Saturday, August 22, 2009
The very long night race from Bristol brought yet another new wrinkle to the TV coverage of the sport this season from ESPN. New green and yellow colors on the ticker were the tip of the iceberg as the TV focus shifted from the race to the Chase for the Championship.
ESPN ignored the festivities happening on the track during the one hour pre-race show to originate programming that contained repeats of features shown on other ESPN NASCAR shows. There were two agendas running side-by-side on this evening before the race.
Many fans emailed about the driver introductions that would contain musical selections picked by the drivers themselves. ESPN advised they could not show this portion of the festivities due to rights issues with the music.
Just like last season, ESPN described the single-lane Bristol of old during the pre-race show and talked about the bump-and-run. Other than the final lap, this is something that almost does not exist since the new track surface and configuration was revealed. The mandatory footage of old fights at Bristol was used again.
The pit reporters also struggled in the pre-race with the fact that this is the new Bristol track. Questions aimed at drivers about the old days were politely moved aside to reflect the modern reality of a two groove racetrack.
Jerry Punch called the race with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. This is a very different style of racing at Bristol and it gave Punch trouble last season as well. The side-by-side racing was tough to handle for the team and it became apparent quickly that the Chase and the leaders of the race were going to be Punch's focus.
The director inserted in-car cameras frequently. This removed the race perspective for the TV viewers and it was tough to get oriented. In-cars were often used when cars were running in tight quarters and fans missed a lot of the action that then had to be replayed from other camera angles.
Fans are now familiar with the announcing style of Punch. Details, stats and basic information is relayed while Jarrett and Petree try to create the excitement and often call out when something happens on the track. Punch has a measured monotone and rarely changes, except when reading an ESPN baseball promo or introducing a commercial.
Petree has been having a tough couple of races in his role as the strategy person in the booth. It started at Watkins Glen and continued through the Bristol event. His casual style and relaxed manner sometimes has a tough time fitting into the scripted world of the ESPN telecasts. He began this season as the voice of reason but has recently often become the voice of frustration.
Jarrett takes the high road in every situation because that is his style. When start-and-park car Dave Blaney caused an early incident, Jarrett said nothing about the reality of the situation. His patience and kindness has won him a lot of fans, but it might be time for Jarrett to step-up and take over when these telecasts are struggling.
Commercial breaks are always an issue at Bristol, but this telecast seemed to contain more than usual and the timing was sometimes rough. Lots of baseball promos dominated the night as there is no Cup race next weekend to promote.
This is an opportunity for you to offer an opinion on how you enjoyed the ESPN telecast of the night race from Bristol, TN. To add your TV-related 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.
Update: 11PM Friday night - One of the saddest comments in three seasons of TDP.
ESPN, there is nothing left to say.
I've rolled with the many changes, good and bad, in NASCAR and TV coverage since the days of clips on Wide World with Jim McKay. I married a man whose love of NASCAR was the first attraction. I've driven 1300 miles to attend a race. I cried for weeks after Daytona '01.
Friends know to never call me or invite me during race time. I've gotten up at 4am to watch a race due to the time difference. And,I have spent a lot of money supporting car and race sponsors I see on TV.
I especially remember the great ESPN coverage of years past. I don't have a problem with change or "progress". But, you do have a problem.
For all the reasons cited on this website, expecially Punch and camera work, I'm done with ESPN.
It's just not fun anymore with ESPN coverage.
That is from a fan who has been with TDP since February of 2007 and NASCAR for decades. Additional fan comments can be viewed by clicking the comments button below. Here is the TDP original post-race story.
There certainly was some great racing on Friday night as the Nationwide Series took to the Bristol Motor Speedway. Whether or not that action translated to the TV is going to be the subject of your comments.
Jerry Punch called the action with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. On pit road were Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Vince Welch. Allen Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace were in the Infield Pit Center. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Garage.
Lots of caution flags were framed by ESPN against a backdrop of tight shots of cars racing each other. The in-race reporter was out early. Punch got excited when he said "shootout style" and introduced a commercial break.
Jarrett and Petree talked a lot, but seemed to miss a lot of the action on the track as if they were watching the TV monitors and not the track itself. Jamie Little pressed Brad Keselowski during pre-race to admit he signed with Penske...no dice.
Lots of Steven Wallace TV coverage early and then he faded after multiple contact with other cars and the wall. It was a rather strange perspective on the racing and never featured any of the teams outside of the top ten.
If you took the time to watch, what did you see that you liked and disliked? What would you do to improve the telecast? Did you channel surf or watch the entire race? Please tell us if you used the radio and/or Internet during the telecast.
We appreciate your opinion. To add your comment to this post, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for watching NASCAR on TV and then telling us about it.
The track is very happy that the Saturday night race is a sellout. One hundred and sixty thousand NASCAR fans are going to be making some noise as the Sprint Cup Series action unfolds.
ESPN has a one-hour pre-race version of NASCAR Countdown scheduled at 6:30PM. Allen Bestwick will be in the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. These programs have proven to be hit-or-miss this season. Bestwick has the goods to define priorities and host good conversations, but often the production team has other ideas.
This week, the drivers were asked by the speedway to pick a song that will be used during driver intros. Click here to see the full list courtesy of our friend and veteran reporter Dustin Long. Unfortunately, ESPN will not be able to show this because the network has to pay rights fees every time popular music is used on national TV.
Once the action gets underway it will be Jerry Punch calling the play-by-play. Friday night was rough for Punch who struggled with everything from accidents to updating teams outside the top five. This event is extremely fast-paced and the challenge for the on-air TV team never ends. Even under caution, there is a lot of information that fans are looking forward to having updated.
Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will once again be alongside of Punch. These two have been polite and enjoyable, but tonight face a new challenge. Once Punch fades, it will be Jarrett who slides over into calling the race while Petree will provide the strategy updates.
It is impossible to insert Tim Brewer from the Tech Garage full-screen under green flag racing because the laps are so quick. Look for ESPN to present Brewer in a two video box effect. Hopefully, he will be put in the smaller size box so fans can continue to enjoy the action while Brewer talks tech.
The aerial views and high camera shots of this track at night are spectacular. On Friday night, ESPN chose to bypass the opportunity to use this video as bumpers into and out of commercial break. Perhaps, seeing as this event is a sellout, TV viewers will get to see one of the most unique sports venues in the nation tonight for more than just a couple of seconds.
The excessive use of in-car cameras live during the race ruined the Friday night Nationwide Series telecast. Bristol is so steeply banked and the laps are so fast that live in-cars just jar the TV viewer and completely lose any perspective that had been established. Where the in-cars have a value is on replays, especially with the use of the audio recorded during incidents. See if there is a shift tonight.
"Headlights, not tailpipes" was the motto used by the TV networks that have telecast racing from BMS over the years. The ultimate challenge is to continue to cut cameras and stay ahead of the action. TV viewers should be seeing the front of the cars coming at them, not the rear ends of the cars racing away.
There is no doubt that tempers may be tight tonight, especially with drivers who are forced out of the race due to incidents on the track. The ESPN pit reporting team of Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Vince Welch and Dave Burns will be right in the middle of the action.
There is tremendous potential tonight for an outstanding TV broadcast. The fans, the track and the teams are all in place. It would be a great time for ESPN to deliver a telecast that could set the network up for the Chase for the Championship to come.
This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN Sprint Cup Series telecast from Bristol, TN. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Thanks for taking time out of your Saturday night to join us at The Daly Planet.
You asked for it, so here it is. In-progress comments on RaceDay, the two-hour program on SPEED.
John Roberts hosts with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace alongside. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the reporters. This week the Real Deal interview is with Junior Johnson.
Please focus your comments on the program and the content offered to the TV viewers. 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 dropping by, if this post works well, it will become fulltime for the rest of the season.