Saturday, July 31, 2010
This stand-alone Nationwide Series race gives ESPN an opportunity to split the crew and allow some folks to take new roles in the telecast.
Originally, Vince Welch was coming to Iowa to call the play-by-play. Unfortunately, Welch was in a minor traffic accident Thursday in Indy and has decided to sit this one out. He is uninjured, but a telecast like this would be a bit much for him right now.
Instead, Dave Burns will return to fill that role. He will be joined by Ricky Craven and Ray Evernham. My mistake from the original posting. Working on other things today and I apologize for the error. Probably won't be the last!
On pit road will be Shannon Spake, Rick DeBruhl and Jim Noble. DeBruhl has long been a utility player for ESPN and is a local station reporter from the Phoenix area. Noble worked hard this summer as the Race Buddy pit reporter and is a radio veteran.
Iowa is sold out and the crowd should be rocking. While several Sprint Cup Series drivers made the trip from Pocono, it should be a good opportunity for some Nationwide Series regulars to get some media attention.
The track is easy to cover and basically made for TV. Great lighting and cameras embedded in the racing surface make the track shine in HD. Hopefully, there is an aerial shot available as this facility looks great at night.
This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN2 coverage of the Nationwide Series from Iowa Speedway. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
The Camping World Truck Series is set to debut at Pocono Raceway. After qualifying on Saturday morning, the race coverage gets underway with the pre-race show at 12:30PM.
Krista Voda hosts The Setup with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander as the reporters. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are going to be joined in the TV booth by Darrell Waltrip. Younger brother Michael is in Belgium racing sports cars with his business partner in MWR.
Pocono is a track that can get boring very fast if the field strings-out quickly. If the trucks stay bunched, it can be exciting. The TV challenge is not a big one as the track is so big and so wide the director is sometimes just searching for any interesting visuals.
As with most NASCAR races on TV, the crunch times are the pit stops and the final few laps. Pocono has a straight and wide pit road, so doing a triple split for caution flag stops and keeping a perspective for stops under green should be easy to do.
The final run off turn three to the finish is long and straight, so crunch time on the final lap is getting the field through turns two and three. This is going to be especially interesting if there has been a green/white/checkered finish set-up.
Waltrip is now being featured by SPEED and Foxsports.com long after the FOX portion of the TV coverage has been done. This newer profile has gotten mixed reviews from fans at TDP, so it should be interesting how DW fits into this team with Michael absent.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Camping World Truck Series coverage from Pocono on SPEED. 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 stopping by.
Friday, July 30, 2010
This is a special edition of "Your Turn." The idea is to allow comments on the recently reported issue of secret fines imposed on top NASCAR drivers.
AP reporter Jenna Fryer offered the original story of NASCAR fining at least two drivers this season for comments it felt were detrimental to the sport. In one case, the fine was said to be as much as 50 thousand dollars. This set-off a firestorm of controversy for a variety of reasons.
Here is a group of stories on this topic from a cross-section of NASCAR reporters and bloggers. The list begins with Fryer's original story. Click on the title to read the story.
"NASCAR Gets Tougher To Protect Its Brand" from AP reporter Jenna Fryer.
"NASCAR's Secret Fines A Bad Policy" from AOL Senior Motorsports writer Holly Cain.
"NASCAR’s Gone All Commie On Us And Junk" by NASCAR Examiner.com writer Greg Engle.
"NASCAR Looks To Silence Drivers Critical Of The Sport" by Tom Bowles of Sports Illustrated.
"NASCAR: Come Clean About Secret Penalty Box" by Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer.
"Secret Fines For Drivers Who Speak Out Signals A Setback For NASCAR" from SBNation motorsports reporter Jeff Gluck.
Professional sports from Major League Baseball to the NFL have a definition and policy that deals with conduct by active athletes, coaches and owners that is deemed detrimental to the sport. Fines, probation and suspension are all part of that policy. So are player unions, collective bargaining agreements and public disclosure of all penalties and fines.
One issue to keep in mind in this discussion is that no football game has ever been stopped and possession given to the losing team because the NFL decided the score was too lopsided. No Major League Baseball team was suddenly given four outs in an inning by the umpire to make the game more exciting.
This season NASCAR has repeatedly stopped the racing action late in events by putting out the caution flag. This has been a topic that has aggravated drivers and owners, especially when what appeared to be the natural outcome of the event was altered. Criticism of NASCAR this season has often been aimed in this direction.
Sprint Cup Series owner Michael Waltrip was vocal in saying NASCAR is correct in calling these "TV timeouts." Waltrip said purposeful late race cautions should be welcomed by the fans. Waltrip stated on Twitter that fans who spent the time and money to come to the races deserved an exciting finish.
SBNation's Jeff Gluck said he is in favor of NASCAR "tightening things up" at the end of the races. If cars are damaged in subsequent wrecks, that is just the price teams pay for playing at the Sprint Cup Series level. "It just adds drama," said Gluck on Twitter.
NASCAR has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that it has ever called a caution period for anything other than a dangerous condition on the racetrack. This sentiment had been backed-up by veteran TV and radio personalities. The issue does not exist to some in this group. Those who dare to discuss it are openly branded as disloyal.
Into this environment strolls the Sprint Cup Series drivers. Normally prepped by public relations managers, the drivers have one big problem. Eventually, they must actually spend some time racing. The result of that is sometimes raw emotion overflows and the resulting statements do not get run through the PR blender.
After fighting for hours to get an advantage on the track, drivers must deal with the fact that NASCAR may choose to alter the outcome by halting the action and calling a "TV timeout." Mark Martin uses an old school term when this happens. He calls them "show cautions."
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston's statement made a lot of sense. He said NASCAR needs a mechanism to control public statements by high-profile personalities in the sport that are clearly detrimental. Unfortunately, Poston did not address the issue of NASCAR playing an active role in causing those statements through its own actions.
ESPN and several other media sources have named Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman as drivers fined this season. Ultimately, the names don't really matter.
In order for NASCAR to get back on track it must treat the races with the same sense of fair play that fans expect from the NFL and Major Leage Baseball. Only when a level playing field is maintained can NASCAR fairly penalize a "player" for speaking out in anger. Pocono this weekend should be a very good test of this issue.
Certainly, there are other whispers being heard. What else is NASCAR doing in secret? Why didn't NASCAR just disclose the fines originally? What specific comments triggered these fines? Why did NASCAR warn drivers in the pre-season on this topic?
Ultimately, in a week when Jack Roush was involved in an airplane crash, Gateway Raceway withdrew from NASCAR and Scott Wimmer's house burned down, this buzz about secret fines will pass. We will use Thursday to get your opinion and then move on to Pocono and Iowa topics for the weekend.
To offer your comments on NASCAR's secret fines and the media uncovering this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, we do not tolerate profanity or hateful speech. Please keep that in mind when posting.
Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet for this special edition of "Your Turn." We return to TV and media topics on Friday.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Things are underway at noon ET from Pocono and all the Friday action is on SPEED.
The trio of Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds are in for a long day. They call practice at noon, qualifying at 3:30PM and then handle Trackside Friday night at 7PM. Bob Dillner and Wendy Venturini are the reporters for the practice and qualifying. Elliott Sadler joins Trackside as a panelist.
Darrell Waltrip is back again on SPEED. This campaign to raise Waltrip's profile on the network is assisted by the fact that his brother, Michael, is out of the country. The senior Waltrip will step in for the truck series and ARCA coverage.
He will be joining Rick Allen and Phil Parsons who will call the truck series practice at 5:30PM in advance of the Saturday race. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are reporting for the trucks while Wendy Venturini and Jim Tretow will handle ARCA.
Sandwiched in between the action on the track will be two editions of NASCAR Live at 1:30 and 3:00PM. This is a good little show to keep fans up to date on the happenings at the track. John Roberts and Randy Pemberton will be on the SPEED Stage with Bob Dillner and Hermie Sadler reporting from the garage area.
ESPN2 has lots of golf coverage on Friday, so there is no NASCAR Now and no other coverage of the sport. The 7:00PM Saturday night coverage of the Nationwide Series race is the next time ESPN comes back to NASCAR.
We will use this post to host your comments on the topics above and the Friday coverage on SPEED. 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.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
First of all, best wishes for a speedy recovery to veteran NASCAR owner Jack Roush. He was involved in an accident while landing his private jet at the airport in Oshkosh, WI.
Arriving for a major airshow, Roush experienced a hard landing and his airplane broke apart. He experienced some cuts and bruises, but walked out of the plane under his own power. He and his female passenger were transported to the hospital and reported in stable condition. The photo is from AVWeb via reporter Bob Margolis.
Sports Media Watch updates the TV ratings for the Brickyard 400 on ESPN:
Sunday's Brickyard 400 drew a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.709 million viewers on ESPN, down 12% in ratings and viewership from last year (4.1, 6.487 mil), down 16% and 14%, respectively, from 2008 (4.3, 6.668 mil), and down 14% and 13%, respectively, from 2007 (4.2, 6.574 mil).
This marks the lowest rating ever for the Brickyard 400, which debuted in 1994. Only once before had the race ever drawn less than a 4.0 rating -- 2000, when it hit a then-record low 3.7 on ABC.
SPEED's Race Hub continues to develop the new one-hour weekday shows. Wednesday, Marcos Ambrose comes to the studio to talk about his impending departure from JRG/Daugherty Motorsports. Reporter Danielle Trotta is at RCR to speak with Clint Bowyer and Ray Dunlap will update the truck series before the first race at Pocono.
While the Sprint Cup and truck series are in Pocono, the Nationwide Series is at Iowa Speedway and live on ESPN2 Saturday night. This stand-alone race lets ESPN put together an interesting announce team in the booth.
It will be Ray Evernham and Ricky Craven teamed as the analysts with Vince Welch calling the play-by-play. We have consistently urged the network to use a different team of announcers on Nationwide Series races once Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree move over to the ESPN Sprint Cup Series coverage. This Iowa trio should be fun to watch.
Late last week, NASCAR quietly added a new TV partner. VERSUS is the new home of nine NASCAR Modified Series telecasts. Venues include Bowman Gray Stadium, home of the cancelled Madhouse TV series. Click here to read the entire release.
Opening a relationship with VERSUS is a positive step. This Comcast-owned network is growing quickly and stands to become a sports TV powerhouse when Comcast's acquisition of NBC becomes final. We will pass along more information about announcers and air dates when they become available.
There is no NASCAR Now program on Thursday as ESPN2 has live golf coverage. This also played a role in the fact that SPEED will originate the practice and qualifying coverage from Pocono this weekend for the Sprint Cup Series.
The good news is that another extended post-race show will air on ESPN after the Pocono race on Sunday. ESPN's first effort last week at Indy was outstanding. This is exactly what fans have been requesting. ESPN has blocked out 5:30 to 7PM on Sunday for a combination of post-race coverage and SportsCenter highlights.
We welcome your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. You can email with comments or suggestions on other topics at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Monday, July 26, 2010
This is the fourth season of ESPN covering the Sprint Cup Series down the stretch.
The network offered a one-hour pre-race show anchored by Allen Bestwick. Joining Bestwick in the Infield Pit Studio were Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. They offered several pre-produced features, some interviews and discussions of race strategy. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Garage.
The actual call of the race was being done for the very first time by Marty Reid. He was joined in the TV booth by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Down on pit road were Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.
Reid was thrown a curveball right away with a major incident in turn one that took a while to sort out. From there, the race took quite a while to settle down as cars overheated and needed to pit out of sequence.
ESPN offered good pictures and sound with no technical problems. There were no weather delays and no red flags. The caution periods were limited and the racing was the style we have come to expect from this track.
This post is an opportunity to offer your comments on the ESPN race coverage before you hear mine. Just click on the comments button below and offer a wrap-up of the coverage. This is the most widely-read post on our site. Thanks for stopping by.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Here we go with the start of ESPN's fourth season of covering the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. Today's telecast will be one hour of pre-race, the race itself and then extended post-race on SportsCenter.
Allen Bestwick will host the coverage from the Infield Pit Studio. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty. Bestwick will host the post-race report as well from this location.
Marty Reid begins his first season as the play-by-play announcer for one of the most high-profile motorsports packages in the world. Reid will have veterans Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. This duo has been working together for several seasons and is quite comfortable on the air.
Reid is a utility player. He has been used by ESPN on IndyCars, NHRA and off-road coverage. Many fans were surprised that ESPN did not simply promote Bestwick back to the PXP role and use a studio host like Nicole Briscoe to host the infield coverage.
Reid is facing a tough task. He must follow the direction of the ESPN producer and the pictures provided by the ESPN director. For the past couple of years, ESPN has selected a script that was offered in the pre-race show and then attempted to follow it during the race. It rarely made sense.
Jimmie Johnson and his team were the focus of the ESPN telecasts last season. That did not really allow a balanced look at the rest of the teams and fans got upset rather quickly. The season ended with a lot of fan anger, low ratings and tempers short.
This is an opportunity for ESPN to open a new chapter in its NASCAR TV history. Simply by following the action, letting the stories play out and showing fans the best racing on the track things will change in a hurry. Let's see if that happens.
This post will host your comments about the ESPN coverage from The Brickyard. 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 stopping by and chatting with us today!
There are three solid hours of TV coverage leading up to the debut of the new NASCAR on ESPN team at noon ET on Sunday. The schedule is listed on the left side of our main page.
NASCAR Now at 9AM is a big preview show for ESPN. Nicole Briscoe will be hosting from Indy. Expect a lot of familiar faces to show-up in this program. Briscoe has been having a very solid season as a fulltime host for this series.
Once ESPN is done, SPEED steps-in with RaceDay. The network recently announced that Darrell Waltrip will be added to the panel this weekend. That puts Waltrip, Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace as the group for host John Roberts to control.
This show has been a bizarre mix of top-notch news and interviews from the infield with a rah-rah pro-NASCAR panel since Petty has been gone. Kenny Wallace has been having a rough time fitting-in since the departure of Jimmy Spencer. Bringing Spencer back for a couple of shows certainly did not help.
In the new dynamic on the SPEED Stage, Petty speaks to issues while Wallace yells at fans and tells them what is right. Inserting Waltrip into the line-up certainly raises some eyebrows for a show that is really made for two panelists.
It should be interesting to watch these shows and see the ramp-up for the big race. We welcome your comments on these topics. 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.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The ESPN "B team" is ready for action from O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indy. The big boys are over at IMS with the Sprint Cup Series coverage. This gives some other folks a time to shine.
Vince Welch is calling his second Nationwide Series race of the season. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven in the TV booth. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Rick DeBruhl and Mike Massaro.
DeBruhl is a veteran who has been a utility player for ESPN for a long time. He is a fulltime local TV station reporter in Arizona during the week. Spake has been a field reporter and host for NASCAR Now as well as filling-in on pit road this season after returning from the birth of her twins.
Massaro has been doing his own Allen Bestwick impression this season. The fulltime NASCAR Now host has also been working as a pit road reporter and also hosted NNS pre-race shows, which he will probably do tonight. Talk about busy.
ESPN has to deal with the Edwards and Keselowski incident and fines, but if they make it the theme of the race it may just backfire. ORP is a tough track to pass and things normally heat-up just fine without hype.
As SPEED learned on Friday night, wideshots are mandatory of action will be missed at this short track. TV viewers need to see the entire frontstretch every lap or passing will be missed. Shooting the cars coming into the camera rather than going away means some work for the director but it makes a big difference.
This post will serve to host your comments on the NNS race from ORP on ESPN. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.
The daytime TV coverage starts at 10AM and runs right up to the Nationwide Series pre-race at 7:30PM. The complete schedule is on the left side of the main page.
Happy to have your comments on these TV programs and the coverage. We will be live blogging the featured NNS race tonight shortly after 7PM. Thanks.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This is always a highlight of the CWTS season. The tiny confines of O'Reilly Raceway Park reminds us all of the truck series roots.
Krista Voda starts the coverage with The Setup at 7:30PM. Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons will call the action at 8PM. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are on pit road.
The racing is always good with a flat track that makes it tough to pass. The trucks have been delivering the best racing of all three of NASCAR's national touring series this season and ORP should continue that tonight.
This post will serve to host your comments on the SPEED coverage of the CWTS. 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 stopping by!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The on-track action may begin on Friday, but all hands are on deck for ESPN's opening day TV special from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday. NASCAR Now will be one-hour long and will air at 5PM on ESPN2. Unfortunately, the show does not re-air.
Late afternoon on a Thursday is not perhaps the timeslot NASCAR deserves, but fans have learned over the last three years to take what ESPN gives them. The good news is that what ESPN is promising to give is something different.
What the network desperately needs from NASCAR fans is a clean slate. The embarrassing TV fiasco called the Chase for the Championship did almost nothing last season but make everyone mad.
Fans of non-Chase drivers saw them slowly slip off the ESPN radar until they were never seen again unless leading a race. Fans of Chase drivers were hit over the head constantly with the meaningless "points right now" stat as if the race were suddenly going to be halted by locusts.
Even fans of Jimmie Johnson chimed-in last season on ESPN's overkill of that team. There is now a word for what ESPN does when it zooms-in on one topic and beats it to death. It's called "hyper-coverage." No one seems to know quite where it came from, but it's rapidly becoming the thing to do.
This season, ESPN has done all the right things during the ramp-up to these final seventeen races. Feisty Marty Reid is in the broadcast booth, dependable Allen Bestwick will host from the Infield Pit Studio and Dr. Jerry Punch has finally returned to pit road.
Thursday will be the first time ESPN will come on the air as the Sprint Cup Series network of record this season. NASCAR is in a TV tailspin. Critics are coming out of the woodwork because they smell blood in the water. It will not be an easy task to turn this ship around. The good news is that ESPN has the manpower, technology and talent to do just that.
Handcuffed by no online video streaming or RaceBuddy style application, picking the right thing to show to viewers is going to be the key that will either unlock the door to success or send fans running to the NFL when that season opens. The time to show NASCAR fans that things have changed is now.
These final races deserve to be presented as events with a singular focus on the actual racing. The Chase will take care of itself. The points will take care of themselves. Detouring again from the action on the track to tell stories that fit the ESPN script is going to doom this season to failure from the start.
No one is better at setting the tone for a race than Bestwick. His ability to offer exciting and informative commentary is well-known. The fact that ESPN chose to pass him by in the hunt for a new play-by-play announcer continues to amaze many folks.
However, without Punch to drag the telecasts down, this may be Bestwick's best season to date with ESPN. Reid and Bestwick know their respective roles and know how to fill them. Reid said in interviews this week that this is the biggest TV opportunity of his life. Count on him to make the best of it.
Fans who saw Punch at Gateway this past weekend know how he can draw emotion out of NASCAR personalities. Punch is the quintessential reporter. Instead of hanging his head after being replaced in the booth, Punch has used the Nationwide Series races to get back his credibility on the air. His timing is perfect.
Reid has already proven his ability to draw Dale Jarrett out of his polite shell and get him to speak his mind on the air. This was one of the greatest fundamental failures of Punch in the booth. Jarret and Andy Petree spent a great deal of time trying to add play-by-play commentary instead of simply being race analysts.
I will agree to give ESPN a clean slate. Start again, focus on the racing and show us that you know the sport and love it like we do. The NFL opens on September 9 with a special Thursday night game. That gives ESPN six races without competition.
There is perhaps more on the line than ever before as the sport heads down the stretch. NASCAR is counting on ESPN this season to deliver the goods in a season of uncertainty. The talking is over and the first pitch of the regular season is 5PM on Thursday.
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.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lots of items coming across the TDP desk this week. Here are a few:
ESPN held its annual pre-Sprint Cup Series coverage conference call. We already know it's Marty Reid, Dale Jarret and Andy Petree calling the races. Other than that, there were two very interesting points where TV is concerned. The first is how ESPN is reacting to criticism of post-race issues with the NASCAR TV partners.
Here is Julie Sobieski, ESPN's Programming VP speaking to that issue:
Question: Julie, there's been a lot of complaints this year by fans and others about the coverage from TNT and FOX. Does ESPN pay attention to that at all and do you adjust your broadcast accordingly?
Sobieski: We always pay attention to anything the fans have to say. If we feel that what they're talking about at any given point is relative to our coverage and things we can do better, we always learn from that.
One great example this year of something we've been hearing not just this year but in other years is that fans want a more in‑depth post race experience around the races.
And one of the opportunity that's these 14 races on ESPN affords us this year uniquely is that we'll be able to have SportsCenter, an expanded SportsCenter, on the back end of those ESPN races. And we'll be able to go back, as we would with most other major sports we have on our network, when SportsCenter is on the back end, to be able to go back to the track and do more in depth post race analysis. We're looking forward to that.
That is definitely in response not only to what we've heard from fans, but it is just an opportunity that we're able to provide on ESPN with the schedule and earlier start times as well.
Pretty good answer to that issue, use SportsCenter to host a post-race show. Here is the second topic, ESPN choosing to have it's own "expert" on every post-race show.
Question: Julie, you mentioned earlier about the post‑race show. Weren't you pretty much cutting into SportsCenter and doing the same things last year? Or what is more expanded that you're providing in regards to the post race program?
Sobieski: In some cases that's an hour and 90 minutes to close to three hours on the back end of these telecasts. Having that much time affords us the opportunity to consistently go back to the racetrack and spend time there. We have production that's been working on a list of several specific features and components that we expect to see across SportsCenter that fans can get used to. Carl Edwards being one of the components as a standing guest after each one of our ESPN telecasts.
That's right, starting this weekend in Indy it will be Carl Edwards as ESPN's post-race driver/analyst. You just can't make this stuff up.
Also this week SPEED informed us that Darrell Waltrip is indeed returning to the network as we suggested several weeks ago. Waltrip will replace Elliott Sadler on Trackside and will join John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace on the SPEED Stage for RaceDay this weekend in Indy.
FOX executive David Hill is now in charge of SPEED and it's pretty clear that DW is the man where Hill is concerned. Expect Waltrip's TV presence to continue and even grow as the season progresses.
Back in the studio, SPEED's Race Hub continues to offer some interesting guests. Wednesday, Jeff Gordon is featured. Thursday brings Penske Racing VP Tim Cindric to review the Gateway situation, which may include penalties announced on Wednesday. Also, truck series director Wayne Auton will be on to make an official announcement about the series.
If you are scheduling TV plans for this weekend, the entire NASCAR TV schedule is listed on the left side of the TDP main page. One show to note is a one-hour NASCAR Now special hosted by Allen Bestwick from Indy on Thursday at 5PM ET. Finally, the one hour Sunday night recap version of NASCAR Now also returns this weekend at 10PM ET.
If any additional information comes along, we will add it to this post. In the meantime, happy to have your comments on these topics. 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.
Monday, July 19, 2010
It has been a long three years for ESPN where the Sprint Cup Series is concerned. The network stepped into the sport back in 2007 with tons of hype and Brent Musburger at the helm. "You are looking live" did not ring a bell with NASCAR fans and Musburger shuffled off quietly.
This year at Indy, ESPN is hoping the fourth time is the charm. Motorsports veteran Marty Reid has been tapped to lead the network through the final seventeen races of the season, including The Chase for the Championship. Dr. Jerry Punch has returned to pit road after three seasons in the play-by-play role.
Reid will be joined down the stretch by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the TV booth. These two analysts work quite well together and Reid might be the right person to make them click when the pressure is on. This season, the pressure is on in more ways than one.
Last year at this time, ESPN began to hit fans over the head with the Jimmie Johnson stick. By the time the final Chase races rolled around, it was an adoration society complete with slow-motion replays of Johnson's pit stops and stats on each lug nut.
The fan backlash against Johnson was amazing and due in no small part to ESPN's decision to make the world revolve around his every move. At the same time, the network had a real problem. NASCAR was asking one TV telecast to cover three separate agendas.
Click here to read "TV's Rock and a Hard Place" from November of last year. Here is an excerpt:
First, NASCAR fans across the nation are sitting in front of the TV and waiting to see their favorite driver. It does not matter where he is running, how he is running or if he made the Chase. Fans of a certain driver want to see that driver on TV, period.
Secondly, the actual race is underway and the dynamic of the fastest car is being played-out at the front of the pack. There is a story unfolding about who can win the race and who hopes to challenge before the day is over. That has to be followed.
Finally, NASCAR created a playoff points system that demands that 12 cars be treated differently by ESPN for one simple reason. Those cars are now the only 12 that can possibly win the season championship. NASCAR has added a third storyline that trumps the first two and skews the final ten races for many fans.
In many ways, it's a no win. Our suggestion since 2007 has been to simply cover the races as usual and let the points get tallied up at the end. How else can ESPN hope to serve three very different masters?
Reid has shown himself to be independent of the "happy talk" that NASCAR encouraged this season. He has called out the start-and-park cars in each Nationwide Series race and often puts his analysts and pit reporters on the spot where controversial issues are concerned. This is exactly what the sport needs right now.
There is little doubt that ESPN was shaken-up after another tough Sprint Cup Series run last season. This year, fans are coming off a tech-friendly TNT that offered live online video for every race and had reporters Tweeting with fans during the races. ESPN has no online applications other than a scoreboard. Social media plans are still sketchy.
The final TNT race was so loaded with commercials it was almost impossible to watch. Reporter Jeff Gluck's experience of watching this race at home was chronicled in his now infamous "Writer Discovers Unwatchable TV Broadcast" column. Click here to read it.
The good news is that this ESPN crew has been working together on the Nationwide Series races since February. The telecasts have been looking and sounding good. Reid is a feisty leader and the rest of the team feeds off his energy. There is, however, another key element to ESPN turning things around. His name is Allen Bestwick.
This season, Bestwick will not have to deal with the unfortunate circumstance of Punch being in the booth. Bestwick's anchoring from the Infield Pit Studio will be part of an overall exciting telecast. That has never happened in three years.
Bestwick and Reid are going to be the best one-two punch ESPN has ever put on the Sprint Cup Series races. To his credit, Punch landed on his feet and has been working hard on pit road. It might be that the pieces of this puzzle are finally in the right places.
ESPN is in the NASCAR game until 2014. So far, it's been a mixed blessing of exposure for the sport tempered by some very different approaches to televising the actual racing. This season's economic woes and low television ratings promise to bring even more pressure to bear on this very expensive sports property.
Where are you on this issue? Optimistic that new blood will bring positive change or resigned to being hit over the head by the Chase for seventeen weeks?
To add your comments on this topic, just click 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.
The numbers this summer told the tale. Use of the RaceBuddy online application offered by Turner Sports through the NASCAR.com website was off the charts. What started out as four camera angles and some team scanners has become a phenomenon.
Each of the six TNT summer telecasts offered fans an opportunity to expand their view of the actual races. One in-car camera, a fulltime view of pit road, a dedicated camera following the best battles on the track and a final stream switching between aerial views, speed shots and pit reporter updates comprised the RaceBuddy offering.
Then, the Turner guys added a new twist. In the past, RaceBuddy was something you watched online in addition to the race on TV. It was something extra. This year, the actual call of the race from the TNT announcers was added. This meant that for the first time in the history of NASCAR, fans could turn off the TV and watch the entire race with commentary online.
As the six races began to slide by, fans using RaceBuddy alone to watch the race discovered another huge bonus. No commercial breaks. While short sponsor messages popped-up when fans changed video streams, the TV ads did not travel to the online world. It was now easy to watch an entire race from a brand new perspective.
Wherever a laptop computer could travel, RaceBuddy traveled with it. Fans wrote that their world changed due to the fact they no longer had to be positioned in front of the TV set for four hours. Suddenly, laptops were open on Sunday in the workplace, at the pool and on the road.
One hilarious email was from a police officer who said most of his guys were watching NASCAR on the laptops in the patrol cars. People kept walking up and asking them how they were doing that. NASCAR content was now able to travel away from the TV set and out into the world.
In less than two weeks, ESPN begins coverage of the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races of the season. Currently, there are no plans to offer any online support for these telecasts. Despite the fact that the technology exists, neither Turner, NASCAR or ESPN is making RaceBuddy a priority down the stretch.
The only option that exists is to make the actual feed of the ESPN races available online. ESPN3 is an online service recently launched to provide additional opportunities for sports fans to see content when they are away from the TV. Even as a simple first step, streaming the ESPN races online with commercials would allow fans to choose to watch online or on TV.
The bottom line is that NASCAR has three Sprint Cup Series TV partners that each have their own network agenda. FOX's David Hill said there would be no streaming of races to protect the local FOX TV stations. That makes little sense, as those who watch online are mostly physically away from a TV. They simply want an alternative.
As most TDP readers know, NASCAR sold the online rights to the sport to Turner Interactive years ago in a contract that has a long time to run. Nothing can happen without Turner's blessing and that normally involves money changing hands. The results have been no online video applications other than RaceBuddy for the past four years.
In less than two weeks, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series will begin the stretch run. These final seventeen races will be less of a valuable product, especially to younger fans, without any online streaming. Simply turning off the online availability after giving it to fans for the past six races is not going to have a good result.
Should anything change on this issue before Indy, we will pass the information along. In the meantime, we welcome your opinion about the online issues confronting the sport and your use of RaceBuddy over the last six races.
To add your comments, 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.
It was supposed to be a quiet Monday in NASCAR TV land. After an off-week for the Sprint Cup Series, both ESPN2's NASCAR Now and SPEED's Race Hub were planning a brief review of the Nationwide and Truck Series races before zooming-in on the big weekend approaching in Indianapolis. Saturday night changed those plans.
The final lap of the Nationwide Series race opened a debate that started in Daytona and has grown in volume with every racing weekend. NASCAR opened the door to aggressive driving and now they may have created a monster.
Up first is the anchor show for ESPN at 5PM ET with no re-air. The one-hour Monday version of NASCAR Now has grown in popularity over the last two years. This is in no small part due to the hard work of Allen Bestwick. He took this show over and gave it the credibility it had been lacking.
This week, the versatile Mike Massaro is hosting. Massaro was actually at Gateway on Saturday night working as a pit reporter. He has some first-hand observations about the aftermath of the Nationwide Series race.
This is a reporter roundtable edition of NASCAR Now. Nate Ryan from USA Today, Bob Pockrass from Scene Daily and David Newton from ESPN will be on the panel.
Click here to read the Pockrass story suggesting Edwards should get fined for his actions. Click here to read Ryan's story about the same incident in which he offers no opinion but his readers certainly do.
Newton has been an interesting presence on the NASCAR scene. His Twitter comments after the Saturday night race offered two good points. One, Edwards should remember that Keselowski has nothing to lose in the Sprint Cup Series this season in terms of paybacks. Two, that NASCAR continuing to let this build could have serious consequences once The Chase is underway.
This promises to be a fast-paced hour full of good conversation. ESPN continues to be very formal on the air, with no viewer feedback except for a contrived poll with sometimes hilarious questions. No social media contingent to this program at all.
SPEED has been trying to get up and rolling with a one-hour 7PM version of Race Hub. Things have been uneven to say the least. From "More than a mouthful Mondays' to Miss Sprint Cup reading driver tweets on the air, this show needs a lot more real content and a lot less fluff.
Thankfully, one of SPEED's top studio hosts Krista Voda is back on Monday. Reporter Danielle Trotta returns with a JGR visit and fresh off his Legends Million experience driver David Ragan stops by the studio.
Voda needs some support in terms of dealing with the clash on Saturday night and the larger issue of letting violence in NASCAR escalate. This is one of those days where NASCAR should provide an executive to answer fan questions in the studio and deal with the issues head-on. So far, the sanctioning body has failed to answer this call.
Fans have seen the race highlights many times by Monday night and the new Race Hub has been slowly falling back into the old trap of repeating them again. The content of this show needs to come from fresh interviews, fan feedback and in-studio experts.
The challenge for SPEED is to step-away from their reputation in-studio as NASCAR's unofficial marketing and public relations arm and develop an identity for the network and this series. This show is not produced by The NASCAR Media Group and is an opportunity for the network to create it's own brand.
It should be interesting to watch two TV networks cover much of the same ground in very different ways. The suits and ties of ESPN vs. the casual look and feel of SPEED always makes for an interesting comparison.
We will use this post to offer comments before, during and after the two Monday TV shows. 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.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The weekend started with SPEED having the first troubles at Gateway and wound-up with ESPN having a mess at the end.
While a Friday night power outage delayed SPEED until Saturday afternoon for the Camping World Truck Series race, ESPN got the Nationwide Series event underway as planned on Saturday night.
This is an off-week for many NASCAR personalities as everyone catches a final breath before the long push to the end of the season in November. ESPN's "A Team" of Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were all off this weekend.
It was Dave Burns who got the call to handle his first play-by-play assignment with ESPN veterans Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven alongside in the TV booth. On pit road were Dr. Jerry Punch, Shannon Spake and Mike Massaro.
While NASCAR continues to ponder changes, the Nationwide Series continues to be the playground of the fulltime Sprint Cup Series drivers. On this day Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski were the show.
Burns on-air performance was solid, but it was Craven who again stole the telecast with his sense of calm and outstanding analysis. Wallace was off-balance at first, but he settled down when it was clear that Craven was not going to try and one-up him with comments.
It's always great to have Punch back on pit road and his interviews with several of the Nationwide "regulars" really put that in perspective. What ESPN did not understand for several years is that having Punch interview you is an honor for a young driver. That was made clear Saturday.
Massaro hosted a chunk of the pre-race show from the starting grid and Spake has made remarkable progress in returning to the sport this season after her maternity leave. These two multi-talented personalities are ESPN's utility players.
While the race featured several interesting moments, it was the action on the last lap that will be talked about for the week. After Harvick was eliminated in a late crash, Keselowski and Edwards were left to battle it out. The rest is history.
Burns called the action as Keselowski tapped Edwards through Turns 1 and 2. It looked like ESPN was going to get a door-to-door sprint to the finish but that never happened. Edwards turned left off Turn 4, hooked Keselowski and spun him out.
As Burns struggled for the right words, the rest of the field tried to dodge Keselowski's car on a frontstretch with walls on either side. Things did not work out very well in that regard. Keselowski's car was demolished after being hit broadside while sitting motionless.
The TV pictures changed excitement to concern very quickly. Even as the Edwards crew conducted an ill-advised celebration on pit road, there were lots of wrecked race cars on the frontstretch. Eventually, Keselowski emerged unharmed.
Craven and Wallace had a tough time originally while waiting for the replays from the ESPN producer. Craven thought Edwards had botched a cross-over move and Wallace was unsure just what happened. It became apparent quickly that Edwards had purposefully taken Keselowski out.
This is a tough spot for Wallace. He owns and operates a two-car team in the very series that he describes on TV. He is a former Penske driver. His son has been involved in many accidents in the series. Despite what ESPN maintains, Wallace cannot simply speak his mind in a situation like this.
Craven continued to work his way through carefully, but Edwards' interview in Victory Lane took away all doubt that this was an accident. Edwards' bold statements that he took something away from Keselowski and that he was simply not going to let him win changed everything. Edwards dared both ESPN and NASCAR to react. ESPN passed.
Perhaps for viewers, seeing the real emotion of Brad's father Bob outside of the Infield Care center put things in a new perspective. The reality of racing was made all too clear with his words of anger and revenge. "He's not going to kill my boy," he said. That is a pretty simple concept to understand.
In the end, ESPN missed an interview with the younger Keselowski on the race telecast but followed up shortly after on ESPNEWS. Leaving the air, both Wallace and Craven hinted at an official NASCAR response, but that made little sense as Edwards celebrated in the background. He had the checkered flag.
Perhaps you could share with us your thoughts on this telecast and how ESPN handled the final lap accident? To add your opinion, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
It's been a long, hot day in the Greater St. Louis area. The heat is on and the afternoon Camping World Truck Series race is over. Now, the Nationwide Series gets on the track to complete the day with qualifying and the race.
ESPN will show qualifying at 4:30PM, the pre-race at 7PM and the race coverage at 8PM. Dave Burns will lead the announce team of Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven. On pit road will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Shannon Spake and Mike Massaro.
While there might not be a Kyle Busch this weekend, there are still some Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers that will challenge the field. Nationwide driver Brad Coleman will be the ESPN in-race reporter.
The action is fast at Gateway and much of it takes place on the wide backstretch. Tight shots are impossible as the flat track does not offer a lot of grip and slipping and sliding is often the order of the day. The pit road is narrow with a wall on the outside and the race out of this area may indeed provide most of the passing.
Burns said that the opportunity for him to call a NASCAR race on ESPN was something he really wanted to try. Well, there is no bigger stage than national TV.
This post will host your comments about the telecast from Gateway on ESPN2. To add your comments, 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.
Here we go again with the second try at getting the Camping World Truck Series race underway from Gateway in St. Louis, MO.
Conditions are going to be very different now in the heat of the day. On TV, there will be no pre-race show and the trucks should be taking the green only minutes after SPEED gets on the air. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip return to call the race. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are the pit road reporters.
This post will serve to host your comments on the race telecast. To add your opinion, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Update: The lights went out at Gateway near St. Louis, MO and never came back on. NASCAR was forced to postpone the Camping World Truck Series race until Saturday at 1:30PM ET.
Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip call the action on the track. Adam Alexander returns with Ray Dunlap on pit road.
This post will host your comments on the CWTS coverage from Gateway on SPEED. 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 stopping byt!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
There are few NASCAR TV talent that fly below the radar, but ESPN's Dave Burns has perfected that role. A regular on pit road for four seasons, Burns has hosted several pre-race shows but this weekend gets to tackle a brand new assignment.
As the dominoes continue to fall after the movement of Dr. Jerry Punch from the play-by-play role to pit lane, ESPN is clearly looking for a number two man in the TV booth. Fellow pit reporter Vince Welch already called a Nationwide Series race this season and now Burns get a chance.
It's a one-day Saturday show for ESPN2 at Gateway in St. Louis, MO. Qualifying is at 4:30PM Eastern Time, the pre-race show is at 7PM and the race starts shortly after 8PM.
Burns will handle all three and share the TV booth with Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven. Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and Punch will report from pit road. The good news is that all three of the pit reporters are outstanding hosts and can give Burns a break during the pre-race show.
Many TV viewers remember Burns from his rather colorful stints on shows like swamp buggy racing and monster trucks for The Nashville Network. Burns actually got his start calling ASA races in the Midwest. That was a great short track series that gave us Johnny Benson, Mark Martin and other top NASCAR drivers.
Burns' roots in NASCAR TV are strong as he served as a pit reporter for NBC when that network handled a package of Sprint Cup Series races. He also teamed with Punch to work on ESPN during the early years of the Camping World Truck Series.
It should be a good opportunity for this personable announcer to spread his wings a bit and take a shot at calling the play-by-play for once. Gateway has a lot of action and the Nationwide Series should put on a good show.
There are 49 cars on the entry list, so qualifying should be interesting. Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski are all racing so there may well be two shows on the track for this event. It would be nice to see a full field of cars actually racing the entire event for once this season.
This is a good opportunity for Burns to get himself on the short list of on-air personalities who can fill-in for Marty Reid when he is off working the IndyCar circuit. It seems that Allen Bestwick and Welch are the others on the network's list.
Best of luck to Burns, we would be happy to take 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 stopping by.
Here is a Wednesday recap of some of the NASCAR TV/media topics happening now and on the radar for later this week.
Rusty Wallace has admitted what many of us suspected, that he is the "Dumbass" culprit:
“At the end of Friday night’s telecast, I made an unfortunate remark regarding Kyle Busch,” Wallace said. “There’s no excuse and I certainly know better. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone, including Kyle, for my mistake.”
“ESPN has spoken to Rusty and he understands his remarks were uncalled for,” ESPN said in a statement to SceneDaily.com.
The Wallace admission gets the other members of the TV team off the hook, but continues to keep the issue of using NASCAR owners as TV analysts very active.
Click here for the most recent update in the horrific US Fidelis scandal. As pictured above, Wallace assured NASCAR fans in TV ads that buying extended warranties from this company had his seal of approval. Apparently, there is plenty of "Dumbass" to go around where Wallace is concerned.
ESPN has no plans to make changes and both Wallace and Brad Daugherty will continue with their roles on the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series telecasts.
On that note, it will be ESPN's Dave Burns who will get an opportunity to call the play-by-play on the Nationwide Series race this weekend from St. Louis, MO. Burns will be joined by Wallace and Ricky Craven in the TV booth. Both Burns and fellow pit reporter Vince Welch are going to be put in this role as ESPN continues to work on its NASCAR line-up.
Well, TNT went out this season with a whimper instead of a bang:
A lackluster run in the ratings for NASCAR on TNT concluded with record lows for the Lifelock.com 400.
TNT drew a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.608 million viewers for the Lifelock.com 400 on Saturday night, down 7% in ratings and 4% in viewership from last year (3.0, 4.814 mil), down 13% and 10%, respectively, from 2008 (3.2, 5.129 mil), and down 30% and 28%, respectively, from 2007 (4.0, 6.365 mil).
This marks the lowest rated, least-viewed edition of the Lifelock.com 400 in the nine-year history of the race. As recently as 2005, the race drew a 5.7 rating and 8.958 million viewers. Ratings and viewership have declined each successive year. (from SportsMediaWatch.net)
Not sure if this is a statement on the Chicagoland track, the quality of the TV telecast or the time of the year. Anyway you slice it, not good news.
SPEED has jumped into the Legends world with coverage of the big race on Saturday night:
Dave Despain will host SPEED's live three-hour coverage of the inaugural Legends Million from Charlotte Motor Speedway on July 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Phil Parsons will call the race for SPEED with Matt Yocum and Marty Snider working the pits.
More than 300 drivers from 36 states and two foreign countries have registered for the one-of-a-kind grassroots Legends Cars race featuring a total purse of $1 million. The A-Feature winner is guaranteed to take home an unprecedented $250,000, while the final spot in the feature is assured $10,000.
This should be interesting, but three hours of Legends racing is a lot.
Finally, click here to read about a huge new partnership between some big hitters aimed at taking on ESPN's online prowess. This article is interesting because NASCAR.com is squarely in the mix. As they say, this could change everything. Thanks to Ken and our friends at the Sports Video Group for the article.
We will update any other stories that pop-up on Wednesday. The NASCAR Fan Council, classic NASCAR races on iTunes and more RaceBuddy this year are on the front burner.
In the meantime, please feel free to give us your comments on these topics. 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.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I have been going back and forth with SBNation's Jeff Gluck (pictured on the left) over TV issues for several years now. Like many writers who travel to the track, Gluck's view of TV coverage is skewed by his ability to see the race and then interview the participants. TV viewers have no such luck. What they see is what they get.
Last weekend, Gluck did not travel to the race and instead simply watched on TV. The results were priceless. From the drop of the green flag, Gluck's frustration began to build. The same topics debated on TDP for four seasons eventually drove him over the edge.
This is the result. Click here for a link to his most recent SBNation column expressing for the first time what many of us have been repeating since 2007.
Here are some excerpts:
Many fans have yelled and screamed and jumped up and down, insisting you knew the answer all along: The TV broadcasts are unwatchable. I didn't believe you. I figured, "OK, there might be a lot of commercials and you might not like what some of the broadcasters say, but c'mon. It can't be that bad." It is. Saturday night's broadcast was that bad.
If you're a fan, you may be reading this and smacking your forehead while saying, "DUH!" Apparently from the comments I see every week, it's like this all the time.
Well, I apologize. I didn't get it before. Now I do.
Unless you're truly hardcore about NASCAR, you can't just sit there and watch the race from start to finish. Casual or even semi-interested fans would be turned off by the broadcasts.
But as I sat there on Saturday night, I thought, "If I didn't have to watch this, I'd turn it off."
Well, thanks to Gluck for sending a strong message in a timely fashion. This Sprint Cup Series off-week will mean lots of folks will read his column and this one. Maybe there can be some help brought to the table for the remainder of this season or the next.
As Gluck says, it just might be a good idea to get some top NASCAR officials, owners and drivers and make them watch in real time the final TV product that was delivered to the NASCAR fans at Chicagoland.
Who says some things never change? We welcome your opinion on this topic. 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 stopping by.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
After a big Friday and Saturday of racing, the weekend winds down with the Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Krista Voda opens with The Setup pre-race show at 1:30PM. Ray Dunlap will be on pit road for this show, then he will be joined by Voda for the race.
Upstairs will be Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons. Allen and Waltrip called the ARCA race on Friday night, while Parsons worked the Sprint Cup Series race for TNT from Chicagoland.
This track makes for good truck racing, it's fast and has multiple grooves. As the field strings out, the backmarkers also come into play in terms of lap traffic.
SPEED should present the solid type of no frills racing presentation that has worked for the trucks for several years now. Allen provides the excitement, Parsons provides the analysis and Waltrip provides the entertainment.
This post will serve to host your comments about the SPEED coverage of the Camping World Trucks from Iowa Speedway. To add your comments, 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.
The final race on TNT proved to be a challenge in more ways than one. Other than the National Anthem, excitement was in rather short supply on the track after a series of long green flag runs.
Chicagoland features high speeds but little passing. That was on the menu again Saturday night. Lindsay Czarniak started the TNT coverage from the infield with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds.
Kyle Busch was the guest and Allan Kulwicki was the featured NASCAR personality on the Pride of NASCAR. The track description was done during the Wally's World feature. McReynolds and Petty talked about various issues, mostly supporting NASCAR's policies.
Adam Alexander called the race with Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the TV booth. It was quickly clear that Alexander would be having a long night. In this race, the cameras continually left the best action and moved to the leaders of the race. In addition, the normal TNT commercial schedule made it rough on viewers.
As the race continued, the commercial breaks fell in the worst possible manner for TNT. Time after time, viewers missed important events and incidents while the network was in commercial.
Petty and Dallenbach talked about everything under the sun. Larry McReynolds showed all kind of things on the cutaway car and the pit reporters followed the stories. It was just a single-file aero race.
This post will give you an opportunity to offer your opinion on this race and the TNT coverage. There will be another post up during the week asking your overall opinion of the six TNT races.
To add your comments on this race, 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.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
This is the final TNT race of 2010 and the six race package has been an interesting mix of television moments. As usual, there are positives and negatives in every large scale TV production.
Chicagoland Speedway yielded an awful race on the Nationwide Series side Friday night. NASCAR manipulated the outcome with several questionable debris caution flags that ultimately wrecked a lot of cars and handed the win to Kyle Busch in a confusing final restart. If that is the sport NASCAR wants to present, TNT is going to have a long night.
The Sprint Cup drivers are now divided into three camps. First, the teams already positioned squarely in the Chase. Second, the teams on the bubble and finally those teams with nothing to lose who will take any chance to win. This is a familiar scenario in the new points format.
Lindsay Czarniak will host the pre-race Countdown to Green show and she will set the tone. Either TNT will continue to look at the season as a whole or simply concentrate its time and effort on this final race. That should be an interesting decision.
Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds have been solid together on the pre-race show. They respect each other on the air and McReynolds seems to finally have awakened from his self-imposed ban on saying anything perceived to be negative about the sport. Petty brings out opinions in whomever he works with and that is a wonderful trait.
TNT's pre-race features have been a hit. Pride of NASCAR has been so much more than the garbage offered by FOX and Wally's World is a humorous way of getting fans familiar with the various tracks. Having one Cup driver as a guest live before the race has also been a simple but effective tool for TNT.
Adam Alexander has been solid in his information and his comments, but he has not shown the natural spark of excitement that veteran TV play-by-play announcers need. This has put Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the position of trying to add emotion and excitement to the telecasts.
While Daytona put Alexander in the position of directing traffic for the Wide Open coverage, this Saturday in Chicagoland the telecast will return to full-screen commercials and the regular format. If the Nationwide Series race is any indication, Alexander is going to have his work cut-out for him where excitement is concerned.
TNT's Ralph Sheheen filled-in last season after the departure of Bill Weber. Many thought that Sheheen would again be the choice in the TV booth for his natural excitement and enthusiasm. Instead, he has been having a super summer on pit road.
Sheheen's interview with an angry Kyle Busch should serve as an example of exactly how to handle the high-profile and volatile Sprint Cup Series drivers. So often, they are allowed to make angry or sarcastic comments without being called out on the spot. Sheheen showed how that should be handled live on national TV.
Marty Snider and Matt Yocum have flown under the radar for TNT. They have been in the right spot at the right time and provided the right information. The glaring problem on this team is Phil Parsons. From his floundering interview with Kevin Harvick in Pocono to his constantly congratulating drivers on the air, Parsons was simply the wrong choice for this assignment.
Chicagoland should give TNT an opportunity to follow several storylines and use the content presented in the pre-race show as a theme. The long periods of green flag racing at this track can leave a TV team flat-footed without stories to follow that were presented earlier to viewers.
Luckily, the track makes great TV pictures, especially after sunset. It will be up to the director to keep the camera wide and show packs of cars racing. Otherwise, racing on this track winds-up looking like a Goodyear tire test or practice session.
RaceBuddy will be offered for the final time on NASCAR.com without charge. This online addition has been a big positive for the coverage. The Turner Sports folks are still at an impasse with FOX and ESPN. There are currently no plans to offer any online applications of this type for the rest of the Sprint Cup season.
The "extended" post-race shows on NASCAR.com have just not worked out. By the time fans who are viewing on TV got to the computer, powered it up and logged on the program was basically over. There was also no ability to rewind and view it again.
There is little doubt that to solve the problem of attracting and keeping the younger fans NASCAR must move in an online direction immediately. How and when this will be done is still a mystery now four years into the current TV contract.
This post will serve to host your comments before, during and after the Sprint Cup Series race from Chicagoland. To add your TV or media-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 out of your weekend to drop by The Daly Planet.
Friday, July 9, 2010
The entire day of action from Chicagoland Speedway has been on SPEED. At 7:30PM, NASCAR fans have to change to ESPN for the live Nationwide Series coverage.
It's Allen Bestwick back in the Infield Media Center with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Up in the TV booth is Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Down on pit road are Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.
ESPN has the "A team" together this week as this is the final rehearsal before ESPN takes over the Sprint Cup Series coverage at the Brickyard in two weeks. It should be fun to watch this newly revamped line-up work together as a unit. It will absolutely serve as a good preview of what ESPN will offer Cup fans this season.
Chicagoland is not the most exciting track, but the Nationwide Series race is shorter and there are a lot of conflicting agendas on the track. Cross-over Sprint Cup drivers are there for fun while Nationwide Series regulars continue to try and squeak out a living with a good result. No need to comment on the "start and park" wars going on at the rear of the field.
Chicagoland makes good pictures and the high speeds are even more powerful when the director uses the low angle cameras live as the cars are running under green. The facility has an outstanding pit road, which should make for solid pit stop coverage.
Reid is the new face of ESPN's NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage. He replaces Punch after three years of his work in the play by play position. Bestwick and Reid have been clicking this season to add the kind of excitement and insight to the telecasts that Punch simply could not provide.
Credit goes to ESPN for rolling out this new line-up on the Nationwide Series races this season and letting everyone settle into their new roles. Perhaps the most impressive comeback is Punch, who has been fantastic on pit road. This new combo could be just what ESPN and NASCAR need down the stretch.
This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN coverage of the Nationwide Series race from Chicagoland. To add your TV-related comments, 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!
Friday is jammed with NASCAR TV programming from 11AM to midnight Eastern Time. Three different TV production teams and twenty-five on-air talent will combine on two networks for thirteen hours of programming.
The ironman on this Friday is going to be SPEED's Steve Byrnes. He took some time off from his new role hosting Race Hub to get things organized for his Chicagoland marathon. Ready for the breakdown?
At 11AM, Byrnes starts the day with Nationwide Series practice. Alongside are the other ironmen of NASCAR TV in Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond. These three are tops in terms of practice and qualifying commentary.
Byrnes gets a coffee break next as the relief team of TNT's Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Kyle Petty stops by to host the first Sprint Cup Series practice. This is the last 2010 practice session for this crew and they have done a good job. Alexander has been a solid presence in his first try at TV play-by-play on the Sprint Cup Series level.
The TV buzz this week was created by comments about Mark Martin from SPEED and Showtime's Randy Pemberton. He returns at 2PM with NASCAR Live on SPEED. John Roberts hosts and he may well turn Pemberton loose for more silly season talk.
This is also Darrell Waltrip's last scheduled NASCAR TV weekend this season. He joins Byrnes and Jeff Hammond in the booth for final Cup practice at 3PM. There has been a running joke on this coverage as Waltrip's presence moved McReynolds to the role of garage area reporter. It has proven to be both a memorable and humorous experience.
At 4PM Waltrip gets a break, but Byrnes does not. He hosts Nationwide Series qualifying with Hammond and McReynolds. Once "ole DW" finishes his Mountain Dew, he returns to team with Byrnes and McReynolds on Sprint Cup Series qualifying. This time, Hammond takes a walk to pit road and asks the pit reporter questions.
When Allen Bestwick, Marty Reid and Dr. Jerry Punch finally take over at 7:30PM for live coverage of the Nationwide Series race one might think Byrnes was done. Not the case at all. There is still one hour of Trackside to host at 11PM with guests driver Kevin Conway and former crew chief Dale Inman.
Once the clock rolls around to midnight, Byrnes will finally be able to call it a night. Lots of laps will be under his belt and with an hour talk show to top off the night, Byrnes will certainly have earned every cent he is being paid.
We will use this page to host your comments on the Friday TV right up until the Nationwide Series race. We will live blog that event as always on a new post.
To add your TV-related comments, 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.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Needless to say, the vast majority of attention from the sports TV world will be on the rather amazing deal struck between LeBron James and ESPN.
This NBA player gets an hour of ESPN Thursday primetime on multiple television and online networks to simply indicate which team he will play for next season.
Sponsors are lining up to get ads in this program, the content of which cannot yet be explained or even imagined. Nike, Sprint, McDonalds, Bing and even the good old University of Phoenix will be seen running ads.
ESPN says they control the content and format, but the network spokesman continues to deny that ESPN knows LeBron's plans. All we know as the viewing public is that he has 44 minutes of primetime to say something that normally takes less than one. It should be interesting.
ESPN2's NASCAR Now has Thursday off as the network offers extended coverage of the US Women's Open golf tournament. That means SPEED is the only game in town and they are taking full advantage on the final Race Hub program of the week.
Tony Stewart will be John Roberts' guest as he hosts the program. Steve Byrnes will be doing a TV marathon for SPEED this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway and Krista Voda is handling the pre-race and pit reporting duties for the trucks in Iowa. Look for them to return to the Hub next week.
While Stewart is a good guest, it is Mark Martin that may be making some news for an interview he recorded for the Thursday Race Hub show. The network released some memorable quotes in advance.
“This time next year, if nothing suits my fancy, then I’ll wait until something does,” Martin said in the interview. “Some of that’s driving and some of it’s not. I’m gonna do what I wanna do, and how do I know what I want to do a year and a half from now?”
In terms of Kasey Kahne's ongoing media coverage, Martin offered this pointed remark.
“I had to quit following the sport because it kinda made me sick,” Martin said. “The media didn’t understand and didn’t get it and couldn’t seem to deliver the message correctly. They only delivered the message they wanted to deliver, which was sensationalized...it was disgusting.”
Well, you don't usually get that type of reaction from Martin. Things should be even more interesting due to the fact that SPEED's Randy Pemberton told Sirius NASCAR radio Wednesday morning that he believes Martin may wind-up on the Red Bull team next season and Kahne would be driving the #5 for Hendrick in 2010. Pemberton will be on Thursday's Race Hub reporting from Chicagoland.
Rumors about Kenny Schrader returning to TV are true, but unfortunately it's only for one ARCA race Saturday night on SPEED at 9PM. Schrader is racing a truck at Iowa Speedway, so he happened to be in the neighborhood. Rick Allen may have his hands full with Michael Waltrip and Schrader together.
Speaking of Waltrips, this is Darrell's last appearance on SPEED for a while as Kyle Petty returns after this weekend now that his TNT duties are done. Friday, Waltrip calls Sprint Cup Series practice, qualifying and is a panelist on the Trackside show. Saturday, he joins NASCAR RaceDay with Kenny Wallace and John Roberts from the SPEED Stage.
TNT has reported a nice jump in TV ratings for Daytona. Here is some official information:
TNT had double-digit ratings, total viewers and household increases for its coverage of the Coke Zero 400. The network, airing the race in its signature Wide Open coverage which resulted in zero missed laps of green flag racing for the second the consecutive year, earned a 3.6 U.S. household rating, up 16% over last year.
The Coke Zero 400 was the number one program of the night on television with households, total viewers, and key adult and male demographics, as well as the number one program of the week across cable TV with households, total viewers and men 25-54.
We will update this post throughout the day with an new TV-related stories. In the meantime, please feel free to offer comments on these topics. Just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The funny picture above is Nationwide Series driver Brad Coleman tweeting from his iPhone on the road. He's trying to eat and the little kid in the next booth is going nuts. We've all been there.
When it comes to social media, Coleman gets it. His website, Twitter account and Facebook fan page all tell the tale of a young guy working his way into NASCAR.
Wednesday's USA Today contains an update from reporter Nate Ryan about NASCAR's future plans for the Nationwide Series.
Here is an excerpt:
Chairman Brian France says the second-tier series likely will have new rules aimed at limiting the dominance of Sprint Cup drivers. Those moonlighting from the premier circuit have won 16 of 17 Nationwide races this season (most recently Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona International Speedway). The top two in the standings are Brad Keselowski, who is running his first full Cup season, and Carl Edwards, who is in his sixth consecutive season of running full time in Cup and Nationwide.
It's been five years since there was a Nationwide champion (Martin Truex Jr.) who didn't run Cup concurrently.
"There's such a concentration of Cup drivers, which we like on one hand, but we want to make sure that division is our version of college football," France said. "We need to make sure the stage is not crowded so much so that we can't give opportunities to Nationwide young regulars who need that experience."
Click here to read the full story. Ryan's report tells the tale of a series that has been struggling on TV for years. There are two key reasons why.
First, the dilemma for ESPN and NASCAR is the choice between promoting Sprint Cup Series drivers racing in the Nationwide Series over fresh faces like Coleman and other "regulars." TV viewers recognize and appreciate the Sprint Cup drivers, but their participation in superior cars and with superior skills sometimes makes the actual races less than competitive.
NASCAR needs to have a platform for developing young drivers and providing them an opportunity to do more than just fight for the first spot behind the Sprint Cup guys. It's now a race within a race and has been for several seasons.
So, what does the Nationwide Series become as a TV property if fulltime Sprint Cup Series drivers are limited in participation or points? It appears we may find out.
The Nationwide Series is the only NASCAR series that ESPN carries for the entire season. Needless to say, the network has a vested interest in what decisions are made going forward. This seems strange, because the second and biggest problem the series faces is caused by ESPN itself.
When September rolls around, the Nationwide Series become nothing more than a distraction jammed between two Saturday afternoon college football games. The entire ESPN2 network comes to a screeching halt while the race is run and then the college football mania resumes.
Time after time, the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show is shortened or eliminated because of ESPN's college football commitments. This compounds the problem of getting exposure for Nationwide "regulars." Once the football game ends and the race coverage starts, the ESPN cameras follow the Sprint Cup Series drivers with the high dollar teams as they continue to dominate.
It seems ironic that France would reference college football in his quote. Since 2007, any momentum that the series has built up was quickly drained when ESPN switched it's time, effort and resources into the Sprint Cup Series and the Chase for the Championship.
Click here for a 2008 column titled "Nationwide Series Returns To The Back Burner." Even in year two of the new contract, ESPN had sliced and diced the last few months of the Nationwide Series races with a TV Ginsu knife.
The network's focus was on the Cup side and the Nationwide Series was left to fend off overtime college football games and scoreboard shows. So, perhaps despite NASCAR's best intentions to change the cast of characters, the key issue is guaranteeing TV exposure for the final three months of the season.
Can we get your opinion? If the Cup regulars were gone from the Nationwide Series races, would you lose interest or make an effort to watch the new faces on TV?
If the September through November Nationwide Series races were offered free on NASCAR.com or streamed on ESPN3.com, would you be more inclined to watch knowing college football would not interfere?
Finally, does the lack of any dedicated Nationwide Series feature TV programming on ESPN or SPEED play a role in your interest in the series? Would a weekly reality or talk-show style TV series make sense to help the series grow? What other ideas would you suggest to help develop a viable second-tier series for TV?
To add your comments on these topics, just click on the comments button below. We are trying to focus on the TV aspects of the issues, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Here are some of the topics and news items that are of interest as the work week gets started.
Once SPEED expanded the Race Hub show to one hour, we discussed the topic of adding a dedicated reporter for this new series. Well, SPEED has done just that.
Danielle Trotta, pictured above, will be joining Race Hub to provide the field reporting. Trotta is a UNC Charlotte grad and has been working locally in Charlotte at WBTV. Click here for a peek at her station bio.
It's been a while since SPEED expanded the line-up and getting Trotta is a bonus. She has already visited the NASCAR facilities and shops in the area for her local station assignments. This is a piece of the puzzle that makes sense for the new expanded format.
This past Saturday, TNT had quite the online evening. Turner Sports is the parent company of TNT and also operates the NASCAR.com website. They created the RaceBuddy online application that is offered free for the TNT races. Saturday night for the Sprint Cup Series race, RaceBuddy also offered a 3D version for viewing. The response from fans was overwhelming.
Here is the official Saturday scoop from the folks at Turner:
NASCAR.COM set a new single-day record for total video views (live and on demand) with 986,000 (up 544% vs. last year). NASCAR.COM also experienced over 20% growth in page views (+27% to 5.7 million) and daily uniques (+22% to 876K), with total streams on TNT RaceBuddy up 71%.
As we have discussed many times, NASCAR is completely behind the times in terms of online streaming due to a variety of rights issues. The NASCAR on FOX portion of the season aired with no streaming or RaceBuddy. Now, it seems that the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races on ESPN will also have no online applications of any kind.
Click here for a recent interview from reporter Michael Smith with ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She made the point that NASCAR must change to address the younger fans who are simply not going to sit in front of a TV set for four hours.
"Technology is so important to them," said Kennedy. "Then, just the way they communicate, the Facebook, the tweeting. So how do you make your product appealing to them and also get the message out to them in the way they communicate? You just have to give people more options. NASCAR.com is a great example. You can still watch the race on TV, but the younger fan might want to go to NASCAR.com and see that different perspective. It's not shutting anyone out, it's just providing more avenues for people to enjoy the sport, and we've got to continue to look at that."
If this is really a priority for France and her brother, then getting more free and online content down the stretch should be on the front burner right now.
Click here for the TDP Facebook fan page. We have new fan pics up. Justin takes a tour or SPEED studios and TNT staff hard at work at the track.
Finally, the NASCAR Fan Council was back at it again this week. They asked a select group of fans about the TV broadcast and the length of the race. I hope that second part was in reference to the start time. The NFC also asked the following.
Compared to other races broadcast on TNT, how did you like the presentation of the Coke Zero 400 on TNT featuring the “Wide Open” format?
Much better than other races on TNT
A little better than other races on TNT
About the same as other races on TNT
A little worse than other races on TNT
Much worse than other races on TNT
TNT aired the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in their “3D” format on television and on NASCAR.COM through RaceBuddy.
Which of the following applies to you?
I was aware of this, but do not have 3D technology
I was aware of this, and watched the race in 3D
I was not aware of this
At lease we know NASCAR has an eye on the TV telecasts and the ancillary new media issues that are coming to the forefront this season.
ESPN's Nicole Briscoe hosts NASCAR Now Tuesday at 5PM ET on ESPN2. She returns at the same time on Wednesday, but there is no show Thursday due to coverage of the US Open's women's golf championship.
Steve Byrnes returns at 7PM ET on SPEED with Race Hub. His guests include AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle. On Wednesday's show Wendy Venturini interviews Kevin Harvick.
We welcome your comments on these topics. 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 as always for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.