Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekend Edition - Remain Calm: All Is Well

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Since Kevin Bacon seems to have been in almost every movie ever made, it seems appropriate that he headline this post with one of his classic lines from Animal House. As Omega fraternity pledge Chip Diller, Bacon's plea for calm in the midst of chaos was met with a thorough trampling from the panicked crowd.

Monday afternoon, NASCAR.com reporter Dave Rodman broke the story that drivers in the top three NASCAR series must declare in advance of the season in which one series they want to score championship points. Click here to read the article.

Rodman's information came from two drivers, Kenny Wallace and Brad Keselowski. NASCAR declined comment on Rodman's story. The next public appearance of NASCAR officials will be Friday, January 21 at a press conference in Daytona. So, it will be about ten days until Rodman's information will be officially verified.

In the meantime, there are a lot of drivers, sponsors and teams who are trying to digest this information and sort-out plans for the upcoming season with little time to do so. It's going to be interesting to see just how many of the Sprint Cup Series drivers continue to cross-over to the the Nationwide side without the ability to compete for the driver's championship.

The members-only media website NASCAR provides for updates and information contains nothing about the single series championship selection for drivers. There is also no information about rumored changes to the Chase format like additional points for wins or even how many Sprint Cup Series teams will be competing for the championship.

Rodman's article set off a chain of events that resulted in hundreds of stories on the single series topic being posted online in all kinds of media outlets. One thing is very clear, the fans are looking for information and there is precious little for reporters and bloggers to provide.

In Daytona, NASCAR President Mike Helton and Senior VP Robin Pemberton are going to offer what is being called a competition update. Whether or not these two will even address the Sprint Cup Series rules changes is still up for speculation. Therein lies the problem.

While NASCAR is famous for changing rules of a technical nature when things require, the current discussion is not about spoiler angles, tire pressure or track bars. What is on the table is yet another restructuring of the top series in the sport for one reason and that is TV ratings.

Here is a reader comment from Monday's story about Brian France excusing himself from the Daytona press conference:

Last season, the racing action was really top-notch. The Chase produced an exciting, dramatic finish. The rules package allowed for excitement. The drivers let their personalities shine. In many ways, it was one of the best years of racing ever.

And yet, the TV coverage has been nothing short of awful.

So, here's an idea: how about instead of pulling all the drivers into meetings and constantly tweaking the rules in ways that upset the fans and diminish the credibility of the sport... maybe Brian France and company should be having town hall meetings with the broadcast networks.

We don't need rules changes - we just need TV directors who know where to put a camera, and TV announcers who can keep viewers from napping!


That comment begs the question of just what exactly France is fixing with the pending Chase changes? Cleaning up the Nationwide Series and giving younger drivers a chance is one thing, but altering the Sprint Cup Series format that brought a down-to-the-wire championship is another.

When ESPN saddles up against an NFL game and televises a Chase race, it has not been the racing that is the issue. In column after column on this site and in comment after comment on the Internet the refrain is the same. ESPN simply does not have the production team to create compelling NASCAR TV.

In the time between the original ESPN contract and now, the entire ESPN family made a very purposeful shift to the stick-and-ball world. Huge new contracts for college and pro product were combined with the network selling the BASS franchise, dropping IndyCar and pushing the NHRA to the back burner.

If this is the direction that the network wants to proceed, that's absolutely fine. The problem comes in the fact that millions of fans are once again trying to make the decision of whether or not to spend several months with Darrell Waltrip, a summer with Kyle Petty and then a Chase run with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.

Changing the rules instead of the TV coverage is simply going to result in an additional loss of fan interest in my opinion. Fix what is blatantly wrong before tinkering with a concept that is not broken. The issues on the table are easy to understand.

Prop up the FOX and ESPN Sprint Cup Series coverage with RaceBuddy for every event. Interact with comments from Facebook and Twitter during all the telecasts to make the fans feel included. Offer practice and qualifying coverage online for fans away from a TV.

Insist the Sprint Cup Series TV networks use side-by-side commercial breaks so almost one-third of the racing is not covered by advertising. Move the Nationwide Series events to SPEED once college football begins as ESPN does not have a suitable telecast window for these races.

Chase changes like more teams, forced eliminations and different points are not going to solve the problems TV has brought. The vast majority of NASCAR fans consume the sport through television. When they can't see their favorite driver, don't get the basic scoring information and never get differing opinions from the talking points of the sanctioning body there is little left to consume.

Where are you right now in thinking about watching the sport this season? Are you waiting for the rules changes or dreading them? Do you remember ESPN from last season down the stretch or simply looking forward to a new year with DW and FOX?

We invite your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

68 comments:

JONATHAN said...

Great stuff!!! You need to pass this along to Nascar! Its so true I feel The Chase is perfect, keep the Chase the way it is just focus on before the Chase and award more points for winning, halfway lead, and please give the regular season Champion a trophy and first pit selection in all Chase races! Dont fix something that isnt broken

But your dead on JD, Race buddy, split screen this is what should be talked about

Erin said...

Personally I think the coverage on FOX is the best. DW and Jeff Hammond, though at times may be goofy, have chemistry and it helps when the racing isn't the best. SPEEDS coverage isn't too bad either. ESPN...I'd rather have Digger or Sarah Palin cover the race.
The only good part about the season ending is knowing that when it comes back we get FOX, DW and Boogity, Boogity, Boogity Let's go Racing Boys!...and girls! =)

Anonymous said...

I plan to watch a lot of Super Late Model racing on Saturday nights this year. This means I will be driving home during the Sprint Cup telecasts on most Sundays. We don't have to watch and Daytona needs to understand this. I will travel to watch dirt and asphalt shows. These races are not filtered and are very entertaining to those of us sick of being treated like mushrooms by Daytona, New York and Los Angeles. If I read that things have improved I may watch, but at this time my plans do not include racing on television.

Anonymous said...

As you pointed out,t.v.coverage is a mess.I ignore all pre race coverage.Living in California,I like races starting at 10:00 A.M.
If the weather is bad I'll prob.watch,if the race looks good and the weather is good I might watch till the end,and still have time to mow the lawn and bbq somthing.Sometimes I just can't stand the televised product,even if I kill the sound of certain announcers.New rules for the shootout killed it for me.I'll be a non viewer.I'll be trimming my toe nails that day and maybe watching paint dry.

Bobby said...

The 1 PM start time rule I believe needs to be slightly adjusted to 1 PM local all races with the twi-light option (4-6 PM starts) available for the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600. The Central and Pacific races started at noon, which is not a good thing considering the 400-mile races should not be starting at 12 because of community standards (many communities don't allow engines starting before noon). Now the 2 PM time used from 2005-09 was designed to be 1 PM Central but the 1 PM local / 7:30 ET for night races with the twi-light option (4 PM Daytona 500 / 6 PM Coca-Cola 600) available for the major races would be a perfect fit. The only races that would change with such a rule would be Kansas, Joliet, Texas (2 PM each), Fontana and Infineon (4 PM).

The only Chase changes I would award would be a 50 point bonus headed to the Chase, with a guarantee that the regular season winner be the #1 seed, regardless of number of wins. Should the said team have fewer points than the driver with the most wins, that team's points would be ten more points than the team with the most wins. Still the same top 12 rule without the "must win to be in the Chase" proposal. The regular season winner should be given the equivalent of the President's Trophy in the NHL too (T. Wayne Robertson Trophy?) when he earns his 50-point (or more depending on what other drivers score in wins) bonus.

Cash bonuses for pole to win and halfway, along with halfway to win would be sensible, as was the case in the past.

As for television, the move to Pay TV for the Chase was a big factor; I predicted the Open Championship and the BCS Bowls would pay dearly for the move to Pay Television, and ratings dropped dramatically for all three.

Sally said...

I know that personally, my interest in Nascar has been steadily dropping over the past 5 years. Instead of planning my weekend around racing, I may catch some of the race. Frankly, if it weren't for the love blogs during races a this site, I probably wouldn't bother. The TV coverage leaves me disconnected, unable to get into the flow of the race. I seldom get information that allows me to see the overall picture of what is happening at the track. I keep hearing that the on track racing was the best in years, but I can't prove it by what I'm subjected to watching on TV. Unless something changes in the way races are presented to fans at home, anything else Nascar does is wasted effort. The more gimmicks they and TV come up with, the less compelling it becomes. It's then no longer racing, but a 'show'. Both Nascar and the networks need to figure out how to present a race that keeps viewers engaged. So far, they don't seem to grasp the concept that the racing is the main interest, not the bells and whistles and gimmicks.

Anonymous said...

This article is right on target.
The issues are not difficult to understand unless one's ears and eyes are blocked by money and arrogance. I think that owners and leaders in NASCAR should be sentenced to experiencing the races only through TV, making all decisions based on TV coverage. Then, let's discuss changes.

The Mad Man said...

I'm dreading the rules changes as much as I'm dreading Faux Sports and BSPN's coverage and commentary. I get tired of the "Larry and Darrell Comedy Show" week after week and the less-than-wonderful comments out of Crusty, Drab Daugherty, and whomever they put in the booth with DJ and Petree.

The only way the TV coverage is going to improve is by replacing the current (lack of) leadership ruining NASCAR and replacing them with some competent people who will listen to the fans and give us some real TV coverage to include the split-screen. Otherwise, the downhill slide will continue like it has been with more and more folks tuning out and not showing up at the tracks.

earl06 said...

I am dreading the announcement of the "new" chase tweaks. My interest in NASCAR has steadily declined since it was first implemented, and judging by the ratings I am far from alone.

If past history is any indicator, another round of championship rules changes will result in loss of fans, media interest and corporate sponsorship for the teams.

NASCAR seems unwilling to go where it was, unhappy with where it is and unable to figure out where it's going to be. I see many parallels between what's happening now and what happened to CART in the late 90's. CART died, and NASCAR can too.

If NASCAR continues to weaken over the next few years, there will be an opportunity for someone like Bruton Smith to start a competitive series and kick the France family to the curb. It doesn't seem like anything short of a cathartic failure will turn this series around.

Anonymous said...

I'll do what I did last season: watch the races on Fox, but stop when they switch to ESPN.

ESPN races are just too painful to watch.

Buschseries61 said...

I agree with your point about tv coverage, but I think you need to get past the surface when it comes to the competition.

The sport continues to get manipulated to have great finishes. Wavearounds, mystery debris, GWC wreckfest. But I don't watch only for the finish (that the networks will still not show us), I watch for the racing.

The championship may have come down to the wire, but it was in a fabricated fashion. Every year, drivers build up a great lead in the first 26 races only to see NASCAR even up the points to make things closer in a playoff format. As a fan of a driver in that situation, I ask myself why I bother to watch. If the last 10 races decide the championship, what is the value of the first 26? Right now, there is none as television is obsessed with the intangible Chase.

Right now, I plan on watching the full truck season. SPEED and the Trucks have remained true to their roots. NASCAR, ESPN and Nationwide are still in an identity crisis with the series of Cup guys and other guys. I could care less about the Cup championship, but I plan on watching the major events in the Cup season (Daytona, Talladega, Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington, Charlotte & Kentucky)

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, I so agree with your suggestions. I've always felt the "regular" season winner should get something for accomplishing that feat. Even in MLB and NFL, there are division winners before the World Series and Super Bowl champions.

Split screen should be a no brainer. Now when commercial breaks come on, I leave the room to do something else--take the dog out, do laundry. With split screens, I would be more inclined to stay in the same room if the race action warranted it.

I'm looking forward to the new season, but the TV broadcasts will have a short leash - they will need to get and keep my attention rather quickly.

Not knowing much about how a race is produced, is it as easy as getting a person who knows racing action in charge? It just seems from reading this blog the fixes are relatively easy to accomplish.

Hope Nascar reads and heeds some of the suggestions being made or we'll probably go back to very few races being seen on TV after the current contract expires.

Marsha - Iowa

Donna in FL said...

NASCAR racing, like hockey, is a sport best experienced LIVE. I'll never back off that.

If we have to keep it NO MORE Chase changes. How bout a 5 yr stretch of no changes seeing if the current configuration works as well as 2010, 48 or no 48. I'm no fan of his but I condemn any more attempts to "Jimmie Proof" just LET THEM RACE!

As for TV, lower ratings is an industry-wide trend with no end in sight no matter what is done. But, for grins * giggles yes NASCAR coverage could be better, definitely would be with the perks mentioned. Except for a few, I'm getting heartily tired of the same old announcers. But the kids love DW best.

GinaV24 said...

Absolutely perfect summary of the "problems" with NASCAR and its coverage. There are none so blind as those who will not see and that seems to apply to both NASCAR and the TV networks. They have a completely different agenda than the fans and IMO don't even seem to be interested in addressing the issues that the fans have been discussing. Racebuddy added to all the TV coverage would be a wonderful bonus and so would the side by side commercials. I'd like to see Fox get back to the type of coverage they were doing when they started in 2001 - they were solid then and I liked them --until someone allowed the cult of personality to take over the broadcast booth, along with rodents and ADD camera direction. TNT did the best with the worst tracks to cover.

ESPN is so impressed with itself as the Worldwide leader of sports that they've forgotten how to do do decent coverage, not just of racing, but of most sports. It's a wonder they don't break their arms patting themselves on the back. When ESPN picks up the coverage, the weather is usually nice and if the race coverage isn't done well, I can and will find something to do with my Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I actually have a life and the lousy TV coverage helped me rediscover that.

I don't like the chase, I will NEVER like the chase.

The various media people and fools like Kenny Wallace and others constantly telling me that I have to learn to love it because it isn't going away won't make me like it; changing it to add more gimmicks won't improve my opinion of it; all of those things will simply make me less likely to watch or attend races at the end of the season.

racingfool said...

JD, since you mentioned ESPN in this article. I wanted to see if anyone discovered what I did about their steaming. We have talked several times on your blog about streaming and when it would be offered. So, has anyone noticed ESPN 3 yet? It seems that you can watch it as I attempted to do if you jump through some hoops first. You have to specify a Internet provider, then if yours is affiliated with their stream you then enter your customer info so you can be authorized to view.
I would guess his keeps TWC, Cox, and the other big provided happy.
Oh, and if you select in the drop-down menu a provided that is not participating they then provide a form to send to the provider asking to add ESPN 3 to their system. Pretty slick huh? The way I found out is that I wanted to wact the bowl game championship and was denied because I do not have one of their carriers as a provided.
I did however enjoy the beer and nachos I had bought for the game before I discovered it was on cable which I do not have. Everything I watch is either streamed (smart phone hooked to computer) or airways (rabbit ears = free TV) which is more than sufficient. But, it did make me realize how many viewers are affected and not able to watch racing when cable as TNT and ESPN have the broadcast. You have mentioned that fact a few times I do believe.

GinaV24 said...

Bobby, from the perspective of someone on the east coast who goes to a lot of the races in the southeast, I like a 1 p.m. local time start. that way if there are delays, there's still a chance to finish the race AND I can catch my flight home the next day to get back to work.

I know they've been talking about doing a mid-week race, but I know I wouldn't be attending them. It's one of the reasons i don't go to the truck races in person. the timing simply doesn't work for me with traveling from NJ - it means an extra day off from work and in this economy that can be hard to do, along with whatever hotel and rental car costs would be associated with that.

Anonymous said...

First, let me cut nascar some slack. After seeing the drop in tv ratings for other sports that went from over the air channels to cable, the drop in tv ratings for nascar cannot be attributed only to the tv coverage. Do you think espn cares? That said, I will dvr Daytona. I will also watch it live until the camera work starts jumping around every second, focuses in on one or two cars, bumper cams, in-car cams, etc. I can possibly put up with motor mouth DW IF the camera work is halfway decent. I see no value in watching the pre-race shows. I will watch other races based on the Daytona coverage. Fingers crossed. MC

Anonymous said...

When it comes to watching NASCAR on TV, I really like the FOX team, can tolerate the TNT team, and despise the ESPN broadcasters.

But even more than the networks, NASCAR enjoyment has become track-centric. In other words: I won't miss the Bristol races, the plate races, Martinsville, and even Dover. But the 1.5 mile cookie-cutter tracks where the cars get strung out a few second apart after two laps and passing on the track in nearly impossible due to aerodynamics - forget it. I would rather have toothpicks jammed under my fingernails than watch cars "race" a few seconds apart at Fontana, Chicagoland, and even Vegas.

I think in 2010, the racing was as good as it's ever been since they switched to the Car of Tomorrow... but that said, it still has a long way to go.

I attended the Texas fall race last year, and it was great to be there live, and the Jeff's fighting was a big thrill... but the race itself? Eh. It was more like a parade.

Final thought: On every single racing website and forum (including NASCAR.com itself)... the fans wholly reject The Chase. They simply hate it. I've never heard ANYONE say they like The Chase, or think The Chase was a good idea.

I'd be willing to bet that the single best thing NASCAR could do would be to announce that they were shelving the Chase. But I know that will never happen. In the NASCAR-alternative-universe, The Chase is the end-all-be-all of NASCAR. From where I sit, it is an albatross around the neck of the sport, dragging it down season after season.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:15--you must've not read the comments first. Jonathan things the Chase is perfect. I may disagree, but he's entitled to his opinion.

The only way to improve it, in my opinion, is to get rid of it. Award more points for winning races, give no points below say, 30th and the rest will sort itself out.

I used to like DW...back in the dark ages, but he's worn out his welcome (which is a shame, because he really can be insightful once in a while.) But most of the time, he's wrong about the drivers & how they think, and they've said so. We always feel so hopeful this time of year that it will get better--but it never does. Sigh.

I don't really have an issue with start times; I wouldn't start them before noon simply because it takes that long to get people parked & in the stands & what not. And I'd rather they make it most convenient for the paying public.

Rambo M. said...

Digger has been more or less neutralized and DW's antics don't bother me (at least he's energetic, compared to dull-as-ditch-water Dale Jarret), so can't wait for the Fox coverage. When the chips are down those people KNOW at least to call a race well.

But my patience with ESPN is spent - that chunk of the schedule is already the worst, and ESPN makes it even more unbearable in stunning new ways year after year after year. Those people simply do not give a damn one way or the other.

KoHoSo said...

From the comment quoted by Mr Daly...

...maybe Brian France and company should be having town hall meetings with the broadcast networks.

In general, I believe it too late for that. Brian France sold NASCAR's soul to Australian and rodent devils who will do mostly what they please with their contracts. We might see some isolated changes here and there as we have in the past such as less Digger and the switch-out of Dr. Jerry Punch for Marty Reid. However, I see no willingness to return to basic principles used by ESPN v1.0, TNN, and CBS such as giving every competitor at least one brief mention during the race, consistently showing the full finish, being respectful of the audience's intelligence and tastes, wider camera angles showing the true action, and so on.

To answer the questions JD asked at the end of this entry...

Where are you right now in thinking about watching the sport this season?

Let me put it in terms that are fitting for the Animal House theme. With me, NASCAR is on double-secret probation in 2011. I want to see improvements this year in both the televised and on-track product and I want to know that more are coming in 2012 and 2013. If I don't see that, in the sanitized words of Dean Vernon Wormer, I'll be out of here faster than you-know-what through a goose.

Are you waiting for the rules changes or dreading them?

Remember the scene where the current members of Delta House are voting on whether or not to accept new members and the slide of Kent Dorfman comes on the screen? That's what I want to do every time I hear about new rules...because, after all, don't many of us think that Brian France's Delta Tau Chi name should be Flounder?

Do you remember ESPN from last season down the stretch or simply looking forward to a new year with DW and FOX?

They're all worthless and weak. Now drop and give me twenty!

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

All is Well, Hah!!!!!

All is not well. Brian France and his sychophants want us to believe all is well, are you f---ing kidding me. If they want us to think all is well they should have scrapped the Chase along time ago, as a matter of fact the Chase should have never gotten past the planning stages. No wonder Jimmie Jack@$$ won 5 in a row.

And there are the TV networks. The overall job these boys do is abysmal, with the possible exception of TNT. The camera work is p!$$ poor at best. Mike Joy at fox is good but lets DW and Larry Mac walk all over his commentary. ESPN put in Marty Reid when we wanted AB or to pay big money for Bob Jenkins to come back to ESPN. NASCAR Now is the only bright spot ESPN has.

And finally there is the greed factor, NASCAR seems to stop at nothing to try and make as much money as possible with next to no thought of the fans. The Switch to ethanol, The Chase, The COT whichever comes first.

BZF is not willing to change his satanic ways for the good of his sport and NASCAR fans, including myself, are tiring of his act.

I can repeat myself until i am blue in the face but until NASCAR changes it's act there is no hope in 5 years.

I really think of you guys on The Daly Planet as my second family. You say things that could not be more true.

JD thank you oh so much for The Daly Planet, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread for hardcore fans.

SBTF

GinaV24 said...

KhoHoSo -- that was excellent! Ramming speed!

KoHoSo said...

GinaV24...I only wish I could give "the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor speech" and we could all drive off to ruin Brian France's parade. ;-)

It's either that or we have JD organize a Planeteers toga party. :-D

tonybct said...

I used to really enjoy listening to DW but the last few years I'm so sick of him and Hammond,( who's another extremly intelligent guy) but like DW doesn't know when to shut up, when to cut the unfunny me,me,me routines,it has forced me to tune out two people whom I like a lot, Mike Joy and Dr Dick, I lsten to MRN instead, I guess there's no solution

Anonymous said...

when I watch racing I never complain about SPEED's truck coverage. So simple... they cover the race with no hidden agenda's, no dumb graphics and their announcers care about the sport of racing...ok waltrip is WAY over the top, but he is talented. he's been successful in racing his whole career...because he can sell himself! sponsors love him! we the fans are 50/50 on him, but that's for another days discussion.
I really think SPEED's Trucks crew would hit a home run with a sprint cup race. Maybe let them do the All Star Race this year??? hey FOX, TNT AND ESPN...maybe take this approach this season... SIMPLE STUPID IS BETTER.

MeekloBraca said...

Ratings when down when the chase was at 10. Ratings went down further when the chase was set at 12. Now the chase is set to be what.....15? 18? elimination? How are ratings going to improve when the trend is that they hate the changes to the chase?

I sincerly hope ratings continue to tank this year. The bigger the downward spiral, the better. Hopefully someone will realize that Brian France isnt the man for this job.

Anonymous said...

>The Chase should have never gotten
>past the planning stages. No wonder
>Jimmie Jack@$$ won 5 in a row.

I don't like The Chase, but that's not fair. Last year Jimmie would have won the Cup under the old points system, too. And this year he had more Top 5s than any other driver and was 2nd in wins and Top 10s.

Joe said...

I think the rules have also caused ratings to go down. The last five seasons we have had the same person win. The lucky dog rule has made it easier for drivers to stay on the lead lap. There have been too many cautions during the end of the races for invisible debris that has cost drivers the win. NASCAR needs to fix or remove some of their rules to make watching it more interesting instead of predictable.

mule said...

The look on BZF's face speaks volumns on the state of the sport. Utterly flippin clueless!
Of course I'm dreading rules change. They've already butchered the Bud Shootout, again. Wait until the last minute to announce changes so a few more sponsers can jump over to Indycar.
It's not like Rodman, Wallace, or Keselowski spilled the beans on Corporate America's closest guarded secret. Nascar spent 3 months eluding to what the changes might be. What's the big deal? Now the head cheese backs out on media, leaving Helton & Pemberton holding the bag. Imagine that!
I'd love to forget all about ESPN and their crappy coverage, but DW & Fox need to figure something else out.
I'm glad to see the live streaming come about and perhaps some other options for fans and their potable devices. Since it doesn't appear that Speed is ready to move up to big boy pants, I don't have a lot of faith in upcoming media contracts. As for the present media partners, I'm not holding my breath.
The plain simple fact of the matter is that the Chase has relegated the racing season into 26 test sessions, then 10 races they get serious about it. The rule change for that is, it needs to go.
The COT may be a safer race car but it hasn't leveled the playing field. The racing isn't great. With aero sensative cookie cutter tracks dominating the season, it is what it is.
I'll watch Daytona and hope for the best. From that point forward we'll see.
Nascar & company better get a grip on it soon. After how many years of the same old crap, Indycar has started paying attention to fans and owners with significant changes coming. Nascar can't afford to lose many more fans. France might have locked them out of ISC tracks, but there's plenty of SMI and others.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just time for a new CEO? What happens to NASCAR after Brian anyway? Who takes it?

The Mad Man said...

Anonymous 6:43 am, if Brainless Brian is replaced, it would be with his sister. This is based on the continuing line of nepotism that's been used to select the head of NAPCAR.

I've heard two stories about her. One is that she's like her granddad, Bill Sr. The other is that she's a bigger nightmare than Brainless Brian. Based on a recent blog I read about her not wanting to meet with a media expert because she didn't want to be bothered, I tend to believe the latter.

GinaV24 said...

Anon 5:17 - resetting the points after the first 26 seeding races makes Nascar's 10 race championship the biggest joke in sports. If they implement more dumb tweaks and gimmicks, no one will take it seriously. Heck, I think they should just draw #'s like they do for the Shootout starting positions. The winner would be the champion based on the same type of crapshoot result. We'd save fuel, NASCAR could say they are "green" and I'd get my weekends back completely. Johnson's 5 10 race trophies are worth about as much as that. TV wanted more excitement for the championship - instead they got fans losing interest and falling ratings.

KoHoSo -- I loved that speech myself -- the planeteers can get on that type of roll, too. I just wish that someone at Nascar and the TV networks would get a clue and implement some of the changes we've asked for regarding the coverage.

Quite honestly I would watch a lot less racing, if not for JD keeping this site going during the races so we can all talk to one another about what's going on. Enjoying the races with friends is part of the fun with NASCAR.

Vicky D said...

I don't like the Chase for the reason that the other 31 cars on the track don't seem to get a looksee on tv or the driver's name even mentioned. I realize this is very minor, but Nascar or the tracks are going to have to get better anthem singers. And finally, they'll have to add a different tv booth crew to some of the races on a long weekend, by the time Sunday rolls around those 3 guys sound exhausted and don't have any enthusiasm whatsoever.

AncientRacer said...

While I subscribe in part with everything presented here I find myself most drawn to Sally who wrote, in part:

"... The TV coverage leaves me disconnected, unable to get into the flow of the race. I seldom get information that allows me to see the overall picture of what is happening at the track. I keep hearing that the on track racing was the best in years, but I can't prove it by what I'm subjected to watching on TV. Unless something changes in the way races are presented to fans at home, anything else Nascar does is wasted effort. The more gimmicks they and TV come up with, the less compelling it becomes. It's then no longer racing, but a 'show'. Both Nascar and the networks need to figure out how to present a race that keeps viewers engaged. So far, they don't seem to grasp the concept that the racing is the main interest, not the bells and whistles and gimmicks."

Trouble I I do not see a solution for this as JD has told us there will not be any changes in the broadcasters' personnel at the races (shows?).

But I KNOW I'll watch. I will b****, but I will watch. Maybe that makes me a sheeple, but, hey, everyone's got to be something.

If I had to say what gives me the most hope as we get ready to get ready for 2011 is that my gut tells me there is unrest at the palace and that mayhaps someone has noticed the hardcores like us and those on other blogs are indeed outside with pitchforks and torches.

"is it a revolt, My Lord," said King Louis.
"No Sire, it is a revolution," the Duke replied.

Anonymous said...

Let me ask all of you this question. Does Brian France truly realize how many fans have totally hated his idea of a playoff system, known as the Chase, or is he as obtuse as he appears?

Unless he has his head stuck somewhere, how can any human being with functioning ears and eyes not know what turmoil this sport is in?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else here see television walking away from NASCAR when the current contracts expire?

KoHoSo said...

Anonymous 2:04...

In the past, what I have feared on that front is NASCAR ending up on some relatively obscure joke of a channel as has happened to most of the IndyCar season being on Versus. However, that doesn't worry me so much anymore as, even with declining ratings and interest plus the "aged" NASCAR fan base, I just don't see Cup races falling to anything lower than Speed or some equivalent-level channel. Even with all of the sport's problems, there's still plenty enough people wanting to watch it that it should prevent it from disappearing from TV or ending up on the Underwater Basket Weaving Channel.

GinaV24 said...

Anon 1:39 - based on his surprised response when asked that question at Homestead, I would say he really IS that obtuse?

Anon 2:04 - if they don't walk away, you can sure bet that they won't be willing to ante up the same $'s as for the last contract.

Anonymous said...

Just make the producers at FOX,TNT and ESPN watch old tapes of races back on the OLD ESPN and CBS, and they might figure out how to cover a NASCAR race. In a nutshell, all 3 networks need to go more simpler. Besides the horrible commentating, there are WAY to many graphics being displayed on the screen and the cameras are zoomed in and focused on only 1 or 2 cars (usually being the 48 and 18). go back to what made the sport go on CBS and ESPN back in the day, simple.

Roland said...

First off let me just say that was an excellent article. Cant agree more with what you said JD.

Anon at 9:17: Kevin Harvick won the 2010 Championship under the old format.

I like DW, but only in small doses. DW is a wealth of knowledge and when he has his game on theres really no driver/analyst better, but he needs to get off the twitter, get off Trackside, and get off the pre race shows.

I really think that the TV networks choice to just do status quo this year is a really dumb decision. Were tired of Kenny Wallace, Rusty, Brad, Marty Reid and the entire espn production crew. The ratings plummet every week and its not the product on track. Come on Brian its not the racing! No more gimmicks and artificial champions. The racing is great! The car still looks like crap but the races are great. Brian please stop "fixing" something thats not broke. The TV networks are killing this sport just as much as anything else.

Look At Indycar. Randy Bernard has turned that ship around and if things continue we may be live blogging the Indycar races every Sunday. Brian should pull a Tony George and LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

JD, is it true what I just read on another site that it wasn't Brian France who negotiated the current TV contract, but it was all on the shoulders of his dad? Sal Siglia wrote that no one should criticize Brian F because he had nothing to do with the TV contracts, and it's all on his father.

I suspect that when the new TV contracts come up for renewal, there won't be nearly the amount of money thrown at the France family

Daly Planet Editor said...

Brian France was intimately involved in the creation of the current TV contracts.

While he used a media expert, Dick Glover, who has since moved onto another project, funnyordie.com, France was key in getting things coordinated under one big NASCAR TV umbrella.

Bill France Jr. and I had several discussions where he absolutely said that NASCAR should have nothing to do with TV and the individiual tracks should keep and sell the TV rights.

Brian France was influenced by George Pyne (now the prez of IMG) who helped him to understand that the sport would be much better served if things on TV and online were coordinated through NASCAR and not the tracks.

I was lucky enough to be involved with Pyne as he made the transition to NASCAR and I was firmly behind the new coordinated approach. The revenue it generated and the single network presentation of NNS and trucks were a clear winner.

The problem that no one ever envisioned was that ESPN was going to fall flat on its face in terms of producing the final 17 Cup races.

FOX and TNT have flaws, but ESPN is simply an epic TV disaster where NASCAR is concerned. Some good on-air staff and some solid technical coverage have been the positives, but the negatives have been off the chart.

While you can't really pin the original TV problems on Brian France, it is very fair to wonder why NASCAR has not demanded significant change from TV partners who have struggled.

Great comments so far, thank you for taking the time to express yourself!

JD

DavidD3 said...

I'm looking forward to Daytona. The rest of the season doesn't excite me much.

The lucky dog, wave arounds, and other manipulative rules have driven me away even more than poor television coverage. These things have had drastic effects on finishing positions in recent years and I no longer feel I am watching a legitimate sport. I don't believe there is favoritism towards any individual or group, just the desire by NASCAR to keep things more 'interesting'.

NASCAR has become very reactionary in recent years by implementing these rules with the idea that the fans want these changes. I only speak for myself when I say I don't like any of it.

Knowing that this season will see the ethanol boondoggle shoved down our throats, I'm not that excited at all.

Jojaye said...

JD your column is dead on the money. This off season came as a relief for the first time in 40+ years of watching NASCAR.

The horrid tv "coverage" coupled with that Chase I hate just makes me sick. BZF has killed it dead.

The BSPN part of last season pretty much killed it for me here. For the first time I'm not counting the minutes till Daytona. Fox has a short time span to hold my attention & then I will simply walk away till the start of the next race & repeat the process weekly. I swore up & down I would watch till my driver ( Tony Stewart) retired then just watch the Trucks. I may not make it that long.

And if I can hang in till the end of TNT & Racebuddy - I will just listen to radio of race I get to see more that way.

Anonymous said...

I am a die hard race fan and will watch every race I can. At least until the ESPN announcers start driving me nuts. I know NASCAR's contract with ESPN has 2 or 3 years left in it, but they need to find some way to declare ESPN in violation so that they can force a chance. ESPN's coverage is costing NASCAR several points in the TV ratings. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are boring as hell, and Rusty Wallace is worse. I think NASCAR needs to demand that all Sprint Cup races be on broadcast TV, and they should also require split-screen coverage during commercial breaks. This sport does not pause during commercial breaks. I am sick and tired of missing a lot of the action.

Anonymous said...

@KoHoSo
Like Nascar, the Underwater Basket Weaving Channel (UBWC-11) is not what it used to be. Not even in HD yet.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:23--it's been said before, but it's NASCAR that doesn't want side by side--they feel it would be detrimental to their sponsors. ESPN has said they could do it just as with Indycar. Just don't want to blame them for things not their fault, since we do blame them for everything that is, lol.

I really don't mind the lucky dog or the wave arounds. Every sport has rule changes that manipulate the sport--like the NFL's new overtime rules *just* for the playoffs. Generally they were made in the name of safety & came out of stopping the 'racing back to the caution' which I always saw as foolish & dangerous.

I found this intersting quote from Lesa from April about leading NASCAR (not just the ISC):

"I hope and think (people) know I'm available when needed," she says. "I love this sport. I grew up here and enjoy what I'm doing. It's a family business."

From what I've read she just really prefers to be behind the scenes & is uncomfortable with the spotlight. I can't fault her there; it's a very hard thing if you're not outgoing.

diane said...

I grew up watching open wheel. As far as Nascar it was primarily the Dayton 500 and sometimes the Firecracker 400. After becoming a fan of Aussie V-8s, I followed Ambrose to Nascar and starting watching more and more races. I also wanted to see how Montoya would do. For about 3 years I recorded and watched every Truck, Nationwide and Cup race. Last year I hardly watched anything.

If it were up to me I would eliminate the Chase and go back to a standard season long points race. I also would drastically shorten the distance of many of the oval races and eliminate some duplicate tracks.

I will probably record the Cup races and fast forward through them to see how my drivers are doing. The only races I would watch in real time are the road races (both series) because they have become so competitive and a great show.

I really can't recommend Nascar to my friends in its current form.

Anonymous said...

I don't see ANYTHING "broken" with the TV coverage. I believe this is all just a knee-jerk reaction to a fall in ratings over the last few years.

What we are seeing is just an example of the ebb and flow of the American public's popularity, no different than a fashion fad that has just gone out of style.

There will always be the base audience which is still rock solid.

If anyone is expecting TV ratings and track attendance to return to their levels of NASCAR's peak popularity, then they are fooling themselves.

The NASDAQ is still far, far away from its peak of over 5000 set a decade ago.

NASCAR made out like bandits by signing the TV deals at NASCAR's peak. Now the networks are stuck with a hugely overvalued asset.

The networks still need to be able to pay the bills, which means commercials. And as NASCAR's popularity has dropped from the peak, it takes more commercials to get the revenue.

Side-by-side would be an interesting experiment, if NASCAR would allow it to play out. The open question would be if sponsors would be willing to pay the same, even though their ad now just covers a fraction of the screen, and a divided audience's attention. I guess NASCAR doesn't want to put a sponsor in the awkward position of saying no.

The TV cost situation is night and day as compared with Indy Car, so just because it worked over there doesn't necessarily mean it'll work with NASCAR.

The one big thing that I can see helping out is if NASCAR would agree to renegotiate the contract based upon a present day value, rather than the value at NASCAR's peak.

That way, the TV production staff and on air talent wouldn't have to focus on making sure their paid ads get covered and can focus more on the race itself.

Anonymous said...

Around our house the nicest thing about TNT and ESPN is no Darrel Waltrip. That in itself is priceless.

Gymmie said...

racingfool--didn't see a response to your question about E3 but might have missed it. E3 has been that way for years & JD has mentioned it before. When BSPN first came back there was a time that the N'wide races were available because I remember going there when they first came back to see what they were offering. Can't recall exactly the set up but apparently it wasn't very impressive. I'm not sure exactly when they changed it but my provider isn't one of them.

KoHoSo said...

Anonymous 7:54...

Yeah, I know what you mean. I remember when they showed underwater basket weaving 24/7 back when they were called UnderaterBasketWeavingVision. Now it's nothing but pseudo-reality shows about the homes of under water basket weavers, what under water basket weavers cook for supper, and shows about how under water basket weaving supplies are shipped via truck out of West Toenail, Pennsyltuckyana. Then, when they actually do show some under water basket weaving, it gets ruined by the overbearing commentary of the brothers Darrell and Michael Wickertrip who are obviously biased towards Toyweava baskets and weavers with whom they have their own endorsement deals.

I hardly even watch UBWC anymore. Whatever happened to serving the needs of the true under water basket weaving fan?

XD

PammH said...

KoHoSo-OMGoodness, I'm literally LOL @ the last comment!! But unfortunately, the sad truth is good news/bad news. Good news-Brian & his sloppy, hung-over, stumbling self will NOT be present. Maybe somebody has gotten a friggin' clue that he's an AWFUL image for our sport. We can only hope.
Bad news-I think TPTB will not address the TV coverage, which is the basis of the problem. They will tinker w/the chase, which most of the fans that I hear HATE anyway & it won't help ratings.
I'm on the fence about how much Nascar I will watch this yr. I live in MI. Winter last FOREVER & when the weather gets nice, I want to enjoy the outside.
I wish..but don't have alot of hope for improvements...:(
btw, LUV the pic JD!

Anonymous said...

the simple fact that espn has just committed to Billions (with a B)of dollars to renew a contract with the NFL can only signal "thanks but no thanks NASCAR" for a renewal from them.
and the drunken sailor at Fox has been relegated to "fixing" National Geographic Channel after driving SPEED and FOX Nascar into the ground means cooler, sane heads will prevail for fox in the next round of talks.

NASCAR is screwed in the rights department, pure and simple

Buschseries61 said...

You know things are bad when Jon Stewart's Daily Show features a segment on the struggles of NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

KoHoSo' your Animal House references were priceless. Thanks so very much. I wish I had such wit. :) Cheers.

Vroom said...

3rd generation France appears to be over tweaking our beloved sport.

Jeff said...

You NA$CAR is in a sad state when even Jon Stewart feels the need to do a pice on them, http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-january-13-2011/you-re-welcome---nascar?xrs=synd_facebook

KoHoSo said...

Buschseries61 and Jeff...

Great job on bringing the Jon Stewart thing to everybody's attention (especially mine as I am in the middle of moving to Fontana and have seen hardly any television for several days).

To me, the most telling joke is right near the beginning and illustrates something I have been mentioning here occasionally for at least a year if not longer. As Mr. Daly has also been saying, NASCAR has lost much of the younger generation because they have failed so miserably at presenting themselves through all of the various new types of media that have sprung up over the past several years. My additional belief is that the even bigger problem is they have lost the battle against the always vocal Internet trolls that keep saying stock car racing is nothing but driving in circles and only people of low intelligence would find it entertaining.

I am certainly not angry with Stewart for the joke because I know going in that I will not always agree with everything he says. I have always been one who could take it if somebody jabs NASCAR because, unlike the sanctioning body itself, I enjoy being a mature adult that can take some ribbing and criticism whether it be over my interests or politics. Who I am angry with is NASCAR, Fox, and ESPN who have all introduced gimmick after gimmick -- each one of which has not only failed to combat the "nothing but turning left" lie in the minds of the younger generation but that is also driving away the older fans like myself (I'm 45).

Yes, with how NASCAR is perceived politically, it's not surprising to see such a piece on The Daily Show and most who watch it were probably not going to become racing fans anyway. Then again, when it is one of the most popular shows in the younger demographic -- something watched by far more than its ratings would show as many watch it later online -- well, I just wonder if Stewart would have approved a similar "NASCAR is boring" piece had this been ten years ago.

I also wonder when big media of any type is also going to start reporting that the downturn in NASCAR started well BEFORE the economy went in the toilet.

oldnewenglander said...

Last night, ESPN had a panel discussion on African-Americans in sports.

They were talking about NFL's Rooney rule and other efforts at outreach to minorities in sports.

When someone, I believe ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose, mentioned that the NFL, baseball, etc., have done better than NASCAR, moderator Bob Ley and company just changed the subject.

red said...

just an fyi because some may have not been daily show fans when it happened:

brian vickers did a piece on daily show with (i think?) samantha bee a few years back. i laughed until the tears flowed! it was so bizarre and outrageously funny and vickers played the serious corporate spokeman (in his garnier days) perfectly, right down to being "confused" by her questions and responses to his answers.

having a healthy sense of humor about our sport is important so that we're able to distinguish between what's important to get agita about and what we should just smile over.

that being said: the state of nascar tv is something to have agita about. i'm underwhlemed by all 3 networks but i'll still watch. however, i'm going to be searching for more online sites this season than i did last year because if i can get away from watching network broadcasts of our sport all-together, that would be finestkind.

Newracefan said...

FOX is what brought me to NASCAR and so I have to say they are still my favorites but... this past year something was going on. It seemed as if Mike Joy was handcuffed and couldn't give us the racing because of all the commercial plugs, lead in's, race breaks etc. Those things need to back off, hell I get that we are stuck with commercials but that is just overkill. I think NASCAR needs to force it's TV partners to get their act together, offer Racebuddy or something similar for all races. TNT biggest problem is commercial overload but they get away with it with Racebuddy and Jim Noble popping up on my laptop. Slap ESPN or something, I am so tired of them determining the story ahead of time and then forcing the racing to fit the story. Also the race should be first and the chase second on race day except maybe at Homestead. I am also not looking forward to another change to the Chase, the constant manipulation just makes it that much less credible. Chase, change car, change chase, change, change, change, can't we just keep something the same for crying out loud. And while I'm on my soap box stop policing the scanners on Pit Command, I pay for the damn thing just like I pay for HBO you don't see Comcast skipping over the foul language in a movie do you. If as a parent you are worried about your child hearing foul language get yourself some headphones or turn it off when they are in the room. That was my job when my son was younger and I didn't need anyone to do it for me then so now it's your turn to do the work.

Karl Barth said...

I will agree that this past season had some of the best racing. The Chase for the Cup was great. You had three drivers vying for the Cup. Not to mention I applaud NASCAR loosening the reins and let the drivers emotions come out.

Like other fans though I've steadily started losing interest in the sport and I'm not sure exactly why. I'm not going to blame solely this on Jimmie Johnson winning 5 championships in a row.

I think my problem is with the coverage. I absolutely agree with the statement made in the article that Brian France needs to leave the Chase rules alone and focus on the network coverage.

To me the best network coverage is offered by Fox even though DW can be annoying a lot of times. I wish they would could cover the sport all year long but that won't happen since they cover the NFL. TNT just flat sucks. I can't stand their coverage. ESPN has been a huge disappointment this year. The amount of commercials breaks taken during their telecast is ridiculous.

At first I was excited when ESPN started covering the races again. I remember Bob Jenkins, Benny Parson, and Ned Jarrett covering the race. They did such a great job. The group they have now is just not clicking and appealing to me.

The bottom line is France and NASCAR need to leave the racing along and focus their efforts on the media coverage.

GinaV24 said...

KoHoSo, I just about fell over laughing when I read your comments about the Underwater basketweaving.

Awesomely done.

Jonathan said...

It is good to know that ratings have been down for football as well so 2011 will be interesting..

Nascar isnt dead, this is the trend right now so..... If Nascar and the networks do it right in 2011 we could be in for a great season... NFL Lockout could happen so maybe just maybe 2011 will be the year that makes or breaks Nascar Wanted to throw this out there from yahoo about ratings all sports are seeing this now so


However, college football ratings, according to SportsBusiness Daily, were down for most TV networks this season. CBS led all networks with an average 4.2 rating and 6.9 million viewers for its SEC games. It was only the second time since 1990 that it had topped ABC. But CBS’ numbers are still down 4.5 percent from last season when it set a record.

ABC’s average rating was 3.5 with 5.6 million viewers, down 10.3 and 8.6 percent respectively from last season. NBC’s Notre Dame telecasts were at 2.1, a rating down 12.5 percent from 2009.

On cable, ESPN’s 1.9 rating was even with last year and ESPN2’s was at 0.9, down 10 percent. Versus was the only network to actually go up from last year. It cashed in from having the Nov. 13 Oregon-California game, which gave the network its most college football viewers ever. Overall, Versus’ 0.3 rating was up 50 percent.

Sally said...

Just read on Jayski that Ricky Craven will be in the booth for 7 Nationwide races this season. That's the first good news I've heard about TV coverage so far.

Mike (Detroit) said...

Nice info Jonathon, thanks for getting that out here. I think that info shows the true effect of a down economy across the board. Good stuff.