Friday, January 29, 2010

TV Week In Review: Showtime, HBO, JGR and Haiti

What a week of NASCAR TV news! Since we will all be watching sports car and NASCAR racing this weekend, the TDP week in review is up one day early.

We begin with recap of the changes coming to NASCAR TV this season. Kyle Petty in and Jimmy Spencer out at SPEED for RaceDay and Victory Lane. Michael Waltrip in and Kyle Petty out at Showtime for the new Inside NASCAR series. Click here to read all the details...

One tidbit added after that article was that Shannon Spake will be filling various roles for ESPN in addition to pit reporting. This includes hosting NASCAR Now, reporting stories for that show and offering content for SportsCenter and other ESPN programs. Veteran fans may remember Spake as hosting various shows for SPEED prior to her switch to ESPN.

This week TDP caved to the pressure and opened a fan page on Facebook. It turned out to be a blast! Currently, we have links up to view Jimmie Johnson's first HBO show online, pics of the new Nationwide Series cars and even a raging debate about the new Hooters sponsorship on SPEED. Click here to stop by!

SPEED entered the second week of the new Race Hub show even as NASCAR was still cracking down on what it called "negative reporting." Located right in NASCAR's backyard, SPEED is walking into a whole new challenge reporting weekday news on Monday through Thursday. Click here for an overview of those challenges.

From out of the blue, NASCAR used its own Media Group in partnership with SPEED to produce a moving and emotional Haiti Earthquake Relief special. Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Jamie McMurray hosted a program that used footage from many sources including Hendrick Motorsports. The result was fantastic.

Also working quite well was the first of a four episode special series on SPEED called JGR's Countdown to Daytona. Instead of dramatic hype, the program took a realistic look at the company as it moved toward the first race of the season. Footage from all kinds of sources blended well to produce a balanced hour show. Click here to read about the Haiti special and the JGR program.

Leave it to HBO to come out of the gate at full speed. The first episode of the four 24/7 programs featuring Jimmie Johnson aired on Wednesday. It treated Johnson as a millionaire professional athlete. It made no bones about what he does and why he does it. Ultimately, it put a very new and modern face on the sport at just the right time. Click here to see the episode online for free and leave a comment.

To wrap-up the week, our friends at Showtime dropped a little bomb. Fans had been advised that the Inside NASCAR series would be available for viewing online and via cell phone. We were told this by NASCAR's own TV folks. In discussing the specifics with Showtime, they were quite clear in saying as far as they were concerned, fans needed to subscribe to Showtime to see the program.

Showtime only has about 17 million subscribers, so perhaps letting the other 75 million cable homes see the show either with ads or for a nominal fee might be a good idea. Click here for a little review of the online bomb falling.

You can leave a comment at the bottom of any link by clicking on the comments button on that post. Please feel free to leave your comments on any of these topics right here as well. Thanks for taking Friday to look back so we can all finally watch some live racing this weekend. The TV schedule is on the right hand side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

I liked the Jimmie Johnson special. I especially liked seeing how hard the team works out during the week. I honestly had no idea they put that much into it. I also liked that they got Hollywood actor Liev Schrieber to narrate it -- his voice adds serious gravitas to just about everything ("For Chad Knaus, job security begins before dawn...")

The main thing I came away with was: I wonder how many other teams are watching this show, too, and thinking "man, maybe we better start doing some of that!"

Sparks said...

I too watched the HBO special on Jimmie Johnson and was amazed at what I learned from the program. I knew that Chandra was a model, but had no idea that she gave up a lucrative modeling career for JJ.

I was also struck by the loneliness of Knaus' life. The large house with huge garage, but no one but him shown in the house. He rides to the track alone, JJ states that he has only a couple of friends, the fact that he is admittedly a jerk that no one likes. He literally only has racing.

Finally, I enjoyed how they portrayed Hendrick Motorsports. At times I couldn't tell if I was looking at an investment banking group or a race shop.

I only have one question. With all of the racing shows and with SPEED, why did it take HBO to do a special like this?

GinaV24 said...

For those who may not remember it, Ray Evernham (Jeff Gordon's former crew chief) started that work ethic at Hendrick's. He was the first one to hire a pit crew coach and they worked out to get and stay in shape in order to be the best team out there. Chad was part of that effort in the early 1990's so he obviously took note and when given the chance continued that level of work to performance balance.

JohnP said...

Race Hub has the potential to rock Nascar Now to the foundation. Location is key to it's potential success.

I'm really tuned into this show. Still some work needed but Thursday night's show was great. So many Nascar personalities from all divisions showing up.

One suggestion, to make it look a little more comfortable for the guests, and the viewers. Try some stools instead of standing in a square like they did last night with there thumbs in there pockets. Small critism. I know.

Other then that, Wonderfull Show Speed.

As far as the Jimmy special. Good gosh, how much Jimmy Time do we need to hear about. During the Chase it's all ESPN covered. Learned more about him and the team then I ever wanted to hear. Chad Knaus was on tv programs all over the place last year. There is not a lot more to learn. He flooded the market last year. Boring.........

Donna DeBoer said...

At My Son the 48 Fan's urging, I watched JJ 24/7. Yeah, must admit, very slickly done and ya didn't *really* think Chad was going to let his secrets get photographed?! This show made Jimmie look both human and legend at the same time which I think was the goal. Nothing in it that I didn't already have awareness of, just kind of puzzled at the music choices- well, ok, Jimmie IS from CA so maybe- and here's the oddest thing... For years I've professionally hated Chad and liked Jimmie a lot. It's gonna take a lot to turn those opinions but from this production, ever so slightly, I find I have a bit more like for Chad, and a bit less like for Jimmie. So I guess I'll be looking at Ep 2, to see if that was an anomaly or not.

Waiting for production of Tony Stewart 24/7.

Let me make this clear: I'm NOT relying on Race Hub for daily news. They do a bit news blurb in the beginning and then get to team talking, which is what I want. I'm sure if there's a serious news item they'll discuss it, but I want their focus on talking to NASCAR teams, not news. I was THRILLED with the bit on short track mod racing last nite!! Thanks Bob D!!!
On the other hand, NASCAR Now and SPEED Report is where I want to get TV in depth news and discussion of it, because I've likely already got the days headlines from the internet.

bevo said...

The Jimmie Johnson 24/7 was a well produced show and a good introduction to non-NASCAR viewers. Found it funny that the scene of JJ "cutting loose" was him drinking a Bud Light with his wife listening to an guy playing an acoustic guitar.

The one thing that comes through loud and clear is that the Hendrick organization is as button-downed and structured as IBM used to be. Hard to imagine Jr ever really fitting in there.

GinaV24 said...

LOL -- after watching the JJ show, it made me think "Stepford drivers".

I've pretty much had all I want of the 48 phenomenon and thought it was boring, but then, he's NOT my favorite driver. If he is, I'm sure that all episodes will be watched with much interest.

Anonymous said...

I don't have HBO and didn't watch the free online special. I have seen enough of JJ to last me a lifetime. I don't have Showtime and won't subscribe to Showtime.

I've watched Race Hub a few times, but with them standing it seems they are ill at ease. I may watch it, or not. The programming for this year leaves a lot to be desired, and the fact that Nascar wants to increase our expenditures makes little sense. Can you say "kickback"?

rodney purvis said...

I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at his life. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and really easy to root for on the racetrack.

Sophia said...

watched JJ show online, well produced except for the music too loud over speaking at times and did not seem to fit (unless it was JJs fave tunes?? )

It was a slick show but not as much substance as I would've liked. Would've liked more than soundbites but it's the way of the world.

I DID love the glimps of kitchens of both Chad & JJ. LOVE white cabinets and the big working Islands. :) would've loved to see more of the homes and the environment (very dimly lit lighting for those kitchens scenes??) Maybe see the views from the grounds...but for outside, I realize that could be a privacy issue.

I can't believe to serve milk and cookies they had to use paper plates in an office like Hendrick's? They can't affford to re-use glasses/coffee cups to be more "green" :)

I took cookies to a friend today in his office & they use real coffee cups and he is not wealthy millionaire.

I wonder if Chad is just happy being a semi-recluse and devoted to his job...(Many people are, odd as that might seem) or is he a jerk outside of work. Many can be taskmasters on the job but once they are "off the clock" can let their hair down and be more normal.

I realize I won't get to see follow up shows, to see if they get more in DEPTH, as we don't get HBO!

Anonymous said...

This viewer thought the HBO show a complete dud.
Pandering, elementary and patronizing

Anonymous said...

I watched the JJ special because I already subscribe to HBO. It had the production values I expected from HBO - beautiful photography, dramatic narration, and dramatic background music. Recent fans of NASCAR may have seen material new to them; but to this veteran fan, the content was puff.

I much prefer stories on HBO's Inside Sports with Bryant Gumbel. That series consistently presents stories overlooked or ignored by most media. They are much more in-depth and present detailed information in context, and they put a very human face on the people in sports. In the JJ special, JJ and Chad looked more like androids in the service of Hendrick Motor Sports.

The show reminded me of a glossy sales brochure. There were lots of beautiful glossy pictures and very little useful information.

One of the generally accepted beliefs surrounding NASCAR is that HMS is a great place to work, and everybody wants to work there. I have no goals to work in the sport, but I always wondered about that perception. After watching the JJ special, I would run screaming into the night if I was told I had to work for HMS.

red said...

ok, i hadn't planned to watch the showtime piece on the 48 team but it's freakin' freezing in philly & i had to kill some time until a meeting so . . .

i have great respect for the 48 team and everything they've accomplished but i wasn't particularly interested in "meeting" the team yet this 28 minutes changed that for me. yes, i know there was overkill last season but i don't blame the team for that. yes, i'd read about the "milk and cookies" meeting but somehow, hearing knaus & johnson talk about explained a whole lot about their relationship to me. seeing jimmie as a husband, not a racer, was great. listening to knaus candidly discussing his attitude toward his job, without apology, without martyrdom, was revealing. watching how the entire organization demands that everyone work toward perfection is enlightening.

production value was topnotch & i have no issue with the music choices or volume. voiceover choice was brilliant. i won't subscribe to showtime in order to watch subsequent episodes but that's simply a financial decision, nothing more. overall, i felt it was an interesting episode and can easily see it drawing new viewers to the daytona broadcast in a few weeks. and THAT'S good for our sport.

Anonymous said...

I caught the JJ 24/7 special on It was just 1/2 hr and said we could watch part 2 next week. Was this a 1 hour special that they divided in 2 for on-line purposes?

Anyway, thanks to HBO/Showtime/Turner for working this out. You went the extra mile making this available for us. Thanks for listening!
- RAEckart -