's JP Montoya feature perhaps needed some more organization, but Dallenbach made up for it with his look at Mark Martin and his fitness routine.

This irreverent look at the sport is just what it needs right now. TNT has managed to take the spotlight off the manufacturer troubles and the economic woes. Petty's ability to make fun of himself and keep things loose has been a big key to this success.

Most NASCAR fans know that Ralph Sheheen was called-up from pit road to step into the high-profile play-by-play position for TNT. At Daytona, in only his second time in this role, Sheheen was outstanding. A sports TV veteran with a diverse past, Sheheen directed traffic and let the other members of the TNT team shine.

Petty and Dallenbach have formed a very comfortable pairing that features a mix of humor, experience and opinion. Neither of these former drivers tries to compare their experiences with the veterans currently still racing. In fact, they often joke about their shortcomings on the track and have conversations about real issues just like NASCAR fans.

Petty is still the star of the show and seems to be comfortable in this role. It will be a shame to have him leave NASCAR after just one more event. His candid comments in Daytona were mixed with his continual use of technology while the TV coverage was in progress.

At one point in the telecast, we asked Petty via Twitter why more drivers in the big accident were not interviewed on TV. Not only did he answer the question on the air in about two minutes, he responded with a return message in the next commercial break. Petty even took the picture used on this post during the pre-race show and sent it out to the fans. Now, that is multi-tasking.

NASCAR gave TNT a bonus with the first restarts at Daytona under the new rules for the Sprint Cup Series. It really paid off as the action on the track kept things interesting and the intensity high. For the first time in a long time, this race seemed to fly by in a hurry.

Director Mike Wells chose pictures that told the story all night long and framed the camera coverage so that the commercials never interfered with any of the action on the track. The flexibility of the entire TV team to integrate these frequent breaks was simply outstanding. The bottom line was that it worked.

TNT's pit stop effect of three video boxes at the top of the screen was framed for High Definition TV sets. Standard sets lost a bit of the picture at the top of the screen, but the overall effect was the same. Viewers got to see three leaders and the race off pit road.

One dent in the night was the late caution that appeared to be more competition oriented than actually caused by debris. Nothing was shown to viewers and this is a TV crew that has been pretty reliable on the reasons for caution flags. I guess you can't show what you don't have, but the topic was not pursued.

The final lap was a disaster that was quickly turned into a TV recovery. Everyone watched Kyle Busch's car while those fortunate enough to get through the accident crossed the finish line. Sheheen called it like he saw it and then led the network through a series of replays from every angle possible.

Dallenbach and Petty took the lead and TNT replayed the entire lap from start to finish. This was the only way TV viewers at home would have any perspective on the finish line mayhem. Once it was clear what had happened, it was the words of the drivers themselves that put things in perspective.

This time, TNT stayed for a while as the pit reporters chased down the key interviews. Adam Alexander was the new guy on the TNT crew and handled his pit road assignments flawlessly. It was Tony Stewart set the tone by saying he did not want to win in that fashion, a statement echoed by others. Unfortunately, Kyle Busch again took the easy way out and declined to comment. This continues to be a very bad public relations error.

This TNT production really showed what NASCAR TV could be if the three networks involved got together and pooled resources and ideas. This single telecast put the Hollywood Hotel, Digger and Fox's endless "Junior hype" in a new perspective. In a short time, ESPN will take over the Cup coverage with no online video, full-screen commercials and one pre-race driver question as the only connection with the fans.

Saturday night in Daytona was memorable for many reasons. One of them may be for a type of NASCAR TV broadcast that we will not see again until next July. That would be a shame.

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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.


Sophia said...

I LOVED it!! Though nervous at times early on,over stuck in car cams (like the one aimed at Tony I think for too long) over all, it was ok because it was just SOMETIMES and short amounts of time. Thus the CAMERA work had an excellent FLOW tonight. Sound was great, and the guys in the booth? LOVE THEM. Marc Fein has either grown on me or just found his niche this season and had my room mate (who stopped to watch the race off and on) laughing in the pre race.

Kyle Petty will be SORELY MISSED!! He and Wally are great fun, and Ralph has slid into place like a pair of comfortable slippers. These guys make you FEEL GOOD with their passion and their spirit.

MIKE WELLS--what can I say. He makes me happy to watch the tv pictures as they fly through the air into my living room/bedroom. He doesn't insult or waste time with spinning, dizzying graphics, he just dares to, gasp, SHOW US THE RACE!

THEN when in car cams were used in replays, the guys in the booth were telling us what to look for, listen to or see from another angle.

JD, you just want to pick up the phone and have these guys over for dinner and drinks!

And some were griping about all the commercials. Are you kidding me?

JD, were some local stations allowed to add EXTRA ADDS? I only saw maybe 4 minutes or so an hour of full screen commercials.

Race Buddy was great as the time or to an in car cam WAS the focus and a car spun out, I saw it LIVE on FREE RB. It does not get much better than that for these struggling times.

Yes, indeed, enjoy TNT one more time NASCAR fans. After that, it will be spastic camera work that makes no sense and gives us no perspective. (where are we? Daytona? Bristol? Prague?

TNT, totally enjoyed your work and for those we see and those we don't see, THANK YOU.xoxo

Only Six races a season. That should be a crime. Then full time ESPN.

TNT, we hardly knew ye.

Daly Planet Editor said...

This race was telecast on a cable TV network. Local cable TV systems run ads that are automatically inserted when cued mechanically.

Photojosh said...

Its hard to argue that TNT's race broadcasts this year have been anything but a total success. Even the stuff that people have chosen to pick on have been minor things in the relative scheme of "digger" and other problems from Fox/ESPN.

I will be VERY sorry to see the end of TNT's 6 race schedule. For the first time in a LONG time, here's a broadcast team that I would actually pay to see for the whole season.

Anonymous said...

Loved the race. The broadcasting was excellent. Good riddance to Bill Weber who was not missed in this telecast. Ralph Sheheen is great - he doesn't do a traditional call like Mike Joy might, but his presence in the booth is refreshing and enjoyable.

One thing I hate - and there is nothing TV can do about this, but maybe NASCAR can - is the endless one-time paint schemes on cars. It was really frustrating to me for most of the race to not be able to look at the cars up front and instantly know who was who. I think NASCAR need to limit the number of unique/special event paint schemes per race so that fans can visually follow the action better.

One final comment -- the TNT crew didn't do something the other networks do all the time: they show empty seats. The fully-empty Daytona backstretch was not hidden by TNT's director one bit, whereas I am certain FOX or ABC would shoot around the empty stands to make the event appear more exciting. Unless I am wrong and those seats were not available for sale, I am both surprised so many were empty and surprised we saw how many were empty on TV.

Karen said...

As much as I like RB, with this Wide Open Coverage, I didn't go to RB one time during the race. Watched it all on TV. During local breaks, I made my pit stops. Race seemed short to me. Usually I'm wondering when it's going to be over. Not tonight. Just love Ralph, Wally and Kyle.

And Marc Fein should receive hazard pay for having to wear that daggone suit jacket during the hottest part of the day.

Enjoyed every bit of the race tonight. Many thanks to TNT and the sponsors who participated in Wide Open coverage.

Mike aka RickyBobby said...

+1 well stated
shame that ratings are going to tank harder then the economy after Indy

Anonymous said...

After the race, I was exhausted. I'm out of shape as it has been a long time since I've been involved in watching a Cup race without tuning out mentally or totally.
For Mike Wells,the production and technical stuff enhanced the coverage rather than distracting. Fein and Sheheen defined rising to professional performance. And, Wally, Kyle, Larry, pit reporters gave me information and made me laugh and hold my breath as I watched the race with them.

TNT,your Daytona telecast is now the gold standard. Of course, I love RaceBuddy and WideOpen Coverage. But, I'd give them up if other broadcasters would just aim to cover the races as you have.

Thank you, TNT!


John Taylor said...

TNT is the Double-Stuff Oreo of NASCAR coverage. FOX has become the old, reliable, original Oreo. Will ESPN continue to be the Hydrox of television racin'?

What an outstanding job TNT has done. And what a high bar they've set for the World Wide Leader.

Every aspect of TNT's coverage has trumped what FOX did earlier this year, and anything ESPN has ever done in the sport. Yes, ever.

Kyle Petty is the best thing to happen to televised racing since, well, Darrell Waltrip. I can't get enough of him, and want him to talk more. Such insight, such humor, such an ability to capture a scene that the common man who's never strapped it up at 200 MPH can understand. Hell, anyone who makes Dallenbach palatable in the booth should win a Sports Emmy just for that feat.

And Ralph Shaheen. I have two words for you: where the hell has this guy been??? As a pit reporter, I found him to be annoying, stilted and seemingly out of his element in the pre-race. As a play-by-play voice? Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.

Whether that's a byproduct of the genius that is Kyle I don't know, but there's something working in that booth the last two weeks. Something that should be the envy of broadcast teams across many sports, not just on the NASCAR side.

A great finish to a race made even more enjoyable by the commentary coming from the booth? What more could a fan of this great sport ask for? This was the perfect storm for TNT, and it was a first-round knockout.

Now, as for the Wide-Open coverage...

When the suits at the networks covering this sport begin to realize that the growing trend among viewers is to DVR the race, they will finally realize that commercial-free on green flag laps is, hands down, the best way to get their myriad sponsors' messages to the biggest and, more importantly, attentive audience.

I see more of the commercials on this "commercial-free" broadcast than I do in a regular race. Why? Because I, and the vast majority of my friends/family, do the same thing every race day: DVR the race, start watching it roughly an hour after the start, and then proceed to fast-forward through every single commercial break.

With this race, I actually see the spots that would've otherwise flown by as I skipped through to the next live action.

Hell, I didn't even skip the full-screen commercials that came on yellow flag laps.

What TNT has done with the summer Daytona race is the standard by which all racing telecasts will be measured by the people that count the most: the viewers.

Will FOX and ESPN follow their lead?

My Magic 8-Ball says "Outlook not so good".

The double-file restarts were a great way for the governing body to ratchet the racing up a notch for its fans. Now it's up to its broadcast partners to realize that commercial-free can do the same thing for its viewers.

Great job, TNT. Great job.

And it's very sad that you will shortly pass the baton to someone who, based on past experiences, will either drop it or... well... drop it.

Six ain't enough. 36 seems just perfect. Go full-time, TNT, when the contract are up. Fans and viewers will reward you.

Haus14 said...

@John Taylor - I love your analogy about the networks.

I must say my, my how things have changed. I remember when we were posting on this blog in years past about the horrible coverage that was provided by TNT. That is not the case any more. Another stellar performance. I must say, I believe TNT has dethroned Fox as the number one Nascar network as far as broadcast quality. If only ESPN can make some kind of an effort to improve themselves.

Adam said...

TNT has come a long way and I would agree that they are definitely better than NBC. Perhaps better than FOX, who gets points off for that stupid animated gopher. I'm not sure they are quite as good as ESPN, but I'm partial to Dale Jarrett.

Wherever TNT ranks is due to Kyle Petty, who has really become a pleasure to watch.

The one issue I have with TNT is how quickly they end their broadcasts. Perhaps instead of 2hrs of prerace we could have 30-45 minutes of prerace and 30-45 of postrace. It would be nice to talk to more than 1 or 2 drivers, see the updated points race, and get a little analysis of the race we just saw.

Until we get that from TNT I can't call them the top NASCAR broadcasters.

Dot said...

I don't know what else to add to what's already been said. Bravo TNT. I can't wait to see if the TV numbers are up after tonight.

I must say that Weed did make the end exciting. I'm glad that those he took out are here to race another day.

I'll be sad after next week when TNT rides off into the sunset.

I feel sorry for BSPN. They can never measure up.

WickedJ said...

@John Taylor

Ralph calls alot of two wheel/dirt track stuff for SPEED, he even use to host that NASCAR Nation program...i might be mistaken in saying that he calls the Knoxville Nationals

NorCalFan said...

I really enjoyed TNT's broadcast tonight. Comparing it to Friday's ESPN Nationwide broadcast, it's hard to believe the two races were at the same track. I loved all the wide angle shots and when it was still light outside, the shots from the Goodyear blimp. Also appreciated the many replays from the different cameras of the last lap accident along with meaningful commentary from the booth. I couldn't figure out how KB ended up with a 14th place finish until the replays showed the impact of Kasey's hit to the 18 car pushed KB across the finish line. Great camera work. Like other TDP fans, it sure would be nice to have a brief post-race show on TV. But for the most part, thanks TNT for a great racing experience from the comfort of my couch. Only wish I could look forward to sharing more of them with you.

kbaskins said...

While TNT's coverage has been very very good this year, tonight's broadcast was outstanding.To use a hockey analogy ('cause I'm Canadian), they got a hat-trick. Twice. That's sorta like getting a grand-slam home run twice, for those of you who don't speak Canadian or hockey. :-)

I actually watched the race instead of whining here, or keeping a close eye on TrackPass, or even listening closely to my driver's radio. What a refreshing change to be riveted to the TV. I can't ever remember actually *watching* that much racing. The time flew by, and I was surprised and disappointed when the journey ended. What a delight tonight's broadcast was.

Ralph Shaheen seems to have brought out the very best in every single one of his crewmates. The pictures were beautiful, the analysis was awesome, and the conversation was sparkling.

The only fly in the ointment was an abbreviated post-race portion. Then again, we got so many replays of the last lap that maybe that cut into post-race coverage. Or not, since TNT has been leaving early for all their races.

For the early exit, I'm giving the broadcast an A+, instead of an A++. You were *that* close, boys...


CaseMoney said...

TNT was great, and now I'm bummed out that they're doing so few races. I don't know if I can handle going from this quality of coverage to.. ESPN's. That is one sharp drop. Going from TNT > Fox > ESPN would be more gradual!

What we saw tonight was a crew of true professionals at work. At the top of the list is Kyle Petty. Kyle is classy, insightful, enthusiastic, funny, you name it, he's got it. He's my favorite 'color man' since Ned Jarrett.

I did think it was poor form by TNT (unless I missed something) to not give more information on the condition of the drivers involved in the last-lap wreck. Yes we saw Kyle walking around but there were several other violent collisions.

(still laughing at that ESPN = Hydrox.. brilliant)

LGray said...

WWWHHHAAAATTT?????? It's too bad that we all have become so sick of commercials interrupting the race every 3 or 4 minutes that this becomes the gold standard. Are you kidding me? There were 10 times MORE commercials doing it this way. Sure the cameras never left the race during green, but they were still covering a third of my screen and taking over the sound every 2 or 3 minutes! And it seems I was turning the channel even more last night whenever Larry Mac opened his whining, mush-mouth, English-butchering pie hole, then turning back when I was sure he'd shut up. The only non-stop coverage was toward the end.
Watch the full 2000 Winston 500 race on disc 3 of the "Dale" boxed set. You can tell where the commercial breaks were and they are very few and far between compared to now. I consider that more "wide open" coverage than what I was subjected to last night. And today's broadcasters need to learn that it's okay not to have to talk through the whole race, then cut to commercial when they have nothing to say. Let the race speak for itself once in a while.

Hail547 said...

Great race coverage of a great race in which all of the TNT folks did a great job. Not missing anything during the commercials although not a novelty in race coverage was something all the networks should do. This is the kind of TV production Nascar needs to begin to revive intrest in the sport not cartoon characters.

majorshouse said...

I loved it and there was a time when I did not look forward to TNT's coverage, but from what I ahve seen over the past two seasons, this is a team that I would pay to have all season long. It is such a shame that we only have one race left with them and then we get disappointed with ESPN. I compared the race from Friday night with last night's race and it was like night and day and i might just have to listen to the rest of them on the radio where I can get some real excitement.

SallyB said...

TNT showed last night how a race should be covered. I hope Fox and ESPN were watching...and will actually learn something from it. Sheheen, Petty, and Dallenbach were near perfect in the booth. The former drivers don't spend time telling us about their exploits on track instead of relating what's happening in front of them. The bumper cam and in car shots were used sparingly. The wide shots managed to convey the overall feel of the race, instead of focusing on only 4 or 5 drivers. I don't remember the last time I was so totally involved in watching the race, instead of catching bits and pieces around doing other things. This is one fan who is extremely grateful to TNT for reminding me why I used to plan my weekend activities around the racing. That seldom happens anymore.

TNT, you will be sorely missed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Love the coverage, hate the commercials mixed in. Just go to commercial and get it over with ... as it seemed like there were a lot more commercials than ever before. We have RaceBuddy to use during commercials.

That said, the actual race coverage was great, and Kyle Petty is the star in the booth.

Rockin Rich said...

It is seldom that I remember the content of commercials. However, the Army spot with Ryan Newman going back and forth with the Army guy comparing his car to the new IED resistant vehicle caught my attention. The Sprint spot with the guy in a dress and heels cutting his grass did too. I very likely would have missed them if they had been shown in the normal race interruption mode.

Somewhat off topic, but I also caught the reference to the Cup teams having only 6 sets of tires. The booth did a good job of providing details of how the process was to work. But, unless I missed it, I heard nothing about how this was a major departure from past practices. Did any of the rest of you pick up on that?

I expect that the FOX crew wold have mentioned it, but probably with less depth of explanation.

I suspect that the BSPN booth would have not mentioned it at all.

I am soooo not looking forward to trying to watch, and make sense of, the races after Chicago!

Rich said...

Actually, TNT played commercials the entire time of the race, and it was ANNOYING, very annoying.
They split the screen top-bottom. The top 3/4 of the screen showed the race but, on the bottom 1/4, TNT ran "endless/mindless" Daytona facts the ENTIRE race, all 'brought to us by' a different sponsor (Burger King, some stupid Hollywood movie, etc). This was VERY annoying, especially for us who don't have large screen TVs. It got so bad/annoying that I actually turned the race off after an hour or so. I want to see the race, not endless streaming of crap that takes up more than 1/4 of the screen.

On the plus, Kyle and crew were excellent.

rich said...

Well Race Buddy saved my bacon because we had a hard rainstorm during the last few laps and I suffered severe rain fade on my small dish. RB came filled in.
What can I add about the broadcast. Needed post race show. Scoot that old movie over please.
This was a broadcast that (dare I say it) I would pay to have all season.
Great fun in the booth. Petty (as I have said before) is a natural. Someone needs to put him to work full time.

earl06 said...

I know I'm in the minority here, but the Wide-open/side-by-side thing doesn't do it for me. I'd rather have commercial breaks and skip through them with the DVR. I guess that's a comment on the effectiveness of Wide-open. I ended up muting half the race and listening to the radio call.

Ralph Shaheen has been awesome in the last two races. Overnight, he's gone from a pit reporter on the third network to the second-best PxP guy in the sport. TNT would be nuts not to hang on to him, unless BSPN steals him away to replace Dr. Obvious next year.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty upset with the entire coverage last evening.
For many years previously, My TV viewing had settled into a routine. During commercials, I would go to the bathroom, (including washing up,) walk the dog, make a sandwich, fix a glass of tea, then settle back in for the re-start, (if they hadn,t missed it.)
Last night that carefully crafted routine was shot to hell.
Let me tell you, It really messed up, not only me, but the dog as well.


50 yr. fan said...

Best coverage of the season and I
actually watched the commercials
in lieu of changing channels. I
think the director made a bad call
when after the 11 to go restart went to bumper cam.

I also think the field closing "mystery debris"
should have been shown and addressed.

Jayhawk said...

It has been a long time since I actually watched a race. I had most of it on tape and fast-forwarded through nothing. This is great coverage; outstanding camera work and I love the guys in the booth.

I watched part of the Nationwaid race Sat nite and turned it off in disgust, and I dread Sprint Cup going to this bunch of hacks after what we have been getting from TNT.

Anonymous said...

Best NASCAR race coverage I have ever seen! TNT made being a NASCAR fan and watching a NASCAR race fun again! Wally D. and Kyle were great as well as the rest of the on air staff. Ralph Sheheen has always been good and it is great he is getting a chance to shine!

glenc1 said...

to their credit, Daytona announced during the week that they were closing the backstretch, so I think it was maybe a *little* easier to not hide it. I thought the broadcast (I only saw the 2nd half) was excellent, and I loved the Wide Open coverage. For the DVRers...too bad for you, I say!
:) To be honest, commercials generally don't bother me that much unless they're repeated too much (ie, the Direct TV annoyance of last season.) I just kinda blank them out.

the booth was great; I did notice the lack of exlanation of the last yellow, but it could be NASCAR wasn't very forthcoming...maybe it's me, but I felt like I could tell that Ralph was more prepared and the conversation flowed smoothly between the three of them. Well done.

TexasRaceLady said...

What can I say about the "3 Amigos" in the booth that hasn't been said. Sophia hit it right on, you just want to invite them into your home.

The camera work with all the wide shots kept me in the game.

Marc, Kyle, and Larry really manned up in the jackets outside in the heat. Those blue shirts really showed them sweating -- good job guys hanging in there.

Neither the ads or the banners on the top/bottom distracted me. I was actually watching the race -- no radio, no Race Buddy(dial-up).

@JohnThomas --- Double Stuff Oreo, indeed!

Only 1 more week of this wonderful group --- then ESPeeN takes over. Kind of ruins the day, doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

What a crime that the best race coverage is done by the network with the least races to broadcast.

Excellent job last night.

Why can't Fox and ESPN watch the TNT coverage and realize this is what we want?

Anonymous said...

I liked the coverage but I hated the sound. I like to hear the roar of the cars in the background when the guys are talking. 95% of the race I could barely hear the cars, so I turned it up and then the announcers were blasting through the speakers. I felt like I was sitting in a condo at the track watching the race because I could barely hear the cars. The camera coverage of the race was great.

Ken said...

To me, the race coverage was the best I have seen. I watched/heard more commercials last night than I have in years. I think the sponsors of the wide open coverage got better value for their money. My 52" HD TV with home theater made the commercials in the corner less distracting than it would have been on a small TV. I had a phone call and paused the action on my DVR and had no commercials to fast forward through. I knew about the "big one" here long before I saw it on TV. When I realized I was behind, I had to fast forward through the action on the screen to see the wreck. I didn't go to RB at all because I felt I was getting good coverage with what was on TV. I dread being forced to watch ESPN's coverage after next week.

jennifer6973 said...

@Anon 1:27 AM

they did not sell backstretch tickets, they made that announcement back during the 500.

I thought they did well at the end of the race.

Paul said...

I thought the TNT broadcast was horrible. Those annoying commercials that popped up out of nowhere finally caused me to turn it down and listen to the radio. Yeah, the Donleavy piece was nice, but the race broadcast was an all-time new low.

Newracefan said...

Once I got used to the ticker on the bottom (I always ignored the one on the top so I had to readjust what I was ignoring) I was in heaven. This is why I started to watch Nascar in the first place. I usually start yawning during these night races, not this time. If Fox could just lose the agenda and the rodent, while going to a more Mike Wells type of camera work they would be right there too. ESPN needs to make other changes, we all know what they are.

Anonymous said...

If the networks get much more crap on the screen one won't be able to see the race at all...Back to radio.

Anonymous said...

This was a great broadcast. Someone else wrote "It is seldom that I remember the content of commercials. However, the Army spot with Ryan Newman going back and forth with the Army guy comparing his car to the new IED resistant vehicle caught my attention"...I agree, I liked this commercial so much I replayed it. I also remember the Coke ad with the windshield sticker. Looks like advertisers stepped up and made ads specific to the event. Either way, I remember them for a change.

Anyway, the race itself and the broadcast crew were excellent. I really enjoyed this telecast. I can't say enough about what a great job they did. I just wish The Four Letter would learn from this broadcast. But they won't.

eaglesoars said...

I thought it was the best race coverage ever and am heart broken that we only get one more race with TNT.
I sure hope network folks from all the networks check in here so they know what the fans think. TNT is so far ahead of the others in quality of production I can't even compare them.
Reading through these comments though it just shows you won't please everyone no matter how hard you try, but it looks like they have pleased a huge percentage of the masses compared to the other networks.

I watched the whole race and stayed glued to it. I am on that have always hated the plate races and most of the time doze off and on all thru it, but not last night. I watched every bit and stayed excited for the whole race, I can honestly say I have finally enjoyed a RP race.

Unknown said...

Mr Editor -
TNT put on a refreshing and quality show ...expect a less-than-quality presentation from ESPN if Dr Punch remains and production principles continue to be compromised ...when Ralph Shaheen had nothing to say, he said nothing ...unfortunately, when Dr Punch has nothing to say he simply keeps talking - in the end saying nothing ...Tony Stewart's victory lane comments were classy and came across as genuine and sincere

Bernie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I must have logged on to the TNT Race Buddy fan club. A flawless broadcast???? Are you kidding me!!! The most exciting part of the last lap was completely missed!!! Replays are great but when seeign it live would have been better. Smoke crossing the finish line was ho hum compared to the melee he caused. The wide open thing is annoying. Two minute commercials inserted over race coverage is a good idea but the needs tobe cut shorter. in their pre-race maverick and goose must have buzzed their set when the King was up. All I heard were jet engines for a minute or so(btw, the King and Kyle didn't seem all that father/son like). Overall I give turner a B. Not bad, not great. C'mon daly planeteers I thought yall were better than this.

Lorraine said...

This was the best broadcast of any race I have seen in the last 5 years. I can't remember the last time I sat on the edge of my seat watching a race. TNT was able to to do that the other networks can't and that's put you in the stands. Wally and Kyle are like two old friends you go to the races with. They make it real. They make it fun again. There's no extraneous agendas. Just a race and its outcome. NASCAR if you are listening, this is what your fans want. This is what the sport needs. If NASCAR wants to revitalize the fans, this is what has to be done. Get rid of the hype, the glitz, FOX TV, and ESPN. Get back to the basics of racing and make that the show again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RobFromCanada said...

I hated it..and it wasnt TNT's local sports station that carries nascar..TSN..ran commercial breaks literally ever 2-3 minutes...using the side by side as a tool to push as many commercials down our throats as they could....i'm lucky in that i have a 4 foot plasma so could still see the action in the shrunken screen...but without sound..and i'm a fan of the TNT team's play by play
Shame on TSN here in Toronto for abusing the side by side to push 70% of the race as commercials..i'm not exagerating either

Bernie said...

Although I read this column regularly I haven't commented for some time, but I just have to say that last night's coverage was the best telecast of a NASCAR race I've seem since beginning with the sport in the early 90's. I actually felt connected to the race. (And by the way, to you advertisers, I appreciated and paid some attention to the ads at the bottom of the screen.)

I'm somewhat apprehensive about the hand-off to ESPN, a group that really doesn't think auto racing's a sport, but perhaps they'll bring their A game this year. We'll see.

Dot said...

I'm sorry some of you fans didn't like TNTs coverage of the race.

To BSPN: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While I don't expect WO coverage, take a lesson from the booth. DJ & AP are already there. JP sets the tone and it's not a good one.

Unknown said...

I loved the broadcast, though I have to say I am biased because I've been a Kyle Petty fan for 25 or so years...

I thought the booth combo of Ralph (God that takes me back to when TNN did ASA Broadcasts), Kyle and Wally was flawless....

And the telecast for me, I loved, since I have a 50 inch plasma. As my dad and I remarked...we could get use to this coverage every the commercials on the bottom are less intrusive. And they even kept the audio feed of the cars on during the commercials.

I do have to mention something that Mr. Daly Kyle Busch failed to give yet another interview. I've often commented to people that I dislike Busch with a burning white hot fervent passion. However, the lack of interview last night, I will give him a pass on. He just got knocked around like a pinball in the eighth level of Dante's Inferno. And like Petty said last night, it was probably better he not talk. I'll give him a pass this time, based upon the hard hits he took.

Kenn Fong said...


Others have said it before, so let me reiterate in slightly different detail.

I thought Mike Wells used the tools at hand to their maximum potential. His wide shots gave me a sense of perspective and illustrated the intense competition. The blimp shots, particularly the ones which first featured the lead pack and then the gap to the next group were Race Telecast Storytelling 101. All directors could go to school on his choices.

I thought the way the camera operators framed the long shots so the pop-up commercials didn't obscure the action was wonderful.

I liked the scroll on the bottom and the captions with short factoids. They supplemented the points the announcers didn't. (I would like to see factoids (and announcer mentions) of how many spots various drivers picked up and lost from the start of the race.)

This was a great announcing crew. Ralph Sheheen shows the value in working hard and preparing so when the star gets a sore throat the understudy can step in flawlessly. He was a perfect traffic cop and play-by-play man.

Kyle Petty answered my questions without me asking them. That's quite a trick.

Now a suggestion for Chicago. I don't know how others feel, but I could use more of the steak-skewer graphics which identify individual cars in the pack. With the different paint schemes changing each week, it's difficult to pick out a car from the pack.

This is the gold standard. I look forward to next season.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

stricklinfan82 said...

That was the best NASCAR TV broadcast I've seen in several years. Despite being 90 minutes long, the pre-race show left me wanting even more. The booth chemistry is outstanding. The yellow flag pit stop coverage and finish line camera work continues to be the best in the business. And of course the Wide Open Coverage was absolutely outstanding.

What a joy it was to just sit back and watch a race on TV, and only TV. I didn't need to multitask with Racebuddy, Live Leaderboard, FoxTrax, MRN, NASCAR Hotpass, or Blogger to get the whole picture of the race. I just turned the dial to TNT and left it there all night.

To be fair and balanced I felt TNT fell a little short in the areas of interviewing drivers that were behind the wall and covering live unscheduled green flag pit stops, but those issues were relatively minor compared to the number of positives the coverage had.

Major thank you to Coors, Burger King, Subway, Goodyear, and all the other companies that gave us picture-in-picture commercials during green flag racing. Your ads were the first I've seen on TV during a NASCAR race this year and without any more Wide Open Coverage in the forseeable future they will absolutely be the last I see this year.

I hope all the advertisers out there took this as a lesson. Interrupting the race with full-screen ads makes your message fall on deaf ears, because when I (and most likely the majority of the audience watching) am watching live I leave the room or change the channel when the race is covered up, and when I'm watching on the DVR I fast-forward right past your advertisements. And when I (and most likely the majority of the audience) do accidentally catch of glimpse of one of your full-screen ads I make a mental note and make it a point to NOT buy your product. I have absolutely no desire to support any company that stands for robbing me of live racing action. Absolutely none.

When you sacrifice part of the screen so the NASCAR fans can keep watching the race uninterrupted, all the fans will see your message (whether they are watching live or on the DVR) and actually want to buy your product as a thank you for being the people responsible for paying to make sure we could see the entire race.

The choice is yours advertisers:

a.) Continue flushing your money down the toilet by running full-screen ads that go mostly unseen and cause race fans to boycott your product.


b.) Push the networks for picture-in-picture commercials so your commercials are actually seen by all the NASCAR fans, and so those fans will all want to buy your product as a "thank you".

It seems elementary to me, how about you?

Kim said...

It was fantastic coverage.

Left Fox in the dust.

Anonymous said...

Excellent job TNT! Like many of the previous posts, I wish the other guys would take a look at the broadcast ot the Coke Zero 400 and use it as the prime example of "How to Do It Right".One camera shot stuck out for me-at one point they did an angled long shot showing how much the field had really spread out between the top 4/5 and the rest. Normally, you'd see a straight-on shot making everything appear bunched up. I appreciate the perspective:) The 'booth' was the high point of the broadcast. All 3 were participating and contributing instead of talking over each other or leaving hige gaps of dead air. Wally & Kyle always have been fun to watch-now Ralph Sheheen made it more so. I liked a previous blog's reference to the "Three Amigos".(Hmmm-could be a potentially funny promo...)Even the commercials were good (dare we say Super Bowl-esque?)-any ones that have the booth cracking up and commenting on them afterword gotta be good....

Daly Planet Editor said...

I am reminded that TNT did not miss a lap of green flag coverage during the entire race. Nice stat.

Dot said...

Kind of OT but, in the vein of WO coverage brought to us by the advertisers and TNT.

I'm watching the IRL race and they have side by side commls. It's on ABC the sister station to BSPN. Tell me again why we can't get this for NASCAR racing?

Jimbacca said...

If I remember correctly Side by Side like IRL doesnt happen in Nascar because advertisers were not keen to get half the screen for the same price.

I thought the ads were far less in wide open coverage. I'm sorry but compare it to FOX and tell me it was more. Fox had commercial brakes, in race promos, in in race promos, promos within promos etc. At least you got to see the racing. I watched it on a 29" non HD regular old TV and didn't find it as intrusive as not seeing anything as you would with regular ads.

The ending was well covered. Many replays or numerous incar shots. Yes it would have been nice to see the points BUT nascar didnt even know them. Yes the post race did not last long. Much like KP pointed out during the race. You really can't force people to want to talk to you. Plus many are smart enough to keep it zipped until they calm down. Racebuddy recap show was great.

Even with the dislikes pointed out. Compare it to the other networks and the complaints. They are far fewer and more precise because you have to get precise to find the faults. Instead of the whole thing be a cluster.

Compared to the usual Cutest Ugly chick in the group that the other coverage has been, this is more of a ugliest hot chick in the group. I'd rather take the later in the grand scheme of viewing.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Sprint Cup Series TV is divided between three different networks who are owned by three different corporations.

Getting three non-connected ad sales teams and three production teams on the same agenda for a third party (NASCAR) just has not happened.

Will it? Only Paul Brooks and his NASCAR Media Group could push that agenda.


Anonymous said...


The only reason that IRL is on ABC is the fact that the Indy Racing League purchases the air time from ESPN/ABC and is responsible for selling the ad time. You will notice that the combination of network and local breaks are presented in full screen format.

TNT certainly did a fine job, but any comparison to the IRL coverage is akin to comparing apples and oranges. NASCAR coverage isn't "time buy".

RonFWNC said...

They've really set the standard with their race coverage this year. I hope that FOX and ABC are paying attention. And Racebuddy is the icing on the cake.

Dot said...

Thanks for the answers. I don't know anything about the inner workings of TV advertising. It just seems so simple. Evidently not.

I'd be willing to test it if I were an advertiser.

jdubb said...

give tnt credit for a great effort..and bill webber just like mike joy comes off like an annoying know it all announcer. ..nascar broadcasts are better without them..

Anonymous said...

Great coverage by TNT. I was glued to the set for the entire race because the conversation was so interesting, regardless of slow minuites on the track. Enthusiasm is contageous and brought out the NASCAR I love. Special thanks for the explanations - sometimes watching on TV can be baffling because the camera misses part of the action. I can't tell you how I dread the return of ESPN, if the Nationwide broadcasts are any inkling. Could we put Kyle in a Rusty mask and insert him into the ESPN booth?

Jack from PA said...

I believe this race will be remembered for not only the finish, but for those who watched on TV as the race that saw TNT surpass FOX as the best NASCAR TV network for broadcasting Cup races. Aside from two or three blips on the radar (no Martin interview, no camera on the debris caution, etc.) it was basically flawless.

I LOVE the booth chemistry! It has gotten even better with Ralph. He calls the race like he sees it, like JD described, and the booth's call of the final half lap was awesome.

Mike Wells--what a genius. Who knew that wide camera angles of a restrictor plate race would make it more enjoyable for fans? Especially coming out of turn two and down the backstretch, the use of the camera angles was perfectly instituted in almost every way. The pit reporters were very useful, and a big kudos to Adam Alexander for stepping up and putting together an almost flawless night on pit road. He showed he belongs on a big time network's pit road coverage of Cup races, and as for Ralph, he showed that he deserves a booth job. (ESPN??? I doubt it, just a random thought).

All in all, Coverage: A+

Anonymous said...

This was the race broadcast that I've waited decades to see. I always knew that they could be better and finally TNT proved it. From truly likeable personalites in the booth who have real chemistry and know how to the technical folks in the booth to the hard chargers on pit road, a class act all around. THIS is what I've been waiting for and wishing for all these many many years. It was truly Christmas in July! Thanks so much TNT!

GinaV24 said...

It was great. With this group in the booth (sans Weber, thank goodness) and the excellent work by the camera and production crew and the pit reporters, they have done an excellent job presenting the race in a way the fans at home can enjoy. The commercials were done well, too. This is how it should be EVERY week.

TNT is by far THE BEST of the tv group. I agree with your comment, JD, that the drivers (I guess former drivers is correct) don't need to constantly affirm themselves during the broadcast and that is SUCH a relief. Perspective is one thing, having it be all about ME, the way that DW, Mikey and Rusty insist on doing it has just gotten old.

I will miss TNT very much and I wouldn't have said that 2 years ago. ESPN may have the tag line that they are the "leader" but as far as NASCAR is concerned, that IMO is NOT true. As you said, TNT has set the standard, ESPN has a hard act to follow and if they just do what they've been doing in N'Wide, well, we fans will be disappointed and I will tune out.

Good job, TNT, good job!

GinaV24 said...

I read somewhere that Daytona management made the decision NOT to open the backstretch because they knew they couldn't sell the tickets, maybe that's why it was OK for TV to show it. Don't know, just a thought.

Dennis M said...

Great coverage; Ralph S did a great job, as did Kyle and Wally. We especially liked the fact that we saw good interviews after the race; excellent coverage and replays of the last lap; excellent (& HONEST!) commentary on what happened; and as a bonus we even got to see the fireworks! Kudos to TNT!

Mary said...

Finally got to watch the whole thing - we definitely need to keep these guys for the rest of the season ;-) Awesome, awesome coverage

Cale Putnam said...

I haven't gotten to see too much of the past few weeks of TNT coverage (I was at Loudon last weekend and at a local track last night), but I've been very pleased to hear that Shaheen is doing Cup now, and the little bit I've watched from the end of Daytona was a great change from Weber. He's done everything - demo derbys, monster trucks, WRC, World of Outlaws - and has always been top notch. He reminds me a lot of the late Steve Evans, an emminent professional who can call anything with an engine. Glad to see TNT has finally plugged him into the right spot.

Anonymous said...

I just hope that Weber is permanently replaced by Ralph. Bestwick is a know it all but he was at least tolerable in the booth. Weber is a completely annoying wanna be know it all. I can't stand him at all. Ralph, on the other hand, is terrific as the play by play guy. Very natural in the booth. Very enjoyable to listen to. I think that's really all fans want right now. Ralph doesn't have to be great. He doesn't have to be Ken Squire, he just has to be someone that isn't going to make you want to turn off the tv and he does a great job of being that type of guy. So hopefully TNT realizes that and makes this switch a permanent one.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:02PM,

TNT has advised that Sheheen will handle the play by play duties in Chicago for the last event on their schedule.

In terms of 2010, there has been no information released about the TNT NASCAR announcing schedule.


bevo said...

Hands down the best coverage of a Cup race this season. Other than getting more information from the pit reporters and no post-race nothing stands out as a negative for me. It is a shame that TNT gets only six races. I dread the arrival of ESPN.

fbu1 said...

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of watching Ralph Shaheen at work. When he was not doing TNN's World of Outlaw TV broadcasts etc, he occasionally hosted SCN Radio's Outlaw radio / internet broadcasts.

Ralph took the time to speak to every person involved in the broadcast. With an easy grin and a joke, Ralph made everyone feel that their particular contribution was necessary and appreciated. He created a team environment that made the broadcast fun to do. Therefore, I am not surprised to see the Three Amigos references.

Prior to the race, Ralph spent hours in the pit area talking to drivers and crew chiefs. When he stepped into the booth, he was completely prepared. He not only knew the appropriate data about prominent WoO drivers like Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski, he knew which local drivers were capable of winning the race. By the time the feature race began, Ralph had educated the listeners.

I am personally very pleased that Ralph has gotten the TNT hosting job. I hope it becomes a permanent assignment, for his sake and for the racing fan's sake. We all deserve it.


Mr. Echo said...

I'm in complete agreement. Props to Wally's bit with Mark Martin...Petty noticing the crew work to avoid a bigger disaster when Kurt Bush slid through his pit box...also really liked the crew stats at the bottom of the screen. Their cues to each other were pretty loose at times; wish they had more broadcasts to perfect the interaction.

Dot said...

Before this subject goes away, I have a question or two.

How did Ralph get so good in a week to PxP a CUP race? It's like he's been doing it forever. Is there a difference among his other PxP jobs and CUP? Or, are all PxPs the same, just different drivers/cars?

He's doing a great job.

darbar said...

TNT has been absolutely fantastic. Ralph Shaheen is an excellent addition and should be signed to a full contract for next season. Is there any way to get Kyle Petty over to ESPN to anchor their coverage? I mean, if Larry Mac can come over from Fox, why not bring Kyle over to the E?

Sometimes I wonder if first year communication majors are the ones running the ESPN broadcasts? It certainly seems as if the ones in charge are totally off the beam, so to speak.

Well, at least they haven't hired Bernie Ecclestone as an in race reporter. With his recent comments on dictators, and his views on how women should wear white because they would better resemble kitchen appliances, there might always be the chance that someone in Bristol would think his views would be valuable. NOT !!!

Anonymous said...

I really like the chemistry of the on-air personalities, reminds me of TNT's basketball on-air team. Sheheen was great in play-by-play role. I am a big Petty fan and I think Mark Fein strikes a great tone as the host, he reminds me of a younger Costas. Love what they did with the commercials!

Lesley said...

What? That screen on the right hand bottom,made me just about turn off the TV!!There was no rythem in the race with this distraction!!I like Petty and the rest of the gang but,I dont want to see half of Brad Pitts Movie in the middle of a race thank you!!

Unknown said...

Absolutely the Best Broadcast I have ever seen. From the production, the announcing and most of all the coverage of the entire race, I can offer nothing but compliments to TNT. Also to the sponsors who agreed to the small side by side advertising, I will support your products and hope this proves profitable to you.
I have read a lot of criticism on other blogs about it and honestly do not understand how Anyone can not be positive in view of the other lousy productions we have been exposed to over the years.
Who knows, maybe people will stop just turning on the last half hour of a race now or just TIVOing it to watch later skipping through the commercials. And Ralph, Kyle and Wally, Kudos for the presentation and commentary.

eaglesoars said...

I've read so pretty negative stuff about Sat. nights race broadcast and my jaw hits the floor. I'm wondering if some didn't watch an old TiVo'd race instead, I just can't believe some really thought it that bad? Well at least that is a very small percentage of viewers or at least from the blogs I've read. Guess it just goes to prove you'll never please all the people, all they can shoot for is the majority.
None the less, I sure wish the other networks would pay attention and at least attempt to measure up. I also hope NASCAR is paying attention to the raves and reviews and start insisting the other networks up their game and quit the rodent BS and constant hawking of themselves.
Kind of odd wouldn't you say that the BIG SUPER team in the booth from FOX and ratings are dropping sharply through their whole production period. Then the smaller much less funded network takes over and blows them away with performance.
Maybe a good way to pick ratings back up would be to take less for the contract but let the REAL "A" team handle the coverage.

Marylee said...

Sorry, much as I disliked Bill Weber's work, I wasn't much happier with Ralph Shaheen. It seemed like most of what he was doing was cueing commercials and mentioning other TNT shows. Maybe he just isn't in the "groove" as yet? DO like Kyle Petty and Wally working together, and as a Richmond resident REALLY liked the interview with Junie Donleavy. LOVED the "small" commercials so that could still watch the action.

BWBarefoot said...

I think Ralph Sheheen should stay on for good! He is a definite improvement over Bill Weber.

Once again, this is what race coverage should be all about. I will definitely miss this kind of coverage when the series moves to Chicagoland Speedway.

Anonymous said...

Wonder when Fox will realize ratings were down this spring because of their production and not because of the economy?

West Coast Diane said...

The "3 Amigos" should become permanent. If Bill Weber comes back, ESPN should pick up Ralph in place of JP, if they just can't put AB in for him...although for the life of me, I don't know why.

I wasn't as thrilled with the coverage...even before JR crashed...LOL...but I seem to be in the minority, so I'll defer to the planeteers.

OT, but on a TV coverage note...I don't ride a bike, but I do try to watch some of the Tour de France. If you have Versus, need to watch to take a peek. Even just an hour or so. Perfect DVR show (on West Coast at 5:00AM). The camera work is outstanding...especially in HD and the announcing as well. Just when you are wondering something the announcers explain...and do not talk down to those of us who don't follow the sport. It would be interesting to know if enthusiasts see the coverage the same as me. Kind of like NASCAR planeteers vs "new/casual" fan. Maybe they would go nuts like us too and I'm just too dumb to know...LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hated the commercials - I taped paper across the bottom of the screen so I wouldn't be distracted and annoyed. Then I called TNT and got on their web site and let them know how I feel.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:26PM,

If you hated the little video box that let the race play in the background, what do you do when full screen commercials come on the TV?


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Who writes this stuff? If tnt set a new tv standard for nascar racing with all the distractions, the commercials, the quick camera changes, taking up 5-6" at the bottom of my tv screen with driver stats flashing all thru the race. We don't want to see stats or flashes during the race. We want to see the RACE!!! All the tnt employees thru out the world can write comments on nascar, it doesn't make it any better. The format for this race SUCKED and you people cannot will it to be better than it was.Thank GOD you only have 1 more week.

Anonymous said...

Hated the commercials - I taped paper across the bottom of the screen so I wouldn't be distracted and annoyed. Then I called TNT and got on their web site and let them know how I feel.

Good idea.

Now maybe they'll throw out that idea (where we can still watch the race if we want) and just show 5 minute commercial blocks where the race can't be seen again until all the commercials are over.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:59PM,

I write this stuff and have for the past three seasons. Where ya been?

TNT did not miss one lap of green flag racing with this style of coverage. The cars ran behind the commercial box and if you did not want to hear it, just mute the TV.

None of your comment makes sense. Traditional NASCAR broadcasts lose almost one third of the total racing because the network is running commercial breaks.

Is that what you prefer? This is exactly the type of coverage that NASCAR fans have been asking for since 2007. Every lap at Daytona was seen.

ESPN runs an upper and lower ticker throughout the race, TNT has no upper ticker and used the lower ticker for real time stats.

Guess it takes all kinds to make a world. You wish is about to come true, ESPN returns at the Brickyard in late July.


Anonymous said...

TNT blew it on the 4th of July when both the invocation and the national anthem were preempted in favor for the trailer for the movie G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. How disrespectful!

Anonymous said...

My comments wouldn't make sense to you because your not a true nascar fan.(probably a newbie). I have been watching nascar for almost 40 years religiously and you can't tell me tnt's broadcast is better. It's the most distracting broadcast I have ever seen. My 80 year old neighbor will attest to that! so, print what you will but there are lots of people who think it's a diservice to nascar fans.

eaglesoars said...

Well like it really makes a difference, but I have been going to and enjoying stock car racing, modified racing and NASCAR since 1954, and I think that TNT did the best job I have ever seen.
It amazes me how some folks think their opinion is the only right one, and the only one that matters so responses are always to accuse those that disagree to work for,... in cahoots with,... or newbies that know nothing so their opinions mean so much less.
Rather sad some folks just can not express their opinion as theirs without trying to belittle everyone that disagrees.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:39PM,

I was going to respond to that, but I think the best thing is to just let it stand.

If you think seeing every single green flag lap of a race at Daytona is a disservice to NASCAR we have nothing to talk about.


Anonymous said...


Clearly, you can't please everyone.

Some people enjoy watching commercials and missing the race, I guess.

Anonymous said...

TNT blew it on the 4th of July when both the invocation and the national anthem were preempted in favor for the trailer for the movie G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. How disrespectful!

I saw them on TNT. Flyover, too.

Not sure why you did not.

e said...

Anon 6:27

I'm not sure what you were watching, but it was NOT the NASCAR Sprint Cup race if the invocation and National Anthem were preempted for a commercial. I wanted to double check because I was sure I had watched and the Air Force Choir did a fantastic job singing, and I just now rewatched my tivo'd event and sure enough it is there and uninterrupted. One of the most beautiful renditions this year. IMHO

bevo said...

Glad to see our friends from Bristol and LA are posting anonymously instead of working on improving their NASCAR coverage :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

After all the bad anthems this season in all three NASCAR series, it was nice to finally hear it sung like it was written.

Anonymous said...

TNT’s Daytona Coverage Was More Ads Than Race
By Jerry Garrett

Watching TNT’s coverage of the Nascar race from Daytona Beach, Fla., with friends and family on July 4, someone in the group said the uninterrupted barrage of advertising throughout the broadcast was “like Jean-Paul Sartre’s vision of Hell in his play, ‘No Exit.’ ”

Even one of the wildest finishes in Nascar’s storied history of flaming, upside-down, multicar, I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw melees could not redeem TNT’s construct of Purgatory.

I have commented in this space before about the quality of ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500, NBC’s off-road racing packages and Fox’s award-winning Daytona 500 telecasts. So it seems only fair to weigh in on TNT’s handling of its yearly package of Nascar events.

Watching Nascar racing on TV is usually pretty elemental stuff: watching cars crash or waiting for cars to crash. But in TNT’s coverage, there was a different dynamic entirely: The race was merely a prop, which ran behind a parade of commercials from which there was literally no escape (aside from turning the TV off). The lower quarter of the screen always had an advertiser’s logo or message. Either only the logo appeared or there was a graphic that showed how the entrants that advertiser was sponsoring were doing in the race. Or, the announcers cued up a commercial message that would run in a pop-up box; all the while, the race continued, muted and unremarked upon, in the background.

Occasionally, the broadcast was interrupted for a standard commercial break. But even when race programming returned after these breaks, the commercial message rotation in the lower quarter would resume.

Even the affable announcer Kyle Petty was employed as a pitchman by Coca-Cola, the race’s sponsor. He was also called upon to start the race with the words, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” as he brandished a bottle of the sponsor’s product and took a drink after delivering the signature line.

Later, the commentator Larry McReynolds starred in his own Subway sandwich spot.

Under Nascar’s 2007 television contract, TNT picked up the rights to broadcast six races in midseason of the Sprint Cup series. TNT has been criticized for missing important racing action, like the finish of last year’s July 4 Daytona race; pulling distracting stunts during races, like one announcer sawing another in half, and for technical glitches and power outages.

For 2009, TNT’s coverage mercifully ends with the July 11 race in Illinois. But until at least 2014, when TNT’s contract with Nascar expires, there will apparently be “No Exit” for viewers.

patty williams said...

I didn't realize Kyle Petty was leaving. I do like him in this role, he's the best of all the commentators in my humble opinion. I LOVE the TNT coverage. The part I like best is that most commercials run in the corner so we don't miss a lot of the race.

I hope the other networks read this article and our comments and TAKE NOTE!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

I respect Jerry, but before you post a story from another website on mine, please drop me an email.