Sunday, January 10, 2010

ESPN3 Will Come With A "D"

It will be June when ESPN will launch yet another television network. Unlike the many others that have extended the ESPN brand, the risk of this project is daunting.

At a time when many Americans are struggling financially, competition is once again pushing the providers of original television programming to use the latest technology regardless of cost. The result is that the new ESPN3 will come with a "D."

Click here to review the recent article recapping ESPN's plans in USA Today. Here is an excerpt:

The venerable sports network will launch ESPN 3D on June 11 with a World Cup soccer match, creating what it says will be the first all three-dimensional television network to the home. ESPN 3D expects to showcase at least 85 live sporting events during the first year. They'll be no reruns initially, so the network will be dark when there's no 3D event. ESPN is committing to the 3D network through June 2011.

Let's answer some 3D TV questions. Yes, you do need an entirely new TV to see this product. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, you still need those wonderful 3D glasses to watch each program. Yes, you will be paying your cable service or home satellite dish provider more for the 3D programming.

Panasonic is one of the manufacturers that is right in the middle of the 3D television movement. Click here for an article suggesting sales of new 3D TV's may top one million in the next year.

As the article relates, Panasonic will partner with DirecTV to get three channels of 3D programming, including sports, up and running this summer in the same time frame as ESPN. There is little doubt that DirecTV will try to keep as much of that 3D programming exclusive to the home satellite dish service as possible.

ESPN has not been immune to the financial realities of the world. Click here for an explanation of how the media company is partnering with Sony to actively get involved in 3D sports. In fact, ESPN has already completed sponsorship deals with Sony for 3D sports telecasts.

NASCAR's Chase for the Championship belongs to ESPN and ABC. In fact, the company televises the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races of the season beginning with the Brickyard. Few sporting events can match the visual images of a NASCAR race. NASCAR in 3D might be something that could contribute to the rebirth of the sport after a tough couple of seasons.

While the NBA and NFL have already experimented with this technology, NASCAR has just completed the long process of building and staffing a new studio and office complex in downtown Charlotte, NC. The entire facility is geared toward High Definition television production and video storage. 3D technology was not on the list.

With ESPN, DirecTV and the entertainment industry driving the 3D boom, there is little doubt that NASCAR will eventually have to seriously consider the 3D potential of live race telecasts and archived footage for future use.

One significant issue is that for sports TV networks to offer both HD and 3D telecasts, they have to use two completely different sets of equipment. That means two crews, two production teams, two satellite transmission pathways and lots of extra cost. The picture above is of a 3D television camera.

As this technology and agenda advances, we will keep NASCAR fans updated on if and when it may enter the sport. There seems to be little doubt that there is now a strong push to move this technology forward as quickly as possible.

Amid all this fancy new technology, one thing is for sure. It will come at a higher cost to the what networks call "end users." Unfortunately...that would be us.

TDP welcomes 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.

Sunday Starts The 2010 NASCAR TV Season

Well, how was your vacation? If you are a NASCAR TV fan, I ask because Sunday it is all over. At 7PM ET, The SPEED Report hits the air and eleven months and thousands of hours of NASCAR TV begins again.

It will be Adam Alexander and Bob Varsha co-hosting this first telecast. TSR has transformed itself into an outstanding program featuring news, results and features on all types of motorsports. NASCAR is expected to be front and center on this day.

One hour of general motorsports featuring NASCAR is a good way to get back into the TV groove because this year is going to be very different. Monday through Thursday, there will be now be two NASCAR specific television programs on the air for the entire season.

ESPN2 returns NASCAR Now beginning February 1 with hosts Allen Bestwick, Mike Massaro and Nicole Manske. The one hour Monday show gives way to thirty minute versions on weekdays and an hour preview show on weekends. Ricky Craven has confirmed that he will be back as a regular panelist, as will ESPN's cast of race analysts and news reporters.

When the ESPN motorsports executives fixed this program by changing announcers and format, the series came alive. 2009 featured some outstanding interviews, features and even a cameo from President Obama during a White House visit to promote the sport. This year, the show is going to face a new challenge.

Race Hub on SPEED is also back beginning Monday and that is good news for fans. The drawback of NASCAR Now is that it originates from the ESPN studios in Connecticut. Pre-arranged satellite interviews and phone calls are the primary contact that the series maintains with the Concord and Mooresville, NC areas where the vast majority of the teams are located.

SPEED is still settling into the new HD studios right down the road from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. In returning Race Hub, the network has committed to a Monday through Thursday show that is intended to get NASCAR personalities live in the studio to discuss the issues of the day.

Randy Pemberton, John Roberts, Adam Alexander and Rick Allen will all take turns hosting this week. Guests are still being firmed up, but Danica Patrick's name has been bounced around as being on the program on Monday. That would be a nice touch for both SPEED and Ms. Patrick as she gets her feet wet in the sport.

Update: Danica is now confirmed as a guest on Tuesday's Race Hub on SPEED.

While there is no TV scheduled from the Speed and Sound event this weekend, the Daytona Fan Festival will feature two live programs on Jan. 15 and 16 on SPEED. Over on HBO, the first of four programs in the 24/7 documentary series focusing on Jimmie Johnson preparing for Daytona airs on Jan. 26. Finally, details of a four part TV series focusing on JGR will be out shortly. The first of those programs airs on Jan. 24.

Slowly, during the month of February, the remainder of the NASCAR TV series will return and lead us up to the first weekend of racing. We will welcome a new Wednesday TV series on Showtime even as we wait for word from SPEED on the return of This Week in NASCAR. We continue to be cautiously optimistic.

TDP will have a full multi-network composite TV schedule on the main page that includes all the network announcers and guests. In short order, the information will start coming in and the NASCAR TV scene will get right back up to speed.

How was your off-season? Should SPEED and ESPN maintain some sort of presence on the air during December and January? Did Twitter and the Internet more than make up for any off-season TV show as far as NASCAR information is concerned? Would you have watched more off-season programming like races, reruns of shows and historical programs?

Help us out with your opinion on these topics by clicking 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, here we go again!