Thursday, December 2, 2010

NASCAR's Got A Sirius Situation

As we head toward the banquet and the official close of the 2010 season, we have used the last couple of days to review big agenda items.

Since 2007 we have been thumping NASCAR, Turner Sports and Sirius XM Radio pretty hard on one issue. The Sirius XM NASCAR channel 128 has never been available online. All those interviews, all those races and all that conversation and debate has been transmitted to only a sliver of the NASCAR fan base.

Sirius XM technology continues to be installed in vehicles and also made available through receivers where a satellite downlink is possible. While the total number of Sirius XM subscribers is put at 20 million, the real number Sirius XM has in mind is much bigger. An educated guess at the number of Americans regularly using the Internet is over 200 million and growing rapidly.

Sirius XM has a nice little online audio application that is easy to use and very portable. The original idea was to capture the laptop and desktop market, but there was a problem. Up to now, three big pieces of the Sirius XM pie were missing. NASCAR, the NFL and Howard Stern were nowhere to be found online.

While Stern continues to negotiate with Sirius XM on this topic, one big domino has finally fallen. The NFL has just signed a deal to bring live games to Sirius XM next season and online streaming is included.

Here are some excerpts on this topic from Spencer Osborne of the SiriusBuzz website:

The news here is the addition of on-line streaming beginning with the 2011 NFL season. This gives Sirius XM Radio a unique advantage with content that is otherwise unavailable through many other platforms or services.

Getting the NFL deal done was an important step that will allow Sirius XM to carry content that many of their competitors simply cannot match. Music is music. However, when it comes to news, talk and sports Sirius XM now almost has it all.

The NFL could have held back and kept the streaming rights for itself. It could also have broadened the existing deal with Verizon and the NFL app that allows streaming of video on some games. It makes the deal worth a lot more because it is yet another outlet where subscribers can access content that keeps them within the Sirius XM universe.

So, Stern is negotiating and the NFL deal is done. That puts the pressure on the three parties involved to get NASCAR in the mix. Turner Sports owns the online rights to NASCAR as a part of an existing contract. It's no secret Turner wants to get paid in any online deal.

Sirius XM has repeatedly said Turner wants way too much money. That leaves the settlement of this issue up to NASCAR. Opening the door to an inexpensive desktop and laptop online application would be great. NASCAR prying open the Sprint door and allowing cell phone streaming for 2011 would simply be spectacular.

With the advent of smart phones in the marketplace the ability to open the phone, press a button and listen to Sirius XM 128 would accomplish several key elements. One, it would increase the subscriber numbers dramatically. Two, it would finally make NASCAR truly portable, a key element in today's world.

Finally, it would accomplish a goal that has frustrated NASCAR all season long. It would provide an application that would be popular with younger fans. The days of listening to MRN in the garage are long gone. Appointment viewing of NASCAR TV shows, including races, has plummeted. It's got to be portable and available now.

We begged for these three parties to get together for the good of the sport during the last off-season and nothing happened. This time, it's beyond crisis mode. Walking into 2011 with Sirius XM 128 still limited to only a small slice of the potential NASCAR fan base is just not going to cut it.

NASCAR content is thriving on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Online streaming of live video may be coming for next season where races are concerned. It's going to be vitally important to make original live daily radio programming available online as a part of this comprehensive media package.

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.


Anonymous said...

The way I see it,is it's not what the fan base wants.Fans don't matter.However,the sponsers(Lowes,Napa,etall)should demand that they get the max.coveage that they can to reach the fans.Money talks.I get all my info from t.v. and the internet.Don't get MRN(might be a right coast thing) and don't want a 24/7 NASCAR channel on t.v.But when I want info.I would like to be able to access it
in a pure form unadulterated by
koolade drinking spokespersons.

Anonymous said...

I would venture to say Turner is not the only one wanting too much money. MC

Tom said...

I am just gonna put thia out there right off: Aside from actual race broadcasts, I am GLAD this stuff isn't available! The "original content" shows are horrible pieces of propaganda and the fewer that hear it the better! I cancelled my subscription because of the garbage I was hearing. After David Poole died, it gave them free license to shill up all day everyday. For years I listened every morning...felt it suffered once they canned Marty in favor of an MRN guy, and then once David was gone...well, we know all about the thought poli...err TV police. Yes, this channel could be a huge asset online BUT only if they give up the koolaide drinking hosts and allow real commentary and free expression-otherwise, let it stay where it belongs.

Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

I origunally got Sirius for the NASCAR channel. After the death of David Poole and host changes on other shows, I seldom listen to this channel much any more.

The hosts all seem like NASCAR shills, and want everything to be la di da in their NASCAR world. They are rude and abrupt with their customers (callers).

Rick Benjamin is the worst - very condecending on his show. Chocolate Myers is a homer for RCR and is drunk on the NASCAR company Kool Aid. He is old school and doesn't even believe in what he preaches.

The only show that is still tolerable is at 3 pm with Dave Moody. He knows how to deal with callers.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the original programming on Sirius, although I am not a big fan of the fact that MRN (ISC owned) has such a large presence on these shows. I feel it is somewhat of a monopoly. However, I do wish these programs were online. Even if the races were not broadcast online, what is the big deal about the original programs?

John, can you clarify the Howard Stern comments? Is that beginning next year? I was just listening online to his show as I was reading this story. Was a little unsure of what you were referring to.

With the NFL doing their part, NASCAR's first priority in their new marketing plan should definitely include this if they want to keep the NFL in their sights.

Tracy said...

I used to have Sirius back when Tony had his weekly show. I would listen to channel 128 on my way to work. Most of the time the shows were informative and could hold my interest on longer drives. If I had to go somewhere on a race day, I could listen to the race and Tony's scanner. I gave up my radio after Tony's show went off the air mainly because I couldn't use the online tool to listen to my channel. The radio was to cumbersome to use in the house and getting a signal for a long period of time, impossible. Turner needs to step up and realize they could be helping or hurting the sport.. Right now they are hurting it. The demand for huge sums of money is stupid. They have made a lot of money already but at this rate the golden goose will be doa and they wont have anyone to blame but themselves.

Roland said...

So espn and fox wont negotiate with turner for video streaming and sirius wont negotiate with turner for radio streaming. So it appears to me that the obvious is problem here is turner. If your going to have a sport covered by 4 different TV networks (espn, fox, speed, tnt) and 3 different radio networks (MRN, PRN, and sirius) then its quite a dumb move to even be doing exclusive online business with one single media outlet. If was not run by turner but instead run by nascar all these online issues might be solved. I never have any interest in reading any colums on so if nascar owned it and turned it into a propaganda website i wouldnt care.

I live in an area, in the south btw, that has little radio nascar coverage. I do have sirius, but i rarely listen to the nascar channel. I love shows like Fast Talk and NASCAR Live. I have an app on my droid that lets me listen to these shows via streams from radio stations all across the country. I know its little consolation to the people who are desperate for tradin paint or mornin drive, but its better than nothing, which is what the nascar radio coverage around here is.

bevo said...

@Anonymous 9:03- Stern won't allow Sirius to include his channels on the mobile device aps.

128 is a real mixed bag. About the only show I catch regularly anymore is Monday and Tuesday evenings with Buddy Baker. Never listen to friend of The Daily Planet Little Petey and once in a blue moon will catch a bit of Chocalate Myers. Benjamin is however the most smug and condescending host I have ever heard on sports radio - and that is saying something.

Speedway was the best show on Sirius before they got NASCAR. Covered IRL,NHRA,F1 and plenty of dirt and modified series. Once it was announced that there would be a NASCAR channel we were promised Sirius would have a motorsports channel or at least daily show which we are still waiting on. The show never got tired or redundant because there was always something happening in another series to talk about. After a year or so of 128 though you could hear the change in Moody who became increasingly hostile to callers and tired of constantly talking NASCAR. Once the come-to-Jesus edict came down from NASCAR and everyone saw their paychecks flash in front of their eyes the show became just like every other show on the channel. I now tune in for a few minutes once or twice a week.

The shame of it is that the blueprint of how a sport can do a channel is only four spots up with the NFL. Hosts are free to question and criticize players,coaches,owners,the commissioner and believe it or not even CBS,Fox and ESPN for their coverage.

The interest that the channel could generate for NASCAR is undermined by paranoia and a see-no-evil-speak-no-evil attitude by the on-air talent.

GinaV24 said...

NASCAR has got lots of situations that are serious and Sirius radio is one of them. I'd like to be able to stream 128 for qualifying and the races. Oh wait, they don't cover qualifying any more.

The thing now though is that Sirius and NASCAR may have waited TOO long. I have found that I don't listen to Nascar 128 like I used to. I have become "turned off" by the personalities who are, IMO, abusive and dismissive of the fans. Pete Pistone anyone? They don't have to agree with them, but I am not paying to listen to the current cast of characters make people feel stupid for their opinions.

So I no longer listen every day, I only use my radio for the times when I can't use my computer to get race coverage (when I'm in the car), so if that's the only reason I have a Sirius subscripton, then I have run out of reasons to listen. I plan to let my subscription lapse.

I get NO bang for my buck and that is a shame, but then again, it reflects the way I feel about NASCAR's coverage on a lot of levels. Just not enough bang for the buck.

I do agree with Anon 1:35 am though - the way to get this done is to contact the sponsors and have them put pressure on -- $$ talks and that cha-ching sound is the only thing that NASCAR is ever receptive to when it comes to making changes.

GinaV24 said...

Oh wait, one more thing -- my paid subscription still gets me commercials on channel 128!

ticks me off each and every time -- and yes, just like on TV, I change the channel.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let me clarify a couple of points:

"Portability" means that once someone subscribes to Sirius, that subscription should be applied to any instrument that they use to receive the signal.

This includes car unit, cell phone, laptop, portable Sirius receiver and desktop. The laptop category also includes the iPad and other tablets.

ESPN is spearheading this movement of "portability." They want sports TV viewers to be able to stream the ESPN networks online if they are a paying customer of cable TV service.

This concept is at the heart of what we are encouraging Sirius to embrace. Serve the paying customers by making the signal available to them on whatever device they desire.

The term for multiple devices being able to deliver the same signal is called "covergence." That is at the heart of this conversation, not limiting paying customers to access due to the equipment they own.

Thanks, hope that helps!


chrispolk76 said...

I've been listening to SNR128 since the first day they came on air in 2007. I miss David Poole terribly, but I can honestly tell you that the only thing I don't like about the channel is most of the CALLERS. I have been appalled to hear the vitriol and nastiness coming from some that call in. Talk about propaganda - this is not Rush Limbaugh or Randi Rhodes where you can call an assault the character of someone you see on TV and get away with it. I'm all for having a place where people can discuss differing opinions, but it gets out of hand. I record "The Morning Drive" every day as I'm sleeping when the show is live. I listen to bits and pieces of Speedway and Paint. I find myself skipping the calls and just listening to the interviews. I get sick of your ridiculous conspiracy theories. It's called Sirius NASCAR radio, and you complain because they talk NASCAR? Alrighty then... Everyone that listens to SNR knows CPain in NC. Chris has strong opinions that I don't always agree with, but I respect his right to voice them. He is highly entertaining. But I have no issue with a host if he crosses THEIR line. It is THEIR show, and they run it as they see fit. I love this sport. I like most (90%) of the drivers. I do not drink Kool Aid. I guess I'm just civil enough to be able to gather a coherent thought and discuss it without trying to destroy another's. There are things that I might change were I in charge for a day. There ideas I've heard that I wouldn't cry if they were put in place. There are also things that I would stand firm against. But I will not stand by and have the characters of men and women that provide quality news and entertainment be assaulted. Get a grip people.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Chris, our post today is about streaming Sirius 128 online.

Could you help me to understand what you are talking about?


Vince said...

I've never had Sirius and don't want it. Honestly I could care less if they make it available online or not, because I won't pay for it. That said, I understand there are people out there that like it and there is a niche that should be served by having access to Sirius online.

What I would love to see is Speed and ESPN put their Nascar content online. The Nascar Now shows and Speed's Race Hub. Having access to just those two shows online would be great. An added bonus would be putting the prerace shows online and shows like VL etc.

A lot of people in this economy have given up cable or just have basic cable. No access to Speed or ESPN. But these same people have in some cases kept their Internet connections. So to make anything Nascar available on the Internet, either live streaming or delayed would be a great plus.

As for smart phones, I'm one of those few people that only use a phone as a phone. And do a little text messaging, but that's it. The cell companies want way too much for their bundled all in one plans. I'm strictly pay as you go. But again I can see where the younger fans that live on their cell phones would like to see some apps that give them live coverage on their phones of Nascar content across the various media outlets.

Where is Nascar's new Marketing/PR group in all of this? I think what Nascar really needs is a Director of Online Media. Someone who would drive bringing Nascar content to the various online media devices. Computers, cell phones, touch pads, ebook readers, what ever. It seems like Nascar is so far behind they ball on this new fangled Internet stuff (sarcasm alert) that they can't even see the ball. They are losing out on a great opportunity. Again.....

Anonymous said...

I totally agree wirh BEVO and ANON about Rick Benjamin.

That guy is terrible in the manner in which he treats callers to the show. He cuts them short, belittles them and is generally an a****le. I can't believe management at Sirius / XM has put up with this.

What exactly is the "relationship" with Sirius and ISC ? Is it just supplying talent? If these guys work for MRN / ISC they obviously have to tow the company line in regards to controversy and ISC tracks.

Anonymous said...

I thought Chris was pretty clear, lol. I don't have Sirius, but I will say these comments are not making me want to sign up! I know people who have it. Personally, for the reasons Chris just mentioned, I really don't care for call in shows. Occasional callers ask intelligent questions, but there is just too much negativity. I realize these guys would just be talking to the air if they didn't *have* callers, but it's just not something I want to listen to. Some of the interviews & such would be fine, and to have the races & such available on the go might interest me. But yes, I would like to hear balanced coverage that isn't so NASCAR-biased they're afraid to say 'boo'. And yes, I think if you're paying for this type of service, it's silly that you can't get it online or on your phone or whatever in this day & age.

Personally, you couldn't pay *me* to listen to Stern.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy listening to Pat Patterson the most;
Moody and Benjamin two of the biggest bags of wind on the rodio dial...........

chrispolk76 said...

I apologize for getting off track. I'm a huge proponent of SNR being available online. It needs to happen. It's time for NASCAR to embrace new media opportunities. However, it need to be stated that, with the exception of the content shows, I can already get NASCAR on my iPhone even though I'm not supposed to be able. I can listen AND watch all the races on my phone. I do it often as I'm a truck driver. Again apologies for ranting, but I couldn't stand or re attacks on the SNR hosts.

The Mad Man said...

I've listened to several shows on Sirius 128 from time to time and besides toeing the company line and drinking the Kool Aid, fans who have called in with legitimate questions are verbally abused by the shows' hosts. I think Pete Pistone is the #1 example of abusing the fans who call in.

The way I see it, we only hear one side of the story with Sirius. Everything is beautiful in the world of NA$CAR. We don't hear anything about the backroom deals that are done (and yes they are done), there's nothing about how empty the grandstands are and the real cause of that, there's nothing about the poor performance of the COT,and there's nothing about any of the real controversies that are going on.

If Sirius really wanted to expand their subscription base for 128, they'd bring in some folks with opposing views to what's going on. They'd bring in folks who aren't shills or don't toe the party line. They'd address issues which are being ignored by the Kool Aid drinkers.

If Sirius, NA$CAR, Turner, and the rest really wanted to reach the fans and get them to listen then they'd find a way. Contracts can be renegotiated, moneys paid,subscriptions sold, fine print worked out, and the fans could use not just the TV to get information or races live but they could also supplement or replace the TV and MRN/PRN broadcasts altogether. But this means some willingness on the parts of all parties involved to do what's best for the fans. And as we've seen, fans and real racing are the smallest concerns in the NA$CAR universe. It's all about NA$CAR, the big bucks, and the personalities which are referred to as drivers.

Anonymous said...

Don't get too worked up about SIRIUS 128. Most of the content is absolutely abysmal. The call-in shows are tired, and the hosts are really lacking. Tony Stewart's show was good, but that's gone. I don't hear Cup drivers on the station often at all. It is lousy.

Anonymous said...

Can someone, anyone, explain to me why Sirius (a struggling company with a stock price of $1) should give away their content in this situation? Can someone explain to me what SiriusXM gets out of this?

Daly Planet Editor said...

No problem Chris. It seems that the personalities and the content are on the minds of many fans.

My opinion is that effective distribution of any on-air product brings positive change in the content.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:21PM,

Sirius would not be giving away anything. The online and cell phone streaming would be through the existing Sirius XM app for a fee. If Turner would agree to revenue share instead of demanding payment up front, this could be solved in a flash.

Ken-Michigan said...

I've been an XM customer since 2004.

They called me a month ago to extend my XM subscription for another 3 years for something like $325 or so.

Since Sirius came aboard my NASCAR channel was no longer available. And I refuse to "pay more" to get the nascar channel....and I'm a 35 year fan !

For me, I dont need to hear anymore of the PC comments on the radio when I already get that stuff on TV.

If NASCAR radio offered more programming with REAL views and opinion, then I might listen.

Anonymous said...

"Positive change in the content"? John, it needs to be the other way around -- if the content was better, there would be more outcry for it to be available in more ways. I enjoy NASCAR but the sport is not without its warts (like every sport), and honest discussion about that makes for good radio -- not the endless homerism and happy-happy-joy interviews with a guy 25th in points yakking up his new sponsor. There is very little good (read: honest) radio with PRN/MRN shows or the people who have spun off those channels. All the comments about Poole being sorely missed are dead-on.

GinaV24 said...

OK, JD, I did miss the point of your article. Yes, it would be a much better idea to make Sirius radio content available on more than one platform. As you say, more and more people are using their smartphones, thinkpads, netbooks, whatnot to surf the net. Being tied to one way of getting that service doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand the merger between XM / Sirius. It is suppose to be one company?

But it is still really two seperate ? You have to choose either XM or Sirius and as Ken said, with XM you don't get the NASCAR channel - it costs extra on a different tier.

Stock price is low - seems like company is poorly run.

Tom said...

Yeah, JD, I have to disagree on two points. One, as much as I like to believe that content would improve with greater availability, I do not realistically see that happening. You have a few good examples here of people, like me, who have or have had tyhe radio and gotten rid of it because of the content. If the product were better, I would advocate for greater availability! As it is, some of us are bitter and want nothing to do with it. I need to subscribe AGAIN for this to benefit SIRIUS and I will not do that as long as the shills are running the show!
This Turner situation has been hashed around for a while and I still cannot seem to change my mind. Would I like to see them free everything up as you suggest? absolutely! But, as is the case with TV, these networks signed deals at hugely inflated terms that I doubt will be repeated again. I think the all the partners concerned are going to get the maximum out of their investment and then renegotiate at a considerably more reasonable (lower) rate. At that time I expect full integration of content online. Just have to wait the remaining 2 years or whatever it is.

Inverness, FL

Donna DeBoer said...

I agree, I don't see full integration of content on all platforms until the media contract is redone.
2 yrs ago I badly wanted to stream Sirius 128 online. But, I also agree that the content of that channel has degraded so badly I no longer care. I would now rather have a RaceBuddy online for every race & the shill radio yappers can go jump.
PS I will likely not be renewing my Sirius subscription anyway, not seeing the value as a whole anymore.

Ken said...

It would be great if SiriusXM was broadcast online. I was lied to by SiriusXM retentions when I was told it was available both on the PC and mobile device. When I was having a problem with getting the mobile phone setup, I called support and was told that neither NASCAR128 or Howard 100/101 were available online through the mobile app, but Stern was on the PC app (huh?). The rep even volunteered that Sirius NASCAR radio and Howard Stern were the two most requested channels for the mobile program and that they obtain multiple calls about it daily.

That said, let me rant on the content a minute:

I used to LOVE the channel when David Poole was on and now it's just OK. The interviews are great for the most part. What people have said about the Pro-NASCAR/NASCAR shall do no wrong topic is true. I remember when Dave Moody used to call qualifying "place setting" because it was garbage thanks to the Top-35 rule. Now he likes the Top-35 rule? What the heck Dave?

I have heard hosts argue that they are free to discuss any topic they like. But they NEVER take NASCAR to task.

I notice a lot of people here busting on Rick Benjamin. I actually like him. What I can't stand is Chocolate Myers. When he is on it should be called the anti-Toyota (Ford guy myself), RCR loving, Dale Earnhardt remembrance, NASCAR leadership is always correct show. I can't tell you how many times I have had to turn off the channel thanks to hours of Dale Earnhardt talk. I know he was great, but come on. When there is big news happening, like what happened with RPM lately, I want to hear that not about RCR and Dale AGAIN.

I also have a love/hate thing with Claire B. Lang. I love her interviews and enthusiasm, but something about her voice sounds...fake/contrived to me. It grates at my ears, which isn't fair to Claire because she does a really good job. I just have to turn her off after about 5-10 minutes.

The channel would be good to counter-balance with some new hosts willing to take NASCAR to task similar to how it was and how the the NFL channel is.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly a guy named Daniel Norwood is the big cheese of NASCAR programming.

Dunno how to contact him.