Thursday, March 18, 2010
NASCAR's Showtime Troubles (Repost)
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.