Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fan Council Survey Targets ESPN/ABC Race Coverage

Well now! Just when the fan backlash over the ESPN coverage of the Chase was dying down, the good old NASCAR Fan Council comes along with another double top secret survey. This one pulled no punches.

Here are some of the topics and questions:

Rank the TV networks, Fox, TNT and ESPN/ABC in order of preference for the Sprint Cup Series races only.

How many of the 17 ESPN/ABC races did you watch?

Rate ESPN/ABC's Sprint Cup Series broadcasts: Just right, make no changes...good, but need minor changes...poor, major changes needed to keep my interest.

Open comments on what fans liked or disliked about the ESPN/ABC Cup race broadcasts.

Rate the following using: Strongly agree, moderately agree, neutral, moderately disagree, strongly disagree.

ESPN/ABC booth and pit reporters:
Announcers are NASCAR experts
They make the race more exciting
Cover all the drivers
Excellent job explaining strategies
Makes me feel more knowledgeable
Makes the broadcast fun
Are passionate commentators/announcers
Makes me more interested in NASCAR
Does a better job than other TV networks
Too structured and uptight
Always on top of the action
Does the best job covering the race
Never misses important on-track action
Doing an excellent job
Too many on-screen gimmicks
Thrilling camera angles
Captures the sounds of the sport
Covers Victory Lane and post-race in an appropriate manner

Rate these elements with: It's OK, I can take it or leave it or I really dislike it.
Triple pit camera
Over the wall camera
Wall camera angles
Overhead camera angles
Tech Garage
Team radio communication
In-car camera angles
ESPN pit studio
NASCAR Countdown
Pit crew reporter
In-race reporter
Sports ticker at the bottom of the screen
Full Throttle feature
Mike Rowe narration at the beginning

Rate the Chase coverage on ABC (final ten races) on a scale of 1 to 10. With 1 being disagree strongly to 10 being agree strongly.
Covered those drivers not in the Chase
Covered the Chase like a playoff
Made the races feel special
Covered the drivers in the Chase appropriately
Made it feel like more was at stake

Rate the pre-race on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being not very important through 10 being very important.
The location of the pre-race show at the track
Commentary and discussion
Lifestyle (fans tailgating, etc..)
Historic flashbacks
Driver interviews
Review of the previous week
Starting line-up
Review of the last race run at the same track
Driver features

Rate the actual race coverage on a scale of 1 to 10, using the same parameters as above.
Covering the leader
Covering the side-by-side racing
Covering the cars outside the top ten
Race recaps
Covering the big name racers no matter where they run
Interviews with owners
Current point standings throughout the race
Technical explanations
Covering pit stops
Interviews with drivers out of the race
Covering the passing for position in the race
Interviews with crew chiefs and other team members

TDP has been covering the TV side of NASCAR since 2007. Over that time, we have seen lots of changes in style and personnel. Our discussion about the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races covered by ESPN/ABC appears to directly mirror the issues addressed in this fan survey.

The NASCAR Fan Council is a group of twelve thousand fans who are not paid, but help NASCAR to gauge a wide variety of topics, including the media. Click here for the column about the NFC asking fans about Digger at the height of the Fox backlash over the animated rodent.

It was amazing earlier this season when NASCAR executive Ramsey Poston blogged about the sanctioning body being upset with ESPN and how the network covered the Talladega race. Click here to read the full post.

Now, we see questions directly addressing issues like the Tech Garage with Tim Brewer, the pre-race show with Allen Bestwick and the event coverage anchored by Jerry Punch. The survey also steps behind the cameras to ask about the mechanical parts of the coverage from pit stops to in-car cameras.

What is your reaction to NASCAR as its online consumer marketing arm brings up topics directly related to the ESPN/ABC Sprint Cup Series coverage?

To add your comments on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thanks for stopping by and leaving us your opinion.


Unknown said...

I never get asked to take part in the good surveys. :( At least NASCAR is listening and hopefully they can "guide" ESPN.

Anonymous said...

I would have to conclude by the depth of insight from the group writing the poll questions, someone in Daytona has awoken. This questionnaire has the flavor of being summoned to the NASCAR trailer after the race. If correct, it's about time. Enought time has elapsed for on certain TV partner to dig a large hole for themselves and this questionnaire is evidence Daytona has really taken notice. We should be encouraged the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a locomotive after all.

Sally said...

I think it would be a lot more meaningful if they were asking about the coverage by ALL the networks. This is so obviously Nascar using their 'shut up and drive' attitude for TV. It also conveniently lays the blame for fan apathy at the doorstep of TV in general and ESPN in particular, while neatly sidestepping the issue of whether their actual races are a big part of the problam. It also gives the appearance that they actually give a rip about what fans think. All in all, a neat way to blame someone else for their problems.

KoHoSo said...

From Mr. Daly's article...

This one pulled no punches.

No pun intneded, right, JD? :-D

Miss_Innocence said...

I take part in every survey that the NASCAR Fan Council sends me. I've been a member for almost two years. The last survey about ABC/ESPN's coverage was a good survey in my opinion. I didn't like their coverage. Listening to coverage on the radio made the races seem more exciting than the commentators in the booth made it seem. I wish every single race was aired aired on FOX! They know how to bring out the excitement in a race!

Miss_Innocence said...

And another thing about ESPN's coverage of the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega....sure they showed Newman going airborne and being upside down, but there was something about the end of the race that was VERY exciting and ABC/ESPN didnt show it. The wreck in the Tri-Oval at the end of the race...Mark Martin hits the wall, flips his car, spins through the infield and onto Pit Road. After all of that, Mark Martin cranked that baby right back up and sped off of Pit Road and across the Start/Finish Line. THAT was EXCITING! And being on the second row at the Start/Finish Line, I LOVED it! ABC/ESPN didnt show that part, and I don't recall them mentioning it after I came home and watched my DVR recording of the race. ABC/ESPN commentators are too business like while commentating on the race. Where is DW when you need him? He can bring some excitment!

PammH said...

Wow! Can't believe how detailed the questions are! Think the sinking wallets at DBeach have struck a cord...Knew that would be the only thing that would work. And I personally didn't feel the questions leaned more towards BSPN's coverage.

Vicky D said...

I would have liked to see a survey on the NW races too and see what was said about that. Maybe next week. Lots of great questions. I wonder if anything will come of it . . . . .

Anonymous said...

Am very glad that Nascar has taken this step. Now am sure that the fan council will let their thoughts be heard through this survey. I wished I could do this survey too. ESPN needs to make changes starting with their PXP guy who sounds like he is doing a Press conference for C-SPAN.

Andrew S. said...

Sounds like NASCAR has just fired a shot across the now of the good ship USS ESPN. Let's see what if anything happens at BCCC (Bristol Clown Community College)

JohnP said...

I think everyone knows I beleive ESPN's coverage stunk by now during the Chase..

However... This survey is pinning Everything on ESPN.. Just look at the lead questions from the survey.. Lead questions Sway people to answer one way or another. Ask any politician.

Survey quote:

"""Rank the TV networks, Fox, TNT and ESPN/ABC in order of preference for the Sprint Cup"""

How many of the 17 ESPN/ABC races did you watch?

Rate ESPN/ABC's Sprint Cup Series broadcasts"""

But DID NOT ASK to rate Fox and damn digger, not rate TNT in there Sprint Cup Series broadcsts.

Well now, that's closed minded as usual.

By the way, watched Nascar Hub for the first time tonight.. BORING!! No smiles, no laughs, to much tech.. And when Wendy said Johnson's wreck at Texas was the same as the "shot heard around the world" I almost lost my cookies.. Lol.. That's a heck of a comparision isn't it??

Dot said...

Wow, too.

I wonder if fan council surveys will go out after FOX & TNT are done with their coverage in 2010? BSPN is the one freshest in our minds, so maybe that's why they're worried it about now.

Our comments have been exactly what the survey addresses. I hope the majority of the thousands in the Fan Council feel the way we do.

And to think, some people say that John Daly and the Planeteers are just a bunch of disgruntled race fans.

BTW, you need to read DW's column from a couple of days ago. Maybe someone will listen to him too.

Sophia said...

When I tried to sign up for Fan Council, at a link somebody sent me, it said i could NOT sign up to be a part of it.

The survey sounds good in theory but the bottom line for me is, will the camera work CHANGE or will they blame everthing but the kitchen sink for the ratings?

Sure they ask some specifics to the racing issues but . . .

If it changes things, terrific, but only if what I see on tv IMPROVES.

And for the record, I think FOX camera work also often STINKS (with excess bumper/in car cams) So they should not get off the hook on that issue. But I do love all the folks on camera on Fox/Speed and feel they LOVE & respect the sport...but if I can't see the race, booth coverage by the late great Benny Parsons & Dale Sr would not help us "SEE the race from our couches"

Guess we have to stay tuned for potential changes.

I still remember JD's column on the changes TNT was GOING to be making a few season's ago..and the "Race Buddy" thing I dissed...until I tried it! LOVED it. BUT what are the odds of ESPN truly giving the fans what they want the way TNT did?

Daly Planet Editor said...

I provided the Fan Council link so you all could see it was for real. If a new round of openings happen, I will post the news.

I provided a link to the Fan Council story on TDP after the Fox run was over.

They went after Digger and the fan reaction. In 2010, Digger will not be appearing as a cartoon in the pre-race. We will all have to wait and see how much we see it during the events.

The Fan Council surveys are also the tool that Mike Helton and Brian France pointed to that started the discussion about changing back to the traditional start times for next season.

Thanks for the great comments, keep them coming. We still have some pesky spammers and obscene posters, so we have to moderate comments. Thanks for your patience.


Anonymous said...

I sure would like to see the results of these surveys. I would also like to see the networks draft a survey of their own concerning the products na$car is putting out. It's too much to hope the surveys will correct everything, but maybe(hopefully, possibly, please!) some steps will be taken.

Louisville Mike

Richard in N.C. said...

I am not on the Fan Council so I do not know, but the fact that this survey focuses on EESPN does not mean that similar surveys were not done when the FOX and TNT segments of the Cup season ended. It would seem to me that similar surveys for FOX and TNT would have been more valid right after their Cup coverage ended than now.

boyd said...

I got the survey from a Planeteer and read it before this post went up and all I can say is WOW!

Could it be that they have been reading this blog? These questions mirror issues that us
have been asking about, especially the last part of the season.

I just hope that the majority of those taking the survey watched and respond truthfully. Even if they don't agree with the majority, I feel something will change in ESPN land.

Newracefan said...

Before we all get our hopes up I also had a Survey and mine was all about the Truck series on Speed/Fox not 1 mention of ESPN. Needless to say my answers were the polar opposite of what I would have answered for ESPN

Anonymous said...

I was surprised by how detailed the survey was as well. As specific as this list was, it seemed like network execs had written it. Maybe they're finally interested in why ratings are down.

I think the Fan Council has claimed to have made some changes in NASCAR based on survey responses, though I can't remember what at the moment.

I hope ESPN will act on the results.

Dave in California said...

I believe that survey questions are never neutral.I remain skeptical about any change to the current statis already in place.

Anonymous said...

Hello JD:
I'm a semiregular poster here, but due to the restrictive lanquage at the beginning of each fan council survey concerning nondisclosure, I'd rather not sign in in my normal fashion.
There were several open areas where one could give full sentence thoughts before going into the questions outlined in your column. Also, as I found very interesting, there was a seperate section in which we were able to grade the entire on-air talent(from the booth to the pit reporters to the infield pit studio).
Having a survey directed specificly at ESPN, as opposed to the other broadcast partners, gives me reason to believe that NASCAR Inc. is greatly concerned that the partner broadcasting the Sprint cup segment containing the Chase and facing the most dramatic ratings losses of all three broadcast partners must not be doing what the powers-that-
are desired when the contracts were made in 2007.
I chance to say that, in the broadcast coverage, we may see the mother-of-all Silly Seasons yet.
Just sayin...

Daly Planet Editor said...

I believe that silly season is about to start on Monday.


red said...

one thing: i've been a fan council member for a long while and it is apparent to me that different members get different surveys. i have no way to know for certain what might have been the questions had i ranked the 3 networks differently than i did. would i have been asked similiar questions about whichever network i ranked at the bottom?

as NRF notes, there was at least one different survey out there, one dealing with trucks. i also know there have been times when other planeteers get a survey that i don't see.

also, past surveys have focused on fox at least and asked questions about digger and how fox presents their broadcasts. i've also been surveyed about truck races on the weekends when i note that i watched the trucks but not n'wide or cup.

not saying the fan council is perfect nor that nascar isn't pushing an agenda here. but it is clear to me that there are multiples surveys going out every so often and that, within a survey, certain responses trigger a set of questions.

Delenn said...

Wow again. It's almost as if there was a resource on the internet which discussed issues that may be wrong with the coverage. ;-)

I hope some good comes of this. If it is a shot across the bow of ESPN, I hope it works. Some of the questions look at me as if ESPN have had some input, like the "Onsite pre-race show" question. If that is the case, ESPN may actually have realised there are issues.

I await future announcements with interest. Come on ESPN. You know you can do decent coverage. We'll all love you for it!

Unknown said...

For full disclosure - I work in the Research/Survey industry.

A few things about surveys:

1. A good survey question is one that is not misleading. In market research and political polls you are more likely to find leading questions, but it is not what is considered best practices by the Research community.

2. There are 3 choices as to the order to list the networks: Alphabetical (ABC/ESPN, Fox, TNT), in order of coverage during the season (Fox, TNT, ABC/ESPN), or random with different people being shown a different order - the two above plus the other 4 combinations. The last option is the best and can be done depending on the software and programming used.

3. The best time to ask someone questions about something is shortly after the even happened. The sooner the better. Asking about the ABC/ESPN coverage now makes sense. Asking specifics about Fox and TNT coverage would not be a good idea since there has been a significant amount of time since the last races were broadcast on those networks. The appropriate time to ask about Fox and TNT is right after their coverage has ended; which as JD pointed out NASCAR did for Fox.

Overall, I thought that the questions were good. This isn't the first time that the Fan Council has been used to make major changes, and it won't be the last. Apparently the teams and/or sponsors can get questions asked too. I once had one that asked which driver I thought would be a better fit for the Bass Pro Shops sponsorship.

JohnP said...

I've read the survey in depth now and could make examples about leading questions all day long. I won't. Here is one example. The paramaters are, rate ABC/ESPN on a scale of 1 to 10. Here's the question. 10 good.

"Current point standings throughout the race"

Well, I'd have to rate ABC/ESPN a 8 to 10. They do cover the heck out of it.

However, the question should be...

Do fans like the point standing throught the race??

I rate that a no, we don't want it. It's meaningless.

If a fan does not like the points updates, but answers the question honest, it's going to be on the positive side of what the survey wants.

Hope I wrote that correct.

GinaV24 said...

I was so shocked to see this and I made sure I responded to the survey -- I was actually surprised at how specific the items were and the fact that they reflected a number of the things that fans (including myself) had talked about on this site. They asked for my honest opinion and I gave it to them straight, no sugarcoating. Maybe someone is Daytona is actually listening - hallalujah -- I sure hope so because ESPN's broadcast style has become a big reason why I don't watch the races in their entirety from July on when ESPN takes over. The stupid gopher on Fox is annoying, but they have the advantage that they broadcast the early part of the season when I'm still excited about racing AND the weather is generally bad in the NE so I'm inside anyway.

Changes have been needed for the past couple of years - improving the competition would be really great, but at least having a watchable race broadcast from ALL the TV partners would be a darn good place to start.

Anonymous said...

I believe you might be misreading that part of the survey, John P.

The survey a list above it says:

"Rate the pre-race on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being not very important through 10 being very important."

"Rate the actual race coverage on a scale of 1 to 10, using the same parameters as above."

"Current point standings throughout the race"

So what they are asking survey takers to do is to rate how important they view "current point standings throughout the race."

I view it as a 1 or 2, it doesn't add anything to the race coverage.

I hope that clears things up :)

West Coast Diane said...

Looks like they were taking notes from TDP articles and posts!

JD, kudos to you. First for providing this forum. Second, and the most important, for moderating and keeping this blog free from obscentities and personal attacks. Your effort has brought credibility and legitimacy to you and fellow Planeteers.

If changes are made (hopefully Monday is the beginning)the credit should go to you.

Thanks again!

Sally said...

@JohnP, good catch! I noticed that when I read the survey, but forgot about it when I posted. It's like many of the 'polls' on The options given as answers don't necessarily address the problem, or give a good alternative.

Bill B said...

I have a question regarding some of their questions. I will use a couple of examples:
under "Rate the Chase" the question "Covered the Chase like a playoff".

You would have to give them a '10' on that because they did cover the race like a playoff and they did give points standings every 5 minutes BUT that's a bad thing. Fans don't want the race covered like a playoff (because it isn't) and fans don't want to see the championship points every 5 minutes (because it really doesn't matter until the end of the race anyway).

So when those who review this questionaire sees those 10's will they assume that nothing should change because they both got high marks? In other words how can you register that even though the

red said...

@johnP 9:48 AM: well, not exactly. as i read it, the question asked: Rate the pre-race on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being not very important through 10 being very important. then, on the part you cite, the text in the blog reads: Rate the actual race coverage on a scale of 1 to 10, using the same parameters as above.

so, what was asked of the respondents was how important they felt these features are during the actual race coverage. hope that makes sense.

it may be that other questions are misleading or incomplete choices are available but at least on the one you cited, i didn't read it the way you did.

MRM4 said...

I think I'll join this to see if I can offer my comments on the TV coverage.

MRM4 said...

It appears they are not taking new members at this time. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Read this with great interest, & I noticed most of the questions deal with espn/abc. Hmmmm, maybe DaytonaBeach has finally watched a broadcast &/or noticed the rapid decline in viewers when the Chase started? or even heard us fans???

Maybe there is hope for us fans after all?

The Loose Wheel said...

Looks like NASCAR took a 3-iron to ESPN/ABC here...

I have to agree I wish all 3 networks would be covered in a survey like this but something I have observed based on fellow race fans I have talked to: More casual fans like the FOX-y atmosphere, more die-hard fans want straight coverage like TNT. I haven't found many people in love with ESPN's coverage but I don't think they even fully understand what they are missing sometimes.

I stand behind this, TNT did an excellent job covering 5 of the more "boring" racetracks with good info, good coverage, and good depth. But ESPN which has Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, and Homestead put up a dud for the most part every week.

Not going to sit here and repeat myself asto what they could do, I will become a bit more active when I start hearing about some real change taking place.

All I can say, watch SPEED for the trucks this year to get a lesson in what we all would like to see more often than not.

Labbie said...

I hope the survey does some good, but I'm not that optimistic.

IU watched the replay of the Daytoma 500 on SPEED the other day. The difference in the booth (Digger notwithstanding) between the Fox crew and the ESPN crew is astounding. SPEED is replaying the season daily (I think) at noon, you should check it out yourself.

Anonymous said...

Thank god someone somewhere is listening!

But will it do any good?

We (TDP) might be more vociforous than most in our comments, will NFC just interpret us as a 'fringe'? Hope not.

Glad they are asking the right questions. Hopefully, as a group, the fans can get across enough of the ideas we talk about here, to get some REAL change out of the tv coverage in the off season.

Maybe Nascar has begun to understand that Fans like us are not looking for nascar to FAIL for kripes sake! We b*tch because we care! To paraphrase, not just for its own sake but to make a better producet.

Chris from NY said...

If Comcast completes their takeover of NBC, there is a chance, if the Fan Council agrees with us, that NASCAR could return there and hopefully start to leave ESPN. This is the same company that owns Versus and picked up "Quest for the Cup". Experts are also predicting Comcast to continue expanding its sports coverage.