Friday, September 4, 2009

Are You Ready For Some Football?

It's that time of the year again. Time for NASCAR fans to locate the ESPN Classic network on their cable dial. College football season is here.

Saturday returns the Nationwide Series television coverage to a familiar pattern. A live college football game begins at 3:30PM and the NASCAR pre-race show begins three hours later. Last season, that was a rough combination.

This week Allen Bestwick stands ready to kick things off at 6:30PM from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bestwick will have Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham in the Infield Pit Studio to start the day.

This is the time of the season when the Nationwide Series pre-race show suddenly becomes optional, despite the fact NASCAR fans have been watching it since February and this is the heart of the season.

Should the college football game run longer than 7PM, ESPN Classic has taped programming up until 8PM so it could serve as a back-up. Not all NASCAR fans get Classic, but other than ESPNEWS that is the only option to get the race started on TV.

This weekend is the transition when NASCAR is suddenly surrounded on Saturdays by college football and on Sunday by the NFL. Things on the air have changed drastically for NASCAR every season this has happened since ESPN returned to the coverage in 2007.

The Atlanta Nationwide Series race signals a return of the "Backseat Drivers" concept that was first used in Michigan. ESPN will have Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree, Wallace and Evernham watching the race and talking to viewers in an informal fashion.

Bestwick will remain downstairs in the infield and will probably handle the vast majority of the traffic directing should the college football game run long.

The top three excuses heard about this situation last season were that the pre-race show does not really matter, that the Nationwide Series is the minor leagues and that college football gets better ratings. All those excuses got old very fast.

TV viewers expect to see complete coverage of the only NASCAR series that ESPN shows from start to finish. That includes the pre-race show and the green flag. While Atlanta is a fast and exciting track, it may be the NASCAR fan that is taken for an exciting ride this Saturday afternoon. Put some fresh batteries in the remote.

TDP will be live blogging the ESPN2 telecast of the race, please join us. In order to leave comments on this topic, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


PammH said...

From beginning to end, coverage for any type of Nascar race on BSPN is on the back burner. I accept nothing less this yr. At this time, I get Classic, but who knows in the future? Look at DTV...But guess what? For now, I have Sirius, so I can listen to ALL the races, including the ones MW ruins...:)

Dot said...

Boy after reading the Frontstretch column and now this, am I paranoid to think that BSPN is out to get us?

We're not the only fans getting the short end. I read elsewhere that the NFL is blacking out games that don't sell out. (that's one way to not show empty seats). Lucky for us, we can still see racing without a sell out. Our problem is finding it on TV.

Sophia said...


I thought the NFL always blacked out if home games were not sold out 72 hrs ahead unless that's just a stupid Ohio rule.

I would LOVE to have MRN all the time but grateful we have for CUP races.

I give up on ESPN.
Seriously. Why get worked up about it anymore?

We know the score.

BSPN's ego claims THEY KNOW BEST.We are just idiots wanting Mike Well's type of fabulous camera direction so we at home, on our couches, on NORMAL or HD tvs can. *gasp* enjoy the race w/o multi tasking.

But what are you gonna do. Shame no IRL this weekend though.

Dot said...

@ dear Sophia, true. I guess it's being brought up due to the economy and fans not being able to go to games. Boy, the NFL loves their fans, don't they?

Why doesn't BSPN just pick one of their other channels to show racing? That way we would know and not have to wait for a football game to end.

hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

It sucks they continue to do this to the loyal fans.

I don't watch the pre-race anyway, so it's you guys I feel bad for.

Richard in N.C. said...

If the cable cos. had to offer a la carte selling/pricing, then consumers would have more influence with cable cos., especially like EESPN which has one of the highest carry charges. I now have to pay a little over $1 extra per month to get a package of ESPNNEWS, ESPN Classic, Fuel, and some FOX regional sports networks, which I only continue for EESPNNEWS, besides the buried EESPN-EESPN2 carry charge.

Sophia said...


I remember somebody mentioning ala carte cable station options in D.C. years ago..was it McCain? Not sure.. it was explained why it would never happen but my mind is a bit fuzzy. But I've thought for years I'd like ala carte...don't watch half the stations as it is with the crappy bundling.

And we are going to drop digital in another month. SPEED is not worth it sadly, it really needs to be bumped to lower status but I digress. We enjoy many of the stations but something needs to be cut back for now.

Tom said...

What will be REALLY intriguing is when Cup heads for Richmond and the final race to the Chase next Saturday night.
The switch will be set to ABC, and there are college football games set on that fine network as well - 3:30 ET, 1:30 where I live.
I remember several years ago when NBC still had the races how a race start at Lowe's was actually DELAYED to show a memorable finish of a USC-Notre Dame game.
What stuck out for me that day? The Cup guys were actually watching the game before they got in their cars!
Won't happen this time around...


SonicAD said...

Also of note for Saturday night, the college football in the 3:30 window on ESPN2 is split, with some parts of the country getting Western Michigan/Michigan, and the rest Georgia/Oklahoma State. So with one likely ending earlier than the other there's potential for even more of a mess. They can't just cut to the other, because whichever game isn't being shown on ESPN2 will be shown on ABC (except for those getting Baylor/Wake Forest on ABC). In past years this has been the fall California race and they've had the Nationwide race at 10PM Eastern, which somewhat avoided this problem (even though it was on after still another game, which often ran over into it). I think this is all set up for a right mess!

Sally said...

My cable company cut ESPN Classic last year, so if the game runs over, I'm just SOL. Actually, the way ESPN has been 'covering' most sports (from what I read, anyway), that might be a better combination of call letters for them. 'It's SOL and we don't care!'.

OSBORNK said...

Ala carte does not work because of the way programing is sold to the cable and satellite providers. The companies selling the programs won't sell a single station to the providers but will only sell them as a bundle. They include one or two "must have" stations in a package with a bunch of junk stations they are required by contract to transmit. The blame is not with the cable or satellite companies except for what package they require to get your stations of choice. I get over 300 stations with Dish and still can't find anything to watch.


Vicky D said...

ESPN's backseat drivers concept broadcast was such a success last time, they're doing it again!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am ready for some football.

ESPN knows how to do football,and does not know NASCAR.

I'll catch up on the races after the finish on the internet.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

Unfortunately, I will be unable to see what happens this Saturday and next Saturday and the following Saturday because of going to the Florida Gators football games. My hubby's family has had season tickets since the 1950's and hubby, son, and I go to all the home games. Due to that, I cannot watch the racing coverage on Saturdays that Gator home games are on. So you all will have to let me know what happens.

BTW, I love both Nascar and football, especially college. ESPN does broadcast SEC football games so unfortunately for all Nascar fans, they might be broadcasting a Gator game that might go long and I will be into that game. Oh, Go Gators.

I think that this is a problem for a network that wants to carry all kinds of sports and when they confict it presents a problem.

Go Gators and Tim Tebow and Go Mikey and Go Michael Waltrip Racing.

GinaV24 said...

@Tom -- I remember that race at Lowe's because I was sitting in the stands wondering what the heck was going on and why was the race start delayed? No explanation was offered at the track, that's for sure.

Well, I'm going to the Labor Day race for the first time since NASCAR robbed Darlington of it's Southern 500, so the lousy ESPN coverage won't be an issue. I'll get to watch it live and in person without anyone talking over it or commercial interruption - can you tell I'm psyched? LOL

OT though, it is a shame that NASCAR, Nationwide and Cup, is being treated as such a lower tier sport. Ratings are down because of the poor production effort and the musical stations that the fans are forced to use to follow it. Funny, I seem to remember in 2001 when the first TV package came out one of the biggest points that was made was "now you'll know where to tune in to find the race". Eight years later, that is a joke.

Sophia said...

it just dawned me me awhile back how NFL games have had STEADY standard times for years and great ratings.

NASCAR, it's hunt for the channel and time slot roulette.

I remember the race delay for that Notre Dame game. That was something.

So many online radio sites are odd...I can't listen to local radio stream live but I can hear the podcasts. Don't know what's up with says LISTEN live & I have updated flash player, etc.

I've run into similar things when given radio links to listen to NASCAR stuff. Must be ancient Chinese secret.

Anonymous said...

With football and the news below about EA dropping the NASCAR game for MMA....Does NASCAR really still have the widespread following many think??? It is really too easy to blame the TV partners for the decline, like many on here do.

"EA Sports: 'No plans' for new NASCAR game: The future of EA Sports' NASCAR franchise of racing games has been in doubt since February, when The Sporting News reported the publisher wouldn't be making a new installment of the series this year. Speaking with GameSpot for a Dreamcast retrospective on next week's episode of the HotSpot podcast, EA Sports president Peter Moore has removed all uncertainty from the equation. "There are no plans right now for NASCAR from EA," Moore said. "We had a great relationship over the years that I thoroughly enjoyed when I first got here. Unfortunately&we had to make some tough trade-offs. We've had to redeploy some of those folks. A number of the NASCAR team has moved over now to EA Sports MMA, which will be shipping next year. [We're] still a huge fan of NASCAR, but no plans right now to develop any further games for NASCAR from EA Sports."(Gamespot)(9-3-2009)"

Anonymous said...

The top three excuses heard about this situation last season were that the pre-race show does not really matter, that the Nationwide Series is the minor leagues and that college football gets better ratings. All those excuses got old very fast.

We'll, its the truth. There is plenty of college football out there. The fans want to see it as well. ESPN has done fine making a best effort to please everyone. There have been countless numbers of times where a college football game ends without any on field interviews afterwards to cut straight to NASCAR. Its all give and take.

If Brian France wanted a network to give the Nationwide series a protected window with absolutley zero chance of being overrun, and guaranteed coverage to the checkered flag, whenever that may be, he should have went somewhere else. Though, I doubt anybody would have offered that to him.

It is what it is. ESPN is a network that shows a bunch of live sports. Broadcast time is a limited resource. Its not like you can easily spin off another channel, and get it into the same number of homes as the main ones.

Its all a juggling act, and so far, unlike what Fox did at Phoenix, ESPN has not missed a single green flag. That is what is important.

You should be happy that ESPN does move things over to Classic. Not all sports even gets that treatment. So quit with the tired, old "red headed stepchild" whine.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:44AM,

What happened to EA Sports with NASCAR was technology, not popularity.

EA sports console games have been replaced by interactive online games. You may remember Mr. Henry from the Red Sox and Dale Earnhardt Jr. being involved in one such project.

Anon 10:47AM,

The problem is, that is not the truth by any stretch of the imagination.

The only time that a college football game has ended and gone right to NASCAR was when the entire thirty minute pre-race show had already been dumped because the game ran long.

"ESPN has not missed a single green flag," you said. Last year we offered two columns that documented that ESPN was saved from this situation by good open field tackles at the last moment.

The issue is not college football at all, it is the reluctance of ESPN to be able to handle the programming it has agreed to carry.

You may remember that SPEED has stepped in at the last minute several times and actually carried entire ESPN telecasts of the Nationwide races.

I guess that does not qualify as missing a green flag in your world.

All the ESPN apologists come out of the woodwork this time of year to beat their chests about college football. As with you, the point is completely lost.

This sport has been in progress for seven months. Unlike college football, which is just starting, the Nationwide Series is in the heart of its season.

The teams, drivers and NASCAR deserve the level of respect they have been afforded by ESPN since February. Instead, a magic wand waves and suddenly...*poof*...the Nationwide Series is a bunch of minor league bottom feeders.

Strange ESPN never mentioned that when they asked us to watch all the races with a thirty minute pre-race show and then tune into ESPNEWS for additional highlights.

Guess things change in the very strange ESPN universe whenever it is convenient for stick-and-ball sports.

Let's hope those open-field tackles by the Bulldogs let ESPN manage to catch another green flag.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"The teams, drivers and NASCAR deserve the level of respect they have been afforded by ESPN since February."

Why is that the case? NASCAR doesn't show that same respect to others when they run their races long, well beyond the end of their timeslot.

Yes, the situation has changed. There is more stuff to show on TV during this part of the year. ESPN has been showing college football longer than it has the Nationwide series. You can argue, it would be disrespectful to college football fans to miss the final 10 minutes of a game, so a small group of NASCAR fans can watch a PRE race show.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again. People who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it. NASCAR has had blackouts in its previous history. Prior to the unified television contract in 2001, individual tracks had the right to blackout races. During its Charlotte Motor Speedway days, pre-Lowes, that facility frequently blacked out races in a 100 mile+ radius. Who says the individual tracks can't go back to that? I am not aware of any provision of the contract negotiated by Bray Cary, that prevents blackouts when all tickets are sold. NFL facilities don't have to sell NEAR as many seats to get a sellout. Then, there's the "Heidi" Rule. We're caught between the devil and the deep blue sea here. Radio has been NASCAR's torch carrier for more than four decades. Everybody likes to forget radio's abilities, loyalties, and contributions, in favor of the Great God TV. With all of the problems, thank God that radio is still around.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is a Northeast regional mentality taken national. Nothing of significance occurs outside of the Boston-Washington corridor. The hicks should be satisfied with the crums. Cable/Satallite TV is an Oligopoly. The politicians protect their franchise in return for significant contributions either direct or thru lobbiests. That's why sports salaries and costs will continue to grow faster than inflation. If the advertisers don't cover the increased costs, raise the rights fees and force all or nothing mandatory packages on the end user. This is legalized extortion.

Anonymous said...

" Daly Planet Editor said...
Anon 10:44AM,

What happened to EA Sports with NASCAR was technology, not popularity.

EA sports console games have been replaced by interactive online games. You may remember Mr. Henry from the Red Sox and Dale Earnhardt Jr. being involved in one such project."

Not sure I get the Tech vs Popularity when EA Sports Madden NFL Football has lines at midnight to buy first and is a huge seller...many online football games also.
My main point is I think NASCAR is losing it's hold being a widespread sport and retreating back to the regional sport it was, in terms of active fans both at races and watching?

Andrew said...

@Dot - To be fair to the NFL, the blackout rule has existed since 1973, and is supposed to help teams by getting people to actually go to the games. And this is just the current rule - before 1973, you couldn't even see a game in the city where it was being played. Though in this economy, the blackout rule is going to get a lot of criticism.

@JD - The lack of respect for the NW series sucks, it really does. But the simple fact is that it doesn't even come close to the popularity of college football. College football hits exactly the demographic that all the networks want - 18-35 males - and it's universal watercooler conversation. I'm in law school right now, and I can count on one hand the number of NASCAR fans here. But, conversely, it would be far easier to make a list of the people who don't watch college football than those who do.

Now, that is no excuse for ESPN treating the Nationwide series like a red-headed stepchild. And missing a green flag is particualarly awful. But what are they supposed to do? Can you imagine the backlash from both sponsors and viewers if they moved the end of the game over to Classic? Moving either one is really not acceptable. Perhaps they should consider tape-delaying the start of the race instead of shoving it over to Classic. And as for the pre-race show, losing it is unfortunate for NASCAR viewers, but it doesn't even come close to the ratings of either the race or the football. They're certainly not going to move a game for that; they don't even do it for the mid-game show during football doubleheaders that run over.

Or ESPN could ask NASCAR for some help here. NASCAR could move the last few NW races to Friday night and do double-headers with the Truck Series. Or, NASCAR could consider altering the NW schedule so that there is no, or at least very little overlap with college football. They could abbreviate the schedule and/or start it in January after the Wild Car games. It would also allow a build-up of to the Daytona 500 and the Sprint Cup season.

But as people have noted many times here on this blog, the money talks. And as long as sponsors and ratings favor college football over NASCAR, the latter will lose out.

Andrew said...
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Andrew said...

Oh, one more thing I just thought of. Don't more people get ABC Family than ESPN Classic? Why not consider moving the end of the Nationwide night schedule to that that channel instead of having the constant conflicts with college football? Alternatively, they could at least show the pre-race shows.

Andrew said...

Oh, found the numbers:

ESPN2 - 91.7 million homes (2006)
ABC Family - 80 million homes (2006)
ESPN Classic - 63 million homes (2009)
ESPNU - 25 million homes (2009)

glenc1 said...

Changing to another station for pre-race (if I wanted to watch it) is not really a big deal for me. But that doesn't mean I think ESPN does a good job at managing its schedule. I do agree with Andrew that ABC Family might be a good alternative for them to consider, but I don't know what kind of ratings they get on the programming they have. They have also used ESPN 360 in the past...if they *have* an issue (I agree with JD, it's inevitable), IMHO they ought to be able to make that available to anyone and let people watch online.

Dot, as other have said, the NFL has always blacked out games. It was in the news because of the economy...fewer people can afford to go so more games will be blacked out. Buffalo suffers hard because of a disastrous economic situation plus a stadium too big for the market--I think they curently have only sold out 4 games. I'm sure signing TO was a hope to put butts in the seats. I'm not a Bills fan, thank goodness....

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:24AM,

Now you have lapsed into desperation.

NASCAR does not show respect by ending races on time?

Tennis, golf and auto racing are the three toughest sports to televise from a time perspective.

They are non-clock sports, with only Mother Nature as the person who can bring them to a halt.

NASCAR clearly deserves a TV partner who will continue to give the same level of respect to the sport regardless of what other sports are "in season."

Anon 12:41PM,

I am a little lost about what blackouts have to do with this issue. Can you help me with that?

Anon 12:55PM,

NASCAR has lost nothing in terms of TV. Lower ratings because of the loss of young folks to computer video streaming has affected all the pro sports.

In terms of the EA Sports issue, the dynamic is completely different. NASCAR partnered with various online providers to give rights to develop realistic driving games that are pointed toward leagues and interactive participation. That is where the sport has gone.


If you get sucked into the popularity issue there is no end to the tricks that can be played on various sports. Why was the Nationwide Series respected during the college basketball season?

The reason is logistics. ESPN is one network short of what they need and they know it. ESPN Classic failed long ago, the budget was pulled and it re-airs free shows from the library. ESPNU is locked in a battle for college sports dominance on TV with several other national players.

This is the same issue we discussed last year. Why does the treatment of this series change during the last three months of the ten month season?

Simple, ESPN is out of TV space. I know all the excuses, have heard all the official reasons and love the fact that college football fans come over here and bash us NASAR hicks.

The bottom line is that a live program series does not deserve to be scheduled in a timeslot that is purposefully thirty minutes shorter than normal.

Come Saturday afternoon, we may have a whole lot more to talk about.


Anonymous said...

"Why was the Nationwide Series respected during the college basketball season?"

Well, the ESPN portion the college basketball season is winding down by the time the Nationwide season starts. There are only 3 weekends that conflict, and its much easier to schedule around.

College Football has already taken action to cut down the length of the games. The new timing rules did greatly reduce the length of the game.

The football kickoff times are already set in stone. NASCAR needs to work around them. NASCAR should do the same and cut 100 miles off each Nationwide race. That way, the races can more easily fit in the broadcast schedule they knew all along they would face, a schedule dominated by college football.

Anonymous said...

it's not realistic to cut NW races that much....that's shortchanging both the sponsors and the fans who paid to be there and go through the hassle of traffic, etc. There are probably some that could be shortened to some extent. It's not *just* about TV.

Dot said...

Hey JD, I've read conflicting stories regarding start times for races. Is it TV or NASCAR?

Is it because NASCAR doesn't have set race times that they can be shuffled around?

If set start times are the issue, someone needs to fix it.

That west coast time argument is BS(PN).

Dot said...

@ Andrew & glenc1, thanks for the blackout info.

@ JD, I opened up the blackout can of worms, sorry.

@ Anon 2:43, the argument could be for the basketball/football to cut off a period/quarter from their games.

For me, it's not about missing the pre race if a game runs over. It's just NN segment reruns anyway. But, I just can't help but feel like BSPN doesn't care for race fans.

Regarding ABC Family, I looked into the future. A whole lot of reruns of old sit coms. Why doesn't ABC/BSPN consider moving the races there? Racing is a family sport after all.

Anonymous said...

@hotaru--the pre-race is reshashed "stories" which is why they don't have time to show prepackaged videos so they have to show them on full screen during the race.

@Tom--Yup I remember that!

@Gina--How frustrating that must have been!

It's a shame that we have to flip through 8 billion channels to find the race.

Some weeks we have no choice because all networks are booked others we have to hunt down Classic and hope they don't bring on football in the middle of the invocation without warning.

I'd LOVE to see some sort of dedicated channel some way some how. Heck, I read a few weeks back that they're working on a gymnastics network I don't see why there can't be a NA$CAR network. There is so much OLD SCHOOL footage that they can dig up that can provide HOURS of programming. And get our legends interviewed while we still have them! What great stories they can tell!

Anonymous said...

Annon 10:44 AM,

The reason why EA sports is not making nascar game is because they sucked and have lost the licensed to Iracing.They ruined Nascar games. A group named Papyrus which is now Iracing made the best Nascar games ever. Their latest installment is the Iracing simulator and has all the Nascar cars.
You know, EA Ruined Nascar games just like how ESPN is Ruining Nascar coverages.

Richard in N.C. said...

Sophia, as I recall at least one FCC commissioner was in favor of a la carte selling/pricing for cable, but got no where in the face of opposition from cable companies and cable channels.

I do believe there is a bias at EESPN at least in favor of what they deem are the "major" sports - fball, baseball, football, and hockey.

I do believe it is fair to say that EESPN's handling of the N-wide series is at least contrary to the intentions it expressed when it got the full N-wide series that EESPN's intent was to promote and grow N-wide into something bigger, which might have happened if N-wide ( and NASCAR racing in general) had been better treated by EESPN. At least N-wide gets better treatment from EESPN than NHRA.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


You forgot baseball in the "timeless" category.

- j

Daly Planet Editor said...

Absolutely that can go in there, I was just trying to use sports that are normally national in nature.

Baseball lives on the RSN's around the country until playoff time.


Anonymous said...

Listen dude. Whine and complain, is that all you ever do now? Until you can propose a solution, you really should just keep your trap shut.

Sure, ESPN can allocate 3:30 window for football. But guess what, that'll wipe out the pre-race show anyway. NASCAR can't push the start time of the race, because that'll run right into another live event afterwards. You can't start football any earlier, as those were set with the tv contracts with the conferences.

So whats your solution? And make that a solution that won't screw over another set of fans by pushing them over to another network that would take years to be universally picked up, or even dropping coverage altogether.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:13PM,

No one here is whining, let me make that very clear.

We enjoyed NASCAR on TV for many years before ESPN got back in the game and began giving this series the shaft.

If you have a five pound bag, you don't fill it with ten pounds of TV programming and expect everything to be fine.

There are plenty of solutions, but they involve ESPN actually giving a damn about NASCAR and that is not going to happen.

This season may be a make-or-break for the Nationwide Series after the last two seasons of getting absoutely pounded on TV during the final three months of the season.

If you remember last year, this series was reduced to all of us hoping for a field goal or a good tackle to end the game in order to just catch the green flag.

This is a professional sport full of real people who depend on the NASCAR TV partners to get exposure for their sponsors and update news about what is going on in the series.

ESPN is saying that we should just shut up and hope that we catch the green flag now that college football is here, I say plain and simple that is bunk.

Either do it right or give it away to someone who will, those should be the only choices for a network that has already spent millions in rights and production on this series for the last seven months.

How is that for whining?


MRM4 said...

ESPN just has way too much programming this time of the year. Yet another reason why ESPN needs to drop NASCAR and let someone handle the end of the NASCAR season.

am19psu said...


I'm obviously in the minority and I understand some of the consternation of NASCAR-only sports fans. But from somebody that loves college football and NASCAR, I wouldn't have ESPN handle this any other way.

As I'm sure you're aware, when ESPN changed program directors a few years ago, Norby(!) made it a point to increase live sports coverage on the network. This is one of the side effects of it. For an all-sports fan like myself, it is awesome for me. For someone who isn't an all-sports fan, I can see some anger.

One of things that I haven't understood over the years I've been visiting this site is why NASCAR fans have such a violent reaction to this; in that many think that ESPN has it out for NASCAR. As a Penn State fan, if I missed the first few minutes (or more) of a hypothetical 3:30 Penn State game because I was waiting for the 12:00 ACC game to be over, it wouldn't be a big deal. That's the way sports programming works (to me, at least).

I agree with many of the gripes about the coverage itself (particularly in car camera angles), but not about the programming decisions caused by running 12 hours of live sports a day.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think maybe the 19 is helping us to understand your perspective.

NASCAR has been on TV for many years. When it was on ESPN during the first go-round, it was treated like gold and helped to build the sport.

Since that time, the sport has mostly been carried on broadcast or cable networks that do not feature major conflicts in programming.

As you know, this discussion flips back and forth between talking about the pieces of the pie and talking about the whole pie.

On one hand, a live nationally televised NASCAR race should not suddenly expect to lose most or all of the pre-race just because a non-related sport is suddenly in season.

On the other hand, ESPN and Norby are clearly trying to emphasize a sport (college football) that is a key brick in the very foundation of ESPN.

You and I know that college football games run longer than three hours. Scheduling NASCAR Countdown less than three hours after a live kickoff is unfair to NASCAR fans. That's plain and simple.

You opinion is easy to understand because I also love all sports on TV and my family has a big history of enjoying college football.

As a thirty year fan of NASCAR, sometimes you just have to stand-up for what is right and this is one of those issues.

BTW, Norby was alwasy great with me and we worked together for years. Nice guy.


Richard in N.C. said...

Besides EESPN management, I presume one of the major culprits is the EESPN entertainment programming displayed above, College Gameday, which I suspect is a lock for a set time and length. I seldom watch much of it, but when I do watch some, I normally find College Gameday entertaining, but increasingly more entertainment than information.

In any event, I could not fault EESPN if games occasionally run long and intrude into a N-wide race, provided a reasonable time block is provided to each to make it likely each can be carried in its entirety. EESPN has enough experience and data to determine adequate time blocks on Saturday such that fball games running over into the race itself should be the exception rather than the rule. In the 3rd year of carrying NASCAR again, one would have to assume that EESPN would have learned enough to significantly reduce overlap.

After the way NASCAR Now has been bumped back repeatedly recently, one would have to presume that broadcast of a full N-wide race is not a priority at EESPN.

Patrick said...

I, for one, AM ready for some College Football. Love Fowler and Herbstreit, while Corso is my Michael Waltrip and/or Rusty Wallace (fingernails/chalkboard).

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for your comments on the Saturday NASCAR TV from Atlanta on SPEED.

Just return to the TDP mainpage.


Bruce Ciskie said...

While I agree that only allowing a three-hour window for a game that is a virtual lock to go 3:15 or 3:30 is stupid, I also don't agree totally with John.

Yeah, you can complain all you want about ESPN. What are the viable options for this series?

TNT? Please. I don't see them committing to a 35-race schedule.

Fox? They barely can handle the 13 Cup races they do without making fans' heads explode.

NBC? They aren't taking Nationwide races, even for USA Network or any of their other outlets.

HD Net? And you think people can't see them now ... wait until something like this happens. It would look really good, though.

Versus? Please.

Seems to me NASCAR and ESPN are stuck with each other. We might as well try to get along, even when we might disagree.

I'm a fan of both college football and racing. I'm not going to rip ESPN for how they're handling this, because I'm getting the best of both worlds.

Bruce Ciskie said...

(Sorry, I just realized that I didn't finish my point in that last comment.)

Basically, what I'm saying is that ESPN and NASCAR need to work out stuff like this well in advance. The network needs a set system for when events that precede a NASCAR race run late. NASCAR could probably stand to be a bit more helpful with scheduling of events, but they could also work with ESPN and SPEED.

We know well in advance that days like this are coming, but it seems sometimes like both sides have their heads buried in the sand.

These races are NASCAR's, and they should order the broadcast rights traded off to SPEED if ESPN can't promise something that closely resembles a full broadcast.

am19psu said...


I'm actually 28, but I've been using this internet handle since high school when 19 was my football number :)

NASCAR has been on TV for many years. When it was on ESPN during the first go-round, it was treated like gold and helped to build the sport.

Sure, I was young back then, but I remember the coverage. Of course, back then, ESPN wasn't seen as the major player in the sports broadcasting market it is now (as you obviously know). Can you imagine the suggestion of national championship games and the Olympics being on a cable network in 1998? I know I am looking at it from a macro point of view, rather than a micro point of view, but this just seems to be the way all sports are in 2009. It's not that NASCAR is being singled out, it's just the way it is.

Scheduling NASCAR Countdown less than three hours after a live kickoff is unfair to NASCAR fans. That's plain and simple.

So would you suggest that NASCAR programming be moved back half an hour? If they do that, then they can't show the Cal/UMd game tonight. I don't expect to see the kickoff of that game tonight, either, but I'm not upset about it. I'd rather have as much sports crammed in as possible and deal with missing 15-30 min of coverage than trying to space everything out and having dead time.

Again, I know this is because I am not a NASCAR-only fan. Thank you for your respectful reply last night.

Anonymous said...

JD, you seem to think NASCAR lives in a vacuum. Though, that is simply not the case. Its just another sports content provider.

The amount of sports content available has exploded, and has even outpaced the huge number of content providers (i.e. tv channels).

Remember the days when the NCAA strictly controlled the number of college football games broadcast to a couple games of the week?

With that being said, as the sports seasons vary, the amount of content waxes and wanes throughout the year. While content in April may have the luxery to stretch out its legs, that is simply not the reality in September. Everything is intertwined all needing to share the same resources.

This isn't ESPN just picking on NASCAR. A qualifying game to the worlds single biggest sporting even outside of the summer olympics, the World Cup, is being pawned off to ESPN Classic.

I for one would rather see 95% of everthing, then see content not shown at all.

In order to have exclusive, protected, pre-race to post-race interview coverage of an event, you need to have your own dedicated network.

Any expectation for that to come from ESPN is just not based in reality.

Daly Planet Editor said...


This comment just came in on our live race post from Charlie:

"In the Tv viewing area I am in there are two stations that are showing the Michigan college football game.
WBUP an ABC station has the time slot for the Michigan game from 3:30pm to 7:00pm.
the other is
Espn2 with a time slot for the Michigan game from 3:30pm to 6:30pm.
It is a half hour difference of Tv time showing the same game."

That is my point. ESPN is flat-out lying. They bought programming they cannot schedule and they are trying to sham their way through another season with NASCAR taking it on the chin.

Look at all the NASCAR news this week and how NASCAR Now was treated. Not only cancelled in the afternoon but then not run as scheduled on the overnight shift.

Anon 1:10PM,

That is just one long apology for a situation that you clearly do not understand.

ESPN did not convert ESPN Classic to ESPN3 as we advocated back in 2007 when this contract first began. There is too much TV programming in the last four months of the season on the ESPN Newtworks right now and it is going to be a mess.

NASCAR is just one victim, but that is our subject matter so it becomes the focus. This is the third season where the Nationwide Series will be avoided, shredded and abused all the way to Homestead.

These are not kids on scholarships, they are professionals who are trying to make a living.

If ESPN wants to be a college football network for the final three months of the NASCAR season, then man-up and farm out the Nationwide races to another TV network.



Anonymous said...

"These are not kids on scholarships, they are professionals who are trying to make a living"

This just shows your complete lack of respect, and understanding of what these young athletes go through to play football on Saturdays.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:42PM,

What you meant to say is that I was right and that weak shot is all you have left.

I worked on college football for years and am watching it right now on my 2nd TV. Come on...


KRBama said...

Yea. Once football starts I pay waaaaaay less attention to NASCAR. This summer, I watched every Truck, Nationwide, and Cup practice, qualifying, and race. Now I just watch football and check to see who won. Tonight, instead of watching the NW race, I'm watching Bama and Va Tech. ROLL TIDE! Football just rules in the South,I guess.

Anonymous said...

No, JD, you're just flat out wrong on this one. Do you expect to go to Disney World in late June and have the exact same experience, ride the same number of rides in the same amount of time as you would in late February?

Of course not. The park is full of families completely unrelated to you.

Sure, Disney could choose to strictly limit the number of people in park to levels they have in February, so everyone would have the same experience, but that would leave plenty of kids staying at home.

am19psu hit the nail on the head with this one when he stated: "I'd rather have as much sports crammed in as possible and deal with missing 15-30 min of coverage than trying to space everything out and having dead time."

Even the SPEED guys are talking football....

Daly Planet Editor said...

None of what you said has anything to do with right or wrong.

We are all watching college football and appreciate the sport.

The point you are missing is ESPN has been asking us to watch their coverage of this NASCAR series since February.

To jam it in a phony timeslot surrounded on both sides by live football is ridiculous.

The on-air dynamic of NASCAR is well known as we have discussed. Putting a live event that will normally run overtop of the pre-race and then putting another live event at a time when ESPN has guessed the race will end is a sham.

TNT, SPEED and Fox all worked hard to avoid this type of situation. Even when Fox got caught in a baseball jam, it was because the game had been delayed for well over an hour.

You may think you are standing up for college football and/or ESPN.

In fact, you are agreeing that this is the "only option" so we should just accept it.

Not going to happen.


Andrew said...

(Wow, I kinda forgot about this post!)

JD - I'm not getting "sucked in" by popularity. The simple fact is that college football's popularity translates into higher ad revenues than the Nationwide Series fetches.

I think that one thing that has become abundantly clear this season is that ESPN's goal is not to provide an excellent NASCAR (or sports) experience to their viewers. It's to make as much money as possible. And considering how badly they're oversold; they're obviously going to show the sports events that get them more money - i.e. college football.

Now why didn't we have this problem during college basketball? Firstly, basketball games rarely run over their allotted time unless there's an OT situation. Secondly (and probably more importantly), there's only three NW races that conflict with basketball on ESPN - Daytona, California, and Las Vegas. ESPN is obviously going to hype up the Daytona race, and have the California and Las Vegas race ride on its coattails before the inevitable ratings drop-off in March. There aren't any NW races during the conference championship weeks, and CBS has all of March Madness (aside from the one play-in game on ESPN). College football, on the other hand, conflicts with NW for three months, and there's far more opportunities for overlap issues.

It sucks. It's not right. ESPN desperately needs a third network. But until ESPN either gets that network or changes their attitude about NASCAR, the NW series is going to get the shaft during football season.

And the worst part is that ESPN could easily alleviate the current situation - use ABC Family to show another game, and ensure that the NW races are seen in their entirety on ESPN2. (Or use ABC Family to show the races and get some new viewers exposed to NASCAR.) ABC Family is in nearly as many homes as ESPN2. But, as is the constant case with the PxP, ESPN refuses to see and use the simple solution.

am19psu said...


In fact, you are agreeing that this is the "only option" so we should just accept it.

My argument isn't this is the only option, my argument is that this is the best way to serve all sports fans, who want to see as many live sports as possible during the day. If there is overlap, so be it.

Thanks again for your kind responses.

Bruce Ciskie said...

February 2010 at Daytona. ESPN2 is broadcasting the Nationwide Series race.

The race is delayed by a brief rain shower on the backstretch, then marred by numerous cautions over the last 50 laps.

A broadcast scheduled to run until 5:00 Eastern is guaranteed to go over.

At 5, ESPN2 is scheduled to head to Texas, where the Longhorns are playing for a Big 12 regular-season title in basketball. It's a game they've hyped all week, and it's a sport they've been broadcasting since mid-November.

Do you expect ESPN2 to drop the race and get to the basketball game on time? Or is basketball going to just have to bend over and take it?

Not only is basketball going to bend over, but they should be expected to.

I get that NASCAR is your first love, John, but you're wrong here. Multiple games in the noon window today were over by 3 Eastern, or shortly after. But one game that started at Noon didn't end until after 3:30.

You just can't predict what's going to happen. It's impossible to draw a line, and I'll agree with the previous comment that talked about wanting as much content as possible.

This is an issue ESPN and NASCAR have to work out for the good of the sport, but it's not some total shot of disrespect by ESPN toward NASCAR at all. They push their windows on live events all the time, and they do sometimes get burned for it.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think you are actually making my point. Just like tennis and golf, NASCAR has to be scheduled differently than college sports.

That was a key issue with which TV networks wanted to carry the sport for years.

Rain or even a college basketball game going long is not an issue.

ESPN has scheduled a three and a half hour event in a three hour timeslot, anticipating the loss of the NASCAR pre-race show.

They shifted the issue to just making the green flag simply because of their own network logistics.

I understand completely what you are saying. But, we would not be having this discussion if the final months of the Nationwide Series were on TNT, SPEED or even Versus.

Think ESPN would miss the Nationwide Series for one minute?

I don't...