Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Silence Is Golden


The off-season has been strangely quiet on the NASCAR TV front. As if we needed a reminder, both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series struggled on TV. The trucks again escaped that fate, content with a smaller package on SPEED that continued to return consistent ratings.

In the past, ESPN has announced changes in on-air talent shortly after the final race of the season in Homestead. This year, there was silence. For those who believed the new president of FOX Sports, Eric Shanks, might change some faces in the NASCAR on FOX line-up, he has not even addressed that topic.

So, it looks like FOX opens Daytona with Darrell Waltrip doing double-duty in the Hollywood Hotel and then the broadcast booth. Chris Myers has wrapped his first season of Inside NASCAR for Showtime and he is set to return as the NASCAR on FOX host.

Jeff Hammond has been a consistent presence for SPEED on Race Hub, the studio news and interview show. With that series returning on January 24 with host Steve Byrnes, fans should have several weeks of seeing Hammond before Speedweek rolls around.

Byrnes is intending to pull his own double-duty early in the year. He will host Race Hub Monday through Thursday, then travel to the FOX Sprint Cup Series weekends and return to his role as a pit reporter. SPEED has yet to announce if Byrnes will also work any practice or qualifying sessions. Krista Voda, John Roberts and Mike Joy filled that role once Byrnes left last season.

That puts Mike Joy back in the booth with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Voda, Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are the pit road gang while Myers and Hammond man the Hollywood Hotel.

On the Nationwide side, ESPN seems set to return Marty Reid to his play-by-play role with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Allen Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace should man the Infield Pit Studio. Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch and Dave Burns are the pit road reporters.

The unknown in the ESPN equation is Ray Evernham. If he has made up his mind whether or not to return to TV in 2011, he has not passed it along. Evernham was said to finally be free of his legal ties to RPM and was mulling his future.

The truck series on SPEED also appears to have no changes. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip are the team in the booth while Adam Alexander and Ray Dunlap report from pit road. Krista Voda is the pre-race host.

While SPEED has committed to the January test at Daytona, the network has still not released the talent line-up or the specifics of the planned mix of TV and rumored online streaming coverage. In the past, these shows have consisted of recaps after the fact because no TV production trucks were on-site to cover the track. It should be interesting to see what SPEED can do this season, especially with streaming coverage.

Behind the scenes, veteran Charlotte Observer reporter Jim Utter passed along that he was told James "Shifty" Shiftan will step into the ESPN race producer role vacated with the removal of Neil Goldberg last season. Shiftan took a leave of absence from NASCAR last year, leaving Coordinating Producer Jill Fredrickson to produce the final races.

So, as we make the turn and head once again into another NASCAR season it's very quiet in the TV world. It might just be that the NASCAR TV partners are trying to let the memories of 2010 slip away before turning their attention to the new Daytona pavement. Sometimes in TV land, silence really is golden.

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36 comments:

Vicky D said...

The silence is deafening!

Anonymous said...

If Darrel Waltrip is really doing double duty, then Fox can count me out.Lots of good racing to watch on the Nationwide series and the trucks so we don't have to listen to DW and his garbage.

Anonymous said...

What was it Einstein said...something like insanity is expecting different results from the same repeated actions or something?

Sam

bevo said...

Both Fox and ESPN need massive shakeups in on-air talent and production. The status quo option just means even worse coverage with continued decline in ratings and attendance.

Too many executives in NASCAR and it's media partners are comfortable in their positions. Fear and hunger are needed to get any kind of change.

Spring Rubber said...

Was "Shifty" a part of the old NBC/TNT coverage? I seem to remember that name from back then. Even so, would I be correct in assuming that he won't be able to change anything with ESPN's coverage? It certainly seems that the production style is mandated by the folks back in Bristol, and the producer/director are simply responsible for executing it on-site with little room for personal touch.

Sally said...

I find it puzzling that the networks have announced no plans to change anything in their TV lineups. Looking at the ratings for the past 3 or 4 years, it's obvious thatsomething isn't working. To insist on keeping the status quo is ridiculous. Just because BZF thinks the 'TV partners are doing a great job', someone out there with some authority must have SOME contact with reality, no? Just the thought of having to mute another years of DW's inane 'Boogity' makes my skin crawl. Television keeps trying to boost ratings by introducing even more clutter to the detriment of showing the actual racing, yet can't figure out why ratings continue to drop? Their insistance on covering only a part of the field and their 'Racing For Dummies' commentary certainly haven't helped anything so far. Why on Earth would you continue producing such a loser?

Concentrating on the holy 18-34 year old male demographic with their ADHD coverage isn't working, so try something else already! I guess it hasn't occurred to them that parents passing on their love of the sport is how many fans developed their interest in the first place? Alienate them, (mostly over 34) and you lose the next generation. That seems to be exactly what they have managed to do, yet they blindly stumble along, making no attempt to fix the problem. Pitiful.

Bill H said...

The last few weeks in Football have been an eye opener for me as a nascar fan with the way they handled the 2 games that had to be postponed. One due to a roof collapse due to weather and the other the Phili game and the snow storm coming. There was no hemming and hawing over should there be a game, should the game go 1/2 way, etc - It was announced hours ahead of time the game would be on a different day. Maybe Nascar can use this as an example next year?

The Mad Man said...

As bad as the coverage was last season and apparently no changes for the upcoming season, the ratings will be as bad if not worse.

Few fans want to hear the talking heads flapping their gums, shilling for products, NAPCAR, NAPCAR's sponsors, the official fuel and tire provider, and the unprofessional biased opinions that have gone on year after year.

After all the recommendations and solutions offered by JD and the Planeteers, the networks and NAPCAR continue on with their "tradition" of keeping their heads in the sand while the ratings continue to drop like a rock.

It'll take more than shake-ups with the networks and on-air personalities to improve the coverage. It'll also take a massive shake-up in NAPCAR's leadership starting with BZF on down and bringing in people who will make racing the priority instead of commercials, money, and sponsors. But as that won't happen, I'm not expecting to see anything other than the same old, same old.

Zetona said...

I'm less opposed to the FOX team than most people here. I think most of their problems could be solved if they changed the focus of the broadcasts to include a bit less nonsense (keep the Digger camera, ditch the rodent, for instance.) ESPN needs more work. I'm discomfited by the general lack of news this year on all fronts. One great way to draw in viewers is to promote the sport and promote changes, and there's very little of that during this off-season.

51 yr. fan said...

Sorry for that loud scream from
the heart of racing. Hope I didn't
hurt your ears down there JD.
Obviously the word STALE means nothing to the aforementioned networks.

I'm glad that MLB will be starting
around the same time.

Anonymous said...

One person that has not been silent is DW. Good heavens, if you follow him on Twitter he never shuts up.

OSBORNK said...

NA$CAR and the networks say they want to increase their audience with younger males. They are going about it in the wrong way. The sought after audience will not listen to old f**t* that are older than their parents or grandparents, especially when they are talking about their heroic exploits that happened before they were born.

The Waltrips and Wallaces of the world are driving away the very people that the networks are seeking. How are the networks going to keep the attention of a young audience when the bobble heads are talking about ancient history that is meaningless to them? I was around when most of the stuff they talk about happened and their revisionist history drives me nuts since I know much of it is inaccurate.

The networks need to flush a bunch of the old washed up and washed out former drivers and use younger and more relevant people in the booth.

Zieke said...

I am so glad spring brings warmer weather because I will not watch Mr. "I'm a legend in my own mind" Waltrip on the Fox broadcasts. His motor mouth and swooning over women half his age (Danica etc.) has grown so stale that he should be lost forever from any TV. Too bad Fox doesn't listen.

Buschseries61 said...

That's disappointing news JD. Comparing the FOX broadcasts I loved from 2001-2005 with 2006-2010 is painful. Now that this group has been on the air for so long, their focus on covering the race grows worse by the season. There used to be professionalism, now there are wild tangets, lame comedy/battle of the personalities performances and shilling. Plus the bundle of advertisements. Don't forget Mike Joy and the pit reporters that all remain underutilized.

I'm glad the Truck series crew will not change.

ESPN will start out great in 2011, then crash and burn once the crew has double the work at the end of the season. Same track record every single season. Hopefully Marty has learned from last season, it looks like he has been given a second chance.

JohnP said...

For the sake of Nascar I hope Fox changes something and makes the broadcast look like a sport and not a circus event. Having Waltrip still involved is not encourging what so ever.

Here is a real - non biased opinion from a die-hard Nascar fan I've know for years.

My question: ""Good morning xxxxx - Had a great Christmas, hope you did as well :) You all ready for the Daytona 500? It's right around the corner""

Response: ""No I quit Nascar remember I am now a football girl......lol Yeah I guess! Not sure I am gonna watch much this year still mad from last year!""

That's a real life off the cuff response concerning Nascar.

Vicky D said...

I'm surprised that ESPN doesn't bring Randy LaJoie back for the NW races or maybe they'll bring him back for NN. After he was suspended, some of the races really missed his personality on the broadcasts. I'm really surprised there hasn't been more changes.

GinaV24 said...

Happy that Steve is going to be on pit road, even though I'm sure he will be a tired guy by the time Fox's portion of the season is complete.

I'm not really surprised that Fox and ESPN haven't made any changes. After all, they, along with NASCAR, don't think that they have any problems with their broadcasts. Just double digit loses, nothing to worry about.

I'm sure that I will be watching the races on Fox again this year(at least while the weather is lousy in February and March)and if Waltrip & company could just stop going overboard and just plain call the race, I would be fine. Its when they all turn manic that I get aggravated and that goes for the ADD camera work, too.

By the time ESPN picks up the coverage, I've lost interest and the weather is too nice to stay inside for an entire Sunday afternoon and be annoyed. They lost me last season and barring better broadcast personnel and camera work, they will lose me again this season - especially when it will be chase, chase, chase, what a waste!

I'm holding off renewing tickets until I hear what France has to say about the changes he plans to make to his baby, the chase. By next October, I may have decided I won't be spending the money traveling to races, if all I

earl06 said...

I agree that this is bad news, but the telecast itself might be a dead end as far as promoting the sport. Sooner or later the lack of interest will lead to budget cuts and hopefully the fat will be trimmed.

The growth in participation will come from non-traditional media. Internet and mobile app availability will be crucial when the new media package is up for renewal. Until then, I wouldn't be surprised if the same stale garbage continues.

A good question is what motivation do the current networks have to grow the sport? That would mean higher rates when the new package is up for bid. Same for Sprint. If everybody feels they're overpaying now, why would they want to up the future rates by growing the sport? ESPN makes it's money from subs, ads are gravy. FOX has the crown jewel, the rest of their races are covered just to get Daytona. TNT only shows races nobody else wants.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR has shot off all their toes & is now working on ankles. Sigh.

I ONLY CARE if they were going to improve the tv camera work (It will not, I have faith in the fact I have no faith in NASCAR)

ESPN TV work stinks & the booth has no chemistry. Say what you want about Fox but better crew though one needs a filter/muzzle :) Fox cam work needs improvement as well.

Thankfully, I fell in love with baseball last yr after a hiatus since 1994. I'm way over NASCAR & since they -TPTB=ThePowersTheBe- don't care, why should I?

If you do a psychological profile on NASCAR's lip service & what is actually brought to we fans in our living room, I think you'd find Narcissistic Personality disorder & mental abuse.

I wish I could find races on radio in my car/house. Would much rather listen than watch the tv. Just not worth it to see IN CAR CAMERAS GALORE on small tv or huge tv. Huge waste of our time.

NASCAR has become the Mike Brown of all sports (Owner of Bengals)

P.S. There's no hope for that team either.

Sophia on borrowed laptop

Jojaye said...

Another appropriate Einstein quote fits well " Two things are infinite the Universe & human stupidity and I'm not sure about the Universe"

So double digit drops in viewers, and nothing changes? Wow, I want some of that koolaid!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for recording the races where one can fast forward through most of the DW all about me and what I think crap. I like racing but we don't get to see too much except for 3-4 drivers consistantly being shown and talked about. So why watch? Blame poor ratings on whatever - the chase, announcers, certain drivers, time slots, tv coverage on networks (I have not had ABC for over a month due to suppliers trying to raise the cost to Dish), or just plain p-poor promotions by those who don't live in the real world like most Nascar fans do. I guess if one wants to just plain accept what is then we will keep watching like most of us always do and once in a while voicing some unhappiness.

Vince said...

Hmmmmm. Silence is Golden? I'm thinking my song this season will be "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who.

Jojaye said...

@Vince - good song choice! then if it all goes real bad, you know -like last year? How bout Highway to Hell-o?

KoHoSo said...

For Fox, I can only hope that Mike Joy has found a way to revitalize himself after an extremely flat 2010. Having Joy at full speed would do a lot to keep the other nonsense in check and return Fox to being as enjoyable to watch as it was when they first started doing NASCAR.

For ESPN, I can only hope that it is just taking time for the team to gel and really click. Having Marty Reid so out of sync that he cannot even properly describe the action -- leaving Dale Jarrett to yet again often fill the play-by-play void -- is only going to spell continuing disaster for Mr. Mouse's house (and I know Marty can do much better from watching him call IndyCar and NHRA).

For Speed, I can only hope that they make sure and have a serious chat with Michael Waltrip to make sure he doesn't bring his new stand-up comedy act into the booth (I assume y'all know about Mikey's new career, right?). For me, he is the only sore spot during truck races and having him get away with thinking that he's the next Rodney Dangerfield would be a terrible thing.

PammH said...

friggin clueless by all the networks is all I have to say....:(

Anonymous said...

They really need to get rid of Marty Reed. He never even knows who is passing who or who is in what position. I get so sick of hearing his mistakes.

Bob from a wet OC CAL said...

JD - I too dread having to hear the same talking heads and shills calling the Cup & NN races in 2011. I have been following NASCAR since late 70's and it dawned on me that I do not recall a time from when I started watching until the end of 2000 that I ever dreaded having to listen to the commentators on ESPN, TNN or CBS. Whether it was Bob Jenkins, Eli Gold or even Buddy Baker, I always looked forward to listening to them.
There must be hundreds of thousands of feet of video tape that that the current so called commentators could watch and learn something from.
It is just baffling to me that the networks just keep producing the same low quality products. It kind of reminds of the Chrysler Corp of the late 70's and early 80's - just keep building cars, even though no one is buying them!
Eventually Humpty Dumpty's (BZF) house will collapse from the arrogance, mismanagement and a genuine lack of a 'sense of urgency' to address the problems that grow so ever larger each day.

GinaV24 said...

vince - awesome song choice and oh so appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Question J.D.: Do you know if anyone from these networks ever read any of these blogs? Would be nice to know if they do read them and still keep their heads in the sand.

Donna in FL said...

I'll be doing the same 2011, DVR + internet & RaceBuddy when available.

Since my opinion runs more to opinions posted here, instead I asked the boys this morning what they thought. They are that coveted young male demographic, are mobile, have their own money & will travel to races next year. Bottom line: they are fine with NASCAR's racing & direction, don't mind the TV coverage & DW is their fave TV guy. They are loving it & excited, can't wait for Daytona.

Maybe I should just toss it & be the same as them, since I want to have fun too.

Anonymous said...

It really is amazing that neither NASCAR nor either of the networks have a clue as to what the fans are saying.

I think it's obvious that a whole lot of fans are done with the announcers being driven down our throats and the announcers that we don't want. I'm so sick of the Waltrip hucksters, Rusty Wallace, even Kenny is starting to grate on me now, Brad Dougherty, Chris Meyers, Marty Reid, John Roberts. They are not announcers if you compare them to other sports announcers, they are buffoons. Why are TV viewers declining? There are eight reasons there.

I will not watch a truck race if Mikey is in the booth. That is my only reason for not watching, the trucks are the best racing going for NASCAR in my opinion.

A note to NASCAR, the TV product is as much the show as the event live is. Why do you keep stinking it up and then keep crying when fans leave? You've got experienced announcers available, use them. The Waltrip brothers or any others I named, used before Mike Joy, Bestwick, Byrnes, or others? Nascar is putting out a TV product that insults the sports and the fans that built it. And now a new marketing group that is not race related?

Try listening to the fans just for once, the bank deposits might pick up again!

Anonymous said...

It's incomprehensible that these networks don't understand, or don't care, how many fans are sick and tired of hearing Darrel Waltrip in the booth. What is it going to take for the heads of these networks to realize this? It's more than obvious that he has worn out his welcome. We're tired of boogity boogity boogity, and just about everything else DW.

Next in line is Marty Reid. He's dumb as a rock while calling a race.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think most of y'all need to lighten up a bit. Why don't you just get TRACKPASS and listen to the scanners? The one improvement that ESPN should make is to bring Mark Garrow on board and stick Marty Reid in a corner counting laps. Mike Joy is good. Larry MAC Reynolds is ok. I miss Benny Parsons. I miss NBC giving a full field rundown. When the green flag drops, cover only the action! We've seen enough fluff during the prerace!

Anonymous said...

The problem with all television announcers is.....They want to tell the viewers how smart they are and nobody cares....Make it simple....The problem that has led to boring racing is the fact...Nascar is building the cars and there's too many templates ...I believe in safety like everyone...but, it should be race what you brung.....and see if you can use the grey area to your advantage then, go out and beat em!!!!!...Two other things they don't change tires anymore...go back to a man taking the lugs off...amd putting tire on and then tighting the lugs...yes, keep two men carrying the tires...but, not putting the new tires on....And probably the biggest void....There's no southern stars that make a difference....yes, Denny Hamblin wins but, no personality....Nascar was born and bred in the south....just like hockey was born in the north....All the big stars are from California and the Midwest...and lastly do away with the "lucky dog" can imagine telling the late Dale Earnhardt they're giving somenone their lap back....Have a great 2011......

Thanks,
Jim Phillips

Anonymous said...

Brian France's glowing endorsement of ESPN's coverage of the sport reminds me of President George W. Bush's glowing endorsement of FEMA head Michael D. Brown in the early days of the response to Hurricane Katrina. "You're doing a heck of a job Brownie."

The difference appears to be that even GWB had advisors who were willing to tell him that the public held a different view and that he was making a fool of himself. Brown was subsequently fired. BZF apparently lacks any advisors who are willing to tell him the truth.

The threshhold for firing at ESPN appears to be personal conduct that offends the sensibilities of corporate Disney. When you have a monopoly and are making lots of money, anything else is tolerated.

And the band played on.

WickedJ said...

First off, JD, i have that song on my MP3 player and i bet im half your age :P (yea yeah, stay off my lawn ..etc)

secondly i dont mind DW except when he cheerleads for Kyle B or anyone from Hendrick but overall id be ok with Mike Joy, Dr Dirt and maybe someone else in the booth(i hear Kyle Petty only has a job for six races..maybe talk to him?)

Ban Michael Waltrip from ever calling another race again

And in closing if ESPN doesnt give the PBP role to AB then theres just no helping them