Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ESPN2's Monday Night Madness

After several weeks of being punted to the night shift, ESPN2's NASCAR Now program was set to return with a bang on Monday at a special time of 7PM.

Not only was host Allen Bestwick ready to lead Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree and Ray Evernham through a review of the weekend in Richmond, but it was also time for the Chase for the Championship.

Bestwick had an expert panel who could offer a preview of the Chase from a unique perspective. They were the men who would actually be calling the final ten Sprint Cup Series races. You just can't get much better than that.

This week, there would also be icing on the TV cake. The NASCAR Media Group and ESPN had teamed-up for a special series that would follow NASCAR Now at 8PM. The NMG cameras followed Kyle Busch during the Richmond weekend and then did what is called a "quick turn around" to put a show together.

This is one thing the NMG guys are known for, getting timely shows together and delivering a fantastic finished product. Lots of hard work in both Richmond and Charlotte went into this debut episode.

Unfortunately, the bad luck of NASCAR Now this season struck again. The CBS coverage of the rain-delayed US Open tennis tournament stretched beyond the network's broadcast window. Suddenly, ESPN was about to get the men's US Open final live. The chosen network when things dried out and play started was ESPN2.

At 7PM instead of NASCAR Now, SportsCenter appeared on ESPN2. Rather than simply bridging a small gap to live tennis, the program ran for 53 minutes. During that time, two pre-recorded NASCAR reports ran, one featuring the NASCAR Now studio cast.

As usual, NASCAR was out of place among the stick and ball frenzy of ESPN this time of the year. At the conclusion of one NASCAR package on the Chase, the SportsCenter anchor said sarcastically to his partner, "Oh, I've been waiting all year for that!" The two then broke out in laughter.

SportsCenter had already been on ESPN2 since 5PM ET, the normal time for NASCAR Now. Even after two full hours ESPN stuck with the stick and ball theme instead of inserting the NASCAR program at the proper time. Had tennis begun live before 8PM, either an ESPN announcer or Dick Enberg working the event could have easily explained the transition.

After joining tennis live at 53 minutes after the hour, it was apparent that the players were still warming up. Once the 8PM hour hit, the referee called the players onto the court and the action began. Not one ball was in the air prior to 8PM ET.

NASCAR Now aired correctly in the West Coast slot at 12AM with episode #1 of the Kyle Busch show following. NASCAR Now is the cornerstone of NASCAR on ESPN and Allen Bestwick has brought it to a level equal to any studio show on the ESPN networks.

ESPN2 has changed the Tuesday program schedule to air both the first and second episodes of the Kyle Busch special series. At 5:30PM following NASCAR Now, the first episode will air. At 6PM, episode number two will debut. That is going to require some DVR work, as SportsNation is currently on the TV listings in that timeslot.

Despite the reality of the on-air logistics, there is certainly a heightened perception this season that NASCAR is taking a backseat to other sports on ESPN. College football has already caused havoc, NASCAR Now has been preempted for weeks and now the big Monday show is gone for no apparent reason.

Throw in the lackluster coverage and energy from Richmond and NASCAR on ESPN is once again a tough sell. That's a shame as there are so many talented people involved in the various productions and the Chase is wide open this year. Nicole Briscoe hosts NASCAR Now this week with various Chasers in the studio as guests.

The complete NASCAR TV schedule for the week is on the left side of the page. Announcers and guests will be added as they are confirmed with the networks.

We want your comments on the topic discussed above. 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.


Anonymous said...

Zero credibility for ESPN. And the NASCAR hierarchy is wondering why interest and TV ratings plummet. Have a feeling with NFL back, NASCAR is in big trouble with the 2010 chase.

51 yr. fan said...

I didn't miss it because I wasn't
going to tune in to start with.
Sick of BSPN's treatment and plenty of other great viewing options.

David said...

Two interesting points:

How did ESPN manage to get the U.S. Open from CBS?

I noticed that at 7pm as ESPN2 went into its third hour of SportsCenter, the "Program Alert" at the bottom only mentioned that tennis was coming up and not when NASCAR Now was going to air.

You have to believe Speed is just licking its chops waiting to get a bigger piece of the NASCAR puzzle. I don't believe RaceHub has been pre-empted at all this year.

GinaV24 said...

So typical of ESPN. How is that their corporate people got all up in arms about someone tweeting and yet its OK for the on-air SC "talent" to be disrespectful of a sport that ESPN paid to cover?

I wasn't holding my breath for Nascar Now. Glad I went to the gym. I have the DVR set for Race Hub primarily and I'll set things up for NN, too, for at least the Monday night show but I never expect it to really be there. I got home, checked the recording and deleted it as soon as I realized what I had.

Kyle's not my guy so I didn't plan to tune in for that show although I'm sure it would have been done well.

Since the sport that I primarily follow is so poorly treated by ESPN, am I supposed to be excited about the chase? Gee and NASCAR keeps asking "why aren't the fans as excited as they used to be"? Maybe because in the first few years of the TV contract, we actually saw good broadcasting instead of this junk. ESPN came back and IMO is deliberately making a trash effort for NASCAR.

I may go to the way I viewed the ESPN covered races that I followed last year. Tune in for the first 10 laps (assuming I'm home) then go enjoy the nice weather in Sept/October and come back for the last 20 laps.

Ziggy said...

NASCAR on ESPN...What a joke. And "they" are wondering why ratings are suffering, but then the money is already in the bank, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Very very disappointed, the NASCAR programs and Pre-Race shows got moved around or cut or not even showing by ESPN to accommodate all other programs, it is a biggest joke.

glenc1 said...

I want to know who the sportcenter anchors were...really. I happened to be bored to tears by anything about baseball (whose ratings aren't anywhere close to the NFL either), but I give it respect. They really ought to make these clowns do ride alongs so they at least have *some* concept of what it's like.

anyways...I get that weather delays put them in a tough spot. But the one thing I've *never* understood is, why do they insist on showing Sportcenter or the news on ESPN News (a half hour that runs over and over and over) when they could use them for other things in emergencies. I mean, once you watch for an hour, you know about every sporting event in the world once over. I get that online is not an option--but I would think if they would *negotiate* with Turner they could work something out. They just don't care enough to try or don't think it's worth it.

glenc1 said...

oh, and David, apparently CBS and ESPN had it all negotiated...there's an article on Yahoo finance.

West Coast Diane said...

Ok. Not a fan of Kyle Busch but I enjoy shows that give a glimpse behind the scenes of drivers lives.

Also I try to watch the Monday show of NN.

Major fail on ESPN's part.

They hype the Chase. I DVR NN, especially since Ray E is on. I get tennis.

They hyped Kyle at the Atlanta race, then hyped his show at Richmond. I bit. Then get tennis.

Just don't care anymore. Not going to chase (no pun intended) ESPN's shows anymore.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't ESPN and Nascar good buddies back in the day and now they treat it like its "whatever". I don't watch Sportscenter because all they do is cover only two sports(Baseball and NFL) and I am neither fan of both sports. I just like my racing and soccer and that's it.

Anonymous said...

Great night for football. Stopped watching the weekday NASCAR programs for all the reasons posted on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Do you expect ESPN now to be able to predict when weather delays would clear up? I would not have been happy to see only 20 minutes of NN and then for tennis to start up.

You're trying to play Monday morning quarterback. ESPN had no idea when play would resume. I think they made the right decision given the information they had at the time.

Lisa Hogan said...

I am sorry that folks are disappointed about missing some shows.

I am a NASCAR fan and a tennis fan. I did get to watch the U.S. Open final. Since I don't have ESPN Classic or ESPN3 website, I didn't see anything but the match itself.

I was saddened when it was announced that ESPN was going to be one of the partners to cover tennis. ESPN was alread full.

ESPN is like a greedy child! Doesn't have room but they want more, more, more.

ON ESPN, pro football and baseball get to eat at the table. The other sports get the crumbs.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:54PM,

The right decision" being to start a third hour of SC? I don't understand your comment.


Anonymous said...

I would not have wanted NN to start unless ESPN was certain they would be able to show it in its entirety.

ESPN had no idea when tennis would start ... it could have started up at 7:30. Sportscenter could have run for 20 minutes, the weather clears up, and the tennis would resume.

As ESPN couldn't commit to a full showing of NN at 7pm due to the unforeseen weather circumstances at the US Open, I think they did the right thing in this one instance.

Though, I would have liked to see it on ESPN Classic, ESPN News, or espn3.com.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:23PM,

Let me forward some more info which I did not include in my column.

The situation at the US Open was easily understood through the US Open website in terms of weather.

The court gets dried by machines and by handheld blowdryers that are mounted on wheels. Kind of like mini-jet dryers. It is easy to see what is going on and play starts at a scheduled time that is announced in advance in order to get the fans back into the court.

Secondly, NASCAR cannot be shown online ever by ESPN and that should have aided the decision to put "NASCAR Now" on the air at 7PM no matter when tennis started IMHO.

It would have been better, especially with the Chase approaching, to get NASCAR content out to the fans and transition to tennis if needed than to fill with SC fluff for the hour.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.


Anonymous said...

Lisa Hogan said it all when she said ESPN is like a greedy child. It gets very frustrating if you work and plan to come home and watch recorded shows and wind up not getting them because they were either skipped or given another time slot so you soon learn not to even plan on recording as ESPN is very seldom on time with the Nsacar shows.

As far as the Kyle Busch show goes, I don't care whether his financee wears heels or boots and besides that, her voice hurts my ears. That off timing was nbd to me.

GA Red

glenc1 said...

Lisa, I like to watch tennis occasionally too (and would have had to go to ESPN360 if it had ended later.) But it's funny, all of this brought back to mind something from years ago. Our local CBS station had a contract to show all SU football. This was back in the McNabb era, I think. Anyways, they ended up with a game scheduled opposite the US Open womens final and planned to pre-empt it. After the outrage, this is what they did--put the game on, and put the tennis in a tiny little PIP, and when it was time for a commercial break, they put the tennis on big screen. Bizarre. And my cable was crappy so I remember it was hard to see. I guess there are worse solutions than what ESPN did. I do think ESPN would be better off with fewer sports covered in better ways.

David said...

I don't think anybody is arguing about the issues with weather, the point is that this is just one of many mis-steps when it comes to ESPN and NASCAR.

The question becomes why was NN scheduled for 7pm at all, instead of 5 or 6 like it usually is when it's not on a midnight? Why go head to head with another NASCAR show? Why do you need 15 hours of SportsCenter on every ESPN channel? Isn't ESPN for SC and ESPN2 for other programming?

I'll say it again, these blogs are obviously pointless to ESPN, with no changes being made until people like Allen Bestwick himself say something. As a side note, I tweeted AB (ABestwickESPN) on Friday about ESPN not getting back from breaks for restarts and he responded .. I thought his answer was politically correct at best, but appreciated at least responding.

The greed is interesting, considering ESPN bailed on the sport in 2000, leaving us the new TV deal that started with FOX and NBC, only to want NASCAR back went ratings went up and the Chase was implemented. If you assume that ESPN only wanted the Chase to compete with Football (especially considering it used to be on ABC broadcast) it just makes everything else make no sense.

Which is really how I feel most of the time since ESPN's decision rarely make any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

The one hour Monday Nascar Now show is the best Nascar show on television,yet it routinely gets prempted. Nothing surprising with those media darlings in Conneticut. The Kyle show was very enjoyable. All the shows showing behind the scenes moments with the drivers,crew chiefs,etc are good even if you're not a fan of that particular person. Kyle's fiancee is a real sweetheart!

Vince said...

I don't have ESPN any more, which is fine with me. I think most of what they have on their family of networks now days is garbage anyway. And I'm not worried about missing KB. I wouldn't watch him if he was the last show on earth.

I do not understand the ESPN SC clowns disrespecting NASCAR. Way back when ESPN was just starting up, NASCAR is what basically made ESPN. ESPN didn't have any professional stick and ball sports back then. They were all under contract by the big 3 networks. ESPN showed NASCAR racing and did it well. And that started them on the road to what they eventually became. For the various ESPN faces to disrespect NASCAR and us fans just shows me their lack of knowledge as to how ESPN got to where they are today. But hey, you ask me to name a ESPN "personality" and I couldn't name one, so I guess the joke is on them.

Lisa Hogan said...

I tuned into ESPN2 to see what the Kyle special was like. Didn't realize this was a special about his girlfriend!

That girl has a voice that would shatter glass. Me and the hound dogs aren't happy! :)

I think I will pass on this one and wait for RaceHub.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Kind of lets you see exactly who is driving that bus!

Anonymous said...

What is this "and they wonder why the ratings are dropping"? Who's they? Nascar? HA!

glenc1 said...

I only saw the preview on NNow...but it was enough. No thanks, lol. I will say, they've used scenes of drivers signing diecast cars before on NASCAR 360--Jamie Mac did it; maybe more of them.

PammH said...

glen-agree w/u. Even if I didn't like Shrub, noooo way I would subject my animals to Sam's voice! Made me winch just listening to the preview! Glad to hear Mr Bad Guy is pu&&ywh**ed! Delete at will JD, just my honest opine.

David said...

I only caught half of the first Kyle episode. Seems like a pretty interesting project, curious asto why they chose Kyle though. I like him for what he is, but I think it falls into NASCAR and the networks still "forcing" him onto the fanbase which is further creating resentment for him. Ala Jimmie Johnson the last 5 years.

Someone like a Jeff Burton or a Clint Bowyer would have been a much better selection IMO. And I'm saying that as a Kyle Busch fan...

David #1. I see our other friend has been around lol. Sorry I missed the cup race, was busy with other things in life.