Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NASCAR Needs Off-Season TV Coverage


This is the end of the third season of coverage with the current NASCAR TV partners. The two weekday NASCAR news programs, Race Hub on SPEED and NASCAR Now on ESPN2, also ended their season weeks ago.

ESPN has advised that NASCAR Now will return on February 1st. SPEED is starting the new season of Race Hub on January 11th.

Monday morning, the Associated Press announced the results of its annual Male Athlete of the Year voting. This award is destined for athletes in mainstream sports who garner the recognition of news editors nationwide.

This year, for the first time in the 78-year history of the award it was given to a NASCAR driver. His name is Jimmie Johnson. Like so many other NASCAR news items that have happened in the last several weeks, this story came right out of the blue.

ESPN Senior Reporter Marty Smith phoned in to ESPNEWS with the story and his reaction. In the following hour, Jimmie Johnson also phoned in and talked with the TV anchor. It was a nice gesture, but few NASCAR fans were listening.

The scope of NASCAR has proven that a weekday TV show during the off-season is sorely needed. In addition to the Johnson news, NASCAR has added Road America as a Nationwide Series race after Milwaukee was removed from the schedule. IRL driver Danica Patrick announced her intentions to race in NASCAR and tested in Daytona.

From Kyle Busch starting his own Camping World Truck Series team to the sudden health struggles of a top NASCAR executive, the news in the sport did not take a break. Unfortunately, the TV networks did.

NASCAR's online presence is fractured at best. The official NASCAR.com website fights every day with Jayski's homegrown effort over NASCAR news. A wide variety of media websites represent TV networks, online newspapers and specialty magazines. From scenedaily to FoxSports, the NASCAR Internet information sources all have their own agendas.

In terms of off-season TV, it seems that SPEED would be in the best position to handle this challenge. ESPN is jammed with other sports during this time of the year and the beginning of February is a good time for that network to return simply from a logistical standpoint.

This was the first season of Race Hub and SPEED took a big chance on starting a show late in the season that required a lot of time and effort. The program normally runs Monday through Thursday, but that might be a bit much during the off-season. On the other hand, it could be gangbusters.

There are lots of NASCAR personalities around the area that would certainly like to get a shot at national TV exposure during this time for a wide variety of reasons. SPEED broke into regular programming for both the Patrick and Busch press conferences and carried them live. Busch actually used SPEED as the location for his event.

Perhaps, SPEED will re-think this darkening of the studio for next season. With news coming in from all three national series and many other sources, there is little doubt that NASCAR has joined golf and tennis as year-round sports. Until the time that there is a NASCAR TV network, fans are looking to the existing TV partners to fill in the gaps.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on 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.

44 comments:

Richard in N.C. said...

Worse than the hiatus for the Hub on SPEED is the 3 or 4 week hiatus for The SPEED Report, worse still is the 10 week or so hibernation for Wind Tunnel, and even still worse is the "quality" programming SPEED puts on in their place. I do believe the head of programming at SPEED is a relative of the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.

I appreciate that the people involved who travel deserve some time off and some meaningful scaling back is understandable, but going completely dark for more than a couple of weeks is not. Dave Despain gets about twice as much off time as Jay Leno.

KoHoSo said...

With all of the research that television outlets engage in, could there be some good reason that nobody is providing regular off-season racing news coverage? Are there really more people that would rather watch crud like Pinks than a NASCAR program? Or, is it that the research shows NASCAR fans are not in the same appealing demographic as those that prefer to watch "reality" shows, poker, and so on? Have we been found to no longer be as dedicated to sponsors as we used to be in days past?

I'm sure there's a good reason...I guess. It just seems odd to me that, in a world where my cable dial goes from channel 1 to channel 999, there isn't one spot that covers one of America's most popular forms of entertainment on a regular basis during the off-season.

crabber1967 said...

There SHOULD BE, at least, a weekly NASCAR News program... and if SPEED can break-in as breaking news happens [why not? what with all the repeats...] then a daily show would be possible, especially since SPEED moved to Charlotte TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYTHING... they should do just that... use the location to their advantage!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just so we are all square, when I used the word "NASCAR" in the caption for this post I was referring to the sport, not the sanctioning body.

Thanks for asking me to clarify that point.

JD

Vicky D said...

How hard can it be to have a one hour stock car news show every week during the off season? I liked the Hub show with the 3 truck series drivers then the day after they had 3 NW drivers. Surely being produced from Charlotte, Speed can come up with a show to keep the news and drivers info current.

Donna in FL said...

Barring any channel shifts, next year during the off season I'd like to see SPEED do at minimum a 1 hr weekly show updating racing news. It doesn't have to be all NASCAR. The obvious candidate already in place is The SPEED Report, and I would think they could get rotating hosts for the few weeks needed in Dec & Jan (no show for the 2 wks around Xmas & NewYrs) maybe even some guest hosts! Plenty of racing peeps in CLT to bring in for live content if needed.

MightyVike said...

What is sorely missing is a broad-scoped motorsports information/news program similar to what we used to get from ESPN in the form of RPM TONIGHT. Yes, the news never stops and neither should its reporting.

I'm a racing fan, not just a NASCAR fan. I want to know about stock cars, yes, but I also want to know about sprint cars, midgets, ARCA and IRL. I want it all and there is no one place I can go on TV to get information on what is going on during the "off season" for some of these groups and that just ain't right. Certainly not in this age of cable and satellite systems.

For sprint car fans, one would have to go to HOSEHEADS site for info on the american contingent headed for the big events in Australia. Midget fans are all giddy about the Chili Bowl coming up in a week or so, but where on TV is there anyplace to learn about who's competing? With Stewart and Kahne involved in open wheel dirt cars, wouldn't that be NASCAR news as well?

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, golf and maybe even tennis have their own channels, yet we motorsports fans are subjected to little snipets of information during SPORTS CENTER. It just ain't right, folks. It just ain't right.

Dot said...

Online racing sites don't shut down after the season is over. Racing publications don't shut down after the season is over. So, why does TV?

There's a lot of news going on in the off season. Not to mention other series that are still racing.

There are race fans that do not use the computer, roommate Dan is one of them. I keep him in the loop. I know if there was a TV show we could watch, we would.

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Matt TSB said...

I always come back to the idea that the various networks and broadcasters are in business to make money, and if they believed they could make more money, or a better return on investment, by producing a daily or a weekly show in the offseason they would do it. If there were really that much demand for news in the weeks between the last race and Speedweeks SOMEBODY would jump on it and corner the market.

I think the real answer lies in:
-very short offseason
-intense sporting competition; NFL playoffs, college football conference title games and bowls, meat of college basketball schedule
-holidays from late November to January
-small numbers of really big stories. With Danica, the hype is almost the story. I'm really excited to see what she can do, but I doubt even her biggest fans expect her to come in and consistently finish top 5, so her presence isn't seen as fundamentally changing the on track balance of power. Kyle Busch starting a team in the third level national touring series? That can be pretty well covered on the web. A crew chief going from one brother to another? Interesting, but how much can you really squeeze out of it?
-success of the websites. News sites and bloggers do some things really well. I think the hard core fans want to discuss things more than watch them, and I'd point to this site as an example. Look back over the live updates during races and the like, it seems many are more excited to be here talking about the race and coverage than they are to be watching or listening to the race. Watching a news program is a very passive activity which isn't a great match for the passion many fans have for the sport.

There is an increase in reruns of most network prime time shows at this time of year also. I think that might be an indication of what the networks see as an available audience for all television shows, not just niche products.

Tracy said...

All I can say is, AMEN! HUB would be the perfect venue, even if it's just once a week. I feel like a neglected fan, sigh.

Um, JD, there're a couple of really crude posts above...

Anonymous said...

The logical choice would be SPEED. This network was supposedly created for just this reason. The move to Charlotte should make it easy to do such a show. The SPEED executives are telling us we don't matter with some of the lousy shows they air with no NASCAR news. The way I see it SPEED has turned into a joke, so we need to pursue them until they change and start covering SPEED things, such as NASCAR and motor sports in general. Take the lead Mr. Daly, we'll follow.

GinaV24 said...

I agree, JD. Racing needs to be covered during the off-season. There is news, but most of us use the internet to find it. I don't watch ESPN regularly since most of the time they aren't covering anything that I care about, so I don't waste my time. If there was a one hour weekly show, I'd either tune in or at the very least record it to watch and have a chance to catch up on the racing news. I enjoy speed report, haven't quite gotten "hooked" on race hub yet, but at least it was some effort, but to have to wait until February? Way too long. Start giving the fans a reason to get excited about 2010.

Things like who's going to be in what ride next season could be covered. Give some coverage to all of the racing series and most of us fans would watch. I don't watch the "lifestyle" programming that Speed runs - ever.

There may be a battle between Nascar.com and jayski's site, but Jayski has won it hands down in my opinion. I always check Jayski's site for information first, NASCAR's site is such a mess that I only go there if I need to find information on a track or something very specific, otherwise it is pretty useless.

Anyone listening out there in TV land? The fans are asking for it on a station that most of us already GET, not on HBO or Showtime.

Anonymous said...

WOW..glad to see people are just as excited about the season starting as me!!!(anonymous) we do need a nightly show about racin..and it doesn't just have to be nascar..there are all kinds of great stories out there..some friends of mine just finished 10th overall at the baja 1000 (against $1.5 million dollar trophy truck campaigns..robbie gordon finished 5th overall)they are privateers racing on a motorcycle and none of them are younger than 50!!.that's gotta be 5 minutes of good tv..there are hundreds of stories like that..i miss V-8 supercars and sprint cars from down under..snowball derby..ice racing etc..like mighty vike said there is all kinds of great racing goin on out there.SPEED is very disapointing nowadays..i loved the rally stuff sprint boat racing and the DTM cars..tow trucks..repo trucks..BORING..how many pinks and pass times can anyone stand??

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great ideas! I really liked the comment about using TSR as a catch-all during the off-season for other racing news.

I truly feel that if SPEED and NASCAR got together and told us the stories that were developing, reminded us of the big moments from the past season and let us interact with the personalities we will be following in 2010 the sport would get a much needed shot-in-the-arm.

Thanks for all the opinions, please keep them coming.

JD

Chris from NY said...

SPEED already has Preseason Thunder in January, and extending that into December would be nice.

Also, if NASCAR and the teams would allow an early media tour in December, that would help as well.

One day, NASCAR will have to give in with this test-banning rule. Four tests in the preseason would be nice -- one for each type of track.

Mary said...

I am suffering severe Nascar withdrawal and I think a weekly Speed programme would be great. However I guess the broadcasters need a rest as well.......

Chris from NY said...

Mary,

I can't wait either, but it will only be a matter of time until most of us will then be back to "can't wait till FOX finishes" and "get rid of Digger and DW", etc.

Anonymous said...

Your picture on this blog is exactly what I can't stand about "the Hub."

Maybe SPEED can use the off season to come up with a better looking studio. It looks "amateurish and cheap."

I watched most episodes and enjoyed the content of the show, but I was really turned off by the set. It doesn't look "newsworthy."

Many times I found myself looking at some sign on the wall instead of listening to the host.

Nathan Brice said...

The ESPN guys probably won't give up the holidays to cover one or two stories per day up at Bristol. They would be better served spending as much time at home as they can. Mike covered the ARCA test. They should do it like they do college football and NFL off-season shows. Have guys report from their houses and not have them come to Bristol. That would be much better.

GinaV24 said...

I used to enjoy watching the Rally cars race in Europe and then that went off Speed -- I think someone said it might be on Versus -- like a lot of race fans, I like a lot of different forms of racing and would enjoy watching a show that would help me keep up with it. If NASCAR wants the fans excited about it, they need to put out a little effort. I get the e-mail notices from them about news that I signed up for but that is just bits and pieces, not like a full blown show.

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Anonymous said...

I would like to see Speed Report go on during off season, even if for just a half an hour. They could rotate hosts/esses so every one gets time off. (Even Robin Miller covered ARCA last weekend. :) ) It would have the advantage of covering more than just Nascar. I had hoped that Nascar Hub would morph into Race Hub over the off season.
Marybeth

RvNGrammy said...

I agree with Donna in FL...at least a one hour once a week show could be done...keep The SPEED Report on each Sunday at least and maybe even Race Hub each day with not only news but interviews with drivers and other team members. Guest hosts are a good idea so that everyone can get some time off.

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fj2009 said...

does anybody watch RACELINE anymore? in syracuse,n.y. WSYR-TV broadcasts it on sunday afternoons. Time Warner also shows it on their local sports channel.

Richard in N.C. said...

My suggestion for SPEED would be to cut the SPEED Report back to 1/2 hour and run the Hub just on Mondays for 4 to 6 weeks after the Cup banquet weekend to give the talent a break, but keep fans informed and in the habit of watching SPEED for racing updates.

rich said...

I agree that TSR year-round would really be a good Christmas present. I think a daily 30 min show would make money for someone.
GinaV24--HD Directv has a channel 281 which has Rally cars and lots more auto/motocycle stuff. It is only available on high def (HD)

Anonymous said...

The racing and coverage during the season is boring enough. Why would we want more of this?? It would be best if NA$CAR reinvented itself in the off season.

Marylee said...

It is pathetic that SPEED devotes so much time to Pinks, and who knows what else, and not a minute to NASCAR during most of the Dec-Jan. time frame. This is the time to keep fans involved, get to the deeper stories, etc. Everyone needs a vacation, but does every motorsports reporter/announcer/color commentator really want a 2 month vacation? I doubt it. And I know I, as a NASCAR fan, do not want 2 months with no TV coverage of the sport I find fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see both a news show focused on NASCAR and a news show focused on racing in general.

ncblondegardner said...

It would be nice to have a once a week show featuring the off season silly season...so many things always going on.

Richard in N.C. said...

I see that Michael Schumacher has announced he is definitely coming out of retirement to drive in F1 in 2010 - but I guess that's not really news and won't learn anything about it on SPEED until sometime in January. Nothing is happening in racing this time of year, according to the programmers at SPEED.

GinaV24 said...

@Rich, thanks for the info about the rally cars. I have FIOS rather than DirectTV, so that won't help me darn it.

Richard in N.C. said...

I see that Ricky Craven has posted his last column on Yahoo Sports. I do hope this may mean he will be doing a lot more on EESPN - maybe even as a booth analyst on N-wide races.

If I had to choose just one, I think I would choose continuation of TDP over more TV in the off-season.

I do hope JD and all the TDP regulars enjoy the Merriest of Christmases and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

Tripp said...

To be honest, I'm a race fan and I don't care. Not to put too fine a point on it, I like all racing on four wheels that involves at least one corner, but I don't mind this break in the action.

Sure, it would be nice to have a place where we could tune once a week to find out the changes and developments in racing during the off season. That said, I'm not sure that there's enough NASCAR news to fill a half hour unless you want to cover Mikey's sledding adventures. Perhaps a broader show like the Speed Report is enough.

I don't care about crew chief swaps and sponsor changes enough to tune in each week. Not a lot going on this NASCAR off season. Formula 1... that's another bowl of borscht. But that's this year. Next year it might be different.

I'll be back to watch NASCAR in February through the TNT coverage. After that... who knows.

Dannyboy said...

Dunno what happened, but my original post (before any comments were showing) never showed up. It went something like this:

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Season's Greetings to John Daly and all the fans who make this blog a great place to visit.

Thanks to John for providing us with a place where the fans voices can be heard.

Dan in San Diego

Dannyboy said...

WHOOPS!

SORRY, must've gone down too far when I scrolled to comments. My previous post was for your blog above this one!

Anonymous said...

no more coverage please! Lets wait until next year to be bored to death by what NA$CAR has become.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

amen