Monday, June 28, 2010

SPEED Jumps In Deep End Of The News Pool


The folks at SPEED have a very good relationship with the NASCAR Media Group (NMG). Both companies are located in Charlotte, NC. In fact, SPEED moved to that city with the goal of becoming a fulltime NASCAR TV network. It never happened.

Instead, NMG has spent years producing most of the NASCAR content seen on SPEED. The shows from the SPEED Stage, NASCAR Hot Wired and the Race in 60 series are from NMG. Since NASCAR controls its own footage, NMG has a virtual lock on producing the NASCAR TV content.

Monday, SPEED finally takes a step in the right direction. After years of side-stepping the issue, SPEED has decided to put the time and effort into creating an independent NASCAR news presence. At least, that is the theory.

NASCAR Race Hub will be a one hour program seen at 7PM ET Monday through Thursday for the rest of the racing season. The network has not released the plans for the series during the off-season.

The network tried Race Hub in a thirty minute version, but it just did not work. Instead of news the program was a mix of softball interviews, pro-NASCAR analysis and NMG provided highlights. After three hours of review programs had already aired on SPEED Sunday night, Race Hub wound-up missing the mark during the week.

Recently, FOX Sports chairman David Hill was given direct control of SPEED. Since that time, many things have changed. Hill is actually pro-NASCAR despite his antics with Digger, Pizzi and race start times.

What Hill also does is embrace outspoken on-air personalities. This has been the hardest thing for SPEED to provide in this era of tight NASCAR control on content. Unlike ESPN's NASCAR Now series that has several reporters dedicated to NASCAR, Race Hub has no reporters and a steady stream of different hosts.

Starting Monday, everything changes. SPEED needs to establish a news presence with a regular cast of on-air characters dedicated to providing the latest information gathered that day. This is SPEED jumping into the big boy end of the news pool.

Steve Byrnes and Krista Voda are the most experienced studio hosts currently on the SPEED staff. In just a couple of weeks, ESPN takes over both the Cup and Nationwide Series coverage. This should provide some free time for Byrnes who normally hosts SPEED's practice and qualifying coverage. Voda continues to host the truck series pre-race shows and co-host The Speed Report.

If SPEED can get these two veterans to establish a NASCAR news presence, the rest of the show will fall into place. It's great that NASCAR personalities come into the studio, but interviews need to touch on the issues in the news whether good or bad.

Sirius, PRN and ESPN all use members of the NASCAR media corps as guests. Race Hub has yet to learn that lesson. It's not more of Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond that fans need to see. The news should come from those who report it regularly. The remaining handful of fulltime reporters working in NASCAR news are almost all based in Charlotte. It only makes sense to hear from them.

Other than a phone call to Wind Tunnel, SPEED has failed to maintain any real on-air contact with NASCAR fans. Race Hub has a golden opportunity to use technology and social media to get the fans actively involved in this program on a daily basis.

As with all TV series, Race Hub will have to grow into this new one-hour format. Hopefully, the creative minds at SPEED will now finally have an opportunity to put their stamp on an original program series.

What would you like to see featured on Race Hub? Behind the scenes video? Jimmy Spencer's "crying towel?" Fan phone calls and tweets? Weekly updates from SPEED's pit reporters? A fan cam? There are lots of possibilities.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

RaceHub wants to have an "independent news" vibe? HAHAHAHA.

They are so in the bag with NASCAR it isn't even funny. Byrnes and Voda are great talents, but they are part of the "NASCAR family". Having them on the show kills any hope that this show can produce non-cheerleader content.

NASCAR Now does a great recap of the races and has a great mix of studio analysis from different perspectives. The Showtime show also has a lot of strong opinions thrown around - and while I'm not a big Waltrip/Daughtery fan, the show is WAY more dynamic and interesting when topics in the sport come up that anything I've EVER seen on RaceHub.

If you are running RaceHub, you have to be thinking: What can we get that no other show has? Obviously, it won't be clips, because the clips all come from NASCAR. Obviously it won't be opinion, because ESPN and Showtime cover the range of opinions, and anything RaceHub adds will continue to be repetition.

The #1 thing RaceHub has going for it is proximity - but even that they don't seem to leverage to the full value they could get out of it. Yeah, they're right next to all the teams HQ, but they honestly don't get that many more in-person interviews than any other show.

If I were RaceHub I would focus on the one thing that every other show misses: MONDAY THRU SATURDAY. Yes, while every other show is discussing the race, RaceHub should focus on preparation for the next race. They should do away with trying to recap the old news and focus on what is ahead. By the time Jimmie Johnson gets to the RaceHub studios, he will have already recapped his run in with Kurt Busch on every other show. Why not ask him what no other show is asking him: How are you working on the NEXT race? What are you and your team doing in the shop TODAY (as opposed to last Sunday).

Maybe that's not the answer, but I do know that RaceHub needs an area of exclusivity or an angle that no other show has. Until they do, they are just another pale copy of ESPN.

Donna in FL said...

I'm going to reserve any meaty comments until next week, this is a short week because of the Firecracker & special because of the new NNS COT introduction, so I'll just watch & try to get an idea of where the Hub is going. I'm sure Thurs announcement of the 2011 Hall inductees will draw alot of interest too.

What would I like to evolve? Well, I've been a Hub fan from Day 1 because of the NASCAR interviews they do every day- some of them, like Trucks, no other TV outlet covers. I didn't think of it as needing a journalistic angle, but its a great idea, and I'd nominate SPEED affiliated veteran reporters like Tom Jensen & Mike Hembree for that.

GinaV24 said...

for myself, since Speed and ESPN both don't come on at a time convenient for me, so I DVR them and watch later. By that time I've already heard a lot of the "news" of the day via internet.

Also, IMO there are NO independent NASCAR news sources. Almost everything I read or hear that comes from Speed or ESPN has either a pro-NASCAR spin or is put out there for the purposes of sensationalism.

I like Steve Brynes and Krista Voda and wish them well if they are the hosts.

Speed may have waited too long and missed the boat on the timing of this especially since Nascar Now has improved so much with AB in the host role.

If I could have my wish, using an interactive communication tool would be the thing that I would add - especially to Jimmy Spencer's piece.

Richard in N.C. said...

In my opinion in the past year Race Hub has done far more original reporting than NASCAR Now, but maybe not as meaty. N-Now does a lot of repeating, but not much original reporting unless it is Ryan McGee or David Newton. The recent segment on Race Hub with Tommy Baldwin may not have gone far enough, but said more about S&P'ers than anything I've seen on EESPN. As long as EESPN is populated with people like Terry Blount and the mean-spirited, biased Rick Reilly, Ed Hinton, and Skip Bayless they will have a credibility problem with me.

There is a lot of sloppy, often biased commentary masquerading as reporting out there in the media. Sitting on your **** watching a race on TV and writing about such is not reporting as demonstrated by much of the slack commentary of actions at the recent Pocono and Michigan races. Unfortunately it appears to me that much of what used to be the press is now more concerned about being read than being accurate.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully an expanded version of RaceHub comes with real news. Real news of the day has been less than 5 minutes of RaceHub each show to date. It's like they tape the show and at the last minute have a place to throw in a couple minutes of news almost as an afterthought.

When are already over-saturated with talk, talk, talk, talk on the 4 hours of pre-race every Sunday.

How about some real news and investigative reporting from RaceHub?

Tracy D said...

I'm with the writer at 2:50 p.m. Let's hear some tough questions: put on Phil Parsons and ask him about his role as a reporter v. car owner of a S&P team. Conflict of interest? Oh yeah.
Invite an interview with Jeremy Mayfield.
Ask Joey Logano's father why he feels he has to sit on his son's shoulder every minute of every race. Pretend for a second you're real reporters and go for the hard stories, the ones Nascar doesn't want out in the open. How are teams surviving in this economy? Ask Robby Gordon...if he is going to survive.
I have to say, Spencer adds a kick of Tobasco to the show. Good addition.

goat said...

When are they going to provide a West Coast feed at a reasonable hour? I'm not staying up until midnight to watch this. They need a 11 PM ET/8 PM PT replay.

Allison J said...

NASCAR Now is like the corporate voice of NASCAR, Inc. Of course, challenging the France's death grip on the sport by actually doing reporting - or should I say, surviving - will be quite a task but one that viewers/fans deserve. NNow is also the first show to be ditched when ESPN has a broadcast conflict .. you have to search the schedule all of the time because it's never on dependably. I'm looking forward to RaceHub, but with David Hill having a greater role at SPEED, I'm skeptical of the network's future. Will this mean more non-racing programming, like the Barrett Jackson infomercials?

Anonymous said...

Wow, eight whole comments. The influence of this blog is so far-reaching (eyeroll).

Daly Planet Editor said...

Seen the NASCAR TV ratings from last weekend?

Vicky D said...

JD, I didn't see Nascar Now listed on the front page so didn't think it was on but luckily our season pass recorded it. I really like Ray, Marty & Allen. I'll have to watch Geoff more to make up my mind. Thought the topics were fine that question about JJ vs DH was kind of pointless. All in all a good show tonight.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vicky,

The shows get removed from the list once they are in progress.

Two good news shows on today. Both had different styles, but they worked.

Geoff Bodine, Ed Hinton and Mike Wallace on the "most folks are on vacation" Monday version of NN next week with Allen Bestwick.

Sophia said...

How bad has this season been for me? Hmmm, since cancelling TWIN & the horrid broadcasts, I've pretty much stopped watching.

I no longer watch ANY extraneous NASCAR shows nor even NP (can't ever find it)No prerace and there is NEVER a post race. sigh. I don't run to my computer for 'post race'. These days I've watched few races live, and DVR'd those or DVRd races, read about them, then DELETE. Mostly I just catch the last 30 laps. Thats when stuff happens and all the 'cautions' to bunch up the cars.

SPEED has ruined their ch for many years. Killing the Monday night show for the mess they are trying now, I was finished when they yanked a fan fave show off the air.

I keep up in bits and pieces & can't tell you the last time I read Jayski.

I just do not care.

Other life issues have been part of the reason but the endless racing at boring tracks (OR HORRIBLE IN CAR/BUMPER CAM SHOWS for 4 hrs) too many commercials, mystery cautions, stupid rules (3 GWC is more annoying than a plus imo)

Media hysteria over anything that happens between drivers. MORE FAKE.

Thus I don't care about ANY show at this point, sad to say.

My eyes can no longer be used for multi tasking and if I can't get my racing straight, forget about it. I will watch TNT's wide open coverage of Daytona. I missed the road race completely to celebrate my 90 years young mom's birthday (She still drives a couple miles, cooks, cleans!)

So, I don't miss griping about NASCAR on this blog. I do think the CAMERA WORK on TNT is much improved....but this sport has so lost it's soul it's not even funny.

It saddens me to write this but it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching Race Hub since it's started. It's got some good content but I'm afraid that with David Hill taking over it will eventually be another Nascar Nation.

We will know of it's demise when they bring on some local talent that knows nothing about nascar that everyone will say "who is that" to replace the already solid hosts they have now.

Anonymous said...

At least Race Hub is on at the same time every night,tired of Nascar Now getting bumped back due to boring tennis and soccer.
Last night was 2 hours back to back of Nascar talk,you can't beat that.

Terry
Lynchburg,Va.

Richard in N.C. said...

Increasingly glad Race Hub has gone to an hour, which has apparently scared EESPN out of the pool. You can't watch what you can't find. An hour Race Hub fills the gap.