Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"NASCAR Now" Preemptions Continue

Monday should have been a huge day for ESPN's NASCAR Now. Host Allen Bestwick has worked very hard to put together a 5PM Monday hour of solid NASCAR TV. Normally, Bestwick and three panelists review the weekend, preview the upcoming races and talk with a NASCAR newsmaker.

This Monday, ESPN2's time-shifted coverage of the NHRA US Nationals was scheduled until 6PM. Instead of airing NASCAR Now at that time, SportsCenter crossed over from ESPN and took the 6PM timeslot. SportsCenter then jumped over to ESPNEWS at 7PM and ran for three additional hours.

Once again this week, the Tuesday through Thursday 5PM editions of NASCAR Now have been preempted. The US Open tennis tournament also pushed NASCAR Now off the air last week. Tennis has not been kind to the series this summer.

ESPN switched most of it's Sprint Cup Series races from ABC to ESPN in order to deliver a more focused audience, be more flexible with time issues and keep NASCAR content on cable.

ESPN2 is home to the only "support programming" that NASCAR gets on the ESPN family of networks. The single TV series that has aired in support of the sport since 2007 is NASCAR Now. There are no other regularly scheduled NASCAR programs on the ESPN networks.

In 2006, ESPN became the major TV rights holder for NASCAR in a multi-year contract that exceeded a billion dollars. ESPN was back and NASCAR was elated. Just last week, NASCAR media executive Paul Brooks spoke to reporter Dustin Long from Landmark Newspapers.

Brooks told Long that the cross-over promotion on ESPN programs will really help the TV ratings for the actual Sprint Cup Series races. "They're turning the dial up at a time when we need it most," Brooks said of ESPN. "We've worked pretty hard with ESPN to get this to a pretty good place. We're anxious to see the results of this."

Well, Brooks is going to have to stay up late to see his results. The Tuesday through Thursday NASCAR Now shows air at midnight Eastern Time or later with no re-airs. The Monday show was cancelled.

After racing since February, this is the week leading up to the final race before The Chase for the Championship. The entire point of ESPN returning to the Sprint Cup Series was to provide a comprehensive multi-network media platform for NASCAR content.

Once again preempting the original airing of ESPN's daily NASCAR TV news program at this critical time does not seem to fall in line with "turning up the dial."

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