Sunday, April 18, 2010

Turner Sports Responds To FOX's Online Plans


Click here to review the story originally published on TDP Friday that referenced the plans by FOX Sports to provide a live online post-race show from the Texas Motor Speedway after the Sprint Cup Series race.

Basically, in trying to address the growing post-race TV issues, Fox executive Bill Brown indicated the network would use the FoxSports.com website to stream additional post-race content.

On one hand, this made sense because FOX already had the production resources available to offer the coverage. On the other hand, the online rights to all NASCAR content have been owned by Turner Sports for a decade.

This is not a political debate, but a serious business issue involving millions of dollars in rights fees paid directly to NASCAR by Turner. NASCAR chose to "farm out" the online or interactive rights and now must live by that agreement. As the earlier story references, NASCAR recently extended that contract through 2014.

After the initial posturing, FOX released the following statement:

Unfortunately, due to contractual limitations that we had hoped to overcome, we're unable to extend post-race coverage on FOXSports.com. Since this would have been a commercial-free undertaking, our goal was simply to have all parties agree that this would only benefit NASCAR fans, but obviously that didn't happen.

While that may be nicely written, it obviously ignores a reality that many NASCAR fans have become familiar with over the last few seasons. The problems that exist between Turner Sports and FOX affect NASCAR fans on many levels.

There is no online streaming of the FOX Sprint Cup Series races. There are no interactive elements to the broadcasts. Turner's online application RaceBuddy was not added this season by FOX as expected.

In response to the FOX statement, Turner offered this media release:

NASCAR.COM continues to provide fans with the most access and comprehensive content and coverage of the sport, including free in-depth coverage every week of all the storylines going into and following each race.

NASCAR.COM has also consistently partnered with other media companies -- including Fox's sister network SPEED TV, to further enhance the offerings to NASCAR’s loyal fan base.

NASCAR.COM has proactively approached Fox over a period of time with a variety of collaborative online media options that unfortunately have been rejected.


So, there you have it. The simple story of one company that paid for ownership of certain rights and another that would like to use those rights for free. Lost in the mix is the reality that the entire issue is driven by the sale of those rights by NASCAR in the first place.

Right or wrong, there will be no live online post-race programs during the remaining FOX races. FOX alone controls the TV "off time" of the live races. Choosing when to end the post-race coverage is a decision made by the NASCAR on FOX management team. After this little scuffle, it should be interesting to see how FOX handles the post-race programming for the remainder of this TV package.

If you have an opinion on this issue, feel free to add it 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.

29 comments:

red said...

sooooo, how is it that bill brown was unaware of this aspect of his network's contract with nascar and turner's rights? it's obvious to me that the many "nascar media" folks were in the dark about it -- for reasons i don't quite understand -- but i would have thought brown would have been informed about the contract restrictions.

i mean, when this story first hit, i kept thinking "but, i thought turner owned these rights? how can fox do an online show? is fox going to pay turner so that fox can show it online with no cost to the consumer?" but i sat quietly, thinking i'd mis-remembered what i'd read and not wanting to look like a nitwit. after all, something "might" have changed, i had bill brown telling us it was going to happen and everyone sounded so excited and enthusiastic about it. but it just kept nagging at me.

and so, now, we learn that it was never going to happen, that in fact, it simply couldn't happen. again, i ask: why is it that bill brown stepped out with this in the first place? shouldn't he of all people have been versed in the reality?

even the moments that common sense tell us are straightforward somehow become convoluted when nascar's involved.

TVtrucker said...

Well JD, like I said yesterday. It's a blurred line now a days between Television-Broadcasts-and Internet TV. It will be soon when it is all on the internet and viewers may have to pay to watch.
Your statement "The simple story of one company that paid for ownership of certain rights and another that would like to use those rights for free." is not completely correct when considering the point that TNT or Turner does not offer post race "live streams" on NASCAR Dot Com. They may own the rights to manage the web site but now they want to be greedy and deprive race fans from some quality additional coverage that race fans have been asking for. Turner just stole that from all of us by being the bullies they are. Fox was trying to do the right thing and should have been allowed to do so.

Gymmie said...

Same here Red. I knew Turner had the rights so I thought FOX had spoken to them and worked something out. A shame that they can't play nicely together and find a way to share/lease/something the rights to help fill a void for fans.

Years ago they use to send us to SPEED and interrupt whatever was on to bring additional post-race. I wish they'd still be able to do something like that since online isn't an option anytime soon :(.

Daly Planet Editor said...

TVtrucker,

There are a wide variety of reasons for no online streaming of post-race content.

#1 is the fact that the TV networks were supposed to stay on the air and tell the stories of the race.

#2 is that SPEED paid for exclusivity to have Victory Lane as the only post-race show.

#3 is that Turner would have to partner with a TV network to offer this coverage and both FOX and ESPN declined.

It may look like Turner is the bad guy at the moment, but don't believe it.

FOX has been doing this sport for ten years now and this issue has never been addressed.

All of a sudden it is because reporter Jenna Fryer holds their feet to the fire?

If FOX wants to tell the tale after the race, then stay on the air and tell it.

Should be interesting down the stretch.

JD

kbaskins said...

The cynic in me thinks FOX knew perfectly well they would not be allowed to broadcast an online post-race show. By announcing that they had set up an online show (in response to viewer outrage), then having Turner quash the plan, they've made Turner out to be the bad guys. Now FOX can throw up their hands and tell us they tried for a post-race show, and it's big bad Turner's fault we don't have one.

The cynic in me thinks this was a brilliant PR move by FOX. :-)

--KarenB

Palmetto said...

Say, here's an idea. Cut the pre-race down to 30 minutes (or less) and shift that time to after the race. We've had all week for a built-up to the green flag; post-race data gets stale quickly and is the least covered aspect.

Q: Does any network do a good job of post-competition coverage in ANY sport? I only watch NASCAR and NFL. NFL post-game coverage isn't worth much on the networks that cover the games, especially the 'late' game. Sunday post-game coverage gets rolled into the pre-game for the 8:00 pm game. I gave up on post-race coverage years ago; that's when I haul the trash to the dumpsters.

red said...

@palmetto but here's the problem with the "shorten the pre-race and extend the post-race" argument that i've been reading for years now: the length of the pre-race is unrelated to the length of the post-race coverage. the race will start when it starts and a network could have 3 hours of pre-race or 5 minutes, it wouldn't matter to the post-race coverage.

you could start the race at 10AM but if it ends at 2:45 or 3:15, the best you'll get is 15 minutes of post race. it's not a matter of taking from one to add to the other.

of course, we've seen repeatedly that the networks often rush to get off the air with 10-15 minutes before the hour or half hour but my position is the same: shortening the pre-race (while admirable!) would have no impact on the amount of time available for post-race.

Anonymous said...

I suppose a financial collaboration offer from FOX/NASCAR to Turner in the best interests of the RACEFANS would be totally out of the question because it would be too logical & make make too much common sense ....... right ? What a great PR gesture that would be for FOX/NASCAR. Buy a half hour block of time post race ..... problem solved ......

sbaker17 said...

Look at the bright side:
Less Waltrip

Jojaye said...

Thank you Red - I too thought I had it wrong.
NASCAR sold/gave/dumped its online rights to Turner with no thought - not one- about what would be good for the fans. Much like the tv contracts.

This was brilliant in its simplicity for Fox to look like "good guys" & Turner to look like the big meany. Again Fox does not understand we really do pay attention to our sport. We are not dumb.

"NASCAR.COM continues to provide fans with the most access and comprehensive content and coverage of the sport,"

No they do not -period. If they did there would be a weekly post race show easy to find info & way less trash. The website is a mess.
It is always my last choice for info.

Turner told Fox - Tough

Shame the losers (again) are the fans.
Whats that saying?
Oh yeah, Rinse Lather Repeat

Anonymous said...

Didn't a Fox producer in an interview a year or two ago say that the TV ratings drop like a rock right after the checkered flag drops?

Sure, there are some race fans that want the post race, but just not that many to make it worth Fox's time.

I only wish Victory Lane was aired live, starting right after the network coverage ends.

OSBORNK said...

I think kbaskins got it right. I think Fox set up the whole thing to shift the blame to Turner with the hope that their lack of on-air coverage would be forgotten in the process. The original fault lies with NA$CAR and their quest for money without effort.

Kyle said...

Why doesn't Fox just have Speed do it. Fox could have a little post-race and then move to Speed while regular Fox programming resumes. It would be the same idea, just not online and on Speed instead. I mean, yes we have Victory Lane but it is taped and I have a new found hate for taped delayed programming.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Kyle,

Good question. The short answer is because there is no "it."

There is no way for SPEED to predict what time the race would end. They have other contracts and TV obligations for programs that desire weekend timeslots.

That is actually how "Victory Lane" came to be developed. The network worked with NASCAR to pick a time when they could put together a "short turnaround" show that if needed, could go live.

This current fuss is much to do about nothing. Jenna rattled the FOX guys who had dumped early after a night race because they could. This time, they got caught by someone other than me/us.

Hopefully this might have a positive result, but between Victory Lane on SPEED and ESPN considering airing the post race press conferences on ESPNEWS again, the problem is pretty much solved.

JD

Anonymous said...

Fox is so full of it. They have shown in these last few years that they don't give a rat's you-know-what about NASCAR fans. I bet they concocted this BS story about providing online post-race content as nothing more than lip service, in hopes they could turn the very angry NASCAR fans against Turner and make them the "bad guys" instead. They knew darn well their supposed "plan" would go against Turner's contractual rights and could never come to fruition.

Guess what Fox, this one fan sees right through your BS and I bet I'm nowhere close to being alone on that front. Quit trying to deflect blame and blow smoke up the NASCAR nation's rear-ends and actually get to work on fixing your massive ego problem that's ruining your NASCAR broadcasts.

GinaV24 said...

Sounds like Fox was blowing smoke when talking to the AP reporter. since this information has been out there for a long while, how is it that Fox didn't "know" it? And why was it taken at face value by the reporter? Doesn't anyone fact check? Or did they hope that Turner would just roll over?

As you said, Fox can continue to show the post race coverage on TV. They have been the ones in the big rush to get off the air after each race.

Nascar sold the rights to turner AND chose to renew it again instead of being a little more forward thinking -- take the money and run seems to apply here. If Fox wants to stream it, they need to pay for it.

As a fan, I'd like to see this option by Fox and ESPN, but TNT sure isn't going to give it to them for free and I can't disagree with their business decision.

I'd suggest that Fox quit trying to do an end run and just do a decent broadcast with solid post race coverage.

RPM said...

"If FOX wants to tell the tale after the race, then stay on the air and tell it."

BINGO! All they have to do is additional programming on SPEED. How hard is that to figure out?

KoHoSo said...

I have to agree with the other Planeteers that have already commented about Fox doing this merely to shift the blame on Turner. They are probably still upset about that little TNT cartoon from last year where Race Buddy sealed Digger in his hole.

However, I think it is only fair to point something out. Far more people are upset when a regular prime time network show is delayed or interrupted than if a regular post-event show is abbreviated (no matter the sport). It also greatly upsets network affiliates as they then lose out on money and viewers when their local news gets affected.

The sad thing is to see both of these corporate behemoths lie like bandits and that, all the while and no matter what, it is the fans that lose.

Anonymous said...

I'm with most of the other on this issue. Can you imagine the "attempts to work out a deal' that Fox refers to?
More like, "hey Turner! Its me, David Hill. I'm gonna run postrace on the web. I'm not gonna pay you a dime, or put any Turner branding on it. It'll be all FOX. Take it or leave it-"
wonder why it didn't work?

Tom said...

Please include me in the growing number of people who have realized that this was a FOX stunt-nothing more. I can guess that like Red, a good many of us who read this site for any period of time knew when that statement came out from FOX, something was not right. There was no talk of a "deal", no mention of Turner. It was just an attempt to get people like us to start blaming Turner, to take the heat off FOX's sub-par race coverage.
I watched the IRL yesterday and all I can say is that I am starting to look forward to watching those races on a weekly basis LIVE, than I am current NASCAR broadcasts.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

Karen's right--this was a brilliant move on Fox's part to deflect criticism and make it look as if Turner's the bad guy.

Fox had to know Turner wouldn't just suddenly say, "Sure, we paid for the rights to this stuff, but you can us it anyway."

Fox is a TV network. If Fox REALLY cared about NASCAR fans, they'd broadcast a post-race show instead of floating an idea they knew would be shot down.

JohnP said...

TDP: "Lost in the mix is the reality that the entire issue is driven by the sale of those rights by NASCAR in the first place"

I've signed many contracts with customers only to find out they didn't know what they signed, what they bought, or what they sold. I find it absolutly amazing that Nascar signed away their rights concerning their online rights to any other company, no matter whom, with absolutly no control.

However, Fox is to blame TOTALLY for lack of post-race coverage. Fox needs not to point the finger at Turner. As pointed out by JD, all assets are there at the track at that exact moment. Fox just CHOOSES to ignore the post race.

A hour long totally usless pre-race show, and no post race.

Shame on Nascar for signing the contract.

Shame on Turner for not playing ball with Fox.

Shame on Fox for not providing coverage that is up to par this season.

Kevin said...

Bring back the Jack Daniels post race show!!

goat said...

Contract or no contract, Turner is doing a lousy job keeping up with the times, and Fox (and ESPN/ABC) should be allowed to stream.

Today's race should be streamed in its entirety. Really, every race should...it's not like the commercials can't be shown on the stream.

mitchman68 said...

Turner has been stingy with its internet rights for a while. Sirius tried to negotiate in good faith to broadcast nascar radio using their online streaming of sirius content for the weekday call in shows ONLY. Turner wanted a HUGE amount again screwing fans from content that Turner didn't even offer competition to.
Fox has to take some of the blame since they don't allot time for post race, but Turner is a bad guy from way back.

Daly Planet Editor said...

mitchman68,

Once you let the cow out of the barn....just sayin.

Anonymous said...

the quotes from turner about the highest quality programming on NASCAR.com.. What planet are they on???? nascar.com = advertisement and articles on the chosen few. It's redeeming grace is raceview which they all but destroyed this year.

matriarch said...

Fox tried to work a scam and it backfired. Every fan of any length knows the division of rights between race coverage and internet coverage. Fox simply tried their bully tactics on the wrong network. I'm glad they were shown up to be what they are. A bully.

Anonymous said...

JD, you can't have it both ways. You can't defend TSI in the FoxSports.com issue while blasting them for not working out a deal with Sirius to allow streaming of their NASCAR Channel product.

Rights agreements exist for a reason. I don't think anybody will disagree that NASCAR was extremely shortsighted when Bray Cary and Paul Brooks negotiated the various broadcast and interactive rights pact.

To borrow from Mike Helton, where the rights deals are concerned, "It Is What It Is." At least until 2014. Deal. And hope for a better future outcome.