Monday, October 19, 2009
Chase TV At The Tipping Point
It took hours to clear over 500 emails after the Saturday night Sprint Cup Series race. TDP logged over 750 comments on our website's live race blog. Hundreds of fans used Twitter to send us messages. All of them focused on just one thing. ESPN's coverage of NASCAR racing.
Rather than offer another column from my perspective, I'm just going to publish one note from a longtime fan we received. It is written as an open letter to ESPN:
I'm wondering just how much disdain you (ESPN) have for NASCAR and the fans of the sport? Are you now so angry that you bought the sport with this expensive and long (TV) contract that you're just throwing substandard broadcasts at us each week?
Or do you truly not have the expertise and understanding of NASCAR to deviate from "the script" that's been discussed in the days leading up to the race?
There have been pages of solid, specific feedback offered to you via this (TDP) and other websites. There have been emails and letters from fans. There have been comments on the NASCAR Fan Council surveys and plummeting TV ratings.
Yet, in the face of all that, you still determinedly and stubbornly stick to your same (TV) formula and essentially tell us, the fans, that we're wrong. That we are ignorant of what goes into a great race broadcast and that because you are "the professionals" we should just sit down, stop talking, and be grateful we're even getting to see anything on the TV screen.
It doesn't work that way any more, ESPN. We now have other options, choices and alternatives. We can keep up with our sport in new ways. Listening to new (and old!) voices and watching new images. We can Twitter and blog and online chat. We can tune-out your sponsors and DVR the race so we can speed through the bulk of the broadcast without even listening to the on-air talent.
And we're doing exactly that. Making informed choices, turning to sources who respect us and our sport. That means we're tuning you out and may opt to not tune back in to your portion of the season next year.
You are no longer the only game on town for NASCAR fans. We are responding to your substandard work by turning off the TV, cancelling or not beginning subscriptions to the magazine and not rewarding your website with hits. Some of us have already tuned you out, more will do so as the rest of the season plays out.
So, good luck with the balance of the season. You've already messed it up so badly for many fans that they have simply disappeared and won't be back until February. Others will hang on because we're NASCAR fans. We love our sport and can't turn our backs on it for even a week.
Make no mistake. If you offer nothing new next year, if you refuse to accept fan feedback as having value and knowledge, we will punish you across every part of your empire. You are perilously close to a tipping point with us, ESPN.
Well, that got my attention. Maybe it got yours. Hopefully, it will get ESPN's.
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