Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TV/Media Notes From The Post-Season

Now that the official things are over for the year, our attention turns to what will be changing for the 2010 NASCAR TV season. The answer is...a lot. The big players in the rumor mill are ESPN, TNT and SPEED. New NASCAR TV shows are also coming to HBO and Showtime.

Last summer, Bill Weber was released as the play-by-play announcer for TNT's NASCAR coverage right in the middle of that network's run. Into the position stepped TV veteran Ralph Sheheen, who finished the season. It should be interesting to see if TNT stays with Sheheen for the 2010 TV package.

Over at SPEED, the Race Hub experiment has paid off. Dropped seemingly from the sky on the week of the Hall of Fame selections, Race Hub is a Monday through Thursday studio-based program at 7:30PM each night.

SPEED is the same network that insisted NASCAR programming would not work in primetime during weekdays. For years, only This Week In NASCAR on Monday nights was offered for fans. There has been no additional programming to support SPEED's Camping World Truck Series or even the type of well-edited race review shows that are trademarks of The NASCAR Media Group.

The Race Hub experiment quickly established Krista Voda as the de facto host. It also allowed others like Jeff Hammond, Ray Dunlap and Randy Pemberton to get additional TV time outside of their traditional roles. In the final weeks, the show hit a home run with multiple drivers and announcers discussing topics within the sport. Issues for next season include adding a West Coast re-air and getting the studio set squared away.

The NASCAR Media Group announced this week that Inside NASCAR will be a new weekly TV series coming to the Showtime network for 2010. Wednesday nights at 10PM ET will be the time and February 10th will be the start date. Analysis and highlights with announcers to be named at a later date.

Another subscription cable net, HBO, will debut 24/7 Jimmie Johnson: The Race To Daytona on January 26th at 10PM ET. This reality/documentary project will offer three one-hour episodes before the Daytona 500 and the final episode on February 16th, two days after the race. Part of the award-winning HBO 24/7 series.

Silence has been the order of the day from ESPN where the 2010 season is concerned. The network shuffled line-ups and experimented with live race coverage this season but it was still a rough year.

NASCAR Now will be back on February 1st and there have been no issues with the line-up of Allen Bestwick, Nicole Manske and Mike Massaro as co-hosts. Up in the air are the play-by-play assignments for the entire Nationwide Series season and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. We will see how that all shakes out.

Finally, no word yet on whether This Week in NASCAR will be back for 2010 on SPEED.

There will be a weekly media/TV notes post during the off-season just trying to keep up with all the changes in programming and personnel. Feel free to voice your opinion on any of the topics above. Just click on the comments button below.

This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


West Coast Diane said...

Don't have SHO or HBO so guess I will have to read about new shows here :-)

Part of me is still burnt out from all the negativity from the ESPN debacle. I will be awaiting what I am hoping are positive changes to ESPN.

FOX killed the Digger cartoon and hopefully will minimize its' appearance in their broadcasts. If DW tones it down and stops the love fest for whomever I will be happy. Compared to ESPN the rest of the FOX stuff is minor annoyance.

TNT did a great job, don't need to change a thing, although there is always room to improve.

I am not looking foward to the media OD'ing on Danica. I thought it was pretty interesting how she announced her NASCAR ride. No TV announcement and the webcast was pretty low key which matches with someone just doing a limited schedule to test the waters.

Anonymous said...

Have been a fan since the 1960's.The old SPEEDVISION was better than SPEED.Liked the variety of programs.Too much NASCAR is overkill and leads to mediocre programs.I'm not going to pay to see anything that's not on basic cable.Thanks John for keeping this site going thru the down season.

Anonymous said...

Oh Good
HBO shows its just another Johnny-come-lately to the NASCAR game by focusing on the sturated and over exposed Jimmie Johnson

wowoe, that should provide some real insights, along the lines of "hey, did you know these guys drive in cars that aren't really stock"??

PammH said...

What are TPTB thinking? Times are rough, people are lucky to have jobs & they put 2 new shows on extra pay channels? I have neither of them & don't plan on getting them either. Non-comprehension @ the Beach again of the "real" world..

Donna DeBoer said...

Sorry, not subscribing to Showtime just for that. Hopefully it will be online somewhere, if it proves to be anything interesting. Likewise, will not be getting HBO to see JJ.
LOVE Race Hub!! hope they continue in depth on all of NASCAR not just top 3 series, and equal weight to the top 3 series. I love learning about the smaller NNS & Truck teams and drivers, and the TV exposure for them is invaluable for attracting more sponsors. Ditto, small Cup teams.
I'll continue to watch TWIN if its there, I watch Victory Lane when one of my drivers wins, and NASCAR Now is my son's fave.

MRM4 said...

My guess is ESPN won't announce any changes, if there are any, until early January.

I know there were plenty of rumors out there, but was it ever announced why Weber was canned from TNT? That story had more secrecy than Tiger Woods did before this past week.

50 yr. fan said...

I think the 10PM time slot will
doom the program. The Showtime
folks don't get that this is time
that working people are getting
ready for bed. Seems to me they should have looked at the Race Hub success and put it in the 6:30/7:00PM slot. I'm always searching for
something at that time in lieu of

Anonymous said...

if Showtime's like most cable networks, there will be reairs. Besides, most people who subscribe to the movie channels already have recording devices of some sort. I'm not one of those people, but I just don't think the programmers look at things the same way as they would broadcast TV, or even standard cable.

TNT would be very foolish not to hire Ralph Shaheen. Bill Weber wasn't exactly a household name either; you just need to be someone who knows what they're doing; race fans will follow.

I'm just hoping for changes at ESPN.

The Loose Wheel said...

JD will there be a topic posted about Turner working with ABC/ESPN and FOX about using RB in other races for next season. I'm pretty excited about that prospect honestly. Even if they could get Turner to lax and allow to have the coverage that would be great too!

Zieke said...

race Hub succeeded.Krista always seems quite well prepared. At least they don't rehash the previous race like TWIN, which makes that show unneeded unless you missed the race or you have a love affair with Waldrip. (what a thought)

Unknown said...

Bummer that TWIN is going to Showtime. I ain't buying Showtime.

(When I add up the phone, cell phone, internet and satellite t.v. - then just getting out of bed cost a couple of hundred/month)

Nathan Brice said...

Here is what should happen. FOX should make one change. Get rid of Chris Myers. TNT should keep Ralph in the booth. ESPN/ABC should make lots of changes. Get rid of Mike Massaro. Make Nicole the solo host with sporadic fill-ins by a couple of people. Make Allen the full-time play-by-play guy. Put Jerry back in the pits. Ditch Dave Burns and Vince Welch. Also bring Lindsay to ESPN. TNT can keep Mike Massaro in the pits for six races. Hopefully that is all that we will ever see of him again.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what changes ESPN is going to make to better their coverage. In fact I haven't cared about something like this before until what I saw this past season. Most of the people especially the ones in the truck(director) and the booth(Mr Punch) needs to be revamped. TNT is good to go in my book if they hire Mr Ralph. Fox is good but they need better camera work.

Anonymous said...

I'm not subscribing to HBO or Showtime,to see those programs. It costs enough to have to have digital cable to watch the SPEED program.

JohnP said...

SPEED - I hope they keep TWIN/IWC on monday nights at 8et. It's a years long tradition.

SHO- Don't get it. But the time slot is wrong anyway. To late if it's an hour show.

HBO - Don't get it. AND I've seen enough JJ this season for the rest of my life.

Just keet This Week In Nascar. It may not have the most information, but it's a hoot to watch. High entertainment factor.

Adam said...

Get rid of the pre-race/Hollywood Hotel shows along with the Tech Center.

Also, hire Ralph full time during the Summer. I was glad Bill Weber was gone.

Also, get rid of Digger, Chris Meyers, and Brad.

GinaV24 said...

Glad that you'll be keeping the site up during the off season. I have to have a little TDP "fix" or I just don't have a good day! So, thanks JD for that.

Hmmm, its nice that NASCAR wants to do more programming, but I don't get showtime or HBO either and am not adding any additional channels that require me to pay for them at this time, so its having them out there if few people won't be watching seems silly but then again, that's a NASCAR thing for the fans. No sense at all. And I've had all I want to see of Jimmie Johnson period.

I like RaceHub, Krista is good at her job, I like Hammond a lot and its nice to see the NASCAR folks have a place nearby to come and talk to Speed folks unlike ESPN. Speed has some talented people - Steve Byrnes, Mike Joy, Hammond and Larry, use them and produce a good show.

NASCAR Now is a fine show and I like Allen Bestwick a lot, but I DVR this since I don't consider a lot of NASCAR programming "must see" any more.

ESPN seriously needs to make some changes or next year, I will probably not watch any races they broadcast at all. Move Punch out of the booth, back to pit road if he'll accept that. Ditch Rusty and Brad - they add NOTHING to the broadcasts. Either put Allen in the booth for PXP or use Marty Reid -- I thought he was fun on the N'wide broadcasts.

TNT was the absolutely best surprise of the broadcast teams. I know Weber had some issue that got him booted, but honesly that was a relief to me since I didn't like him as a broadcaster at all and used the mute button whenever he started talking anyway. Ralph Sheehan did a very professional job and I enjyed the others in the booth AND racebuddy was awesome.

If Fox will keep the gopher AND DW under control, they can provide a very entertaining broadcast. I'd like to see Myers STOP playing the role of fool - its gotten old. He seems knowledgeable on other sports broadcasts and after doing the NASCAR deal for going on 9 years, you'd have to be totally oblivous to not know something about the sport, so just be real.

Watching all of this, I'd really like to have PROFESSIONALS in all the TV productions. If you have a financial, emotional or personal interest in one of the cars in the field, then you should NOT be broadcasting unless you are there as a guest and everyone understands you are promoting whatever it is.

GinaV24 said...

Oh, wait, one more thing. I will not be watching any shows that will be falling all over Danica. I've already decided to not click on any links that have Danica related stuff (except for TDP, of course) since I just won't be able to tolerate all the salivating.

Nathan Brice said...

ESPN needs a four man booth. They need Allen, Rusty, Andy, and Dale. Move Jerry down to the pits where he belongs. Jerry replaces Dave Burns and Brienne Pedigo should replace Vince Welch. Either that or bring Bill Weber back and put him in the pits, but please don't put him on play-by-play. Marty Reid can do all the Nationwide Series races. Some combination of all of these things would be very nice to see.

Vicky D said...

Eric at 12:07 PM. Hubby was just complaining the other day about the same costs and it seems like it keeps on going up every few months!

MRM4 said...

Things I'd change if asked.

Fox - Replace Chris Myers with someone else. Don't make Digger an item to sell a bunch of crap. The sad thing is the camera angles for the Digger cam are quite cool, especially on the high banked tracks.

TNT - Find a suitable replacement for Weber. Sheheen is okay, but there are better ones out there.

ESPN - Get a new director, move Punch to the pit center (he'd probably quit if that happens), move Bestwick to PxP, replace all the pit reporters except the tall one (brain fart, name escapes me right now). Dump Brad, his time is up.

The Loose Wheel said...

Showtime trying to re-invent themselves? It seems over the last few years they have made some serious attempts at trying to become more HBO-y and add more sports content to try and boost subscriptions but little do they realize that much like the boat Versus is in, they are trying to convince people to add premium channel for x number of dollars a month that maybe has 60-90 minutes of content you'll ACTUALLY watch.

I am more curious of Showtime's thinking here than I am NASCAR's. I think we can all safely assume NASCAR is in it for the money on this one.

Dot said...

I was thisclose to getting rid of Showtime & HBO. Nothing is more fun than to hear Dan crab about the same movies being shown over and over. Now, I am going to keep them to see the new NASCAR shows.

There's an article of interest over at Jayski about races being shown on line. Also, the TV numbers were up for the Banquet. Kind of a burn to BSPN.

Speaking of BSPN, they are the ones who need the most work compared to FOX & TNT. Since they come in at the mid/end of the season, they need to take lessons from FOX & TNT on how to show race coverage. They also need to adopt a casual dress code.

Anonymous said...

I truly don't think this is a big push by Showtime to sign large numbers of people up. I don't think they're that naive (you know they know what the ratings have been). I expect they just want to 'broaden' their programming, as David suggested, to look more like HBO. Perhaps they're adding other sports shows as well. I certainly don't watch every football related program on TV, so I would not expect to watch every NASCAR show either.

Anonymous said...

You seem excited about RaceHub on Speed, but I can't go there yet.

There were episodes where drivers were interviewed as if they were live, but if you really knew where they were, you knew they weren't. They were somewhere else that day - like another CITY.

As for the set itself, very cheesy and outdated. It looked like the old Two Guys Garage or something from TNN days gone by.

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to Showtime just for Weeds and Californication.

The new NASCAR show is a bonus - but 10pm ET is too late for the first airing each week.

MRM4 - Are you talking about Jamie Little? She is my favorite ESPN pit reporter! Shannon Spake is the airhead...

Richard in N.C. said...

I would suggest that EESPN move Allen to the Cup PxP, put Mike Massaro in Allen's infield and prerace spot, and put Dr. P on NASCAR Now during the week (other than Monday) and originate it from the Hall of Fame in Charlotte. Dr. was there for a lot of NASCAR's history and I suspect there are some people associated with NASCAR that might be much more likely to do an interview if it were to be with Dr.

Also, as with the past few years, I'm still trying to figure out why Wind Tunnel needs more weeks off than Jay Leno.

Anonymous said...

Let's not confuse people which there seems to be some of. The Showtime Inside NASCAR is a completely different show than TWIN. While we have not heard anyword on the plans for TWIN next year, Inside NASCAR will not be the same nor is it taking the place of nor is it TWIN being moved to Showtime.

Ralph's voice to me is a little to high and pitchy. He's fine for the pits. Weber can stay gone. To arrogant and pompous.

Meyers is and always has been one of the most well respected journalists out there. His NASCAR schtick is old and played out. Come back like you do with the other sports you cover and it will be all good. The rest of the FOX crew is top notch.

BSPN...already been stated for the most part. Punch OUT OF THE BOOTH. Back in the pits or him is fine as well. Bestwick up top with Andy and DJ.

Hub - decent show just needs technical stuff worked out with lighting, audio and the look they're going for.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is now a new post up for comments on "Inside NASCAR" being the new Wednesday night TV show from the NASCAR Media Group.

Only problem's on Showtime which many fans (like me) do not have and do not wish to subcribe to.

Love to hear your thoughts on the new post. Thanks.