Friday, December 11, 2009
Day Two: Is Showtime Right For NASCAR TV?
Over the past several years, we have all watched the amount of long-form NASCAR TV programming during the weekdays dwindle. While we have welcomed NASCAR Now and Race Hub, those TV series are primarily geared at news and daily events.
There was a time when NASCAR had a lot more diverse TV programming. Historical races, behind the scenes programs and shows that featured the kind of high-end glossy editing that has been the trademark of the NASCAR Media Group.
Tuesday, NASCAR.com offered the following press release:
Showtime Sports has signed a multi-year deal with NASCAR to produce and televise premium television's first weekly highlights and analysis show dedicated to auto racing. Inside NASCAR will premiere on at 10 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2010, on Showtime immediately following the season finale of Inside The NFL, and will consist of 38 one-hour episodes corresponding with the Sprint Cup Series' 38-week season.
Produced in conjunction with the Emmy Award-winning NASCAR Media Group, Inside NASCAR will be taped at the new, state-of-the-art production facility at NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. The host and analysts for Inside NASCAR are to be announced in the coming weeks.
You can click here to read the entire article directly from the NASCAR.com website.
As the news of a major new TV series started to creep through the NASCAR fan base, the emails and Twitter messages began to have a familiar theme. While the idea of a new mid-week series was welcomed, the network location was not.
Showtime is owned by the CBS Corporation and also operates the FLIX and Movie Channel franchises. There are about ten different versions of the Showtime brand, including HD and family channels. The total subscriber base is about 13 million homes. Compare that to 75 million for SPEED or 98 million for ESPN2.
Getting Showtime for cable television users means buying an extended package that is usually centered around what used to be called movie channels. Now, the cable companies package them together but there is an additional monthly charge. Showtime is referred to as a premium network.
Last year, NASCAR also began a multi-year relationship with the Comcast-owned VERSUS cable network. Quest for the Cup was a September to November show that focused on the Chase for the Championship. VERSUS brings 64 million homes to the table, but that short series has come and gone. A big mid-week series like Inside NASCAR on VERSUS would have been a huge boost to the sport.
Currently, fans are waiting to see if SPEED renews This Week in NASCAR. This is the only weekday primetime NASCAR show on for the entire season. ESPN2's NASCAR Now Monday program airs at 5PM ET and then repeats after midnight.
Fundamentally, it kind of rubs me the wrong way that the first major series produced by The NASCAR Media Group from the new Hall of Fame studios is going to a premium movie channel. As with many of those who spoke up on this topic, I do not have any movie channels because my viewing centers around sports and news. Subscribing to Showtime for a one-hour weekly show would be an issue.
How do you feel about NASCAR putting all this time and effort into a major TV series only to have it appear only on Showtime? Are you going to subscribe to the service to see this program next season? Let us know how you feel.
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