Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NASCAR Fan Council Wants To Know About "Digger"

It's never good when NASCAR has to take time to ask about an animated character during an official survey of the fans about NASCAR TV. That is, however, just what the NASCAR Fan Council did in the most recent survey sent to participants.

Click here for the page that will let you sign-up to be on the NASCAR Fan Council. You will get surveys in your email asking about all kinds of different NASCAR issues from TV to merchandise. This company is basically the marketing survey arm of NASCAR.

The latest survey asks if fans like the NASCAR on Fox animated creation called "Digger." This season Fox has been on an unabashed push to get this character on the TV screen for one single reason. That would be a new revenue stream.

Fox Sports Chairman David Hill is not shy in speaking his mind on this topic. He wants to develop "Digger" as a brand in the same way that drivers market T-shirts and caps combining sponsor and sport to make additional money.

The problem for many fans is that "Digger" is inserted into live NASCAR racing at moments that some consider inappropriate. Serious explanations of crash replays or incidents on the track now are concluded with the forced chuckles of the NASCAR on Fox announce team as the animation plays once again. Key moments in the race have to wait while the Director shows the track-level camera angle and cues the animation one more time.

Over at cawsnjaws.com, Cheryl and her gang report that "Digger" appeared 38 times in the 231 minutes of the live race coverage. The character also has an episode of an original animated cartoon series that airs during the pre-race show on Fox.

One element to keep in mind amid all this talk is that "Digger" is gone when the Fox coverage of the Sprint Cup Series is over. Recently, we saw Darrell Waltrip hawking "Digger" merchandise on QVC and then appearing on SPEED's Trackside show with a full-sized "Digger" costume character in tow.

Should Fox decide to push the "Digger" agenda over to SPEED for the rest of the season it would signal a distinct change in the agenda of that network at the race tracks. "Digger" during practice and qualifying on Fridays and Saturdays would open a whole new chapter of this retail saga.

Unfortunately, the results of the Fan Council surveys are not made public. The one thing we do know is that when a question is asked about a specific made-for-TV element, something has happened to get the attention of the sanctioning body. For better or worse, "Digger" has now made the list.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when adding your comment.

Thanks again and happy posting.

ESPN First To Consider Fan Video Submissions

TDP has been pushing the NASCAR TV partners since 2007 to recognize that the real racing experience and understanding of the history of the sport is located squarely in the extensive NASCAR fan base. Talking heads on TV might be nice, but adding real people to the mix could change the dynamic of NASCAR TV forever.

On the entertainment and news side of the TV business, we see "amateur" video integrated into all kinds of shows on both the broadcast and cable TV sides of the industry. Networks like CNN now regularly air I-Reports from folks worldwide who have good content to contribute on a breaking news story.

Click here for the ESPN.com page called NASCAR Nation. This concept has been kicked around for a very long time and finally someone has stepped up and is ready to take a chance.

Using fans to offer opinions of the racing, the sport and the topics in the news can open the floor to much broader discussions. The politically correct announcers might not have a problem with answering the tough questions, but they would never bring up the topic themselves on national TV.

ESPN has been working hard to add fan questions and comments by email, but time has passed that form of communication by and now video and texting are the kings of instant communication. Websites are filled with video sources and major news organizations like The New York Times continue to scramble to add video content.

TV series like RaceDay, Wind Tunnel and This Week in NASCAR could benefit from adding fan video into the programs. Questions from fans on TWIN should be on video. Dave Despain should switch his angry shouting fan line from telephone to computer cam on Wind Tunnel.

RaceDay has two hours to fill each racing weekend. Allowing fans to send thirty second opinions on suggested topics or questions to guests that will appear on the Sunday program could add some spice that this season's program certainly needs.

Before you comment that NASCAR does not need slobbering drunk rednecks yelling on TV about Junior, ask yourself these questions. Is that what you look like? Is that how you behave?

If you are reading this blog, it is probably because you have some strong personal opinions about issues in the sport. Maybe, just maybe, you might be a candidate to take your views and air them on ESPN2 during NASCAR Now.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Click the comments button below to add your opinion. Please keep in mind this is a family-friendly website.

Thanks again and happy posting.