Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Online NASCAR TV Channel Now A Reality

Turner Sports on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership with SPEED that will result in an online innovation aimed directly at NASCAR fans.

The two companies will team up to pool their resources and offer a new broadband video channel called "NASCAR on SPEED" that will be available free of charge at both and on the NASCAR page over at Yahoo! Sports.

Here is a portion of the official release on the project:

The broadband channel will launch on Wednesday, Sept. 9 and give fans all-access to premium video content from two of the top brands in NASCAR, including three original Webisode series, event coverage and shoulder programming from SPEED. The original content includes:

Victory Lane Fan Finish: Kenny Wallace, Jimmie Spencer & John Roberts answer comments submitted by viewers online right after the race and give their opinion and perspective on what happened and why.
SPEED’s Race & Chase Preview: Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Chad Knaus and Steve Byrnes will break down what to look for at the next race, drivers to watch and how it could affect the Chase.
SPEED’s Rutledge at Large!: Join Rutledge Wood behind the scenes with drivers and fans, at the track, hamming it up in the in-field and at special NASCAR events.
•Signature SPEED "shoulder" programming: NASCAR RaceDay Built by the Home Depot, NASCAR Victory Lane, Trackside, NASCAR Performance, NASCAR Live!, This Week in NASCAR and NASCAR Smarts.

“The partnership between NASCAR.COM and SPEED is a natural, yet groundbreaking collaboration between two of the top brands in the sport, matching the official league Web site with the definite television network for motor sports to offer an even richer online video experience to NASCAR fans,” said Matthew Hong, Vice President and General Manager of Sports Digital for Turner Sports. “NASCAR.COM prides itself on offering the most exclusive, comprehensive and innovative coverage and the celebrated ‘NASCAR on SPEED’ content is an excellent addition to our industry-leading suite of video offerings.”

“This media partnership between the official league Web site and the only network to program from the track all season long proves that serving the NASCAR fan is simply good business,” said Kevin Annison, SPEED VP of Digital & Interactive Media. “NASCAR.COM gets access to popular NASCAR on SPEED video programming, SPEED secures distribution on the No. 1 online outlet for its NASCAR on SPEED programming and NASCAR fans get another way to view some new original programming as well as content from their favorite SPEED programs.”

Turner Sports acquired all of NASCAR’s interactive rights in October 2000 and became the exclusive producer of NASCAR.COM in January 2001. The official online destination of NASCAR, the site consistently ranks among the top three sport league sites on the Internet. In 2008, NASCAR.COM was awarded a Global Media Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) for RaceBuddy as the outstanding interactive platform of the year. The site has also earned an Emmy® for its TrackPass with PitCommand application in 2003.

After the amazing success of TNT's summer NASCAR offerings, it was only natural that Turner would turn its attention to the website. SPEED has been flirting with additional online programming after TV shows like Wind Tunnel, but making a commitment right now to partner with Turner and use as a delivery platform is a smart move.

Turner gets the original TV programming that it has struggled to create for over the years while SPEED gets a level of distribution for its NASCAR programming that is unmatched. As we watch this online offering grow, it should be interesting to see if this can become the platform for a fulltime NASCAR TV network in the future. Right now, it is simply a giant step in the right direction.

Check the site for this online video offering. Once things get up and running, TDP will revisit this topic and ask for your reviews of the "NASCAR on SPEED" broadband channel.

In the meantime, please feel free to offer your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Mike Joy And Darrell Waltrip Ready For Eldora

The last time NASCAR fans heard Mike Joy he was losing a lung trying to describe the incredible action of the Whelen Modifieds as they raced at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time. The race was short, the TV was basic and the fun meter was pegged on high. Is it wrong to say that was the most exciting NASCAR race of the season?

Well, Joy is back on TV and he is bringing Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds along for the ride. After one of the longest rain delays in recent racing history, Tony Stewart and his NASCAR guests are holding another edition of the always interesting and very unpredictable "Prelude to the Dream."

This is a night of Late Model racing for charity that benefits some great causes listed at the bottom of this column. Stewart owns Eldora Speedway and this little Rossburg, Ohio dirt track is something else. Many NASCAR fans who watch the sport on TV have really never seen dirt track racing and they are in for a surprise.

Unfortunately, there have been two withdrawals due to injury. Bill Elliott broke some ribs dirt-bike riding and Carl Edwards experienced the dreaded "Frisbee ankle." Both are on the sidelines for the event this season.

On the upside, Marcos Ambrose is along for the ride and that should be interesting. This will be his first experience on dirt and fans will get to watch it live. It should be great to see how he does in this very different environment.

While Jeff Gordon and Dave Blaney will also not be attending this year, the list of those who will be racing is impressive.

Tony Stewart - Heavy favorite, in charge of track watering operations.
Kenny Wallace - Won the event back in 2005, will Twitter while driving.
Brian Vickers - Absolutely no experience on dirt but promises to try very hard.
Kenny Schrader - Won at Eldora in USAC and has lots of free time to practice.
David Reutimann - Started career racing dirt modifieds across in Florida.
Cruz Pedregon - NHRA star promises this season entire field will not lap him.
Ryan Newman - Another dirt veteran of the USAC sprint cars in the Midwest.
Casey Mears - First time at the Prelude and ready for a learning experience.
Joey Logano - Has Home Depot book on dirt track racing but nothing else.
Kasey Kahne - Owns multiple sprint car teams and could be the dark horse.
Matt Kenseth - Just happy not to be driving in a Sprint Cup car for this race.
Jimmie Johnson - Former Stadium Truck Series racer looking for an oval win.
Denny Hamlin - Won a lot on this size track, but pavement was always involved.
Robby Gordon - Came from nowhere to finish second last season.
Red Farmer - Between 75 and 80 years young, still getting it done on the dirt.
Ray Evernham - Started as a driver, now owns a dirt track and still races.
Kyle Busch - Finished second in 2007, promised to talk to the media after the race.
Clint Bowyer - Former track champ on dirt at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas.
AJ Allmendinger - Absolutely first time on dirt, but hair will still look good.
Aric Almirola - Learned a lot in last two Preludes, could be a contender.
Kevin Harvick - On a roll from last week, looking to win the entire thing.

Two veterans from the NASCAR on Fox production team, Pam Miller and Artie Kempner, will be producing and directing the pay-per-view telecast distributed by HBO. The TV crew will also include Dick Berggren on pit road and Matt Yocum roaming the grounds as the host. These TV personalities have donated their services, as have the drivers.

The speedway will be rocking on Wednesday night as it has once again sold out. The expected overflow crowd should be around 23 thousand. Almost every single person will be leaving covered in some of the nice dirt surface that Mr. Stewart and his track crew are preparing. They would not have it any other way.

Here is how the TV works. At 6:30PM ET, there will be a thirty minute preview show that will serve to let cable viewers find the right PPV channel. Ordering can be done directly through the remote for digital cable viewers. If you are unsure about your cable TV setup, call your local cable company during the daytime to check and see how to order. The total price is $24.95.

For DirecTV viewers, turn to channel 121 to order while Dish customers should tune to channel 455. Please be advised that this program is in Standard Definition. Adjust your sets accordingly, HD has still not come to the Prelude.

Here is the schedule if everything goes smoothly:

7:00 p.m.: HBO Pay-Per-View Broadcast begins
7:10 p.m.: Prelude Hot Laps
7:40 p.m.: Prelude Qualifying
8:25 p.m.: Prelude Driver Introductions with parade laps
8:40 p.m.: Invocation & National Anthem
8:45 p.m.: Prelude Racing Program to begin -- Heats / Consolation / Feature
10:30 p.m.: Post Race Winner's Circle

The guys do hot laps, then qualify individually which is very fun to watch. Just like at your local track there are heat races, a consolation race and the feature.

The money raised from the PPV subscriptions goes to the following charities:

The Wounded Warrior Project
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
Operation Homefront
Fisher House

So, for the price of taking a date to the movies or eating out, racing fans can see lots of big name drivers in a very different environment. Late Model racing on dirt is wild and the action is just a blast. The attitude is informal and the TV is unpredictable. I'll be ordering again this year, I certainly hope you might join in.

We will get your comments on this event in an upcoming TDP column. Please feel free to ask any questions or offer comments below. Thanks.