Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ESPN's NASCAR Agenda Still Under Discussion

"You guys always take things the wrong way," said Juan Pablo Montoya to ESPN Pit Reporter Vince Welch. "I am very impressed with you." The look of sarcasm and disgust on Montoya's face made a statement.

That driver had just run 500 miles and battled back through adversity to almost win a Sprint Cup Series race. After a second place finish, he paused to speak with the TV network telecasting the event. The reporter's agenda was controversy. This has been a question that has dogged ESPN since the network returned to NASCAR. What is ESPN's true NASCAR agenda?

Thankfully, ESPN's disappointing efforts at both Pocono and Iowa this weekend were overshadowed by the action on the track and the emerging storylines within the sport. Rusty Wallace packed over fifty thousand people into Iowa Speedway to watch Brad Keselowski beat Kyle Busch to the finish. In Pocono, a motivated Denny Hamlin drove to a popular victory and then let his real emotions flow in Victory Lane.

It was Marty Reid leading Wallace and Randy LaJoie through the Iowa telecast on Saturday. Reid has really been great for Wallace and brought out the best in this NASCAR veteran. Wallace is a handful, but between Reid keeping him in line and LaJoie making fun of him, this energetic team has been great for the Nationwide Series.

Unfortunately, ESPN chose this weekend to change the NASCAR coverage significantly. For whatever reason, both Iowa and Pocono suffered tremendously from poor choices by the ESPN Director. One fan emailed: "I found myself screaming at the TV to switch to a track view, not in-car, during the action. Who controls this during the race?"

The answer is the Director. The Producer tells the story and the Director selects what pictures are going to be shown to the fans as the finished program. On this weekend, the directing was simply brutal. Instead of showing wideshots of the Iowa fans and then slowly zooming-in as the field raced by, the Iowa race resembled a video game.

Tight shots of seemingly random cars were mixed with endless in-car camera views. It was as if the Director had just discovered this technology. NASCAR fans have been watching racing since February, this is August. Perhaps, they have already grasped the concept that those cameras are actually in the cars.

The problem with simply cutting between tight shots and in-cars is that fans watching at home completely lose any perspective of the field, the track or the race. ESPN accomplished this feat on both the Iowa and Pocono races over-and-over again.

Here are two viewer comments from the Iowa telecast:

Man, what a shame the Director is ruining this. All tight shots and missed every caution. I'm in complete agreement, there seems to be racing happening but we're stuck with these close shots. When I rule the world, I will mandate that ALL in-car cameras be destroyed. There will be no exceptions.

Today is a perfect example of why I tell skeptical fans that TV is nothing like being there. It only takes 1 person in the TV truck not on their game to ruin a good race for TV audiences.

In Pocono, Dale Jarrett handled the vast majority of the play-by-play duties with Andy Petree working very well as an analyst. More and more it seems that Jerry Punch can only add statistics, state facts and ask questions. This was Dale Jarrett's day and without the Infield Pit Studio or Tech Center, Jarrett carried the load.

Even Jarrett's polite manners on the air could not hide the fact that the TV truck was struggling to figure out what to show viewers. Fans used Twitter, email and The Daly Planet website to make it known they wanted to see racing, not the hoods of random cars and tight shots of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers.

Viewer comments on Pocono:

They sure missed a lot of passing just now. They would let you see some of it in the back ground but would go to a tight shot and you lost the view.

Punch is hosting, not announcing. Question is, is that what ESPN wants him to do?

What is the obsession with the incars on the restarts? The most exciting part and they have to mess it up.

I'm convinced they (ESPN) are trying to get out of their contract, trying to drive us insane...or both!

NASCAR's pithy, 2 line, lap by lap coverage (on Twitter) gives more perspective to the race situation than ESPN's entire telecast. Disgraceful.

I just got my cable fixed for *this*? No excitement in the broadcast, cautions called without emotion, passing barely noticed by the announcers or the cameramen? Bad, bad, bad.

There is no doubt that ESPN could take a quick look at the TNT coverage from this summer or even some older classic NASCAR races produced by ESPN to get a very different perspective on how to frame a race for TV. The question is, who steps up and says this is not working?

Monday afternoon, Allen Bestwick led his NASCAR Now panel through an outstanding hour of conversation about the Pocono, Iowa and Nashville races. This came on the heels of Bestwick hosting almost four hours of live rain delay programming from Pocono without missing a beat. In the studio and before the race, ESPN is presenting some of the best NASCAR programming in recent memory.

It seems that only the live event coverage is having an identity crisis, which leads back to the big question. Why is ESPN in NASCAR? If the network made this multi-year commitment to be a part of this sport, what has gone wrong? Other than Digger, Fox clicked through their races without any big issues and TNT put on a great show.

Why should fans walk away frustrated with the TV coverage of their favorite sport when ESPN is producing it? One fan emailed that he left the ESPN coverage, went to his car in the driveway and listened to the radio coverage.

Would this sort of problem happen for an ESPN college football game? A Major League Baseball game? A college basketball game? If not, then why is it happening with NASCAR races on ESPN?

It's time to right this ship and get things changed. College and pro football are the biggest challenges to the NASCAR on ESPN telecasts and both of those sports are weeks away from starting.

To keep the remaining NASCAR viewers, it may well be time to learn from the past and simply show the cars on the track without the gimmicks, the gizmos and the zoom lenses.

You can help this discussion with your comments. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. We do not want your email and there is nothing to join. We simply want your comments on the Iowa and Pocono telecasts.

Update: We have some outstanding comments from NASCAR fans nationwide on this post. Please take a moment to review them after you have read the article. Amazing passion for NASCAR and knowledge of the sport.

This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Flyine6+ said...

Jerry Punch was fine back in the old days as a pit reporter on ESPN, but he has become annoying in the booth.

Anonymous said... has the video of Montoya's quote ... but they cut out the part that aired on television, where he walks what he thinks is off camera, then turns around and starts screaming at the reporter (no audio, but it was clear what the topic was). I hope someone puts that on YouTube.

How in the world do you mistake an apology for "angry words"?

And so many of the questions asked to drivers are just --- mushy. I don't know how to describe it, but rather than just ask them something about the race, they always pretend they are an psychologist and craft these bizarre questions about feelings. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like Andy or Dale as announcers for a long time. But you could tell they were enjoying the race today. Meanwhile Dr. Punch is just there ruining it. His announcing is a complete mess.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Labonte has a horrible wreck. He is visibly upset both on the track and coming out of the care center. There are so many questions to ask... but the reporter mumbles something about his emotions.

If ESPN wanted to create controversy, the question would have been "Do you have any words for the 6-car that wrecked you?" But I am beginning to think ESPN reporters aren't looking for controversy, they are just wholly incompetant, have no idea what to say, and the controversy comes from their bumbling questions. They are so lame.

rich said...

JD, as usual your summary is concise and accurate. Thank you for this forum for the fan.
I have never watched a race on TV and been as confused as I was today. It was evident that not just JP but DJ and AP were all watching nothing but the monitor in front of them. They almost missed a lead change. The director put up the camera on the leaders at the last minute and they got excited. If I had only this series of images to see I could not have described this race either. The camera work was absolutely the worst I have ever seen. The production crew obviously did not have a clue about how to show the world this race. I was tempted to bail but decided to stick it out. I did however use the lap by lap summary on
I feel sorry for DJ. He deserves better than this but he is really between a rock and a hard spot.
All we can do is wait because I feel change will eventually come.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I hope change will come. ESPN seems to not understand that this type of coverage is going to drive even more fans to other forms of sports and other TV programs.

TNT did such a good job this summer, what a really tough change for the Cup Series right now.

Ralph, Kyle and Wally had a good TV vibe going.

peggyann said...

I thought it was just me during the Nationwide race. Justin Allgaier is from my town, and I met him at ChiLand right before the race. I enjoyed that race so much, listening on the scanner and watching him on the track. He started the Iowa race up at the front--and they never showed him! I kept yelling at the TV--where's Justin, where's Justin?! I still don't get it, but now I know I'm not the only one.

Allen said...

TNT has done by far the best job this season. ESPN's coverage makes you wonder if a 10 year old is calling the shots. I miss the days of Fox and TNT. Hurry back Feburary!!!

Anonymous said...

rich said...It was evident that not just JP but DJ and AP were all watching nothing but the monitor in front of them. They almost missed a lead change. The director put up the camera on the leaders at the last minute and they got excited.

To be fair, that is their job to comment on what is on the monitor and not what they see out the window. They comment on what we are seeing, i is up to the director to put the right thing on the screen.

Anonymous said...

Watching the replay tonight on ESPN2 and I am just appalled by the poor direction. Did they let Brucie, the summer intern, direct this weekend? Geez....

Sophia said...

Since the camera work gets worse or at least no improvement, I am exhausted from complaining. It matters not WHAT we think. I remember FOX screwing up Dega something horribly as well. ya get fired up during the race but I shall just listen to MRN for the CUP races.

Who is in the booth and whether I like them or not is NOTICEABLY wasted when they can NOT bring me the great racing to MY TELEVISION screen.

It's so obvious by neither FOX or BSPN cares about bringing us the actual race. Pick a track. ANY track. I dare you to know from 70% of what we are shown from which TRACK are they filming the race??!! Bumper cars/side car videos? You can keep 'em.

The end


P.s. I would love a replay of that Montoya moment..wish THAT was on youtube.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you peggyann for taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

JD -As usual you hit the nail on the head so to speak. I wished at lap 35 to hit the so called Director, unfortunately I'm in Tampa & Director was in Iowa. And Pocono.

Iowa was so bad I actually listened to it for a while - then switched to Indy cars & kept switching back to check up. Then it collapsed into mindnumbing & I just watched Indy cars.

Today I rushed home thinking I would see a good race - the start sounded good with passing on MRN. And then the reality of ESPN hit me hard. My husband & his buddy were laughing uncontrollably every time Swagger, flying, or I forget what was said. If Doc called a number they yelled Bingo. It was brutal to see what this so called coverage has become. A video game shown to us by a child with no attention span. It was a mess. I soon went to my room and just listened to MRN, the last 22 laps I watched with TV muted. Then turned up the sound for what bit of post race there is w/worldwide dear leader.
Juan today was right on the money with his assement of the "reporters" trying to stir stuff up. Disgusting stunt Vince & espn.

JD thank you for this forum - I too hope that espn brass will take a hard look at the mess T-H-E-Y continue to slop over the air at us fans, and read some of the Tweets, & forums & see its a large part their mess & they are the only ones who can fix it.

I do not have much hope. I'm off work ( so far) for the Glen weekend. I doubt I will bother to listen or watch espn for very long - they can't hold it together for a short sprint let alone a race. Racin is better on MRN & Raceview with a side of NASCAR Tweets... at least I know whats happening on the track

BToS JD said...

I know nothing about TV production or the folks doing the job. I do know that ESPN NASCAR race programs are not produced and directed by folks who have ever been NASCAR racing fans.

It's as if today's ESPN culture for stick and ball sports has been transplanted to NASCAR and has done everything technologically possible but missed the point when it comes allowing the audience to actually watch cars race each other.

I get the impression that the director/producer is more concerned with his ego and individual shots rather than letting fans enjoy the story of the race.

Racing definitely needs wide shots, especially during a double-file restart. Close up shots are almost useless in displaying NASCAR race action. Any true fan knows that racing action involves multiple vehicles, not one.

I concur completely with your comments JD. Thanks for the great website. You'll never completely appreciate the service you provide to us TV fans.

Holmes said...

Bingo. That leads to some questions.

How many games are invented during ESPN telecasts?

How many of them are drinking games?

How can this continue to go over the heads of the ESPN brass? Are they being led by General Halftrack?

Anonymous said...

If ESPN was looking for a story, how about the 11 combo shot taking out 00 and 47!!! NOTHING!!

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, first you need to put Ryan's Hall of Fame rain Tweet back up for posterity.

I did watch part of the Iowa race and don't recall ever seeing action past the front pack of a dozen or so cars. I haven't had a chance to see any of Pocono yet, but what I had a chance to hear sounded entertaining on MRN - but then I am a big Barney Hall fan.

At times NASCAR on EESPN is like looking through a bakery window - it could be so good if only Allen and JP switched seats. I am convinced JP would be super in Allen's seat.

I believe NASCAR on EESPN is yet another demonstration that EESPN believes it is the show and the action on the track or the field is just the window dressing.

kbaskins said...

I've been thinking about what it is I like about the different broadcasts, and I believe I can finally proffer a (sort of) brief analysis.

On Sunday, while ESPN was broadcasting during the rain delay, several topics were advanced by Alan Bestwick. The rest of the crew all jumped in to offer analysis, personal experiences, and their opinions based on years of involvement in NASCAR. It was free-flowing, personal, informative and interesting, and we pretty much all loved it. None of it was preaching or self-aggrandizing or laden with immaterial statistics. It was just some guys getting together to shoot the breeze, and they let us eavesdrop.

I think that the TSN crew of Ralph, Wally and Kyle achieve the same sort of energy in their booth, with their topics driven (no pun intended) by the action on the track. How many times have you heard Ralph ask, "Why does...?", or Wally or Kyle say, "That happens because..." or "I remember when...". Let's face it, the first 80 per cent of many races is mostly watching guys drive in circles, and that's when the guys in the TNT booth would step up and do some analysis while keeping an eye on the racing action. And during the last 20 per cent of the race they'd get down to calling more action, because that's when the real crazy stuff starts. The director is an integral part of this team, because he's the one that shows us the pictures that allow the broadcasting team to interact with us. His eagle eye in finding things other than cars going in circles is what gives life to the whole race. It has to be unscripted. Any attempt to predetermine events is doomed to failure.

Contrast that with ESPN's broadcasts. Instead of engaging the analysts in discussions about the racing action, Dr. Punch drones out car numbers and stats. DJ and Andy try in vain to interpret the action, but they're hamstrung by someone who can't seem to single out what's interesting and important on the track. To mix a forest metaphor, Dr. Punch can't see the race for the cars. DJ and Andy are additionally hampered by a director who constantly chooses in-car and otherwise immaterial shots, further limiting the discussion. DJ and Andy might be able to overcome Dr. Punch or the director, but they're fighting a losing battle against both.

The FOX team is very good, but any flow they manage to create is brief due to the jarring intrusion of constant promos. Action is often interrupted by mini-ads popping up on the screen, leaving the broadcast disjointed and fragmented.

I lied when I said this was going to be brief. Sorry.


Dot said...

I don't watch other sports. Do they wear head cams? Does the camera show the field/court, or is it the perspective of the players? I'm guessing no.

Why does the director insist on showing the race via the car's view? Replays would be fine, just not during the race. It would be nice if we could see some passing even if it is between 22nd and 23rd place.

I watched the race at work using the leader board and TDP. I then watched the race at home. I had written down the caution laps and FF'd until those laps. Made the viewing less painful.

Did anyone watch the Riverside race? Even though the coverage was primitive by today's standards, BSPN was good back in the day. And, what gems they had in the booth. Plus, JP in the pits.

I think DJ & Andy could call the races all by themselves. Whatever that Michigan Experiment is all about, I hope it doesn't include JP. Maybe they can experiment with the pit reporters too.

One more thing. What happened to JR? He was 10th then he fell to 28th. Nothing was mentioned as far as I know.

David said...

Dr. Punch and Mr. Clueless: The Tale of Jerry Punch At Pocono.

After a superb job covering the rain delay Sunday, telling brilliant stories, sounding genuinely excited and making you feel like a part of the gang the good doctor piddled all that support down the drain with yet another horrid job once engines fired.

JP just seemed lost. DJ did everything he could to keep the ship afloat and found action going on on the racetrack but I think at times the incredibly horrible directing even threw Petree and Jarrett for a loop. Not catching Robby Gordon's contact under caution was completely unacceptable when you take into account they practically followed the 12 and 7 for over 5 laps just waiting for something to happen, then when it did you didn't have all the pictures of what happened. Yet on the radio I can guarantee someone calling the turns saw it and was able to report on it. But what do we get from TV? Words instead of images. Not cutting it my friends.

After blowing several restarts with ill-timed in-cars they were able to make improvements only to be too little-too late in my eyes.

In-car cameras can be VERY useful tools, Using it to hear the issues with Jimmie Johnson's engines is a plus in my eyes. I enjoy that kind of thing. Much like when TNT used the in-cars from Pocono in June to catch what Tony Stewart was doing to save fuel. Thats a GOOD use of an in-car. Cutting to an in-car in turn 1 after a restart when the field is going 3 wide throws the viewer off. I would sit there watching Kenseth or Kahne make a bonzi move and they hop to an in-car and by the time we got a track camera, the move I was waiting to see is already over and I'm left scratching my head asto what I just missed.

I can't believe I am saying this but DFR's were probably ESPN's government bail-out because without them we probably would have pulled our hair out in frustration. The different pit strategies and chaos on the restarts made this race incredibly interesting and had we had a set-up guy like AB it really could have made AP and DJ shine even more but instead it seemed to be secondary to JP who seemed to be seeing this for the first time and yet STILL couldn't muster up the excitement that would match the pictures.

JPM taking it to ESPN: Well, I cant say much more than THANK YOU JUAN PABLO!!!!

I expected much, MUCH better from a veteran like Vince Welch. Give me back Matt Yocum and Dr. Dirt.

sbaker17 said...

Years ago, ESPN had a Cup race (from where I can't remember) but there were no announcers, just camera shots of the race. It forced the producer/director to tell the complete story with pictures. Maybe they could find the tape of that race and have their current staff study it.

Anonymous said...

Call me different than the rest of the Planeteers, but I don't have a big problem with the direction, especially in the last 30 at Pocono. I also thought Iowa was a great broadcast. Perhaps the commentary was my focus and not the images, and that would be odd.

What is pushing me around the bend is this "creating controversy" culture in Disneyland. Vince Welch is a guy who's reporting I universally enjoyed until he asked JPM that extraordinarily presumptuous question after the race. Whilst not a JPM fan, I give him points for calling him an idiot and walking off. Oh wait. That's what he did, but he made a great point on his exit. Points for that.

And as was stated by another poster, they completely missed what I'd term a blatant aggressive drive into Beak turning Ambrose in the process. Brad mentioned it in NN but no follow up. The loss of his gramma is no excuse.

Did any of you attend a "Mighty Ducks" hockey game at the Pond when Disney owned them? It was like going to the Ice Capades and having a hockey game break out. It's all about directing a show. Why should NASCAR broadcasts be any different.

Anonymous said...

ESPN must have 'planned' questions and interviews that they spring on the 'interviewee' when they feel it is appropriate.

I did NOT see any reason to have a long interview with Chad Knaus while interesting racing was going on the track (I was listening to Sirius too.)
JJ was two laps down and who gave a hoot how Knaus felt the engine was running? Leave it alone. Get it when it is IMPORTANT.

We missed so very much today. If not for the radio, I would not have
understood most of the race from the tv coverage.

In regards to Rusty.....lose him. He is just too annoying, and full of himself and his past.

Anonymous said...

I was traveling during the day today and forgot to reset the DVR, so I'm wataching the replay.

Even my wife who could give two rips about the broadcast commented on what a mess this one is.

My question is will the JPM comments make the replay tonight?

Stay Tuned !

Dave in Milw.

Sophia said...

Interesting anybody could enjoy the directing of this hot mess. Maybe somebody that like's playing with a Rubik's cube on a timer? :) Then again i read some tweets gushing on the cam work by some working for the station.

ESPN directing, much like Fox's camera directing, continues to reek of the Rube Goldberg theory.

Anonymous said...

well, we got part of JPM's gem.

How do you feel?

HOW do you feel?

how do YOU feel?

how do you FEEL?

So, how much of the race was "edited" for time constraints?

Barry in Tennessee said...

I listened to the MRN broadcast both during and after the race. Excellent broadcast, as usual.

While MRN was interviewing Montoya after the race, Kasey Kahne walks up and apologizes to JPM for nearly wrecking him, and compliments him for a great piece of driving to save it.

JPM acknowledges Kahne and blows the on-track incident off by saying something like "Don't worry about it.. Dude, don't worry about it. It's just racin."

No animosity, no worries, no drama. Just 2 drivers showing respect for each other.

How ESPN ever turned that into a "confrontation with angry words" is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:02 or anyone if you find it let me know! I found one that had a bit of the head shake and Juan Pablo turning back around to say something but then they cut it off and went to another interview. The clip was only about 25 sec total. The other one that came up was Andy's but it was the same thing that's on NA$

Everyone and their Uncle decided it was time to call the CC today so I didn't get to catch much except for during breaks as lunch was when RaceDay was on. And one of my breaks was when Bobby got wrecked. Poor guy! If he didn't have bad luck he'd have no luck at all :(

But I feel Juan Pablo's frustration (as well as the other drivers)! They do the same thing with Smoke and Happy. They get into each other and TV is waiting for them to go all fisticuffs on each other. But they're buddies and they always work it out between them!

It's frustrating when they've apologized/cleared the air either HOURS ago via their radios with their spotters/teams *or* during TV "down time" and other interviews/waiting for interviews are going on, they worked it out between them and then TV tries to rub salt in a wound that's healed!

Anonymous said...

What is the deal with Jerry Punch and car numbers? I will admit that his horrible calling of the race has gotten a little bit better than last year when he said nothing but car number-driver names. Now he says a little bit more, but I gotta ask: WHAT IS HIS OBSESSION WITH TELLING US WHO IS DRIVING WHAT CAR?

Listen up, Jerry Punch: Kasey Kahne drives the 9. We get it. We got it two years ago when he got the Bud sponsorship. And if by some chance someone was in the dark about who drove the 9-car, I think that after three hours of racing, we might have figured it out after the first 20 times you told us!

I can't think of any other sport where the announcer constantly gives out the numbers. In football, the numbers are used by announcers, but not in conjunction with the name every single time you say it and definitely not with the biggest names in the sport.

It is such an INSULT to have Jerry Punch say "the 48 car of Jimmie Johnson" even one time. Jimmie Johnson is the three-time champion of our sport!!! But 20 or 30 times, sometimes within the space of minutes.... it's utterly RIDICULOUS!

Ryan said...

To answer your question in the last paragraph, yes, ESPN does this in their other telecasts too. Their NFL coverage has led me to skip MNF entirely.

I'm not upset that I had to work today and could only hear the action. ESPN doesn't broadcast races, it destroys them.

Preston said...


I didn't think it was possible for coverage to suck THIS BAD.

There were 4 key points I distinctly remember where I had the jump on the commentators...and one of those points was nearly halfway through the race before Andy Petree FINALLY picked up on it! (That point was that Tony wasn't advancing through the field quickly because his car was too tight after adjustments. I could have told you that on Lap 35 or 40!).

And Dr. Punch! My goodness, what a mess. What I distinctly remember of his performance were 1) cutting off Petree and Wallace while they were cutting up a bit sometime after halfway, and 2) when Punch was trying to explain why Hamlin's win was bit FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL DAY, Hamlin had already crossed the finish line. Way to build investment in the driver, Punch! Wait until AFTER the checker to explain why it meant so much. And at that, there was NO excitement in his voice for Hamlin's win. :( :(

Nothing made sense. No one knew what was going on and why. No racing was shown, just the Top 10 with their one "back in the pack" driver of the race (Tony Stewart, until he made the Top 10).

Ditch the director and producer, and ditch Jerry Punch. Give us TNT's or FOX's director and producer, and sign Allen Bestwick

Preston said...

*excuse me, I forgot it was Dale Jarrett in the main announcing booth for the Cup race, not Rusty.

Anonymous said...

What I don't/do understand:
I do not understand why Punch insists on continuing his horrible and embarrassing performance as PxP which will erase the memory of his years of good pit coverage.

I do understand ESPN's continued lousy directing/producing....arrogance.


Karen said...

Wasn't it Mike Ford, Denny's crew chief, when asked the question about Denny running into Reut and Marcos, that what happened between the drivers is really for the drivers to work out and that the cars, etc., were for the CC and team? Anyone, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about which CC said that.

Stupid, stupid question by Vince Welch. Love JPM.

bevo said...

I gave up after lap 120. ESPN was an absolute train wreck. A director with what appears to be a nasty case of ADHD, a "play by play" man who appears to not care about the sport he covers anymore and pit reporters who think they're Dr. Phil.

Here's a radical concept. Cover the race. Show us the cars on the track, not the view out of the windshield. Have pit reporters tell us what is happening during the race, not what the driver did Tuesday morning. After the race ask questions about the race, not how the driver "feels" or speculate. Finally hire a play by play announcer who doesn't sound like he's calling a funeral procession. Get someone who loves racing and wants to share that passion with the viewer.

RobFromCanada said...

For the first time since about the mid 90's..i witnessed an exciting nail biter of a Pocono was amazing..only to be wishywashied by amatuer broadcasting.
These guys have been in the business for'd think by now..they could put together a cohesive viewer oriented broadcast,i guess not :(
But back to some of the race points..Bobby Labonte is and always has been a very classy mature fella..i respect him alot and he had every right to rip a shred out of Ragan on air..he choose not to and i applaud his fortitude.
The espn reporters are some of the most ridiculous people in the biz..ihave nothing to say about them that wouldnt get "bleeped" by the blog admin so i'll "no comment" that :)
The race ..when not being fluffed by espn kept me enthralled...there were points during the last half of the race i saw any of a dozen cars coming to the front and taking it..Kenseth had a run..Carl was up there..even Jr ran good for a bit..this was almost a free for all..passing at pocono..whoda thunk it..loved it..i'll end this now as i feel myself starting to

Anonymous said...

What we all witnessed, gang, was ESPN expression of how high (or low) it values NASCAR vs its lauded XGAMES.
All their "A" team producers and directors were probably at X, leaving third and fourth stringers for NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

ESPN does not know how to tell the story of the race. It's like reading a good book with every other chapter missing. TV is unique in that pictures can show the story happening. But ESPN's director does not seem to know how to make this happen. How about if we show a baseball game and, instead of following the ball after the pitch, the camera only shows the face of the pitcher while we have to guess where the ball goes and what the batter does?

Jim said...

Did y’all notice the ESPN and Tony Stewart love fest? He may want to hit the wall during practice next week, too. It seemed that car 14 was on our TV screen more than the 11, 24 and 48 combined. ESPN’s ace directors and producers must have thought the Stewart come-from-behind effort would be the only interesting facet of the race.
It wasn’t. His position on the track wasn’t even relevant. Lap-by-lap reports on Tony’s position were no more significant than Punch’s droning on and on about the point standings “if the race ended now.”

LuckyForward said...

As usual, Mr. Daly - and everyone else - your comments "hit the nail on the head." ESPN is terrible, and fails to use the template of very successful TNT broadcasts to build their own success.

My larger question: broadcast ratings are down for NASCAR races. Is NASCAR concerned? If the organization is concerned about a ratings drop, why is NASCAR not pushing ESPN to do more to improve its broadcasts?

As ESPN goes, so goes NASCAR on television . . .

rich said...

Jim, you are right about the Tony thing. What you saw was the prescripted show. It just did not play out for ESPN.
Someone commented earlier about my complaint that the booth seems to only look at the monitors and not at the track. I maintain that they should do both. On the Fox broadcasts it seems to be DW's job to watch the track and bring interesting racing to everyones attention, even the director.

glenc1 said...

JD, is there any chance that anon 6:58 is right--that they would change their normal personnel lineup because of the Xgames coverage? Just curious; I don't know how many people it would take. They are supposed to be the 'worldwide leaders'....but there have to be third stringers somewheres...

BTW, I'm one of the 'almost no one' mentioned by one of the Planeteers who occasionally watches tennis. If only ESPN had as good a crew for races as they do for that. Two important matches at one time so they had to utilize ESPN Classic and move one after the other was over (just like racing...) but they had 2 'A' teams. Granted, it's much easier to cover a 'court', but when there's a real dud going on...well, they managed to make it interesting anyways.

Anonymous said...

And maybe you hit it on the head.

Disney / ESPN is focused on their college sports telecasts and their concerns for NASCAR and it's television ratings are not at the front of their minds or agenda.

It's obvious fans don't want in-car shots, and yet that's what we get.

I think from now on, we should cry out in unison for even more in-car shots.

Maybe that way, we'd probably get more shots of the field and track.

NASCAR Bits and Pieces.

50 yr. fan said...

Take note that every time the in-
car comes on the advertisers get
exposure. More money for ESPeeN.
It would be interesting to know
how much they benefit from this
absurd excuse for showing racing.

MRM4 said...

Jim, the 48 got a lot of air time. We were watching it at work and kept joking about more shots of the 48 when he was 3 laps down. ESPN got lucky that he got all those laps back. Otherwise, it was stupid to continue to monitor a car so many laps down.

My problem with today's coverage by all 3 networks is they don't follow enough of the racing. They focus in on certain drivers and mix in some action. Fox wants to focus on Kyle Busch, Junior, and Jeff Gordon. TNT wants to focus on Tony Stewart, and ESPN wants to focus on Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.

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

Somewhere in the middle of the broadcast,I take a 15 minute breakfrom watching.Returning to the broadcast,it seemed that the announcers were talking about Johnson,Gordon,Johnson,Stewart,Johnson,Ernhart,and Johnson till the last few laps.Now I know where all the FOX scripts ended up.Dave in Ca.

GinaV24 said...

This is the network that is supposed to get the fans excited for the Chase? Right now, with the way they are showing races, its hard to get interested, let alone excited. So even if I personally still think the Chase is a made for TV championship event, I'd still like to be able to watch the races and actually SEE the action on the track. Is ESPN not interested in NASCAR? They sure don't act as if they are. After TNT, this is a huge letdown. I'll have to go back to doing what I did with Fox early in season -- mute the TV, listen to the radio broadcast and follow the race on my computer!

Does NASCAR really have to ask WHY the ratings are down?

Anonymous said...

When ESPN takes over, I haul out the old radio and tune into MRN/PRN. It's the only way to find out what's really happening on the track. In fact, I don't even bother with the TV Nascar telecasts anymore most of the time. (NW and Trucks are the exception.) If the TV is on with Cup, it's on mute and I'm watching maybe 30% of the time.

Tracy said...

Ralph, Kyle, and Wally's vibe, as mentioned, was the key to good announcing. Liked Ralph, when he came on board, a ton - I never felt they took themselves too seriously, but the racing was another deal altogether.

DJ and Andy - a good team. Need to lose the ties and suits, tho, to make me, as a viewer, feel more comfortable with them. They need a third person like Ralph to balance the tripod.

Garry said...

Once again, ESPN can't stand it when actual hype outdoes their own contrived hype. Case in point: Robby Gordon and David Stremme. The networks KNEW that Robby was going to punt the 12 car. THEY KNEW IT! So what do they do? Cut to a commercial. Then when they come back, said revenge has already been exacted. Then they see that Robby Gordon is going to exact even MORE revenge, and they cut to a replay, then commercial. After the commercial, both drivers are penalized, including one Robby Gordon, who had ran into afore mentioned Stremme UNDER CAUTION, and ESPN missed it YET AGAIN! Then when Bobby Labonte is about to hold his own personal version of WWIII, on the 6 car, they cut to a replay, then commercial. Now onto Vince Welch: Instead of sitting on their collective behinds,waiting for the idiot producer/directer to tell them what to do, the reporters should follow their intelligence/instinct/gut feelings/knowledge/race intellect and go after Kasey Kahne and LISTEN IN to his conversation!He congratulates Juan on being a great driver, and all poor Vince Welch hears (probably in his earpiece from director) that he exchanged angry words. Get a grip/clue/anything, ESPiN.

Adam Niemeyer said...

I agreed with all of your comments. NASCAR on ESPN isn't as good as it once was. It's unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Once again JP tries to create history with each race. This week’s line at the start of the race..”where NASCAR first instituted the double file restart.” That’s the best he can come up with? When are the double file restarts going to stop being a crutch?
Also, thanks to DJ for pulling the wheel back from JP when he went on his pre programmed story line of Stewart coming up through the field. DJ told him that “things would get more difficult as he came up on more competitive cars” aka start and parks. The reality was Stewart’s car was off and would take multiple fixes to actually start his march through the field.
Why can’t JP let the race come to him and comment on what is actually happening vs. his desire to build up false platitudes or rely on generic pre programmed story lines?

Dannyboy said...

I have been beating this dead horse since before there was an Internet: GIVE US MORE WIDE SHOTS OF THE ACTION!!!

I love (!) in-car cameras - at least when they're looking out the FRONT of the car! It gives me the feeling that I'm there with the driver. I don't care what's going on behind me so I'd ditch the rear bumper cam except for replays of wrecks or outstanding action behind me.

But this insistence on showing almost no wide angle views is just the logical extension of what has ailed directors for many years - not just in NASCAR, but everywhere: I really don't need to watch the tobacco juice running down Trevor Hoffman's chin as he mows down hitters in the ninth!

Kudos to Nascar Now for an excellent show, and MAJOR kudos to Kenny Wallace on Victory Lane for his roundabout endorsement of JPM's sarcasm towards the ESPN weenies.

One more thing: I read many articles by pundits about how Pocono is boring. And it started out that way, but to paraphrase another sport's axiom: "That's why we have the races!"

Congrats to Denny Hamlin, even if you did take out two of Mikey's contending cars and pretty much ruin Reutimann's Chase hopes.

Brad's comments were pretty cool about this.

Photojosh said...

Just a note to say that the JPM moment is up on Youtube:

And yes, the race sucked. Made me really wish we had a NASCAR radio affiliate around here. For all the work ESPN has done making Nascar Now into a must watch show for fans, their race broadcasts just get worse. I could even put up with the "hunting for a controversy" stuff if they would just give me a good race broadcast. But they don't.

I miss TNT. And I have to feel a bit vindicated that so many others are saying the same thing this year. I was on the minority last year when I talked on this blog about how much I liked the TNT crew, particularly Wally and Kyle's interaction and enthusiasm.

amy said...

Just a sampling of other ESPN shows should tell us what their agenda is-nothing more than sensationalism. Half the shows they have are little more than screaming sessions between people who actually think they know something more than the rest of us about sports. So why think their NASCAR productions will be any different. They wanted the broadcast rights to make money, not because they have any respect for any kind of racing.

West Coast Diane said...

I had to abandon listening online while traveling in motorhome. Aircard kept losing 3G signal. I, foolishly, thought this is why I was confused with what was happening on the track.

Thks to JD knew about replay.

Watching the replay in the comfort of my MH was no better! To make matters worse they chopped up the race which created even more confusion. If that is possible.

2 examples. The 30 minutes commercial free wasn't! Went to commercial, came back after a restart and lost about 10 laps (This happened through out the race). And the 11 taking out 00 & 47 was a snipet. (My sympathies to Denny for the loss of his Grandma, very sad. But, that wasn't a "racing deal").

From the comments it appears to me that my confusion had nothing to do with aircard problems, or a hack job on the replay.

The tight shots are totally unacceptable and unnecessary. It dawned on me towards the end that I never saw shots which included the stands. A real sign there were no wide or overhead shots.

The JPM thing...even my non observant husband..said with love...said what the heck was that! If the drivers are icy towards reporters now, it should get even more interesting. Not sure I would give them the time of day.

The saddest thing of all is that the normal Pocono boring race actually had passing and excitement. Unfortunately it wasn't anywhere to be seen on the screen. You had to piece it together watching ticker and getting brief shots of passing before director corrected his mistake and tighented up the shot.

I wish I could get MRN/PRN on radio. I would listen live using headphones while getting stuff done in yard/home. Then just FF through race later to see highlights.

JP is a hindrance to AP & DJ, making the entire call of the race a cure for insomnia. JP was great on Sunday. Too bad they can't put the players in the roles they shine in. Does JP read this blog? He can't, because I would think he would go to the PTB and ask for a change for the good of the sport and the fans.

glenc1 said...

BTW, Dot--missed part of your post the first time. The NFL has indeed used 'helmet cams'. Not a great deal though. They've also had flying cameras across the field sort of like the bat cam....and I still don't think it helped the game particularly. Fox tried glowing hockey pucks, some teams used 'flashy goals'...just making the point that it's not just racing. There are unusual ideas in all sports, some work, some don't. Miking the head coaches is pretty pointless for many because of the language but they can be funny (much like what's caught on the scanner.) I don't watch baseball or basketball so I can't comment on whatever goofy ideas mighta been tried there. I'm thinking during the Olys we saw some unusual things.

Anonymous said...

Three steps in the right direction for ESPN:
1) Replace JP with AB -- immediately.
2) Review some OLD ESPN race coverage -- Bill Jenkins vintage -- to see how to shoot (and call) a race. TNT reviews will work too.
3) Hire pit reporters who have a clue (JP maybe a possibility for this role).


rich said...

Was watching the 88 Riverside replay on ESCL and saw a great example of why these telecasts are "off".
At the start of the replay, before it even started, they told that Rusty won. Now if I had never seen that race that was a horrible "spoiler" with no alert. Personally I do not want to know ahead of time who wins. ESPU, if they were race fans, would know this. Just my opinion.

BWBarefoot said...

First of all, I want to thank all of those who have commented. I have learned a lot about what the fans feel from their insights.

My comments mirror just about everyone else's. Too many in-car shots, not enough attention to the racing, too many commercials and selective coverage. (If you were wondering why all the Tony Stewart shots, Old Spice was the presenting sponsor of the telecast.)

I would like to add that during practice and qualifying, and even in the Sunday rain delay coverage, there was an inordinate amount of talk about the X Games. As much a fan as I am of Jimmie Johnson, showing the "Chad is Rad" T-shirt (connected to one of the X Games rally cars) was overkill.

I did not pay attention to the Montoya interview, so I can't comment on it specifically. But if that's the direction the pit reporters go into, then Dr. Phil would indeed fit right in.:)

Anonymous said...

I am just sick and tired of every reporter asking the winning driver the same #$%^ thing, "what does this victory mean to you?" Show some creativity and ask something more intelligent!

Mary said...

I have a simple solution which works for me watch it on Raceview and listen to XM/Sirius

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane.. If you have a computer and look hard enough (not that hard) you can here professionals on your computer.. enough on that. You know what I love about Allen Bestwick, he actually calls the race and is excited about it. When things get exciting you hear it in his voice. He is a true professional and knows his stuff. He could probably do the whole race himself and keep my attention. Jerry, back to the pits... now!

Anonymous said...

Mary, perhaps this has not occurred to you, but especially in this tight economy, not everyone has the money for those things...

MRM4 said...

Jerry Punch lives in my town and does a weekly radio appearance on a sports talk station every Monday. Since the race was run yesterday, he was on today. Someone called in and asked him about the Pocono race, the track being so big and not being exciting.

He has stated this before and has stated it again today that he doesn't like Indy because it isn't much of a race. That comes across in the broadcast. He also said today that he's not a fan of Pocono because it usually isn't good either. He pointed to Michigan as being the first good track they go to, so we'll see if Dr. Punch's enthusiasm goes up a few notches for that race.

FYI, he said Marty Reid will be at Watkins Glen this weekend to call all the Nationwide action and Punch will call all the Cup action.

West Coast Diane said...

@anon 3:34....yes, but I could not get that website for some reason. Using an air card while traveling 55mph down a freeway (calif law while towing, not going slow) going in and out of various levels of cell service is tough when streaming.

I'm also technically challenged..LOL! Need to talk with my tech geek son to understand more about what is available and how to get it to work.

My main point was that the broadcast, announcing and direction, was done so poorly that even watching the replay didn't help me get a clear picture of how the race unfolded and why various drivers ended up where they finished.

Bottom line, why is it that we all need to find other avenues for watching a race that is being televised? I understand complimenting it with scanner access for favorite driver(s). If the broadcasters did a great job we wouldn't need it. Although the sad part would be no JD and TDP!

David said...

I found ESPN's Sunday coverage to be much better than Monday. It was so bad Monday I went outside to work on the woodpile.

And does anyone else find it strange that for all the technological advances of the 21st century we're happier with radio?

Richard in N.C. said...

2 big problems with EESPN - they do not have enough competition and, except for a few internet sites, virtually no one in the rest of the media will say anything critical of them - either out of fear or wanting to keep the door open to get an EESPN job. After FOX departs the reports of declining ratings diminish and what there are blame NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Does this blog or anyone who comments ever have anything positive to say? I went back to when Fox was broadcasting and you were all complaining then. Lets be happy that we can still watch Nascar on TV. IRL on versus, no more World of Outlaws braodcasts, No WRC or V8 supercar coverage. Be happy we can still watch live racing.
Plus aren't there more important things in the world than which camera shot you got during the restart?
I agree with alot of what is said, but complaining on a blog comment isn't going to change anything. My suggestion is pool up your money, buy a cable channel, bid on Nascar rights.

Richard in N.C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
glenc1 said...

Anon...since you're apparently not a regular....if you look in the archives for the Nationwide race at ORP (Indianapolis) you will see we had a great many positive comments. When we like what we see, we are just as vocal. Or read up on many compliments given during the TNT coverage. You've missed a lot if you haven't been here since Fox.

Newracefan said...

My live viewing of the race consisted of watching little circles out of the corner of my eye and no sound. Couldn't call tech support since it was the work PC ;) Evidently something also messes up the radio in that area, only worked in the car when it was parked but the race sounded very exciting while I picked up lunch. I'm still trying to get through the DVR'd version, I'm on day 2. Everytime I started to get caught up they jump to an incar camera or JP starts to drone on. I actually picked up more excitment watching those circles and lap by lap on I need to remember to bring home the radio so I can use it this weekend so my head doesn't explode

Phathead said...

The sad thing is ESPN botched what was, perhaps, the most entertaining race I have seen at Pocono in nearly 20 years watching the sport. For whatever reason, the drivers had a fire lit under their... seats all race long and it was fantastic to watch.

Montoya's save at the end of the race, on perhaps one of the most difficult turns in the entire sport, didn't even garner a second look.

That single shot summed up the entire race right there. Any absolutely spectacular save that was hardly acknowledged and never spoke of again.

Dale and Andy can only do so much with so little. They have evolved into the best pairing in the sport, much like Dale's father Ned and BP used to be. It is sad to see their talents wasted in such a manner.

rich said...

Phathead, I agree completely with your post. I get the feeling that DJ and Andy don't have freedom of speech. They really are missing the boat by not just cutting the guys loose and letting freeflow conversation take over. Just my opinion.

KoHoSo said...

From Mr. Daly's blog entry...

To keep the remaining NASCAR viewers, it may well be time to learn from the past and simply show the cars on the track without the gimmicks, the gizmos and the zoom lenses.

How long have you and I and tons of my fellow Planeteers been saying that ESPN needs to sit Punch and the gang down for several days and have them watch nothing but old tapes of Bob, Benny, and Ned? This technique worked wonders for me in the radio business -- hours upon hours of listening to others practice their craft then listening to my own broadcasts to see where I made mistakes and needed improvement. I guess when you're "the worldwide leader" it never comes up to try to remain that way at all times.

From an early comment by Mr. Daly...

I hope change will come. ESPN seems to not understand that this type of coverage is going to drive even more fans to other forms of sports and other TV programs.

JD, I really wonder if that's what ESPN wants. In my view, they are not interested in the NASCAR fan or any fan for that matter. As I have said several times here, I think they are only interested in getting that 18-to-35 year old male demographic. Even worse, I think they really want to pander to the type of guys that frequent places like 4chan and the ESPN forums where going overboard to create any type of controversy whether real or not is the rule of the day (which is OK for a place like 4chan because it is expected, but it's not what NASCAR has presented itself as being as long as I have watched it which is now going on more years than I'd care to reveal).

In general, the racing was great but the broadcast was disgusting. The direction was clueless -- the cut-away right as Jimmie Johnson was having a big "moment" out of turn three made me almost cry to think that the people producing this telecast probably graduated from universities with well respected communications departments (and that was after they cut away from several other "moments" by other drivers at the same place on the track).

The post-race interview with Montoya was the obvious cap to it all. Then again, what else should we expect from the same media outlet that tried to rape the reputation of Ron Hornaday?

Anonymous said...

...while I wish for the older days of better broadcasting, I must add to be realistic...those guys (Ned, Benny, etc.) actually *were* held back--no criticism of NASCAR allowed. I don't want to go back to that either (and I think NASCAR is a little more open to that today), but I want to take their enthusiasm and infuse the frankness of some of the newer broadcasters. We need more of that. Somewhere there must be a happy medium.

Anonymous said...

For the fiasco that was ESPN's broadcast at Pocono on Monday, the solution for me is simple from this point forward: Sound off on the TV, turn up MRN/PRN Radio on Sirius/XM.
At this point, no other way will work. The utter garbage Vince Welch spewed forth to JPM was the capper for me.
"Angry words?!" Are you KIDDING? That question had NO place in the broadcast because there was NO issue!
I know we're all crying about it here, but the current TV deal still has five more years to go. Unless NASCAR sits ESPN down and demands a renegotiation, we're stuck.
I was excited to know ESPN was resuming NASCAR broadcasts when they returned in 2007. I'm the complete opposite now.
Based on many of the posts I've seen here, it's good to know I'm not alone.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:37PM,

Here are some words from this very column:

"In the studio and before the race, ESPN is presenting some of the best NASCAR programming in recent memory."

There are lots of words for jobs well done on TDP. Unfortunately, as you can see from the comments on this post and around the Internet, something is missing from the ESPN equation and it is affecting our viewing experience.

We would welcome your thoughts on that topic.


Charlie said...

The race at O’Reilly Raceway Park was a treat to watch. Then came Iowa and Pocono. Both these races had plenty of action but it was a complete embarrassment to broadcasting. My main concern is for the sport of Nascar. If Espn keeps broadcasting races like they have the last two races, the sport will lose. It will lose fans. I don’t understand why Nascar won’t step in and have a sit down with Espn. Espn for the rest of the season is the representative of Nascar on television. Espn has to step it up in the way they show races. Soon they will up against the NFL and College Football. Espn should be trying to get more fans not get rid of them. Nascar has to do something to correct this problem now. Not next season. Nascar has a major problem and they have to do something to fix it and fix it now, not later.

I noticed on a few post the mention of the old ESPN and the broadcast team of Ned, Benny and Bob. The good old days. To some of the newer fans of Nascar and before the little dish, did you know you could watch a Nascar race on a big dish, a 10 foot one and get the wild feed (no commercials) for each race. You could go looking for the feed about a half hour before the race. Moving the dish from satellite to satellite and finally finding it. The guys in the booth knew this wild feed (the feed that went from the track to Espn before being transmitted out again to the public) was being watched by their families and friends. You could hear Benny saying hello to his wife before the broadcast started. During a commercial they were still on and the cameras rolling and they would still be doing the play-by-play but making comments in a more relaxed way. It was a joy to watch races like this. They loved what they did.

Nascar has to change the way things are going or the fans will leave and no new fans will be finding out what a fine sport this is to watch and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Charlie...ESPN will be showing a lot of college football in the days ahead. With some Saturday night races upcoming on ABC (Richmond and Lowe's), it'll be interesting to see how any delays are handled against late-running college football games.

BIllydelyon said...

Allan's the best. Doc sucks..

I feel like I've been reading this crap here since ESPN's first races...

And you may find yourself...

Letting the waves go by.

Same as it ever was...SAME AS IT EVER WAS...


Gene Haddock said...

Bestwick has always been a favorite of mine, and that four hour filler during the rain must have been a challenge.

But...What is up with him laughing (madly) at his own (supposed) humor. Was the Knaus tee shirt really that hilarious? Even DW has the common courtesy not to howl like a hyena at his own failed attempts at humor.

Let Punch host the pre-race, or, even better, interview drivers in the infield care center...where he might have some knowlege to add. Let Bestwick do the play-by-play.

Sophia said...


I LOVED your story about NASCAR races on the big satellite dishes. That must have been totally cool. I used to hear similar things about Johnny Carson's tonight show and folks could see the commercial breaks on tv.

Watching that great team in the booth PLUS GREAT WIDE ANGLES of tv work, must have been awesome.

Preacher said...

Good for JPM for calling the reporter to task for his stupid question that plagues these reporters. For a network trying to CREATE controversy, they certainly worked hard to steer clear of this one. Are they afraid to admit they are doing things wrong or is it arrogance?

As fo BP, I remember many many comments on his repeating things like JP (example-for those new to NASCAR) that deemed the usual fan as idiots that had no clue when he was with NBC that eventually lead to his replacement by Bill Weber. With that said, he would still be a great improvement over JP. Better yet, Leave DJ and AP alone in the booth and see what happens.

Still with that change, if the director and producer do not get over their ADHD ways of broadcasting, these two would be severely hampered. I know that some of the TV management from other networks read these blogs but I wonder if ESPN does. Is there somewhere we can additionally complain to them directly?

As for in car cameras, restrict their use to replays when things are happening or when interviewing the driver on the track during cautions. That is the only best use for these things.

When are they going to listen to the regular fans about this. Would the NFL put up with these issues after listening to the fans complain. NO! They would sit the broadcast partners down and tell them to fix it. They would use their power as a major sport with a huge following to leverage change. NASCAR needs to do the same.

A CHALLENGE TO THE NETWORKS. Start a poll that asks what the fans like and see what you get back and then implement them. Then watch your ratings change. You could even have someone sponser it like you do all these intrusive promos disguised as polls. This one might actually give you some usefull info.

As for the other parts, many others have expressed things well. I will not repeat them except to say, AMEN!

Thanks JD for this way to express how we feel about this. I read this regularly and find it very informative and a stimulus to meaningful discussion. Keep up the good work!