Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SPEED Jumps Into The NASCAR News Game

Update: SPEED now advised that this program will also contain non-NASCAR news and information.

Over the past several years, eyes have been watching SPEED TV as the network slowly drifted away from its extensive connections with NASCAR. Lifestyle shows began to dominate primetime and other than TWIN on Monday nights, the vast majority of the NASCAR programming came from the racetracks on the weekends.

In 2007, ESPN launched the daily NASCAR Now show. Originally a complete flop, it has been slowly turned into a solid program featuring capable hosts, good features and interviews with NASCAR newsmakers. There was just one problem. It is done from the studio in Connecticut.

ESPN made a decision back in 2006 not to invest in a small studio in the Concord or Mooresville, NC area due to financial reasons. The NASCAR TV contract signed by ESPN runs through 2015, so perhaps the network reasoned that it was easier to service this sport from Bristol, CT.

In the meantime, SPEED moved from the cramped studios in South Charlotte up to a new HD facility near the Lowe's Motor Speedway. This finally gave the company the ability to consider originating regular studio-based NASCAR programming. Now that concept has become a reality.

On October 12 at 7:30PM ET, SPEED will launch a new daily NASCAR news and interview program called NASCAR Race Hub. The show will air Monday through Thursday and is intended to go well beyond the NASCAR season that ends in November.

Here is some official information from SPEED:

As The Chase winds down and we look ahead to the 2010 NASCAR season, this unique program provides drivers, owners, sponsors, or crew members an opportunity for TV exposure. The atmosphere and format will be structured in such a manner that keeps it open to any idea. Virtually anything goes because NASCAR Race Hub will not be a straightforward news and information program.

Our goal is to have at least one in-studio interview per day. The set will resemble a renovated garage complete with televisions, a pinball machine, and even a pub-style bar with chairs. The result will be a very relaxed, casual setting right here in Charlotte. Content will consist of everything from top-10 lists to poll questions, fan emails, features and video of drivers at and away from the track.

Some might ask "why another NASCAR show?" The answer is because SPEED has continued to enjoy growth in its NASCAR ratings in 2009 – from our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcasts to our weekend programming, such as NASCAR RaceDay and NCWTS Setup. As a result, we view NASCAR Race Hub as an extension of our weekend NASCAR coverage.

At this point we are still waiting on the announcement of the on-air talent, the reporters and the format. But the good news is that now NASCAR personalities will have the opportunity to take a short drive over to the SPEED studios and update the news and stories that fans want to know more about.

TDP has long described SPEED as a two-headed monster that enjoys racing of all kinds on Friday through Sunday but changes into a poor imitation of the Discovery channel during the week. SPEED currently airs reruns of Pimp My Ride from MTV and Jacked from A&E. The weekday shows feature towing and several off-shoots of the PINKS franchise.

Perhaps establishing a NASCAR toehold at 7:30PM during the week will lead the network to consider extending Wind Tunnel to a Monday version or contracting with the NASCAR Media Group to create some more quality programming. SPEED rejected the Quest for the Cup series that is now seen on Versus Tuesday nights.

The NASCAR Now franchise will continue on ESPN with no issues. The company has built a strong set of field reporters to cover the sport away from the track and offers a tremendous set of preview and review shows on every Sprint Cup race day.

There is plenty of room in the sport for two shows. These two companies already co-exist at the track all season long and there is no reason to believe that will change. The sport is better served with diversity in the TV news department and this may just be just the trick to help the sport at a time when more media exposure is critical.

TDP will continue to offer updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to add your comments about this topic below. 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.