Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Changes At SPEED Expected To Continue


We have recently been talking about the changes SPEED has been going through since FOX Sports Chairman David Hill, pictured above, was put directly in charge of the cable TV network.

Hill's first attempt at a new Monday night line-up went down in flames. Michael Waltrip's amateur talent show, Jimmy Spencer's junkyard rants and a rehashing of NASCAR in a Hurry were eventually cancelled.

The lack of Monday through Thursday NASCAR programming on SPEED has been the hot topic for many years. Depending on who was in charge at the network, there has either been little or no effort put into creating original weekday NASCAR programs.

TV viewers who have seen Stealth Rider, Intersections or Battle of the Supercars know the current reality of SPEED all too well. Memories of former TV series like Beyond the Wheel, NBS 24/7 and This Week in NASCAR show a network that has been all over the map in terms of programming themes and genres.

Hill successfully began to make his mark at SPEED when he coordinated the Hall of Fame coverage by bringing in top-flight producers from Los Angeles. Suddenly, everyone at SPEED stepped things up a notch as it became clear this was not the good old boy approach fans had seen for years.

A short time ago, Hill made another major programming move. He decided to revamp Race Hub and make it a flagship news and interview series. He persuaded Steve Byrnes to come off the road and into the studio as the fulltime host. The show was expanded to one hour in length, a new studio set was created and a fulltime field reporter was hired.

SPEED finally had a solid weekday NASCAR presence that made sense. The production staff is only into week two and the changes have already paid dividends. Monday, Byrnes had Kyle Busch in studio for an extended interview that covered lots of topics and let fans see a very different side of this controversial driver.

While SPEED can create its own studio shows, it must purchase other NASCAR programming from the NASCAR Media Group (NMG). This downtown Charlotte company already produces the programming from the SPEED Stage as well as Race in 60 and NASCAR Hot Wired. NMG controls all NASCAR footage.

Hill's new agenda has to ultimately include exploring a merger between SPEED and NMG. A partnership would finally put these two rival fraternities on the same team. NMG would have direct access to an already successful cable TV network while SPEED would get the keys to the NMG footage vault, a treasure chest of historic NASCAR content.

Remember, SPEED was originally moved from Stamford, CT to Charlotte, NC in order to become a fulltime NASCAR TV network in a partnership between NASCAR and FOX. Those plans never worked out, but changes in management at both companies may now have set those wheels in motion again.

This is a critical time for both parties. NASCAR needs a very different television companion than the sporadic weekday coverage in place for the past three seasons. SPEED needs to shake the bipolar rap of catering to race fans on the weekends and teenagers on the week nights.

However Hill and NASCAR work it out, look for substantive changes at SPEED where NASCAR programming is concerned to continue at a rapid clip. Don't be surprised if a 24 hour fulltime NASCAR TV network is in the future. The very near future.

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22 comments:

West Coast Diane said...

That's all well and good. But what about fixing the broadcasts of the races. If you lose people on the races, they certainly won't waste their time on support shows.

tiamatsrevenge said...

I like the expanded "Race Hub" ... But, I wish it would actually air live and they could catch the late breaking stories as a lot of stuff breaks in the late afternoon ... I still don't like Danielle Trotta (too softball & sounds like someone's feeding her Q&A because she doesn't know the subject) ...

I didn't watch "Race Hub" today as I didn't want to see anymore of Kylie ... I skipped some of the shows when they did the "hometown tour" week as I don't like some of the teams ...

IF there is to be a NASCAR Channel, it's got to be on the lower tier or they're gonna miss a LOT of possible viewers ...

And it's been very obvious since Road America that either SPEED needs to take on more of the tv coverage ... A brand new track (well, one they hadn't been to in over 40yrs) and all we got was the race ... I remember when the Busch series went to Mexico City and News Corp blew out all of the stops and covered practices / qualifying / race ... Then Disney aired it all too ... Now, we're lucky if we get qualifying ...

Same thing goes with SPEED and the Truck series ... It's hard to get "into" a race / the series when all you get is the pre-race and the race ... It's not the way to build the fan base for the series or the drivers ... It's also NOT the way to get more sponsors into any of the series when they don't have the possibility to get the most airtime for their buck ...

Shows like NBS: 24/7 and NASCAR Drivers: 360 need to come back ... It was a way for fans to learn more about the drivers on & off the track ... It also showed us "why" drivers may have run well or poorly at a certain track ... Right now, you've got to have Trackpass to find out some of that stuff ... Even the team press releases don't give you the full details ...

More tv time is always a GOOD thing !!

Chadderbox said...

Race Hub was very good on Monday! I like the changes that are being made and I feel they are trying to get it right.

It looks and feels like a better show than it was just 90 days ago.

I am excited to hear that SPEED it cranking it up another notch for Nascar!

51 yr. fan said...

Race Hub continues to improve it's
quality through it's personal touch
with people other than just drivers. It's 7PM time is perfect for after dinner viewing; unlike
the "catch me if you can" NASCAR
NOW (or maybe later).

Anonymous said...

I remember when SPEED first came on the air as Speed Vision. I rarely flipped the channel. The more it became the voice of NASCAR, the less it covered some of the other great events around our country. Gone are the sprint car races at Williams Grove, USAC Sprint and Midget action on the dirt, and other gems. Speed is to NASCAR what FOX is to the Republican Party. I may watch occasionally, but it is no longer "must see tv."

GinaV24 said...

Certainly putting Steve in at Race Hub is a good start. I like the newly revamped show. I am not a Kyle Busch fan by any means, but I made myself sit down and watch the interview that he did with Steve and although I probably won't change my opinion of Kyle, it was a well done interview.

I can't say that the stuff that Danielle has done so far on RaceHub impresses me much, hopefully that will improve as she gets more comfortable.

the shows I really miss are the ones you mention -- Beyond the wheel, NBS 24/7 - I don't enjoy the so called lifestyle programming like pinks and Speed's version of the gong show. I don't watch the Big Brother, Bachelor and other reality type shows on other stations either, so it's not just a Speed thing, it simply doesn't appeal to me.

I know what I'm looking for and on Speed - I would like to see more racing -- all different kinds. I really miss the world rally series. Sometimes I remember its on another channel, but man, I miss being able to find it on Speed.

Speed was THE place for me to come to get real racing information and I've missed that. I hope that David Hill will take that into consideration as he works to "change" Speed.

Anonymous said...

I've been critical of Byrnes in the past regarding Twin where he didn't appear to have control of the show. He's been very good the last few weeks on Race Hub-serious,focused and disciplined about what his responsibilities as a host are. Trying to be tactful here,but the problem with many TV "reporters" covering Nascar is that they don't know anything about driving or the technical aspects of a Nascar racecar. Frankly,some of the things they say are kinda silly.

Jojaye said...

@Anon 10:08 am - Thank you sometimes I felt I was wrong that SPEED was originally Speed Vision.

Race Hub is now the show I set my DVR to record. Monday was a great show - Kyle is not & ever will be my "favorite", but give him credit. He can drive, & Steve did a great show.

I wasn't sure about Steve B coming off the road, but I'm liking this show a lot. And I don't have to search for it. The new set & 1 hour really make the difference.

Donna in FL said...

Overall, I'm less interested in racing "talk shows" than I am in actual racing. I would like to see SPEED carry more LIVE races of all disciplines & leagues, along with more NASCAR divisions.

The NASCAR Channel: can't wait til 2014!!

Wisconsin Steve said...

The best NASCAR program Speed ever had was Pit Bull. I know they will never bring it back because it was too controversial but it would be nice if Race Hub created a panel of journalists/writers for a weekly segment that resembles it. It might help Speed get away from its recent habit of avoiding serious racing issues like the drug-testing policy.

Theodore said...

A 24/7 NASCAR Network would be a good thing if only because it might allow for a revival of the old SpeedVision we knew and loved.

Anonymous said...

"Don't be surprised if a 24 hour fulltime NASCAR TV network is in the future. The very near future."

Why JD do you always talk in these "Hints"?? If you actually have information, then just say it...if not, stop the game of "teases" to push traffic.

Or is this just wishful thinking...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Teases to push traffic? Obviously...for all the ads on the blog. right?

When Mr. Hill and NASCAR get down to business, whatever develops will get reported right here.

I think the clock is ticking very loudly.

Darcie said...

The Monday Nascar Now is the only Nascar show I watch. The panel on that one hour show is the best of them all. Their insight on the week's racing is unlike anything else. Speed has become an non-entity for me. I no longer watch Race Day, Trackside (the crowd noise prohibits me from enjoying that show), Victory Lane or anything else on Speed. Their foray into reality land made no sense with their shows on wrecker drivers and the rest. One hopes in the future that Speed brings on shows that focus on the drivers and teams off the track as well as on.

glenc1 said...

you know, trying to be objective...I don't watch ALL racing. I watch anything NASCAR. I watch the IRL but I don't have VS so I listen online if it's not on ABC. I watch Grand Am and some F1. I just am not into motorcycles and I just don't find time to watch K&N or other series. But I have to say, that, in my mind, is what speed ought to be. It should be showing racing...off road, rally, etc. But I did enjoy the old shows (NBS, Beyond, etc..) Want to see them do all qualifying, practice. But fixing the Fox actual race product is number one.

Tracy D said...

If only they'd return to programing like NBS 24/7, etc. Wishful thinking, I know.

In this day of political-correctness-or-the-Nascar-powers-will-lop-off-your-head (metaphorically), I doubt we'll see anything substantial in the way of reporting about the sport, even if Speed goes Nascar 24-7.
Those wide-open days are long gone, I fear, when reporters will do a Dustin Long and get the real info from Larry Mac, Kyle Petty, etc.

Byrnes does a good job on Hub. Like the new set, the more professional "vibe." But the show has a very controlled feel now, much like NN. I know it's a necessary evil, the script, but sheesh, I still laugh at the memory of some of Schrader's retorts to Michael Waltrip on INC. And the stories. . .

We won't get anything like that now. So who cares if Speed changes its format to Nascar 24/7?

earl06 said...

SPEED has a lot of wounds to heal if they want to regain the status they had 6 or 7 years ago. A part of my love for NASCAR died when they replaced Ralph Sheheen and Krista Voda with the Three Stooges on NASCAR Nation back in the day. Then IWC/INC was purged and another pile of suck was born. Then NBS 24/7 and the other NI shows were canceled...

I have seen RaceDay go from a laughable tragedy with Chad Little and Barry Dodson to a train wreck with DW and Kenny. Still just as bad, but much louder now. At least Chad and Barry didn't scream condescendingly about things they knew nothing about.

I have gone from watching SPEED a few hours a day to canceling cable and watching it never.

If SPEED (and the other networks for that matter) wants to get viewers interested in what they have to offer, they need to keep it fresh. Get rid of the dead weight and start treating their airtime like it's precious. Make it look like someone tried to make a good show that day instead of mailing it in.

Redundant, trite garbage has killed the coverage of this sport, someone needs to try and change that.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to the comments that if they don't FIX the BROADCASTS of the racing (i.e. wide camera shots to SHOW US the race as opposed to tight shows to show off the zoom cams/bumper cams crap.

NASCAR channel won't mean bleep if it's not on BASIC CABLE for all to see. also cable companies fight over what to carry (MLB & NFL junk comes to mind)

What good is NASCAR Ch 24/7 if many will not SEE if for another 5 years. Lunacy.

Steve is a good host on NH & I am glad he is home. Still don't like the chick on there. sorry

Rocky in NC said...

Race Hub never has done anything for me. Nascar Now is on at 5 and has much better content. They report news and rumors. What little ive watched of Race Hub is mostly interviews.

I say this with no ill-will towards speed at all, but it doesnt matter what speed shows im still gonna watch TBS every night. You cant beat reruns of the office or family guy.

I would consider changing that view if the afore mentioned Nascar Drivers 360 was brought back. That show was awesome and went behind the scenes like others wish. Also if they had an automotive reality show (i.e. American Chopper or American Hot Rod, not Fast Track To Fame) it would potientially be a huge hit for the network. The problem with Speed is its not attractive to anyone outside of racing. A show like that would satisfy that need and not tick off the hardcore race fans either.

Personally the only show worth watching on the current prime time lineup is Intersections. Thats a pretty cool show. and of course Pinks All Out.

Time and time again Speed tries and fails in the prime time department, but as far as im concerned as long as they still carry practice and qualifying, Speed will live on.

Also JD I have a question: With Fox now broadcasting sports in widescreen for SD viewers like myself, is this coming to Nascar on Fox/Speed next year? I sure hope not. A change of graphis is over due but you cant see the graphis on a screen that small

Rocky in NC said...

Oh and one more thing, as far as a future Nascar Channel goes, I sure hope its not owned/controlled by Nascar. There are 2 sides to every story, im afraid all we would here is Nascars side

Anonymous said...

Curious pair of guests on Trackside from Bristol. Retired driver seriously injured in wreck at Bristol in March apparently having trouble paying his medical expenses and billionaire majority owner of SMI and Bristol track who reportedly just spent about $500,000 on PR event at Texas track- neither one of whom was asked about nor referred to the other.

racingfool said...

Here my guess of the NASCAR Media Group/Fox/Speed Dream Sprint Cup Race Announce Team:
DW
Brad Daugherty
Rusty Wallace
Krista Vota
Rick Allan

Put out to the Speed pasture:
Jeff Hammond
Alan Bestwick
Mike Joy

What do you all think?