Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Rain moved the race back to Monday, so things changed a bit on TV. Chris Myers and the Hollywood Hotel stayed, so the telecast began with a brief reset.
Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip called the action. Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Dick Berggren reported from pit road.
The race was not interrupted by rain. The technical portion of the telecast was without problems. The race coverage ended before the scheduled "off time." All the FOX local stations joined on time and there were no problems reported.
There were lots of comments flying about the pictures selected by the Director and the comments provided by the upstairs announcers. This is a long, grinding race and requires a lot of effort to keep the excitement level high.
This is your opportunity to let us know what you thought of the NASCAR on FOX coverage immediately after the race is over. To add your personal wrap-up of the race, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The rain has stopped, the track is dry and NASCAR is ready to try and get to halfway. FOX will be on the air from Martinsville, VA with the Sprint Cup Series at 12PM ET.
FOX has told us that they have kept the Hollywood Hotel at the track. This is perhaps due to the off-week coming up. Normally, this set is off and rolling to the next destination when a race is delayed.
Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond are going to open the show. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will be calling the action. On pit road are Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren.
The sky is partly cloudy and NASCAR has announced that there will be a competition caution at lap 50. The track will be green and abrasive, so tire wear early on is going to be an issue.
The short and relatively slow laps at Martinsville can be a TV challenge. Changing camera shots and alternating views of the endless laps is the only thing that works from a TV perspective. In-car cams are tough with the short straights and quick corners.
We are going to use this post to host your comments on the live FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from Martinsville. To add your TV-related opnion, 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.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Update: NASCAR has postponed the Sprint Cup Series race until Monday at Noon ET. FOX will carry the TV, MRN the radio.
The rain is falling and everyone is hoping that the Sprint Cup Series race from Martinsville can run today. That is especially true for the NASCAR on FOX gang. The local FOX TV stations are not looking forward to dealing with a Monday morning race.
Chris Myers will start the coverage at 12PM from the Hollywood Hotel. That facility might get quite a workout today. Myers will be joined by Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond. The unfocused nature of the pre-race show continues to amaze.
Waltrip joins Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds in the booth to call the race. On pit road are Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum.
Weather may change a lot of the TV stories today. Drivers may well believe they are racing to halfway and that will change a lot of the race strategy. Pictures at Martinsville are best from the low angle. The backstretch cam showing the cars racing straight at the camera might be the most dynamic camera placement.
Pitstops are always a story and tough to cover. The long pit road makes incidents almost commonplace when pitting under caution. Staying wide to offer perspective on the race off pit road is important.
Mike Joy has been battling Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds over the issue of who should be talking while the cars are racing. The answer is Mike Joy. This seasoned professional works best when he can call the action and then mix his two analysts into the broadcast. Joy needs control and right now, he does not have it.
So, the big stories are weather and the race to halfway. A sidebar is what a possible postponement to Monday might mean to Denny Hamlin's knee surgery.
This will be your opportunity to offer your opinion during the live race telecast. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly telecast, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Here come the trucks again and this time the racing will be more about beating and banging than aero push and drafting. Saturday afternoon, the Camping World Trucks will be running at the bullring in Martinsville, VA. The ultimate payback track.
Krista Voda starts the coverage at 1:30PM with The Setup. Pit reporters Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander provide the interviews. There are some new faces, some Cup Series cross-over drivers and several good storylines unfolding in this series.
Rick Allen comes along at 2PM to call the race. As usual, he will have Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip alongside. It's been an interesting couple of weeks for these two gentlemen, especially where their shared Sprint Cup Series ownership interests are concerned. Waltrip even started and parked one of Parsons' Cup cars in Bristol last week.
Waltrip suggests that spending the weekend with the Parsons crew allowed him to prepare better for Talladega, where he will be racing Parsons' car for the entire event. Money is doing a lot of talking in the sport where these two are concerned.
The trucks need a solid show of good racing to get the series back into the TV highlights and return it to the popularity of 2009. The CWTS schedule for this season leaves a lot to be desired during this early stretch.
The familiar CWTS production team from SPEED is handling this event. That should result in some old school NASCAR TV and get away from what FOX has been offering. Following the leader and overusing in-car cameras has made the Cup Series tough to watch at times this year. SPEED follows the stories, shows the racing and lets the pit reporters provide a lot of information.
Rain washed out much of Friday's activity, including the CWTS qualifying. We will provide updates on this post and on Twitter about the weather during the morning hours. Larry McReynolds, amateur meteorologist, said the rain would clear out well before the truck race.
The big twist on Saturday is the low-key introduction of TruckBuddy. The folks at Turner Interactive, through the NASCAR.com website, are offering the CWTS version of RaceBuddy. Click here for the direct link to the page.
Although slightly smaller and with a few less features, having an online application like this for the race is a big step in the right direction. Letting fans get involved in picking video streams and choosing cameras while watching the race on SPEED is the wave of the future.
Hopefully, the success of this TruckBuddy experiment may lead to the application being sponsored and rolled-out again this season. Dodge is using the Ram brand to pay the bill and let users have TruckBuddy for free on Saturday. Nice move.
Let's use this post to get your comments before, during and after the CWTS race from Martinsville. 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!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Martinsville is a FOX and SPEED weekend. The Camping World Trucks run on SPEED Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series airs live Sunday on FOX. That leaves all day Friday and Saturday morning for SPEED to cover practice and qualifying sessions for both series.
Bridging the gaps in this part of the weekend schedule is a show called NASCAR Live. Originally, it was just host John Roberts sitting alone on the SPEED Stage with two roving reporters combing through the garage for interviews and news. Now, it seems that things have changed.
Once again this weekend, the Friday and Saturday editions of this program will be a little larger. Roberts will be joined on the SPEED Stage by Hermie Sadler and Jimmy Spencer. If you squint your eyes a bit, it kind of looks like the RaceDay line-up.
NASCAR Live will be helped by Bob Dillner and Randy Pemberton reporting from the garage areas. In addition, Steve Byrnes will be sitting-in for Roberts on several of the live programs. Roberts has a little two-hour show called RaceDay to prepare for on Sunday morning.
Over the past several years, Roberts has been clutch in his ability to flex this program with what was actually happening at the track and on TV. He has been sitting in the rain, dealing with TV technical problems and and frying in the summer heat while bridging the gap between live sessions on the track.
SPEED is being very smart in ramping-up these programs and trying to bring a top notch level of coverage across the board. The NASCAR on FOX announce team of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds handles all the Sprint Cup Series activity. Meanwhile, SPEED's Camping World Truck Series team of Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons covers the truck sessions.
Since Spencer was removed from the RaceDay and Victory Lane programs, he has been pushed into an off-balance thirty minute rant and rave show called What's the Deal? Click here to review the recent TDP column where we asked why Mr. Excitement had been buried after line dancing cowboys and a meatball making chef.
Spencer was also on NASCAR Live last week in Bristol. His appearances made one thing very clear. He still does not get it. TV needs Spencer to address an issue, stick to that issue and then be quiet. Adding Sadler to the panel means that there will also be another viewpoint represented and that is very healthy.
Just when Roberts had gotten used to looking over and seeing Kyle Petty, he now gets to see Spencer once again. Both Roberts and Byrnes get the challenge of seeing just what Spencer can bring to this program which was already going quite well with Sadler flying solo.
So, in between sessions on the track, make sure and keep an eye on the new line-up of NASCAR Live. The complete Friday and Saturday NASCAR TV schedule is on the right side of the TDP homepage.
We will use this post to offer comments on all the Friday TV on SPEED from Martinsville. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Sometimes, comments are moderated before being posted. Thanks for dropping by The Daly Planet.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
We have been moaning a lot this season about the fact that the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series have no online video applications. Last summer, RaceBuddy from TNT was tons of fun and injected a brand new user experience into NASCAR racing.
Although the folks from Turner Interactive said they were talking with FOX and ESPN, only SPEED has made a move to increase the online interactivity for the fans. The formal announcement is expected on Thursday, but the CWTS version of RaceBuddy will be called TruckBuddy and debut at Martinsville.
The link for TruckBuddy can be directly accessed by clicking here. The NASCAR.com website, which is owned and run by Turner, is the launching pad for all of the online NASCAR applications. These folks have come a long way, but it is a shame that things are progressing so slowly with this technology.
The TruckBuddy application will have four live race video streams, a dedicated backstretch camera, two in-truck cameras and one pit road cam. It will also feature the ability to chat live using several different social media applications including Facebook and Twitter.
NASCAR fans are notorious multi-taskers. At the track, team radio scanners and Sprint Fan Viewers are all over the place. Fans are using cell phones to take pictures and people are texting and tweeting before, during and after the race. We like to communicate!
The RaceBuddy application has some more gizmos attached like a battle cam for the best racing on the track and several team audio links, but for the truck series and Martinsville, this is a solid start.
It should be interesting to see if veteran tweeter Michael Waltrip joins the TruckBuddy conversation on Twitter from his perch in the TV announce booth for SPEED. Other announcers on the team like Krista Voda and Adam Alexander are still getting the hang of using Twitter as an easy way to communicate directly with the fans.
The only downside of this project is that for right now TruckBuddy is a one race deal. Hopefully, some good fan feedback and strong use of the program during the race will help SPEED, Turner and the sponsor Dodge to add more races down the road.
TNT has already committed to bringing RaceBuddy back for the six race summer package. This was a huge hit, especially when TNT added a dedicated pit reporter and began to figure out that many NASCAR fans already watched the race while online.
It is ESPN that really needs to look into RaceBuddy. They have the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races and having all these bells and whistles for viewers to play with is only going to strengthen the ratings. No one turns off the TV with RaceBuddy. It simply is an addition to the television experience.
Thanks to Dodge for using their Ram brand to sponsor TruckBuddy this Saturday and keep it free for all fans. That is the best part of the experience. There is nothing to pay, nothing to join and no big program to download. The official news release from Turner and NASCAR.com will come out Thursday, so we will attach it to this story so everyone can see the details.
Are you one of the fans that will try TruckBuddy? Do you already multi-task online during the races? Maybe you could tell us what you would like to see added to this online application for the summer Cup races and beyond? Take a moment and leave us an opinion.
To add your comment, 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 entire NASCAR TV schedule for the weekend is posted on the TDP homepage.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Wednesday at 10PM is the weekly original airing of Showtime's Inside NASCAR series. It's getting pretty good reviews from the folks who watch it. The very small number of folks who watch it.
Showtime is a premium cable TV network that uses monthly fees from subscribers to make ends meet. Recent changes in senior management brought some new sports series to Showtime. Inside the NFL and Inside NASCAR run back-to-back on Wednesday nights.
The current reach of Showtime is small. Only 17 million of the more than 85 million cable TV homes in the US subscribe to the service. The new thrust of the company is to offer original scripted entertainment series, often featuring familiar names in the title roles. Its seems many former TV and movie personalities have found that Showtime is a pretty nice day job.
All sports TV series have what is called "legs." That is the window in which a program can air. Inside NASCAR is a midweek talk show that can be repeated right up until the next green flag waves. It has "legs" until the next race.
To that end, there is an opportunity coming up for most fans to take a peek for free at what Showtime if offering. Here are the official details from the network:
This weekend, SHOWTIME will be available in a record 54.4 million households for an ALL ACCESS Free Preview Weekend on SHOWTIME, SHOWTIME HD and SHOWTIME On Demand. From Thursday, March 25 through Sunday, March 28, viewers across the country will have the opportunity to sample the premium network's award-winning programming via linear service, On Demand and in HD.
Basically, Showtime is throwing open the doors for a couple of days. Inside NASCAR re-airs in my local listings here in South Florida on Sunday morning at 9AM. You can check the local listings in your area using your on-screen program guide or websites like zap2it.com or AOL's TV site.
For those viewers whose cable service has a good offering of Video on Demand (VOD) channels, then Inside NASCAR should be available on the Showtime on Demand channel.
Chris Myers from FOX hosts the program with his panel consisting of Brad Daugherty, Michael Waltrip and Randy Pemberton. This is an interesting mix of personalities. ESPN fans may remember Myers as hosting a very successful afternoon interview show called Up Close in the 1990's.
Daugherty has struggled on ESPN as the network continues to keep him pinned in the Infield Pit Studio. He is not allowed to do interviews, never reports and his only features have been sponsor-driven. Inside NASCAR lets Daugherty speak-up and finally reveal some of his personality.
Michael Waltrip is not the star of this show. His goofy antics that help kill This Week in NASCAR on SPEED are not tolerated by Myers or the producers. On Inside NASCAR, Waltrip is asked to dress and behave like an adult.
Randy Pemberton is one of the best comeback stories in years. Overcoming personal adversity, Pemberton worked his way into a role on SPEED and has parlayed that hard work into a slot on Inside NASCAR. Pemberton goes all the way back on TV to Inside Winston Cup Racing on TNN. The host was Ned Jarrett and the other reporter working with Pemberton was a guy named Bill Weber.
I have very mixed feelings about Inside NASCAR. On one hand, it's great that Showtime paid the bill and the show is being produced. On the other hand, it's sad that so few people see it. Currently, there is no other option but to subscribe to Showtime to get the program.
Perhaps, having NASCAR fans view the series this weekend will get some momentum going toward creating a middle ground. It would be great to offer this one hour of content per week in some other way than just subscribing monthly to a network that offers a lot of adult-themed content. That is just not everyone's cup of tea.
Try to catch Inside NASCAR during this free preview weekend and we will discuss early next week how you liked it. The series also has a Facebook page and is on Twitter at @InsideNASCARSHO.
If you have already been watching the series, give us some comments and tips about what to expect. This should make for a fun weekend project. To add a comment, 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 drop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The crowds are always great. The fans are always colorful. The guests are better than ever. The panelists are NASCAR all-stars. The resulting TV show is a mess.
Trackside on SPEED is a one-hour program that wraps-up a long day at the track. Steve Byrnes hosts with Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond as his panelists. The program features two guests who answer questions and offer comments on NASCAR topics. The formula has been around for a very long time.
During this part of the season, all four men on the show are also on the air during the day. Waltrip and McReynolds handle the Cup telecasts with Mike Joy. Byrnes and Hammond work on the Nationwide Series coverage. By the time Trackside rolls around, it seems there are often some rather exhausted guys trying to get themselves through a final hour of TV.
Trackside was the source of a tremendous amount of email, comments and tweets recently after an appearance by Danica Patrick. Instead of treating her like another veteran driver, Waltrip turned into a swooning teenager. Byrnes did his best to control him with Patrick eventually changing seats to move away from Waltrip. Hammond could later be seen sitting next to Waltrip and telling him to be quiet. It was all very strange.
Last weekend, Carl Edwards was suddenly added as a "special first guest" on Friday's Trackside. Kyle Busch and NASCAR legend David Pearson were originally scheduled. Edwards touched all the political bases he had already run earlier in the week with the media. His appearance was never explained, Brad Keselowski was not on the show and nothing new was said.
Kyle Busch arrived only to begin by hawking his own line of sunglasses. Byrnes tried to steer things in the right direction, but sometimes Waltrip seems to believe that he is the star of this show and not just a panelist. Waltrip now speaks overtop of the host regularly and that is tough to watch. Byrnes is a patient man.
Once he settled down, Busch handled himself quite well and spoke about topics that would not otherwise be discussed on TV. That is the point of Trackside. Showing fans and TV viewers another side of NASCAR personalities. On this Friday, however, it came with a price.
David Pearson, the Silver Fox, was on the set and ready to go. Pearson was in Bristol to participate in a Legends charity race. After the Edwards public relations interview and the Busch sunglasses promotion, Trackside had five minutes for Pearson. SPEED slightly extended the program time and Pearson got out some classic one-liners, but ultimately he got the short end of the stick.
These days, fans rarely see or hear from the legends of the sport. Trackside had a perfect opportunity to let Pearson show the rough and tumble background of NASCAR through his personality and comments. It never happened.
Trackside changes when Waltrip is present during the FOX portion of the season. His on-air antics are increasing and his disrespect of his fellow panelists and the host are tiring. Byrnes, Hammond and McReynolds are often interrupted by Waltrip. It is a credit to their professionalism every time they calmly wait out another outburst from "Ole DW."
Monday, Waltrip's famous #11 car was unveiled as being in the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. Waltrip was there and looked like he belonged. He gave good interviews and reflected on the sport from his veteran perspective. That is the Darrell Waltrip that needs to show-up on Trackside next week.
Where do you come down on Trackside? Add your opinion by clicking 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.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
This is your chance to offer a review of the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Chris Myers started the program from the Hollywood Hotel with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond. The "Slice of Pizzi" guest this week was Kyle Busch.
Mike Joy called the race with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds in the booth. Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren were the pit reporters.
This race was hounded by rain in the area that resulted in several caution periods. There were no technical problems with the TV coverage. Unfortunately, the team scanner audio offered by NASCAR.com had problems on Trackpass and Raceview.
Bristol continued to offer side-by-side racing despite the changes to the track. Several accidents and tire troubles affected some top teams.
After each Sprint Cup Series race, we offer this post to allow for comments immediately after the event is over. We are looking for your evaluation of how the race was delivered to you by FOX. This is one of the most widely read posts on TDP.
As always, this is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. We appreciate you taking the time to stop by and offer your opinion on this topic.
NASCAR on FOX returns after a two week break with live coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Chris Myers will start the day from the Hollywood Hotel with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond. This pre-race show has been all over the map this season. NASCAR interviews and features are mixed with comedy bits and what FOX considers entertainment.
Mike Joy will handle the call of the race with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds alongside. Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Dick Berggren will be the pit road reporters.
The TV challenge at Bristol revolves around two issues. The first is keeping the viewers informed of all the changes in position. One green flag pitstop will put a car a lap down at least. One jam-up behind a slow car can cause five or more lead lap positions to be shuffled.
The second issue is the TV images chosen by the director. This track is tiny. Putting a full field out under green flag conditions means cars are racing almost all the way around the track. Making a decision to only show two cars racing or using the in-car cameras live means eliminating a lot of the action.
The fundamental job of covering NASCAR live on TV is to show the folks at home what the fans in the stands are watching. By purposefully punching buttons and using equipment just because it's there, a big chunk of what happens on the track is never seen.
During the practice sessions, the FOX production team used the in-car cameras extensively. This may or may not be a hint at what is in store for today. When BMS was a single groove, it was easy for the cameras to follow the double-wide action into the corners knowing there would be trouble.
These days, BMS is a completely different animal. Two-wide racing is the norm and the TV team is searching for passing all over the track. It should be interesting to watch the way that the NASCAR on FOX team chooses to tell the stories.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Sprint Cup Series race from BMS on FOX. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you as always for taking the time to stop by.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
This is one of those weekends where the ESPN family of networks has been busy with other programming. It has been SPEED handling all the on-track Nationwide Series activities this weekend.
That changes for the race as ABC begins coverage with NASCAR Countdown at 2PM. It will be Allen Bestwick hosting from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty alongside. The pre-race show is only thirty minutes long.
It will be Marty Reid calling the race itself with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth. Reid has been bringing out the best in his two analysts and Bristol is a track that lends itself to a lot of excitement.
On pit road will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch, Jamie Little and Dave Burns. Punch has been an incredible bonus for this team as he continues to raise the bar for pit reporting. Gone are the "how does that make you feel" questions. That has made a big difference.
Bristol poses unique challenges for both the producer and director. Fast laps on a small track make it impossible to cut live to in-car cameras. Wideshots that keep an eye on one big clump of cars are usually the order of the day. Telling the stories unfolding throughout the field requires a lot of coordination in the TV truck.
While there are usually frequent cautions, green flag pitstops can put cars laps down quickly and jumble the entire field. Race resets and through the field updates are going to play a major role.
Reid continues to set the tone in dealing with start and park cars. He calls them out as they leave the track and speaks honestly about why they left. Giving the TV viewers information about what is actually happening at the track is a great philosophy to follow.
The telecast is schedule to run until 5P ET. A check of the weather reveals a high of 70 degrees with no chance of rain at race time.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Nationwide Series race from the Bristol Motor Speedway on ABC. To add your TV-related comment, 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.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Most fans remember how the NFL thumped NASCAR last year when football season began. Friday, NASCAR opens up after a two week break and goes head-to-head with the powerhouse NCAA basketball tournament on CBS.
SPEED is handling the Friday TV from the Bristol Motor Speedway and it will be Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds opening the day at 12PM ET with Sprint Cup Series practice. Over on CBS, it will be Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis hosting the coverage that also begins at noon. Those three are pictured above.
ESPN2's NASCAR Now Friday edition hosted by Nicole Briscoe was bumped back to 8:30PM ET because of the NIT college basketball scheduled on that network. Marty Smith and Mike Massaro will be reporting from Bristol, TN.
That leaves SPEED to go it alone through Sprint Cup Series practice, two sessions of Nationwide Series practice and Sprint Cup Series qualifying. At 6PM, host John Roberts welcomes Jimmy Spencer to the SPEED Stage along with Randy Pemberton for the NASCAR Live program. Hermie Sadler and Bob Dillner will be reporting.
Perhaps the most interesting match-up will be at 7PM. CBS has a choice of four games to distribute from four nationwide venues that feature Duke, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Florida State.
Meanwhile, SPEED's Trackside gang counters with Bristol guests David Pearson and Kyle Busch. Pearson has been quite memorable his last few times on TV with his opinions on topics from the COT to the behavior of the new breed of drivers. Kyle Busch and his fiance have been very busy connecting with fans directly on Twitter. It should be interesting to see what Busch has to say about his first social media experience.
This is another all-day affair for SPEED. The network has really grown nicely into the host role. Regardless of the fact that SPEED is not televising either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series races, the entire TV team seems to work very hard to make practice and qualifying sessions meaningful to viewers and fans.
How about leaving us a comment on how much TV you will be watching on Friday and whether you are going to choose basketball over NASCAR? As the Friday coverage moves on, we will also use this post for your comments about SPEED's telecasts from Bristol.
Inside NASCAR airs at 10PM ET on Wednesday night. We are trying to get it distributed on a wider basis. We welcome your comments on this issue.
What is worse than producing a bad TV series that everyone watches? The answer is producing a great TV series that no one watches. Welcome to Inside NASCAR on Showtime.
This series is the showpiece of the NASCAR Media Group's new downtown Charlotte, NC facility. A new studio set, control room and offices are all dedicated to this project that has a multi-year contract. Inside NASCAR is going to be around for a while.
Chris Myers hosts Inside NASCAR on Wednesdays at 10PM with Brad Daugherty, Michael Waltrip and Randy Pemberton as the panelists. Myers recently gave up his fulltime Fox Radio slot because of this commitment. Click here for those details.
Recently, I was asked in an interview on The Race Reporters about the current health of Inside NASCAR. You can click here to listen.
My response was simple mathematics. If you put 95 people in a room but only show 17 of them a TV program, what do you expect? The program can be fantastic, but effective distribution is a key element of any TV project. There are approximately 95 million cable TV homes in North America. Showtime is only in 17 million of them.
Click here to see a short clip of Inside NASCAR. It has proven to be a quality show with solid production and a great mix of personalities.
A key component of the original deal between the NASCAR Media Group and Showtime was meant to solve the distribution problem. It seemed to be a perfect solution. Maybe, it was too perfect.
This is an excerpt from reporter Michael Smith's January 2010 story for the Sports Business Journal:
Showtime's new weekly Inside NASCAR show will be available via the Internet and mobile phone, which required clearance from NASCAR's rights holders in that space.
NASCAR Media Group, which manages those multimedia rights, had to clear the broadcast of Inside NASCAR with its TV, web and mobile partners before giving final approval for the new show.
Inside NASCAR will be available on Showtime’s Web site, Sho.com. Plans for the show’s mobile distribution are being formalized, but NASCAR Media Group COO Jay Abraham said the show will be available in its entirety on mobile handsets.
So, the idea was to bridge the gap between relatively small amount of Showtime subscribers and the relatively large number of NASCAR fans by making the entire series available online. Unfortunately, Showtime had other ideas.
In an email to TDP, Showtime said the company never posts complete episodes of programs online for regular viewing. The email also confirmed there is no cell phone outlet for Showtime programs. That includes Inside NASCAR.
So, the only way to see Inside NASCAR is to subscribe to Showtime. That is a tough sell. There are few sports-related programs on the premium network, which is clearly oriented toward adult entertainment. For the time being, Inside NASCAR is playing to a small slice of Showtime's already small TV universe.
Despite the reality that Showtime paid the bill and therefore can control the content, the shame in this equation is that many NASCAR fans are missing a high quality mid-week TV show that really fills a need. With the demise of This Week in NASCAR on SPEED, primetime on weekdays is lacking a program of this type.
Maybe with the continuing success of the series, Showtime and the NASCAR Media Group can revisit some ideas for broader distribution of the program to better serve the fans and the sport.
We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
One year ago at this time, Jimmy Spencer was busy. Two hours of RaceDay and one hour of Victory Lane put him front-and-center on SPEED each NASCAR weekend. When the Chase for the Championship rolled around, Spencer was added as a panelist on This Week in NASCAR.
These days he inhabits thirty minutes late on Monday night after an amateur talent show and a NASCAR cooking program. Spencer's outspoken style was once something that SPEED exploited to get the network recognition. Now, after line dancing and hamburgers, he is buried in obscurity.
What's the Deal? is the title of Spencer's new show at 10:30PM on Mondays. Ray Dunlap sits with Spencer in what is supposed to be a replica of the Spencer family auto salvage business in Berwick, PA. That's right, Spencer sits in a junkyard.
That irony is not lost when discussing a man who literally fought his way up through the Modified division and represented in NASCAR the hard-nosed competitor ready to mix it up on and off the track. Like it or not, you always knew what you were going to get when Jimmy Spencer opened his mouth.
There was a time when SPEED could not get enough of that. Spencer used the two hour RaceDay program to pontificate, debate and aggravate. Sometimes, it appeared that Spencer was on target and good for the sport. In other moments, his personal insults and poorly expressed opinions reflected a time gone by. In many ways, the network grew up and Spencer did not.
When SPEED had another option, it made the switch. After appearing in Daytona, Spencer has been absent from SPEED programs except his own. He does not even appear on Race Hub, the network's weekday news and interview show.
The last episode of What's the Deal? aired after the Atlanta weekend. Dunlap offered Spencer an opportunity to speak on the Carl Edwards vs. Brad Keselowski issue.
"I'm going to explain this to you fans," said Spencer. "If he (Edwards) waits six weeks to do it, there is no benefit to it. Do it when it's fresh in his mind. You take him (Keselowski) out of a good run and you know what? The kid learned a valuable lesson. He will respect everybody in the garage area a whole lot more. Thanks, Carl."
"At the end of the day, this hit every national paper and the Internet," Spencer continued. "It's the story. It's what NASCAR needed. It's what Brian France intended the sport to do. At the end of the day, this is good for our sport."
That is the kind of frank talk TV viewers used to hear on RaceDay. Dunlap is clearly not a Spencer fan and appears to hate every moment of the programs. In the first show, Dunlap introduced Spencer as a curmudgeon. He then added that others call Spencer a windbag, sourpuss and blowhard. That set an interesting tone.
The television show itself is a mix of mockery and patience. Spencer is made to look the fool and allowed to fill thirty minutes with unstructured rants. Baited by Dunlap, Spencer "goes off" so frequently that it loses the effect. Dunlap sits patiently waiting for Spencer to finish before tossing the dog the next bone.
In the age of social media, the series falls far behind when trying to interact with fans. Reading a handful of emails is ridiculous. As we related in an earlier article, this program needs a Twitter account and a Facebook page yesterday. Spencer needs to chat live at the SPEED website and give the audience an online destination to call home.
The Bristol weekend should result in some interesting storylines. By Monday night, fans will have been offered The SPEED Report, Victory Lane, Wind Tunnel, NASCAR Now and Race Hub.
Spencer faces an uphill battle to capture even a slice of the NASCAR TV audience at an odd hour on a confusing night of programming. It should be interesting to see if SPEED makes changes to the series or continues to let Mr. Excitement slowly fade into the background.
We welcome your comments on this topic. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Michael Knight's Race Reporters show got a visit from someone to talk about NASCAR TV. That someone would be me. This is my second visit to this show. Steve Byrnes from SPEED and FOX is also a guest.
This is an Internet radio broadcast, so you can listen anytime by clicking right here. Just cancel any login box that might pop-up. Knight has a long and diverse history in the motorsports media and PR business. He has a habit of pushing tough issues and I certainly like that.
Steve Byrnes has an excellent interview in the beginning of the show where he touched on many of the NASCAR topics in the news. I was lucky enough to be the Newsmaker interview. We covered NASCAR on Fox, The Edwards vs. Keselowski incident, Darrell Waltrip, Danica Patrick, new SPEED shows and plenty of other media-related issues.
Hope you might listen sometime and give us a follow-up comment on the topics we discussed. Just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
There have been stories published, radio interviews done and lots of TV shows produced since the Edwards vs. Keselowski incident Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Tuesday, NASCAR announced the penalty for Edwards. As many predicted, Edwards was simply put on probation with no other sanctions.
Amid the debate about penalties, there seems to be something missing. TV viewers saw Carl Edwards speaking after the first incident early in the Atlanta race. Initially upset with Keselowski, Edwards changed moods quickly after being shown a replay of the incident. The TV screen told the tale.
These words were broadcast into millions of homes across the nation. "It looked like it wasn't as malicious as I thought," said Edwards on camera. "We both had a part in it and it’s not his fault," Edwards later added from the garage. When FOX viewers last saw Edwards, he had taken responsibility for his own involvement.
Eventually, the story of the race began to unfold. Topics like tire issues, Junior struggling and Montoya surging were the focus of the telecast. The normal scenario of crucial pitstops, tire decisions and race strategy was being played out. Goodyear seemed to be having a problem, but that was not the TV reality. There were other things being discussed.
Carl Edwards was not one of those other things. He was not even a blip on the TV radar. As a team running for points, it was assumed his car was being repaired in the garage. His story was not updated because the action on the track was outstanding.
Even after the NASCAR on FOX team gasped as one and then showed us pictures of the crumpled red car, Edwards was not in the scenario. It was only when the TV replays began that the true picture of what happened was revealed. The next time viewers heard from Edwards he was humming a very different tune.
"At the end of the day, Brad and I have had a lot of things go on," said Edwards to ESPN. "That was pretty wild. No one could have predicted that, but I think we probably won't have as many run-ins now as we have had in the past and that's a good thing. Both of us will probably be better off."
Edwards comments to FOX, ESPN and SPEED after the accident were repeated many times on NASCAR-related shows. His comments that he was partially to blame for the original incident were never repeated. The focus of the media, especially TV, was the accident and the aftermath.
So, what happened to Edwards between the time he took personal responsibility for the original accident and his return to the track? What happened that changed this person from someone almost embarrassed about the situation to an avenging angel representing personal justice?
No one seems to be able to fill in this time gap. Did Edwards become more and more enraged in his own motorhome? Did he meet with his crew chief and/or owner? Who or what were the influences that caused this dramatic and significant change? If this was a group decision, then maybe Jack Roush should speak up.
Asking the TV audience and NASCAR fans to believe that this was single-handedly an Edwards idea is ridiculous. Did his crew return to pit road to watch him take-out Keselowski? Did his crew chief return to the pit box? Did his spotter help him find the offending car on the track? The NASCAR Media Group seems to have audio from everyone behind the scenes. We will be hearing the Edwards team dial him in for the kill?
Tuesday evening on SPEED's Race Hub, Jeff Hammond offered the following into the mindset of Edwards.
"I talked to Carl about it," said Hammond. "He felt like Brad Keselowski had run into him four times, two of those times Brad went to Victory Lane. He said it needed to stop here at Atlanta and he went out and let Brad know that I'm done, it's over with now and we are even."
That certainly is not what Edwards told FOX and other TV outlets as he walked away after seeing the original accident. What really brought this All-American boy back to the track to end the top ten run of a Penske team with only a few laps left in the event? Rage? Politics? Public Relations?
Despite the fact that the penalty has been announced and most of the media have moved on, perhaps someday the truth about what really happened between the original incident and the payback heard around the world will be revealed.
TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when hosting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Early in the NASCAR on FOX telecast from Atlanta, Carl Edwards appeared on camera. After contact with Brad Keselowski, Edwards was clearly upset. The FOX team then showed Edwards a replay of the incident. Edwards admitted the video showed something different than he had first believed. Perhaps, he was also at fault.
"It looked like it wasn't as malicious as I thought," said Edwards. Television had apparently played a key role in straightening out a problem before it got worse. Unfortunately, nothing could have been further from the truth.
The NASCAR on FOX team did not report that Edwards had returned to the track to hunt Keselowski. They never showed Edwards as he chased Keselowski and repeatedly tried to spin him out. Instead, TV viewers saw the crumpled red car and then learned of the grim details through video replays.
Edwards was parked and Keselowski was alive. Edwards made his statement to pit reporter Dick Berggren who simply asked if he did it on purpose. The answer was a complete contradiction to the comments Edwards made earlier after being shown the first replay. Berggren never followed-up.
Brad Keselowski spoke carefully to pit reporter Krista Voda after being released from the Infield Care Center. He looked and sounded a lot more like a level-headed veteran driver than a hot-headed rookie with issues. He also said that Edwards had turned down on him earlier and told Voda that policing the sport was up to NASCAR.
After the race, Edwards did not appear on SportsCenter, SPEED's Victory Lane or NASCAR radio. He took his carefully crafted message directly to his fan base. Edwards ran to his Facebook page and posted the following message:
My options: Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyones safety or hard work, should I: A-Keep letting him wreck me? B-Confront him after the race? C-Wait til Bristol and collect other cars? or D-Take care of it now? I want to be clear that I was surprised at his flight and very relieved when he walked away. Every person has to decide what code they want to live by and hopefully this explains mine.
Edwards has almost 70 thousand fans registered on his Facebook fan page. Click here for the direct link. What better crowd to address than those who are already fans?
By Monday night, Edwards was heading for 6 thousand comments on his post. Most of the comments addressed Edwards personally, assuming that he was going to read them. As with any fanbase, they were generally supportive with words like payback and punk used a lot. Any way you slice it, Edwards had taken a stand and brought his post-accident message directly to his own fans.
All eyes are now on NASCAR, as Tuesday is normally the day that the sanctioning body announces penalties and generally clears the air from the previous weekend. In the past, NASCAR has issued statements and distributed through their Internet media site the specifics of penalties. This week will bring a change.
Beginning this week and continuing every Tuesday after a Sprint Cup Series race weekend, a NASCAR representative will appear on SPEED's Race Hub program. Perhaps, NASCAR is finally understanding that getting the message out in today's media environment means more than just a press release.
Race Hub is a Monday through Thursday show at 7:30PM that generally works to promote the sport with some interviews and opinions mixed-in. Both FOX and SPEED analysts appear on the show to address various topics, but the show is generally focused on having a variety of NASCAR personalities as studio guests.
Slowly, Race Hub has begun to add regular weekly features. Having a personality like Robin Pemberton, John Darby or Mike Helton in the studio will certainly help sort-out the issues from the weekend. Having one of them appear every Tuesday will do a lot more than that for both Race Hub and SPEED.
Race Hub airs Tuesday at 7:30PM ET and re-airs at 11:30PM ET/9:30PM Pacific.
We will use this post for your comments on the Race Hub Series in general and the addition of a NASCAR visit on Tuesdays. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Monday, March 8, 2010
FOX continued Sprint Cup Series coverage with the race from Atlanta. Coverage began at 12PM ET.
Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond started the pre-race show from the Hollywood Hotel. The pre-race show had several features including an interview conducted by Waltrip. The Slice of Pizzi feature had Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the guest.
Waltrip joined Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds in the booth to call the race. On pit road was Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren.
Digger popped back up this week early on in the race with animation and then faded before the halfway point. In-car camera use was again a big topic as was the tight shots of two cars that seemed to dominate the coverage at times.
Pictured above is Joey Logano's tire that was just one of the many tire issues in the event. FOX originally blamed the problems on the camber of the wheels being used and then continued to try and put the issue in some sort of team context. The Goodyear spokesman, who was at the track, was never interviewed.
Several drivers were knocked out of the race, but Carl Edwards was the one selected for an interview. He was shown the replay of his accident in an effort to get him to blame another driver, which he declined. Other drivers out of the race who did not have the potential to generate controversy were never interviewed.
The "Crank it up" feature continued and was inserted at several critical times in the race. The commercial load continued to be the same, but the movie trailers and the movie videos run inside the race were gone. The ads returned to the normal sponsors associated with the sport.
The weather was good and the FOX technical crew had no issues on the air. Fox worked hard to keep the split-screen effect on green flag pitstops and used a lot of pitstop replays. The pit reporters were not significant in the race, with Steve Byrnes contributing the most information.
FOX frames NASCAR very tight, so a significant portion of the race was specific cars shown without a frame of reference to the track or the rest of the field. The final twenty laps were great racing until marred by an ugly incident involving Carl Edwards. The FOX team handled the incident with dignity and let it play-out on the TV screen and the track. Both drivers were interviewed.
On the first restart FOX cut tight and entirely missed the big wreck of the race. It was shown through replays. The finish was exciting and the TV pictures showed the entire field crossing the line.
This post is your opportunity to voice an opinion of the TV coverage by FOX. To add your comment, 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.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The Sprint Cup Series continues the 2010 season at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The weather is clear and the track is fast.
Chris Myers opens the FOX coverage with the pre-race show from the Hollywood Hotel. He will be joined by Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond. Last week saw more disorganization and less of a focus on the stories of the race. Comedy and inside jokes are pushing this show in a very different direction.
Perhaps, FOX is again seeking to entertain the exclusive casual fan, but after three hours of hardcore NASCAR pre-race news on ESPN2 and SPEED, it's just not working. Myers jokes are not funny and there is very little focus. Hopefully, the show gets back on track after a rough start.
Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds have been working this weekend on SPEED. They have already hosted the practice sessions and qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series. As they transition from SPEED to FOX, perhaps they can keep the momentum of the week going strong.
On pit road are Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren. Atlanta has a lot of action, so the reporters will be chasing strategy calls as the race progresses. The leaders can lap quickly here, so keeping viewers updated on the field will be continually important.
FOX has Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman coming from the back of the pack after engine changes. The network has Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting from the pole. They have Jimmie Johnson seeming to be bulletproof. This season, Kevin Harvick and RCR have found themselves and are running strong. There is no shortage of storylines from the drop of the green flag.
Darrell Waltrip holds the key to this race telecast. When he keeps himself in check and acts as a good teammate, things flow well. When he gets emotional and goes overboard with his comments, things fall apart. TV viewers have seen him do both this season.
Atlanta is so fast that it does not lend itself to using the in-car cameras live until the field gets strung out. The low level speed shots are tremendously effective on restarts and through the corners. Restarts on fresh tires are going to be the most exciting parts of the race. We saw that in the Saturday truck series race.
This post will serve to host your comments about the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Thank you for taking the time to join us today as we live blog the race.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
The new start times for the Sprint Cup Series races have forced a little reorganization where NASCAR TV is concerned.
The Sunday morning TV starts with NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 9AM. Nicole Briscoe hosts with Marty Smith reporting from Atlanta. This one hour show continues the ESPN formula of basing the shows in Bristol, CT and sending reporters out to the events. ESPN packs lots of information in this fast hour.
Over on SPEED, the disorganized and faltering NASCAR Smarts show airs at 9AM. I have no clue where SPEED is going with this program or what it accomplishes. The original sponsor, Ask.com, is long gone. Remaining is a ridiculous format and some bad TV. NASCAR in a Hurry fills out the hour with a video recap of Friday and Saturday at the track.
RaceDay rolls in at 10AM on SPEED with momentum building. Kyle Petty has been a breath of fresh air for this program. Now, the challenge is for Kenny Wallace to stop shouting. He got into this bad habit because of Jimmy Spencer's antics. With Spencer long gone, the one thing that Wallace should never say again is "Let me tell you all something!"
Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler continue to be the heart and soul of this show. Their ability to effortlessly handle any situation inside the track makes RaceDay worth watching. While they may have very different personalities, they share a solid knowledge of racing and a wicked sense of humor.
Petty is still trying to define his relationship with host John Roberts. These two both like to have the last word and it has made for some interesting moments. Petty is not afraid to let his opinion be known, but unlike Spencer does not need Roberts to step-in and sort things out once he is done. It's time for Roberts to go back to hosting and let the opinions come from the panelists.
NASCAR Now and RaceDay combine to offer three hours of pre-race coverage that leads into another hour of pre-race from FOX. As we watch the shows roll by, look for how many times the same guests promoting the same topics are interviewed. It's not uncommon to see the same person three times before the racing starts.
We are going to use this post to open comments up before, during and after the morning NASCAR TV shows. There will be a new post up for the NASCAR on FOX telecast that begins at 12PM ET. As we move through the morning, let us know what you like and do not like about the pre-race shows.
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 stopping by, make sure to join us for the live race chat Sunday afternoon.
With the Nationwide Series off this weekend, the ESPN gang is not in Atlanta. That allows the SPEED TV team to step forward on Saturday with live coverage of the Camping World Truck Series. Thanks to Nate Ryan of USA Today, shown above is a picture inside the SPEED TV truck with the crew getting ready for the coverage.
Krista Voda will start the telecast with The Setup pre-race show at 1:30PM ET. Voda will have Geoff Bodine and the gold medal Olympic Bobsled team as guests. Bodine is racing a truck in Atlanta.
Calling the race is Rick Allen. He will be joined by Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip. Allen has been a regular anchor on SPEED's new Race Hub show. Parsons has been in the news as the controversy over "start and park" teams continues. Waltrip just unveiled his new amateur talent show, Fast Track to Fame, last Monday night on SPEED.
The biggest TV news involves truck series pit reporter Adam Alexander. He has just been selected as the new play-by-play announcer for TNT's six Sprint Cup Series races. Alexander is joined today by Ray Dunlap on pit road.
SPEED's truck series production formula is simple. They show the race, focus on the teams and eliminate the TV bells and whistles. Last season, we argued with Allen over his omission of the many truck teams that were starting and parking. He defended his decision. Should be interesting to see what happens if and when some teams head for the garage early in the event.
Waltrip has been finding his voice as an analyst and putting his normally sponsor-driven personality on hold. The results have been outstanding, especially down the stretch last season. With the Daytona race being more of a stand-alone event, this Atlanta race should really show TV viewers if Waltrip can continue his growth in this position.
Last year, Parsons flew under the radar with his Nationwide Series start and park teams. This year, his move into the Cup Series put him front and center. SPEED has worked very hard to avoid this topic and it should be interesting to see what Parsons has to say when the S&P truck teams pull off the track.
The truck series has traditionally had great racing in Atlanta. The weather is cool and clear. There are a handful of Cup Series cross-over drivers who should run up front, including Kyle Busch. It should be a good mix of personalities.
This post will serve to host your comments about the TV coverage of the Camping World Truck Series race from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for joining us today.
Friday, March 5, 2010
It had to come sooner or later. Darrell Waltrip's younger brother Michael is one of the greatest NASCAR tweeters of all-time. Long before Twitter became the cool thing to do in the sport, there was Mikey!
Pictures of socks, sponsor products, TV shoots and almost anything else that was swirling through his rather unique mind seemed to find its way on Twitter. Waltrip now has over 33 thousand folks following him on his @mw55 social media journey.
Now, big brother has signed-on with the name @AllWaltrip. Darrell got the hang of things rather quickly and noticed that Twitter is kind of catchy.
Certain traits might just run in the family. Before long, Darrell was talking about the final Gordon pitstop in Las Vegas, his sick hound dog and Geoff Bodine's Olympic bobsleds. As Waltrip got the hang of it, things began to mushroom.
Here are some fun DW tweets:
About NASCAR on FOX: TV is 60% mental, the other 50% is delivery.
About his TV viewing: Better get to bed, time for O'Reilly, he's good but I'm starting to dig Glen Beck!
About his endless chatter: People say "you sure do talk a lot." May I remind those people I get paid to talk a lot. A picture AND a thousand words, no talk...no pay.
About Junior's nickname: I call him Junebug because when he was a little boy that was what me and Big "E" called him. He told me I was the only one that could do that.
About his Daytona outburst: I just like a good race, an exciting finish. There are times when I just turn into a race fan. Shake and Bake baby that's what DW cheers for.
About today's race schedule: My favorite tracks have always been the short tracks. Big mistake taking them all off the schedule, they are the backbone of the sport!
About Twitter: I've become a Twitter junkie in just a couple of days. I've got to give it a rest, but it sure is fun!!
Last season saw Kyle Petty take his cell phone to the TNT announce booth and use Twitter to interact with fans during the live TNT races. This season, Petty has been tweeting during his various appearances on SPEED shows, including RaceDay and Victory Lane.
That kind of naturally leads to the question of the moment. This Friday, Waltrip will be on the air from Atlanta Motor Speeway. He will call Sprint Cup Series practice, qualifying and appear on Trackside. Now armed with Twitter on his trusty cell phone, will Waltrip interact directly with fans during the time he is on the air?
Thursday on ESPN2's NASCAR Now program, host Nicole Manske had Jimmie Johnson answer Twitter questions that NASCAR fans sent in shortly before the program. They were a lot rougher than many journalists are used to asking the champion. Johnson had a great time with it, that was clear.
One thing Twitter does is open up for people like Waltrip the reality around them that they are sometimes insulated from discovering. Simply by giving fans an opportunity to offer feedback directly, perhaps some priorities might change.
Some female fans on Twitter were not very kind when it came to Waltrip's antics with Danica Patrick on the Trackside show. Had Waltrip read their words, he might keep those comments in the back of his mind for the next time he interacts with Patrick.
Certainly, the viewpoints of those fans are not right or wrong. They are just opinions. The key to Twitter is when something happens on live TV, you get to know how viewers react almost instantly. It's like the NASCAR Fan Council with instant voting.
So while TV personalities from Wendy Venturini to Kenny Wallace tweet from the track this week, it should be interesting to see if Waltrip jumps in the deep end of the pool or puts his instant fan feedback gadget in his pocket. This will be one experiment that anyone can watch. Twitter is easy, free and worthwhile for NASCAR fans.
We would like your thoughts on this subject. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. We are also on Twitter at twitter.com/TheDalyPlanet. Thanks for stopping by.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Thursday morning TNT confirmed the network's full line-up for the 2010 season. It will be Adam Alexander is in the driver's seat for the six TNT Sprint Cup Series races along with Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr.
It was Ralph Sheheen who stepped in last season for TNT after Bill Weber's departure. Alexander was then added to the TNT pit road reporting crew to fill Sheheen's spot. Apparently, the network liked what it saw.
Click here for a 2007 interview with Alexander from the TruckSeries.com website. It gives good insight into his background and the hard work it has taken to get him to this point.
SPEED TV viewers have seen Alexander increase his presence on the network as well. Originally a Camping World Truck Series reporter, Alexander now hosts shows like NASCAR in a Hurry, The SPEED Report and Race Hub.
The one thing TV viewers have not seen Alexander do is the TV play-by-play on a live race. That club is rather small. Mike Joy, Rick Allen and Marty Reid are the charter members right now. Although we are still waiting on TNT to confirm it, it seems that Alexander is about to get the opportunity of a lifetime this summer.
Update #1: USA Today now says Lindsay Czarniak will host the pre-race shows for the six races on TNT. Marc Fein, the previous host, is busy with the NBA TV Channel these days.
Update #2: Ralph Sheheen will be back on pit road along with Matt Yocum and Marty Snyder. No information on whether or not TNT will hire a fourth pit road reporter.
What are your thoughts on this line-up? 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 stopping by.
We are now down the road a ways with the newest NASCAR TV situation. This season, both ESPN and SPEED have committed to fulltime daily NASCAR news programs. ESPN began NASCAR Now in 2007. SPEED launched Race Hub late last year and made the decision during the off-season to bring it back for 2010.
Each series leverages the strengths associated with the respective networks. ESPN has a vast resource of reporters working fulltime on NASCAR assignments for TV, magazines and websites. SPEED has virtually the entire NASCAR world right outside its backdoor in the Concord and Mooresville areas of North Carolina.
ESPN learned a hard lesson when the network tried to overlay an existing sports formula on hardcore NASCAR fans. The original on-air talent knew nothing of the sport. Several of the contributors from the ESPN journalism family were little better. The hype-driven approach to NASCAR news fell flat.
None of the three co-hosts now working on the series participated in the early years. Allen Bestwick, Mike Massaro and Nicole Briscoe have teamed-up to give the series a firm foundation. Bestwick's superb Monday hour mixed with the ability of Briscoe and Massaro to work both in the studio and at the track has resulted in unqualified success.
Gone is "columnist" Tim Cowlishaw, the stick-and-ball reporters and the long fantasy racing segments. Now, Lead Reporter Marty Smith is joined by a cast that includes Ryan McGee and Ed Hinton. This year will also see Shannon Spake take on a bigger role both in the studio and on location with news reports.
Since the beginning, the series has also used the NASCAR on ESPN on-air talent as contributors. This year Ray Evernham has been a bonus with his technical knowledge of the many issues and changes currently in progress inside the sport. Rusty Wallace has been his outspoken and feisty self while Brad Daugherty has proven to have much more value in this setting than in his seat at the track.
The biggest improvement of 2010 has been the series taking questions and comments directly from Twitter. An email account still provides a link, but the growing social media trend should not be ignored. The remaining challenge is to increase the number of Sunday night shows from the final seventeen race weekends to the entire season.
NASCAR Now has matured into a comfortable presence in the sport that packs a lot of information into each program and features timely interviews with the newsmakers. Those goals are still quite a bit down the road for SPEED's Race Hub.
Instead of hiring one on-air news personality for the Monday through Thursday programs, SPEED continues to rotate a wide variety of announcers through the position. One day it may be a play-by-play announcer coupled with a pit road reporter. The next it might be a pre-race show host with a news-oriented reporter. The results are uneven.
Race Hub made a casual clothing statement early on, but is still struggling with where to put everyone on the set. The show has evolved into clearly pre-taped interviews that generally accentuate the positive and follow the NASCAR mandate for this season.
The news in the program is presented right off the top. Click over to Race Hub a little late and you have missed the most topical information. One pleasant surprise has been that Jeff Hammond seems to work very well in this setting. He has been perhaps the most outspoken and opinionated analyst on the show.
Jamie McMurray has just been added as a weekly regular, as has Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo. McMurray's appearances start next week, but Palumbo has been working hard to figure out exactly what she is doing on the show. It's certainly not very well defined right now.
SPEED can get almost anyone to just drive over to the studio. What's important is having the news credibility to ask them the tough questions fan want answered. While Race Hub does have a Twitter account, the series is still trying to determine the best way to get things more interactive.
The two big positives of this series are that it is in primetime and has almost all of the potential guests just a short drive away. The downside is the lack of a permanent host and the softball questions.
Last week, truck series announcer Rick Allen was put in the awkward position of interviewing his own color analyst Phil Parsons on the day of the big "start and park" controversy. Allen never even brought it up although Parsons was at the center of the issue.
Right now, the two TV series are happily going their separate ways in style, substance and format. What we thought would be a battle over guests, between hosts and over breaking news headlines never materialized. The NASCAR TV news battle has simply fizzled.
Can you tell us which show you watch and why? What suggestions would you have for the producers of these programs? Who has been the on-air personality that impressed you the most this season?
TDP welcomes your opinion on this topic. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when hosting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
This is our fourth season of talking about NASCAR on TV. We spend lots of time discussing what TV folks call the content or program portion of shows and races. Once and a while, we also talk about the commercials. This is one of those times.
It was June 20, 2009 when the TDP column titled "Trouble Brewing for Rusty Wallace and US Fidelis Sponsor" was published. Click on the title to read the column and the viewer comments attached.
We used content from the Today Show and many other sources to shed light on a tragic situation that NASCAR was making much more tragic. You might ask how NASCAR could be involved when it was only Rusty and Steven Wallace actually on the screen selling the product in 2009?
The answer is that perception sells when a product is associated with a known celebrity or athletic figure. The perception was that in the middle of a NASCAR race or a NASCAR TV program here were two NASCAR guys standing in front of a NASCAR Nationwide Series car telling you to buy US Fidelis because you are a NASCAR fan.
I bought Tide because Ricky Rudd told me to. I drove a Ford because Dale Jarrett did. I drank Bud because it was the official beer. Is Tide the best laundry detergent? Ford the best car? Bud the best beer? No. It's a choice I made because my perception was that I was personally helping NASCAR with my consumer choices.
Here is the news that came this week:
US Fidelis, once regarded as the nation's No. 1 seller of extended auto service, and a former sponsor with Rusty Wallace Racing, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday in U.S. bankruptcy court in St. Louis.
According to court documents, Rusty Wallace Racing is among the 20 creditors holding the largest unsecured claims against the company. Court documents show that US Fidelis owes Rusty Wallace Racing $535,439.18. US Fidelis was listed as the primary sponsor on Steven Wallace's car for 25 of the 35 Nationwide races last year and on teammate Brendan Gaughan's car in 10 of the 35 Nationwide races last year. (via Jayski.com)
Here is what I wrote at the time about Rusty Wallace's personal involvement:
All of this puts Wallace in a tough position. On one hand, US Fidelis is paying the bills or the company logo would have been removed from the hood long ago. On the other hand, Wallace himself is a brand and it is being tarnished every time a US Fidelis commercial airs.
ESPN is certainly an issue. Wallace has been trusted by ESPN as a multi-car team owner in the Nationwide Series to remain impartial on the air. Essentially, what Wallace says to the national TV audience needs to be regarded as honest and the truth.
Shortly after my original column aired, Rusty's secretary from RWR contacted me by email. Rusty wanted to speak with me right away. After getting some advice, I decided to turn down that invitation. Regardless of what Wallace had to say, the points in my column were valid and researched.
NASCAR watched Rusty and Steven Wallace sell US Fidelis on TV all season long. Just like Rusty, NASCAR itself is a brand. The sponsors in the sport used to fight over which was the best beer, the best motor oil or the best soft drink. Now, times have changed.
The Internet allows fans to see a NASCAR-themed commercial, dial-up the product and buy it instantly. Such was the fact with US Fidelis. We may never know how many Americans ultimately scammed by US Fidelis purchased the product after being told directly by Rusty and Steven Wallace it was the right thing to do.
Despite the fact that Wallace is owed money, there is something the folks at RWR can be very thankful about. Federal law recently changed where celebrity endorsement of products is concerned. Here is the new law being enforced by the FTC:
Both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement.
This would make both the Wallace father and son parties in the class action lawsuits now underway to recover damages from this expensive swindle. Luckily, the law was not put into effect until October of 2009, only weeks before this misguided headache came to a close when racing season was over. RWR seems to be in the clear.
Internet technology and new media expansion have altered the dynamic of NASCAR sponsorship. Now, websites are listed directly on cars, firesuits and TV commercials. The selling of a wide variety of products and services is being done direcly by the drivers and owners to the fans.
What has NASCAR itself learned from the US Fidelis collapse? Does it damage the credibility of the sport when a driver or team directly endorses a fraudulent product? Should due diligence of some sort be required before a team can bring a sponsor to the top levels in the sport? What are your solutions to keep NASCAR fans from getting burned again?
TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Over the years, SPEED has tried a wide variety of TV programs related to NASCAR. Some, like the ill-fated I Wanna Date a Race Car Driver were laughable while others like Beyond the Wheel are still sorely missed.
Monday night at 8PM, SPEED throws another original offering at the TV wall to see if it sticks. Michael Waltrip says Fast Track to Fame was his idea. Click here for a video where he discusses what the show is all about.
Already described as NASCAR's version of American Idol, the show sounds like a collection of race fans showing off their singing and juggling skills on the SPEED Stage. The facts are a bit different.
Click here for the audition information on the new series from the Actor's Pages website. Those wishing to get noticed can travel to the auditions from anywhere in the nation.
Like many other talent shows on the air, Fast Track to Fame is open to almost all kinds of acts. Click here to read about NBC's America's Got Talent series and the auditions for that entertainment program. It certainly sounds familiar.
Fast Track to Fame has all kinds of connections to FOX Sports in LA. FOX's David Hill is listed as an Executive Producer and the actual company doing the production is LA-based FiveBinks Inc.
It seems ironic that Waltrip is hosting a talent show produced by FOX on the very same night that This Week in NASCAR used to inhabit. For many years the lone NASCAR program on Mondays, TWIN was surrounded by lifestyle programs created by SPEED. The management of the network was firm in saying that NASCAR-related programs do not work on weekdays.
Apparently, something has changed. SPEED now has a daily NASCAR news show and just added a three-and-a-half hour block of NASCAR themed shows on Mondays. Following Fast Track to Fame is a NASCAR cooking show, two different highlight programs and then Jimmy Spencer's What's the Deal series.
It's always interesting when entertainment types get involved in NASCAR. Perhaps this line from the Actor's Pages audition listing says it best. FOX and the LA-based production company are: "Looking for talent that will appeal to those who attend auto races." You can take if from there.
This post will serve to host your comments before, during and after this debut episode of Fast Track to Fame airs on SPEED at 8PM ET. To add your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.
Monday, March 1, 2010
It was Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond who started the day in the Hollywood Hotel. They had a one-hour pre-race show that contained a wide variety of features and interviews.
Waltrip moved to the booth and joined Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds. On pit road were Krista Voda, Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren and Steve Byrnes.
This race took place under sunny skies after a rainy week. The track was fast and the TV crew had no technical issues. The race had no big wrecks and ran quickly on TV.
This is your opportunity to post your opinion of the NASCAR on FOX telecast now that the race is over. This is the most widely read post of TDP during the week, with many in the industry reading your opinions. Make your comment count.
To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for stopping by with your comments on this event.