Monday, December 13, 2010

All Quiet On The Western Front


Daytona International Speedway sits quietly. Clad in a new coat of asphalt, the symbol of the sport is ready to greet yet another season. This one, however, is unlike any season before. It's not the changes at the speedway that make it different. It's the inability of the sanctioning body to adapt to the reality of the world around it.

This is year five of a television contract that has been nothing short of a disaster. The sport is also saddled with an official website run by a third party with a different agenda. Televised track activities, including races, are not streamed online. The only NASCAR cell phone app is limited to Sprint Cup Series races and available from only one cell phone company.

In short, the sport is mired in a tangled web of media agreements that are slowly bringing it to a grinding halt. The absolute proof was delivered during the 2010 Chase for the Championship. Great racing, interesting stories and compelling images were lost on a viewing public long since turned off by the other problems.

The silence in the NASCAR press at the moment is driven by the fact that many discussions are now taking place behind the scenes. All of the media contracts that have splintered the television, radio and online coverage still have years to run. None of them are going to be easily changed, but that is exactly what must happen in the next two months.

The thrust of this entire changing media landscape is the word "portability." While it has different meanings, our use is rather basic. Consumers today want the same sports content services available to them as they move from one media device to another.

As a civilization we are rapidly moving away from using traditional media devices like TV sets and radios. Instead of just watching or listening, we now desire what is being called "connected experiences." This means that consumers, especially younger ones, expect to participate and ultimately control their involvement in all types of media.

This is an especially tough challenge for NASCAR. There is only one consumer video choice for the Daytona 500. Fans must access their local FOX TV affiliate and sit in front of the television for more than three hours at a specific time in order to watch the live action.

The pressure is squarely on NASCAR to make Sprint Cup Series races available live online for the entire season. In addition, the practice and qualifying sessions already being televised should also be available over the Internet and on smart phone apps.

Turner Sports, the current online rights holder for all NASCAR content, has already made the RaceBuddy online application familiar to fans. Made available online during the six summer TNT races without charge are additional cameras, a designated pit road reporter and live chat directly connected to multiple social media applications.

In 2011, NASCAR desperately needs to be able to compete on a level of media sophistication with the other major professional sports. The real issue behind declining ratings is not the Chase, the COT, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or any of the other frequent topics heard on a regular basis. NASCAR is simply serving up the same tired television product it did twenty years ago. In today's world, that is not going to cut it.

In order to get on equal footing, NASCAR needs to embrace new media technology in every facet prior to February. Despite the protests of FOX, the Daytona 500 without online streaming and a RaceBuddy-style application is going to begin a cycle that is all too familiar.

Three self-serving television networks each with its own agenda, sales goals and colorful personalities will take a turn in the spotlight. The current NASCAR TV contract is built to serve the TV partners. FOX fills time before the NFL season, TNT keeps its toe in the NASCAR water and ESPN gets to crown the champion.

It might have been good in theory, but the reality of 2010 drove home the point that today's fans want more. Surrounded by laptops, smart phones and iPads in everyday life there is simply no way to pretend that sports TV alone can keep today's younger fan actively involved in a ten month long racing season.

It seems ironic that fans at the track for Sprint Cup Series races can rent Sprint's Fanview unit. This handheld device features live race video, additional camera views and team scanner audio. In addition, users get all the real time driver and race stats. Finally, Fanview can also provide television programming from the TV networks handling the weekend's activities.

NASCAR can put this technology bundle in the hands of the fans at the track, but can't deliver the same package to the millions of fans who are not there. Instead, it's time once again to sit in front of a TV set each weekend from February through November. The extensive user interface for this sophisticated piece of equipment involves making the decision to turn the volume up or down.

We should know what media and technology changes NASCAR has negotiated before Christmas. This is a wonderful opportunity to change the sport forever in a positive way. Wouldn't that be a nice little gift at just the right time.

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.

42 comments:

Ann_Ominous said...

Nope, not me. I'm terminally uncool. My computer and tv are in different rooms. I want to watch the race on my tv in hd in that one room, not on my computer and certainly not on my tiny phone!

What is turning me off and making me not care is that tv coverage. The Fox announcers try to do a hillbilly comedy show instead call the race. The ESPN announcers follow a cornball melodramatic script whether it fits the actual race or not. Marty Reid constantly says things that are totally incorrect and mixes up driver's names. And what is shown on the screen is not cars racing, just tight shots of them going around in circles. That is when they aren't going to commercial. TNT is the only decent coverage, yet they are stuck with some of the biggest snoozeville tracks to cover like Pocono.

This fall for some reason the folks at Speed decide for their Classic race to show some 2005 spring races instead of more recent fall races. Maybe they didn't want to send ESPN another royalty check. Whatever. The biggest thing it accomplished was to show exactly how horrid their race coverage had gotten. I could watch those races without feeling the need to yell "SHUT UP!!" at the screen or yearn to do an Elvis.

All the whizbang techno stuff isn't going to save NASCAR if the base product of the tv coverage contines to stink!

MeekloBraca said...

When the head of Nascar has a terrible time dressing himself, do you honestly think he is ready to make changes for the better?

Instead of what you suggest, were going to get a more radical points system that will turn more viewers off, more phantom debris cautions that will piss people off, and more nonsense from the shills that broadcast this sport.

KoHoSo said...

JD...an awesome opening three paragraphs...truly a scathing indictment. I would not expect to get a Christmas card from Mr. France, Mr. Mouse, Mr. Turner, or Mr. Murdoch this year. ;-)

While I feel the opening is 100% accurate, I must respectfully disagree with something that came later.

The real issue behind declining ratings is not the Chase, the COT, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or any of the other frequent topics heard on a regular basis. NASCAR is simply serving up the same tired television product it did twenty years ago.

Yes, I certainly agree that the poor product being put out over television and via other electronic means is a big part of the declining ratings. However, I would not by any means shrug off the on-track issues.

I live in an area of southern California that is filled with racing fans or, at least, former racing fans. I am right between Pomona and Fontana, in the heart of the area that used to have Ontario and Riverside, and there are four short tracks all within relatively easy driving distance including Irwindale. Thus, I get to talk to a lot of people when I go out to races or strike up conversations when I see their old or new racing memorabilia.

Yes, people are angry with the television coverage. However, don't think for one moment that they are also not unhappy with cookie-cutter cars and tracks, selective rule enforcement, ridiculous ticket and concession prices at Fontana (griped about well before the economy went bust), boredom with Jimmie Johnson even though he could almost be considered a local, races where there is too much riding around, and all of the other things we have hit on here now and again when we stray from the main topic of this blog. Each person has a favorite reason why they are watching less NASCAR and, while my observations are obviously not scientific, I just think it's wrong to imply that nobody is leaving for reasons other than bad TV.

I can say this for sure. As I have said here before, 2011 is the year during which I have put NASCAR on probation. If I leave before 2012, it will be more because I do not feel I am getting an honest product rather than horrible television coverage...although I must admit that the continuation of Gooberville on Fox and Storyville on ESPN will make it a lot easier to give up.

PammH said...

JD, you can write about these needed changes all you want, but I just don't see anything happening. TPTB for the networks & Nascar don't CARE!! As long as the bucks have changed hands, they don't see the problems. I desperately hope I'm wrong, but I don't have alot of hope right now. Maybe I'll be proved wrong..

Rockin Rich said...

I am of the older "persuasion". For me watching racing is a social event. I gather with other like-minded guys, (and occasionally a gal or two), at our "GarageBar" to watch primarily Cup racing, and "quaff" a few. We generally do some kind of "guy style" cooking, and "debate" the merits of various drivers' performances.

Watching racing on a computer, or mobile device, just doesn't lend itself to social interaction, (meaning fun for us).

We do have two TVs in the GarageBar. Mostly that comes into play during football season where a game will be playing, (silently), on one set while the racing is being watched and listened to on the other. Having something like RaceBuddy playing on the second set would probably be entertaining, and useful. We did have the In-Car Camera offering running during the short time it was available on cable before being moved to satellite only.

The point here is that I believe there are many like us that enjoy the racing experience this way. That's not to say that offering Internet or mobile programming is undesirable. I just would like to see some upgrading in the quality of the present TV "product", (to use one of Na$car's favorite PR terms). Given the recent announcements concerning Na$scar's hiring of their consulting firm to take over all "media messaging", I don't have much hope for improvement.

JD, I wish you,and all the Planeteers a wonderful holiday, (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever), and a happier 2011 than 2010 may have been.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with you JD, but I do not believe it will happen – hope I am wrong. BZF can not even get a straight, common sense statement made to the public. How can we expect him, and it has to be him, to straighten out the “tangled web of media agreements”? MC

Anonymous said...

Every Sunday I sit in front of my TV and watch the NFL Redzone...whip around coverage of every big play from every game....for a football fan, there is no greater invention.

Now imagine if Nascar came out with something like PASSCAM...every pass on the track covered with it's own reporter...would you watch that? I know that I sure would.

They also need to make the Sirius channels streamable to either a computer of smart phone.

None of these should be that hard.

Marshall said...

The solution to this problem doesn't seem too hard to me. There is 1 thing that would ignite interest in Nascar racing and cause every sport out there to take notice:

As part of the next major release Nascar video game (XBOX, PS3, PC I believe Activision is in talks), allow racers at home to drive on the track and see the action during the race. Racing is the only kind of sport that could do this with any success -- we already see computer generated cars with Trackpass. Implementing them in the track on a game would be incredible! Then fans could "race" against their favorite drivers in real time, see what its like, and get up close and personal. This would be a great thing. I would do it. I wouldn't miss a race -- even New Hampshire.

OSBORNK said...

If the media partners do not agree to changes that makes NASCAR material available from the many available sources, the value of the product to all of the partners will fall dramatically. Why NASCAR would sign very long term contracts for media exposure when technology changes constantly shows they are far behind times. There could be other media sources available and preferre before the current contracts expire.

GinaV24 said...

JD, since I'm not in the "younger" demographic, I would like the portability features but it is not the deal killer for me. You said that TV is offering the same tired product as 20 years ago. I actually think that for the most part, the TV partners offer worse than that -- they've forgotten WHY race fans watch racing. It's not to see the bells and whistles or have a particular mfg or driver hyped out the wazoo -- its to see the darn race.

I agree that it is time for NASCAR to come into the 21st century -- the technology is out there and most of us aren't going back to sitting in front of the TV all day for the race -- not when there are recording devices so I can FF thru the overwhelming commercials or when I need to use my computer for trackpass or to get the radio feed BECAUSE the TV broadcast isn't adequately telling the story of the race.

I don't have a smart phone yet, but I do have a netbook and if I could get the race feed streamed like they do with racebuddy, I'd be very happy.

One comment on the whole Sprint Fanview thing -- it always amuses me to see people using that AT the track. I like to watch the race, not depend on a gadget (as if I were watching it on TV), but I do get your point. The technology and info is there at the track albeit through only ONE provider (Sprint).

I have to say I don't have a lot of hope that NASCAR and the TV partners and Turner will actually find a way to work this out, but I would sure like to see it happen.

But then again, according to Brian France, there aren't any problems and gee, did someone actually talk to a fan who didn't LIKE the chase?

The statements from the CEO of NASCAR are the reason I have little to no hope. They need to do something - by 2014, they may have lost even more fans, especially if they go through with making more changes to the farce for the championship.

Anonymous said...

Well all the "behind the scenes" talks mean nothing if NASCAR isn't willing to implement change.

2011 looks to be no better at this point. They may even have problems filling a 43 car field.

Listen to the fans Brian !

Daly Planet Editor said...

KoHoSo,

I understand your point, but this season the racing and the storylines in the Cup Series were solid from start to finish.

In order to fairly evaluate how the public will relate to a pro sports product, it has to be easily available to them.

Opening the technology access gates by putting every single televised NASCAR show online would also put a new pressure on the TV networks to step-up and cover the sport as the fans have been asking for years.

It's amazing what a little pressure can do for better coverage.

JD

JohnP said...

""The real issue behind declining ratings is not the Chase""

Well, I'm sorry JD but I will disagree respectfully 100%. Everone I know who has stopped watching Nascar has stopped because it's simply a 26 week test session followed up by a total re-arangement of points. And the "Lucky Dog" who has no major issues during the 10 races of the Chase wins the Championship. Kinda simple.

I know you keep pushing cell phones. I don't get it what so ever. It would be impossible to watch a race on a little 3" screen. I want it on my 52" screen in my den so my friends and family can watch it also. I just don't get it. The computer is better then the phone, but even that sucks cause it small and in my office. As is my wifes. There in three seperate rooms. We use the sport to bring people Together. Not seperate them into little impersonal enviroments all by themselves.

So, respectfuly disagree.

Chadderbox said...

I envision "Brain" France looking out over the landscape of available American technology for Nascar and screwing this one up too! He is so far out in left field with his vision right now I don't think he is connected to reality.

I love Nascar and I hope they get this right. I really do. But, BF scares me. I think he is turning into a disaster for Nascar.

I don't mean to make light of the contractual and legal obstacles involved in all of this because I can only imagine the difficulty with all of that stuff. I am just speaking to the overall vision of of BF and where he thinks he wants Nascar to go - and the marketing thing he has planned is a joke, so I am skeptical of BF in general.

Anonymous said...

"NASCAR desperately needs to be able to compete on a level of media sophistication with the other major professional sports."

Sophistication. Ouch!

Recent efforts by two of the three media partners of NASCAR is anything but sophisticated. When the face of NASCAR on TV is the Walmouth Brothers and Brian France we are not going to get sophisticated. Sophomoric maybe. Convergence is only going to get us garbage on more devices. Until management's approach is changed we'll not see the Holy Grail.

Ever.

bevo said...

Just the other day there was a news release that the #1 grossing app for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad was MLB AtBat. I have it on my iPod and it is great. The basic version has an amazing amount of features including game tracking with stats for each game as well as both radio feeds for $9.99.

NASCAR? Nothing.

Daly Planet Editor said...

JP,

How can you say that this season? It might have applied last year, but there was no boredom issue this season, no tire disasters and no epic failures after Daytona.

Smart phones, of both the Android and iPhone variety are basically laptops in your hand. I watch YouTube videos, some videos emailed to me and sports videos from websites all the time on my Sprint EVO.

On Fridays, having the practice and qualifying available through this technology would allow those not fortunate enough to be near cable TV the ability to follow the sport.

This is just a big technology door that is being slowly opened. NASCAR has some things to untangle, but they also have a great product to promote.

It should be interesting to see how they decide to handle these issues.

JD

JohnP said...

JD, just a difference of opinion is all I guess. Respectfully done I hope.

But I can say it easy. I use a cell phone to talk with and text with once in while. I have a simple flip phone. Never even seen a "smart phone" - whatever that means. Everything is "smart" this or that anymore. The word has become meaningless. Mine remembers contacts so I guess it's "smart".

Between the Chase and TV coverage it's my personal belief that's why their ratings are going down.

But you have to eventually answer this question.

Why try to make it a point to send everyone off in a corner to watch a race? This person here watching on their computer, this person there watching on some tiny phone, this person there watching on tv.

The point of sports is to bring people together and have fun. And I'll stick by that no matter what.

The TV Broadcast's should be the main effort to improve. The rest is just candy.

Buschseries61 said...

Rather than waste space, I will keep it short. I agree with KoHoSo. Watching the sport online or on my phone won't change anything I have a problem with.

All I want is a broadcast dedicated to the race on the track. No FOX battle of the personalities, no graphics overload, no tech center, and no ADD camera work.

MRM4 said...

I'd like to see the numbers of how many people are actually watching live sporting events on their phone. I know the phone companies are constantly ramming down our throats the ability to do that, but I don't see how there can be that many people that are willing to watch a 3-hour sporting event on a 4" screen. I do think that option should be offered to the ones that do partake in that. But keep in mind the NFL only does it through their Sunday Ticket package.

I am 43, but I have watched races since 1975 when I attended my first NASCAR race in 1975. I consider myself in between the group that has no use for using phones to watch "TV" and the group that is embracing this method. But I agree with many of the other comments where others say the TV coverage has become plain terrible.

I really felt as though the Fox crew just went through the motions this past year. I never could quite put my thumb on the reason. Mike Joy seemed hampered or just plain tired. Larry Mac was more interesting on TNT than on Fox, and DW gets more annoying each year. I like some of this sayings and interesting ways of looking at things. But his cheerleading for certain drivers is unprofessional.

TNT seems to offer the best coverage, but they have the worst collection of races. And Adam Alexander was not a good fit.

ESPN started out much improved. But once the Chase started, it was 2007-2009 all over again. Too much focus on the Chase drivers, building up storylines that weren't there, and ignoring most of the real action on the track.

While I thought the initial idea of having races on a couple of networks at set intervals was a good idea, I think it's time for the tracks to negotiate their own TV deals again and bring back the competition among the networks to improve their product from week to week. Right now, there is none of that. Regardless of how it's available, the TV coverage must be improved. Enough with the agendas and enough with all these tech gadgets and acting like all viewers are idiots.

Anonymous said...

I think this is much ado about nothing. My world doesn't change because I can listen to a driver interviews, a call-in-radio show, or even a race itself on my phone.

It's not like the NFL is using Twitter or cell-phone broadcasts to break new attendance records. It's not like MLB needs a Facebook page or just one network to thrive.

These multi-media add-ons are nice, but they do not make or break the sport - which had it's best years before any of this stuff was invented.

At the end of the day, the only thing that will bring fans or drive them away is what is on the track. In 1991, NASCAR didn't need Twitter or Sirius or Smartphones to sell out every seat in the house. They had a product that people wanted. Even today, so long as NASCAR has an unappealing product, I don't care how great the tweets are or how many mobile devices I can listen to, I won't care.

It begins and ends on the track, not in social media.

Jonathan said...

Call me old school I guess im only 29 so I cant be all that old schoolish but maybe im just a die hard but I get my fix of Nascar and I dont need no streaming cell phone or racebuddy (its nice but I have hot pass same thing) I watch all I need to on Speed and whatever network is covering the race. But your right this is important for most as I seem to be the only one left who uses a cell PHONE to make calls not use as a computer! We should call em cell comps now a days cause the phone is the least option used! Oh well just my take but I know I will be in front of my tv all 36 weeks waiting with bells on as always cause thats what Nascar is all about. its so hard to watch a race on the internet I guess I'd rather see it with surround sound on my LED HD tv!!! oh well hope Nascar can get this all straight so everyone will be pleased

Vince said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the current tv contract is BZF's baby. If I remember right it was one of his first official acts after taking over the reins of Nascar. He negotiated it. So being that the current restrictive long term tv/media contract was his idea in the first place, he'll never change it. If it was his idea, it is perfect, right? Aaaah........I think I just threw up a little bit in the back of my throat.......

As long as BZF is in charge I don't see any real changes coming to the current presentation of Nascar until the contracts run out. BZF is too arrogant to admit he may have made a mistake.

JD I agree with you up to a point, but there are more issues behind declining interest in Nascar. It's not just the tv/media issues, it's also the Chase itself, the COT (IROC) lack of brand idenity cars, vanilla corporate speak drivers, high motel, concession and ticket prices, Nascar's weekly changes on how they inforce their double superduper top secret rule book AND the lousy excuse for the race coverage that we are subjected to on a weekly basis.

I bailed on the last half of the season this year for two reasons. One ESPN and TNT aren't on my basic cable tier and I'm not paying Charter cable the extra $50 something a month just to watch a few more stations. And secondly because I've just plain lost interest. I listened to a few races on MRN/PRN, but after the NFL started I quit even doing that. I can watch a football game and not get treated like an idiot by the broadcasters and also actually see the action. Nascar just doesn't get it, BZF and his management don't get it, the drivers don't get it and the mainstream Nascar media don't get it. The product is not as good as it once was, the presentation is terrible and the people involved with the sport are all too close to it to see what the problems are.

I'm on the fence about this coming season. I'll watch the Daytona 500, but after that I'm not sure. There are other more interesting things I can be doing and if I'm annoyed with even trying to watch a race, why bother.

Sally said...

JD, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have Nascar information available over more resources, unless the way it is covered by television (the mother source), I'm not sure it will make much difference. Nascar has ended it's season during football for years, yet recently it is getting it's butt kicked. The only 'new' phenomenon here are the changes recently made to racing, not the football season. I can remember almost going into withdrawal during the brief off season of racing, anxiously waiting for Daytona. This year...well, I don't really care much. I only use my cell phone for calls. I can't imagine trying to watch a race on that tiny screen. If I'm not near a TV, I can enjoy the race on the radio. Face it...one of the reasons we Planeteers enjoy the races is because we are all here together, sharing the love he have (or had) for racing. Unless television figures out how to cover a race properly(again), is anything going to help?

Obviously Brian France hasn't a clue...he thinks the TV coverage is fantastic. He thinks micro managing the 'chase' format is the answer. He has sacrificed 26 races to bet it all on a 10 race crapshoot, assuming his audience is more concerned about who wins the title instead of giving fans 36 good races a year.

Bobby said...

Sprint's exclusivity deal is the reason for the money. And part of this is why all NASCAR apps are Sprint-only. The same goes with NFL apps being Verizon-only.

Ann: All old NASCAR race films are now property of NASCAR Media Group.

Activision is the legal successor to Papyrus/Sierra, so it's good to see Activision Blizzard get back into the NASCAR game, albeit with a new designer.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I don't know how many of you have kids, but the last thing they want to do is sit in front of the TV for several hours without any additional activity.

Phones in hand, laptops on the coffee table and fully interactive, the younger generation is simply not going to do what we are are used to doing.

I grew up with a weekly syndicated TV show from Ned Jarrett, some selected coverage on ABC and the Daytona 500 live on CBS. I completely understand the alternate perspective.

While the term "watching on my phone" can be used by adults with some scorn it is smartphones, laptops and iPads that are going to be the future platform for vital NASCAR content.

The NFL and MLB both have sophisticated online programs for access to all kinds of content, including live games. The NFL RedZone is a great example of cherry picking content and providing an alternate way of viewing.

No matter how we feel about this topic in reference to our own viewing habits, it's planning for the future that is so very important for NASCAR during this off-season.

JD

Kyle said...

This is somewhat off-topic...but JD, RedZone could be the best thing from the NFL...I'd rather have that then Sunday Ticket...allows me to watch every touchdown, keep track of my team and all the others. Plus...THERE ARE NO COMMERCIALS. Constant action...


Now, to the topic...I would like to at least have a form of Trackpass for iPod Touch/iPhone. This should be a none-issue since they once had a Pit Command for basic cellphones...

I'm 18 and would rather watch the race on my 52" HD TV but I like RaceBuddy a lot. My computer is in the same room as my TV, and I usually watch the broadcast on the TV then wheel over to my computer to watch RaceBuddy.

Now, TV execs may see that and go "No more Racebuddy...they aren't watching ads." But, if they would have side-by-side commercial breaks, I would stay by the TV...and keep an eye on the commercials.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Kyle, great comments. I just firmly believe that putting the national TV commercials side-by-side on the Cup races would be a major step toward keeping fans involved throughout the entire event.

Kind of breaks up the story of the race when it is interrrupted 36 times during the event for three minutes at a pop.

I hope the cell phone expansion happens this season. In the real world, it's a no brainer. In the NASCAR world, those rights were long ago sold for big money.

We will see which mindset prevails.

Jd

Anonymous said...

I think you're painting too broad of a stroke about young kids. Yes, they're wired in, but it's not like there's a whole new generation that cannot sit through televised sports uninterrupted. I mean, are movie sales down because they don't come over the phone? Kids seem to handle two-hour movies just fine, and three-hour sports contests, too. All this talk about content on your phone is hilarious. As if my enjoyment of the race is going to be enhanced that much by seeing Tony Stewart's in-car camera 3-inches tall.

FloridaMatt said...

I'm of the belief that it won't help, and may hurt, to widen the media exposure before fixing the product.

Consider the object lesson served up by Piels beer. They hired two really funny guys -- Bob & Ray -- who came up with great commercials. Beer sales went up, momentarily, and then people tasted the beer and stopped buying it.

Give the "smartphone generation" easy access to Nascar's current product, and you aren't going to create very many new fans.

Gymmie said...

Like I said in that other thread the "fans" they're trying to court has the attention span of a gnat so they HAVE to do something to keep their attention. They're mobile, they're going outside, they want to watch what they want on THEIR terms & what works for them. If Stick & Ball has games OnDemand/online/on their phone that's where they're going.

*giggles* Meeko

Vicky D said...

I actually can't see Nascar/BF listening to the fans in regards to making the telecasts better. It makes me frustrated thinking that they would only need to improve a few things and us viewers would be so much happier. I'm looking forward to Daytona race, but I don't see anything getting better. Ho Hum!

Anonymous said...

I will say that I for one do not feel the necessity to have the full broadcast of a race available on my phone or laptop. What I would like is the ability to have a good source of supplemental data/information, and maybe in-car camera's available from somewhere else other than NASCAR.com. I would love to be able to see all of THAT extra data from a dedicated app on my iPod Touch or in dedicated software on my computer.

In the end though, I still want to watch the actual race coverage on my television while getting supplemental info from easier to access places like my phone/computer.

For the record, I think I might be near this "younger generation" being 21.



@Marshall.
NASCAR the Game 2011 is being made for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii, (I doubt the PC though). It is being made by Eutechnyx and published by Activision, which means that, although those features would be awesome, they would never invest in making that high-quality of a game. They have an exclusive license and are aiming to make a NASCAR that is good enough to sell well, but still be improved on for the following iteration released next year. Unfortunately, when EA had an exclusive NASCAR video game license for 5 years, they destroyed all of the development studios that were making real strides and progress in making quality NASCAR simulation video games for the PC.

Anonymous said...

The root of NASCAR's problems is bad management. If you think of it as a disease, portability issues are only one symptom of the disease. You can treat one symptom all you want, but it isn't going to cure the disease.

Even if NASCAR somehow worked out all the problems and made all material available on every electronic gizmo, I belive race attendance and viewership will continue to fall. There are still too many fundamental problems to bring fans back.

Brian France's business leadership may some day be used in business schools as a case study. Some people serve a purpose simply by being a bad example, a lesson in what not to do.

Scott said...

I disagree. I think fans still watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR and F1 races the same way. The only real difference is that many of us DVR the races or games and watch them when it's convenient.

What keeps me from watching those races and often deleting them is a combination of things. But principally I will say that what I imagine I'm going to see on the race track is less interesting than all the other things I could be doing with that time.

Thus it's for that reason that I almost always watch the races from Bristol, Richmond, the road courses, etc. But I skipped a lot of the mile-and-a-half tri-ovals this year.

If the on-track product is boring and predictable, why should people tune in - regardless of what device they choose? If viewers get the feel that the outcome of a race is 'manipulated' or changed after the fact (Bowyer at New Hampshire), why would they bother to tune in to watch? If viewers aren't going to get to see their favorite drivers and/or the best on-track action during the Chase (because the TV programs focus on the Chase drivers 95% of the broadcast), why should they bother to watch?

Sally creeping down the alley said...

The second Nascar moved away from "What you see in the showroom is what you'll see on the track" they were in big trouble. Fans of "stock" car racing want to see their car racing... Couple that with a "foreign" manufacturer, aka Toyota, being allowed in an "American" sport and fans started turning away. Then add every broadcaster from here to the moon talking about "The Chase" who is in, who is out, who is going to make it in next year, blah, blah, blah... Or in the races, where the Chase guys are at--even if the leader of the race isn't in the Chase, blah, blah, blah--in the field... and the fans are sick of it all.

Finally, add to all of that, races that seem to go on for days and days, cookie cutter tracks, and the abandonment of its roots, Nascar clearly doesn't care about the real racing fan.

The tecno stuff aside, Nascar needs to focus on the racing, the experience of bring the race to the fan, be it at the track or via some electronic gizmo, once they do that, maybe, but only maybe, will they regain their footing as Nascar. Until then, they'll just be another distraction in between episodes of The Hot Wives of Dallas or some such nonsense.

KoHoSo said...

At this point in the conversation, I feel the need to chime in again and fully agree with Mr. Daly's comment made yesterday at 5:19 PM. While this blog might have an older demographic that cannot stand the thought of using a cell phone or some other smaller device for any sort of otherwise "large" form of entertainment, I assure my fellow Planeteers that a large portion of the younger generation (a.k.a. future and potential NASCAR fans) does indeed use these newer forms of technology and the amount grows every day (with a huge new chunk of them coming in just a few more days thanks to Christmas).

Despite my respectful disagreement with our still highly esteemed and greatly appreciated Mr. Daly above, there is no such disagreement on the issue that NASCAR has completely blown it when it comes to delivering content via these new media devices. Personally, despite the fact that NASCAR might have finally seen the light and make the proper changes for 2011, I greatly fear they have already lost almost an entire generation of potential fans -- people that will now never take the sport seriously and always believe the troll that oval racing is nothing but rolling advertisements turning left because NASCAR never got ahead of the curve and delivered their side of the story to all of the young tech-heads.

To JD specifically...please remember the conversation that occurred after this post. In the future, you can always point to it when some naysayer comes along and says that we Planeteers are nothing but sheep that do nothing but agree with everything you write. ;-)

Pieman said...

OK,so let us say that NASCAR DOES need to get onto other media platforms. But what good is it if the same people that give us crappy TV broadcasts and bad internet web coverage are the people who will be in charge of all the media gadget apps and Iphone streaming etc.? Seems then there will be the same problem as we are in now--just that people will be able to ignore NASCAR on EVERY platform instead of just TV. And also if the lack of other outlets to the race truly is the biggest problem,then why is attendance way down? I just dont see being able to watch a race on a phone by some 20 year old just THAT big of a deal. Yes the oppurtunity to draw a new fan in exists there,but I dont think it should be at the top of the TV/media "todo" list.

Anonymous said...

I agree but with one exception. You said NASCAR is serving up the same tired TV coverage. I believe the coverage has gotten worse in the past couple of years. With new people coming into the broadcasting/commenting arena, the old driver/reporter relationships are lost.

Bumpdrafter.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Racing is competition between drivers in different makes of cars and racing should be about winning the one you are in at the time. It is not stick and ball and it certainly is not a buck thirty left in the half. People change just as technology changes. There are too many other interests in my life to keep up with all the modern social gizmos or media. Part of my life is watching a race if there is racing in that race. However most of what they call racing is just a bunch of drivers making laps for 26 shows with very few of them really trying for a win. But come what they call the chase, then part of that group races but it is too late as the ones who did testing for 26 races and the announcers proclaim the importance of the chase and the fun and try to manipulate the public fan base into believing like them is what is ruining Nascar. Until management or the media changes and presents the shows as racing and allows the drivers to really race, nothing will change. Our choice perhaps is to apply the serenity prayer to Nascar nowadays.

The Mad Man said...

Call me old fashioned but I have the TV in one room and the computer in another. I don't need my cell phone to do anything other than to operate as a phone. Besides, I'm on a tight budget and paying through the nose for all these apps that I wouldn't use anyways seems like a waste of money which is in short supply anyways.

As to storylines, I have to disagree with you JD. I don't think any of them were really solid but that's just my opinion. They seemed more hyped and contrived than anything else.

As to storylines in general, storylines are what soap operas, TV shows, and professional wrestling have. Of course,since the races are being manipulated in the same fashion as professional wrestling to make things more exciting, maybe using the term storylines is correct.

Something to watch out for too in 2011. Before the first lap is turned in preparation for the Daytona 500 in February, we'll have folks in the lamestream media and the usual shills already touting the play-offs in November.

Anonymous said...

I personally disagree. If NASCAR wants to cater to the younger fan then they need to get on the technology wave. Having limits on the product they produce is ridiculous. They are having other companies that are involved have a say so on THEIR product. Personally I am sure 95% of the people who have a DVR fast foward thru the commercials now anyway, So what is the point of commercials. I think auto racing in general who do not have timeouts or TV Timeouts like in other sports should go the way no commercials like TNT does during the July Daytona Race, I am sure people who have DVR's would not need to FF their DVR during the race and the sponsors would still get their ad played during the race. It is a win win for everyone involved. If you really think about it what is the point of commercials in this day in age when almost everyone has a DVR. NASCAR needs to review these media contracts they have and cater to the fan. If they want to cater to the 18-34 year old demo, they need to get on the ball. What is the point of trying to bring in younger demo fans with the like of Travis Pastrana when the only way they can see or hear is the old "analog" conventional way. I would personally like to hear my Sirius NASCAR radio on the internet, so when I'm home I can mute the TV and hear the race on the Satellite radio but even something as simple as that cannot be done. I can't wait for the 1911 season to start. Just for the record as many fans that there are that say they prefer to watch it on TV only, there are the same or even more fans that would love NASCAR to jump on the Tech wagon. Just my 2 cents on this.