Monday, August 23, 2010

NASCAR Preempted By Nothing


It's been a tough couple of weeks for ESPN2's daily NASCAR Now show. Weekday episodes have been preempted or moved by tennis and Little League Baseball. This Monday, the situation takes a turn for the worse. The show has been preempted by nothing.

It was season four of Seinfeld when Jerry and George had a discussion at the coffee shop about bringing a new TV show idea to NBC. Here is a slice of the conversation.

Jerry: So you're saying, I go in to NBC, and tell them I got this idea for a show about nothing.
George: Yeah, I think we really got something here.
Jerry: What do we got?
George: An idea.
Jerry: What idea?
George: An idea for the show.
Jerry: I still don't know what the idea is!
George: It's about nothing!
Jerry: Right.
George: Everybody's doing something. We'll do nothing!
Jerry: So, we go into NBC, we tell them we've got an idea for a show about nothing.
George: Exactly.
Jerry: They say, "What's your show about?" I say, "Nothing."
George: There you go.
Jerry (After a moment of pause): I think you may have something there.


This Monday after English Premier League Soccer ends and before Little League Baseball begins there is a full hour from 5 to 6PM available on ESPN2. This is the normal time for the one-hour edition of NASCAR Now to air.

The series has been on ESPN2 six days a week since 2007 as the only regularly scheduled support programming for NASCAR. Due to the hard work of those behind the scenes and the tireless efforts of host Allen Bestwick, the Monday version of NASCAR Now has become the finest discussion of the weekend events in the sport currently on the air.

Last week, there were four races at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won the three races in which he was entered. Storylines are swirling as NASCAR is in the heart of the season and The Chase is looming. In 2006, ESPN paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to show the final seventeen races of the season.

Early on Monday the trio of Rusty Wallace, Ricky Craven and Ray Evernham will be arriving at ESPN. They are this week's expert panel, a term coined by Bestwick a long time ago as he hosted another iconic TV series.

There is no way to overstate the importance of getting the Monday hour of NASCAR Now out to the fans this week. The Kyle Busch topic is sizzling. The Bristol racing across the sport's top three series was outstanding. The Hendrick Motorsports saga is unfolding. In short, what's happening in NASCAR right now is everything.

It's unfortunate that on this Monday, ESPN's programming priority is nothing. The network's version of Seinfeld is called SportsNation. It's a series created by ESPN for ESPN and is generally about ESPN. If features ESPN personalities, is produced in the ESPN studios and is absolutely the epitome of a full hour of nothing.

Co-hosts Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle spend sixty vapid minutes aiming trendy comments at their teenage audience, showing funny videos and reading tweets. ESPN wraps the wholesome sex appeal of Beadle and the "can't get a date" loser charm of Cowherd into a show that accomplishes nothing, discusses nothing and leaves no lasting memory. In the new world of ESPN, it's perfect.

So, it is ESPN's choice this week to preempt the 5PM Monday original airing of NASCAR Now and instead move SportsNation into this timeslot. NASCAR fans across the country arriving home ready to view the show they recorded at 5PM are in for a surprise.

Instead of Rusty, Ricky and Ray talking about NASCAR, the wild and wacky world of SportsNation will be in full effect. NASCAR Now will air once at 1AM Eastern, 10PM Pacific time. This choice by ESPN is a very clear indication of where priorities lay at the network.

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.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think ESPN would leave ratings on the table. Could it be that the show replacing NASCAR NOW gets better ratings?

(This sounds sarcastic - but it's not meant to. I'm really asking the question --- if it's possible to get an answer that would be great).

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if the show got better ratings. NASCAR's audience has been falling all year - meanwhile Beadle's show covers all sports and theoretically has more reach.

Sally said...

If this isn't the perfect follow up to ESPN's 'coverage' of the race on Saturday night, nothing is. The race was a chopped up mess that left me wonder ing what really happened on the track. I guess they don't want us to get a better idea. Nascar Now has been preempted by just about everything but a team mascot wrestling match. I think this is it.

bryanh said...

K. B. is on Race Hub on Monday, I guess ESPN does not consider them any competition. This is one viewer that watches the Hub instead of NN since it started on Speed.

Tom said...

Nope, if there is an actual event, like tennis or little league, I do break with this site and support the postponement/preemption, whatever. But I think in particular, the Mon. show should go on if there is no real sporting event going on. I am left wondering what ESPN sees from NN. Are the ratings horrible compared to all other shows? Are they having a hard time finding sponsors? Perhaps they are starting to feel some of the overkill and saturation that I have spoke about? Do not mistake what I say- I like NN, and the Monday show in particular. I do not like Race Hub, because it has the same koolaide drinking attitude of any other show, save WT. I will admit even NN becomes nauseating during the week with the "branded" interviews with drivers. Again, I get back to why? There must be some financial/programming/audience based reason to constantly preempt NN when there is only another, presumably less interesting, show to fill the spot.

Tom
Inverness, FL

PammH said...

welp, w/Rusty being part of the panel, I won't even bother TRYING to find whatever stupid hour they play it...and that's why I hate BSPN.

Chadderbox said...

ESPN's treatment of NASCAR is hard to believe. Does anyone in Bristol, CT. give a crap about NASCAR?

I am not feeling it right now!


Sportsnation is a waste of 1 hour, I can tell you that much. I have tuned in to watch the show before and I last about 5 minutes. It's a joke. I challenge the readers here to tune in and TRY to watch the show.

ESPN is losing race viewers. Why did they buy the NASCAR contract? I am beginning to wonder......

rich said...

Well, so much for playing their cards close to their chest.

glenc1 said...

You posted this at 1:30am?? Yikes.

If ESPN's goal is to get race fans to watch Sportsnation, they are wasting their time. Actually, I can't imagine a fan of any/all sports watching this drivel. And yes, I have seen an entire episode while I was busy doing things & didn't bother to change the channel. Absolute drivel. Pointless polls about unimportant or invented things. Honestly--who *cares* if 47% of viewers in Texas think Jerry Jones looks like Yoda? (I made that up, but you get the idea.)

I actually might record this NNow episode if it's actually ON at 1am (we know that doesn't always happen.) Too bad the Rusty one is on the panel, but I suppose Bristol made that obligatory. *What* is ESPN thinking? Again and again I wonder why they miss opportunities to build ratings for their OWN programming?

51 yr. fan said...

The Beach Boys in the Ivory Tower
have got their money. Why should
they care?

If the drivers and other media were
as detrimental to the sport as ESPN, they would be fined or have their credentials pulled.

Are you ready for some football?

Cooter said...

What might you have expected from ESPN? or ESPN2? Printed broadcast schedules are not honored, some events are worshipped, some totally ignored.
Symbolic of such problems: Chris Berman. Keeping him on the payroll is evidence enough.

Blue Duecer said...

This is complete bull, if Nascar can not see where it stands with ESPN after being moved for SportsNation, then Nascar is as dumb as ESPN. I cant believe they would take their best Nascar content (I say this bc, obviously after the Sat. race debacle we know they dont care about that), and move it to a time slot when 80% of America is asleep is ridiculous. So by the time anyone sees this show, we will have had Sat night, sunday and monday news cycles, in which Speed and every internet website will have broken down every aspect of the race. Espn is shooting themselves in the foot on this one

Buschseries61 said...

As Brian France continues to run the sport into the ground, all ESPN can do is chuckle. They were left out of the 2001-2006 contract because the highest bidder was chosen rather than the quality and loyalty of the network through the 80's and 90's.

Now that NASCAR is in a ratings slump, I can't see ESPN going out of its way to help NASCAR. ESPN clearly showed primetime Saturday night that they have their own agenda and busniess to take care of. Several markets didn't even get to watch the race. The NASCAR executives have egg on their face, and the viewers at home are stuck in the middle.

Donna in FL said...

Anyone at ESPN have any idea what a sports "Hot Topic" is? Anyone? Anyone? psssst has to do with ratings...

Thought so. The NN tweet begging for questions has just become pathetic, since noone will be around to see any answered. And that group is their best panel (well ok, I'd rather have Randy than Rusty).

I'll be watching SPEED's Race Hub all week, and won't be watching anything non-NASCAR on ESPN.

Rita said...

Nascar Now was on Sunday because the race was on a Saturday. Didn't anyone watch it? I did.
I didn't know if NN was on today, Monday, but either way I'm not raging, pissed off about it. I have to watch it late again. So what? I can catch Race Hub if need be, or nascar.com, Speedweek, Motorsports Hour, Wind Tunnel, and the various other professional sites and taped videos.
Mr. Moderator, there are millions of Nascar fans across the entire United States and worldwide. You don't speak for me as a viewer who hates ESPN. Your continuous tone of "losing viewers" and "losing fans" isn't in this household by any means. It is not only your Eastern Standard Time zone that the world is revolving around.
Nascar Now is being aired and alot of fans ARE watching it. It is a great show and I truly believe ESPN knows it.

Anonymous said...

Does ESPN regret making NN a daily "stripped" show? I would bet the ratings are low. No programmer bumps a moneymaker w/o a good reason. Cowherd is also their morning drive host, so they might give his showcase priority.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Rita,

Thanks for your comments. Just so we are on the same page, the Sunday 10AM version of "NASCAR Now" featured Mike Massaro and Ricky Craven in the studio.

Regardless of whether the Sprint Cup Series race is on Saturday or Sunday, the Monday 5PM version of "NASCAR Now" has become must-see viewing for many fans.

This show features Allen Bestwick and three panelists who review the weekend races, conduct a feature interview and offer opinions on NASCAR topics in the news.

Nowhere in my column will you find any "raging" against ESPN. I did not mention losing viewers or attempt to speak for you or other fans.

The purpose of this blog is to present a topic that includes my views and then allow you and all other readers to comment.

It has been that way since January of 2007 and will stay true to that format.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

JD

GinaV24 said...

1 a.m. Eastern? Well, gee, I'll actually be home, but I'll be asleep. What are the chances if I set the DVR for 1 a.m. that NN will actually air at that time?

I only watch ESPN for races and to record NN when its on, but I do NOT chase it around the schedule. I enjoy Allen very much - I think he's the best in the business for NASCAR, but ESPN obviously doesn't really give a rat's tail about NASCAR or its fans.

After the mess that the Cup broadcast was on Saturday night, I find myself once more a whole lot less interested in tuning in to ESPN's broadcasts.

GinaV24 said...

One more thing -- I have my DVR set to record RaceHub on a daily basis, in case I can't get home in time to watch it live. Speed doesn't pre-empt its programming as often as ESPN likes to do and now that they have Steve in on RaceHub as the regular host, I feel like I'll get to see a good show and be able to catch up on the Nascar scene that way. I don't need to chase the moving target that is ESPN's NN coverage.

Dannyboy said...

JD,

You described what's going on exactly right: ESPN used to show NN on Monday almost without exception at its normal time and almost never shifted it. Evenhere on the left coast, it might be shifted but it was shown on Monday @ SOME time.

Lately they frequently preempt the PT replay completely, and shift the ET broadcast. Now they're preempting the original broadcast.

When you combine that with the fact that a) Race Hub is on a regular schedule and is never preempted, b) the NN discussion is often rather pedestrian, despite the excellent offerings by RC, RE, Boris, and others (I'm not RW's biggest fan - to say the least), and c) AB's chemistry with the 'expert panel' is never juiced by the fact that someone on the panel was actually IN the race (ahem), I rarely make the effort to catch even the Monday NN anymore.

Now that I have a DVR and it's really easy, I STILL might not make the effort. Are you listening, ESPN?

Sports Nation is worse than 'nothing' : it's annoying in the extreme. The first time I surfed across it I knew exactly what it was and who its target was: Children who grew up on MTV and Sesame Street.

glenc1 said...

just a comment on the idea that Sportsnation gets bigger ratings than NASCAR Now. It may, I have no idea. Lots of what I call junk appeals to other people, otherwise Big Brother would have been cancelled long ago...Okay, I looked it up. "The show’s average audience for the fourth quarter in 2009 was 233,500 household impressions, up 51 percent from 2008. So far in January, SportsNation’s average audience has grown to 276,700 homes, up 56 percent compared to the show’s first month (177,800 in July)." It's lost on me. But I wasn't able to find ratings for NASCAR Now.


But we also know about promotion--how TNT blasted us with promos for the new programming every five minutes. Same reason ESPN previews upcoming baseball and football action during races. Use one sport to help the others. I suppose NASCAR Now appeals to more hardcore fans, but I also think that *not* putting it on at a reasonable hour is missing an opportunity to maybe grab a viewer who has a passing interest and get them to watch the next race, which *does* bring ESPN viewers. Personally, I don't 'hate' ESPN, in fact the point is, here's a show I really like and they're pre-empting it for 'nothing' (live sports I would understand.)

And Rita, we do have a number of left coasters who comment here regularly. But the fact is, right now most race fans are east of the Mississippi (much as NASCAR would like, and is trying, to change that.) Not to mention, people are used to the program being on at 5 on Mondays and record it, which will now be worthless (although yes, they can record it later if they realize it's not there.)

glenc1 said...

hey Dannyboy...Hey, some of us grew up with Sesame street! At least its educational. The same cannot be said for MTV (well, not usually in a good way). But I think social networking and the Internet has a lot more to do with it. For some reason I have yet to figure out, these people actually *care* what other people are saying & doing (ie, Twitter and Facebook, etc). Hence the constant calls for input by viewers from all the networks. Annoys the heck out of me, I don't *care* that much what everyone else thinks of every single issue.

matriarch said...

As many times as Nascar has been back handed by ESPN. you think we would have gotten the message. If ESPN doesn't need Nascar, then why do they pay to broadcast shows and races? For me I've had it. I no longer even think about ESPN until it is race time. They obviously think we are unimportant, and I got the message a long time ago. Now I think they are unimportant, and I hope when their current contract is up Nascar will show them the back door.

hotaru-hockeymaiden87 said...

I have one word for this decision- stupid.

It's like they don't even care.

Being as I'm usually up late, I'll probably see the show at (maybe) 1AM. I say maybe 'cause I remember a case recently of the show being scheduled for 1AM, only to have it not start 'till 1:40!

Anonymous said...

Many Nascar viewers have experience negotiating contracts as part of their professional lives. It makes me wonder who,at Nascar negotiated a contract with Espn that allows them to slap Nascar around at the slightest whim. Someone at Espn obviously could care less about broadcasting Nascar content

Richard in N.C. said...

It appears to me that NASCAR Now is EESPN's Lady Godiva - reputed to be beautiful, but no one is allowed to watch.

Tom said...

Just wanted to give props where they're due to JD...
Sports Nation is TRULY a show about NOTHING, and it's ironic how well the reference of the classic Seinfeld episode fits beautifully.

Made my day and definitely worth a laugh. I don't watch SN, and I know I'm not missing anything, because there's really nothing to miss.

As for NN, the constant preemptions for stuff like this truly defeat the purpose of having the show in the first place.

My opinion only...I could be wrong.

Steve said...

I cant stand it any longer. I emailed ESPN a nice rant about why there telecasts suck. Ive had all i can stand of ESPN. They have had FOUR years to get it right. They seemingly "try everything" to get it right yet more often than not the moves made are for the betterment of ESPN not the fans.

I remember a day when nascar fans wanted to crucify NBC for percieved bad coverage. Looking back we had no idea what bad was. Like NBC or not they did their job and did it well. The on air talent was the best team yet, the production was grade A, and while the graphics were sometimes unreadable in the later years ill take that over Rusty Wallace saying "That guy is driving his brains out" any day.

Brian France is not helping things, but hes not the problem. Fans view our sport through the goggles of ESPN, and if ESPN shows a bunch of crap every week, why would anyone watch that.

Sometimes I like to watch the race from the perspective of a casual fan, and all I can say is how embarrassing.

Now with the Jimmie Johnson Chase coming up, I can only imagine just how much worse ESPN will get. Their favoritism during the Chase is unacceptable.

From the camera angles, to the pre race shows, to the horribly awful announcers, I am done with ESPN. I guess from now on its only TNT for me. Cause Fox is not much better.

BTW Nascar Now has always had the potiential to be a mega hit. The shows production and often techicnal problems ruin it. Marty Smiths reporting is the best thing NN has going. Im kinda glad NN is not on tonite cause the last thing I want to hear is more Rusty Wallace priceless commentary.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

JD are we not surprised. ESPN will do things to tick off (I was going to say the p word) viewers and ESPN is the most customer, errr viewer unfriendly cable network. All they do is hype crap ( I was going to say the s word, just so angry). Sportsnation is a pointless show and they pre-empt one of ESPN's bests shows, NASCAR Now, to show it. I do everything in my power to avoid watching even one second of ESPN, with the Exception of NASCAR and the occasional college basketball game. I am so sick of the way ESPN does things but ESPN won't change things they think they know what they are doing but they do not and only care about being a cash cow.

Sorry for the long post but I am so sick and tired seeing how a business treats its customers poorly and hope TV viewers stop watching ESPN.

JD as a former employee what are your thoughts

Chadderbox said...

I have been recording Nascar Now on my DVR every day since the classic Eric Kuselias days. I typically try to watch my recorded episode after I get home in the evenings, usually between 7 - 8pm.

Nascar Now has gotten better each year and I use the show to stay informed on a daily basis. The show is very important to me on those days when there has been breaking Nascar news during the afternoon. I look forward to getting home and watching my recorded episode to get me up to date with the latest breaking story. The show is very good at keeping a fan going through the week.

Maybe ESPN thinks that people will record Monday's show. But, they are losing momentum after the KYLE SWEEP!

Seems to me that ESPN would give the show some priority by giving it a set time everyday. If the Chase coverage is a disaster again this year, I might start saying that ESPN has given up on Nascar!

Anonymous said...

There had to be a reason for NN to be pre-empted. My guess is money and ratings, why else would they do it? Nascar would do it, and have done it, for the same reason. I have found NN and RH to be of little interest - they toe the nascar line too much to get real information from them. Better reporting and better information can be found on the net. MC

Anonymous said...

As examples of some good reporting on the net that you will not ever hear on NN or RH: "We’re From NASCAR & We’re Here To Help You" by John Chapman and "Great show, but the racers are getting gypped" by Thomas Pope. To NN and RH, "Where's the beef?" MC

KoHoSo said...

I am guessing that, in general, having SportsNation on instead of NASCAR Now is more of a demographics thing than just pure numbers. As I have pointed out here many times, it's more about who is watching than how many. I don't have the numbers myself but I think it is safe to assume that SportsNation brings in a much higher amount of that cherished 18-35 year old male demographic than any NASCAR programming which has a much more diverse fan base than a glorified show full of Twitter "tweets" and extremely stale jokes.

I am by no means saying that this is the right thing to do when ESPN is supposed to be a major partner with NASCAR in presenting and growing the sport. However, like it or not, it's those 18 to 35 year old males that bring Mickey Mouse his cheese. I don't think that anybody should expect anything different for the remainder of the current NASCAR contract with Disney/ESPN/ABC.

Jojaye said...

JD - Seinfeld is the perfect show to compare it with. Now that espn has a really good show & it has a good solid format - why kill it now? Now when it started with ErikK. it stunk, now after all the tweaking & hard work, well, this makes no sense.

But then little does with them anymore.

Could it be that the newish Pres. of espn ( Skipper?) hates NASCAR since it wasn't his "baby" & he inherited the contract? Just wondering, I remember reading he was all about soccer & tennis.

Richard in N.C. said...

Cowherd got Tony Kornheiser's old radio slot when Tony "retired" from radio several years ago. It only took me a little over a week to determine that Cowherd was/is arrogant, self-centered, and obnoxious (possibly because I am over 34)and as a result I no longer listen to EESPN radio in midday. In any event, since Cowherd took Tony K's old radio spot, Cowherd and his ilk have driven 2 local EESPN radio stations off the air here. Luckily Cowherd's voice is distinctive enough that I can quickly mute or turn stations when I hear him.

Chadderbox said...

I just watched my recorded episode of Race Hub Monday.

I think Race Hub hit a home run tonight!

Anonymous said...

I gotta say that I've pretty much given up on NASCAR Now. I've watched a few shows but more often than not, when I tune in to watch, something else is on.

On a few occasions I've hung around and eventually the show has aired. However, even this has become a rarity of late. I'm not surprise that they stuck their "nothing" show in it's slot. ESPN obviously doesn't give a rats rosy about NASCAR any more.

And, if they don't care about the people they have a contract with you can imagine what they think of NASCAR fans.

My time is too important for me to spend it playing musical chairs with ESPN.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about sportsnation. Im a huge NASCAR fan as well as football, baseball, basketball and hockey. I watch ESPN alot, and I will say that sportsnation is their worst show. Their polls mean nothing, and I cant even count how many times they have been wrong about something on their show. I feel like that show tries to project the days sports stories to elementary schoolers. They are dumb and absolutely know nothing about sports.

NASCAR Now should be on within the next 15-20 minutes, it is the bottom of the 8th inning and san francisco leads cincinatti 10-2, so we will finally be seeing NASCAR Now in the next 20 minutes. I love the monday show, as it is the best one of the week, Allen Bestwick has took that show from the dumps to having a lot of credibility.

I and many others complained about the brodcast on saturday, but it could be worse, Imagine Beadle and Cowheard brodcasting a race, it can always be worse.

glenc1 said...

anon 9:46--I can only speak for myself, but I suspect that many, many of us are not relying *solely* on RH or NN for our news. It's simply part of the whole picture. I'm not so naive that I would rely on any one place for information. In this case, NNow has *analysis* on Mondays, and I happen to like hearing their (Ricky, Ray, etc) views on things. Do they watch what they say? Of course. But that doesn't mean it has no value.

KoSoHo--I think you have a very good point. I wasn't thinking about demographics when I was looking at ratings and I should know better. But I think TV had better figure out that other groups are sure spending a lot of money on things as the population ages.

Richard in N.C. said...

I really do enjoy and look forward to the Monday N-Now show, at least when I can find it. I was able to record most of this week's Monday N-Now and enjoyed what I was allowed to view. MIke Massaro did a pretty good job, but one of the hardest jobs in TV has to be filling in on Mondays for AB. I do sincerely hope everything works out well for AB and soon, which is really much more important in my view than what I get to see on TV.

Darcie said...

Rita, with all due respect, I don't think JD speaks for anyone. He started this blog for us Nascar fans to sit and chat, both positive and negative, about the sport we love, and the sport that many of us see as getting a short shrift. Just because YOUR family isn't a part of those who have left the sport, doesn't mean Nascar is thriving. One family still supporting Nascar is a grain of sand in the desert. If you read more than just this blog, you will realize that Nascar is flailing, and badly. Attendance is down dramatically, as is TV viewership. Your household will not matter one tiny bit when it comes to the ratings of any Nascar-related shows.

This blog has become a place for us to applaud great Nascar broadcasts, and bemoan the bad. Unfortunately, when it comes to Nascar, TV networks seem impotent to broadcast a great race. They are so enamored with their fancy graphics and new technology that the entire broadcast suffers. That's what we're here for, to try and get Fox, Speed, ESPN, ABC and TNT to get with it and show the fans at home a great race broadcast. One in a very great while, we'll get a glimpse of what TV can do to show a great race. But those are few and far between. We, here, are just trying to get the networks to sit up and listen, and in a couple of instances, they have.