Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Faces But Same Issues For Showtime

Update: Got some email this week from fans who had just watched "Inside NASCAR" on Showtime. They were upset that profanity from the team radios was used. In fact, that uncensored radio traffic is a centerpiece of the show and something that Showtime promotes on a regular basis. It's only one of the issues associated with this TV series. Here is our column previewing the 2011 version of the show originally published February 9.

Last year NASCAR trumpeted a multi-year agreement for a new weekly TV series that would be produced from the downtown Charlotte, NC studios of the NASCAR Media Group for 2010. Inside NASCAR was going to be a flagship mid-week show with a twist.

Showtime would offer the series to its universe of subscribers and then make the show available online through both the Internet and cell phone streaming technology. It was Sports Business Journal reporter Michael Smith who offered the following information back in 2010 before the series began.

Showtime's new weekly Inside NASCAR show will be available via the Internet and mobile phone, which required clearance from NASCAR's rights holders in that space.

NASCAR Media Group, which manages those multimedia rights, had to clear the broadcast of Inside NASCAR with its TV, web and mobile partners before giving final approval for the new show.

Unfortunately after the studio set was built, the announcers were signed and money changed hands the other shoe dropped. Click here to review "Showtime Throws NASCAR a Curveball" from TDP last January.

The powers that be at Showtime contradicted the NASCAR Media Group and told us they never intended the series to be distributed outside of the Showtime universe. You want to see it, subscribe they said.

The upshot is that a very good NASCAR TV show is only seen by a very small group of fans. That was the worry going in when the deal was announced. Healthy national cable TV networks may have 90 million homes or more across the country. Showtime is available to less than 19 million subscribers and something big is looming on the horizon.

"Netflix streaming added 3.1 million subscriptions during the fourth quarter of 2010 and now has more than 20 million subscribers," said Gary Kim of IPCarrier. "That's more than the total subscribers of premium channels Starz and Showtime, which have 17.3 million and 18.2 million subscribers, respectively. What that means is that Netflix is competing with the premium cable TV channels."

Once you shake-out the Showtime viewers who are there only for the original entertainment shows and movies, the remaining number of viewers for a sports series like Inside NASCAR is tiny. This season, there are also other things that are getting smaller.

Despite adding Kyle Petty as a panelist, Inside NASCAR is downsizing from one-hour to 30 minutes in length. Chris Myers hosts the show with Randy Pemberton, Michael Waltrip and Brad Daugherty as the original panel members.

The Showtime folks are entertainment-oriented and it shows. The big feature of the series is the re-airing of the profanity-laced team radio traffic without editing. The Showtime PR folks refer to this as uncensored scanner audio and boast it is a Showtime exclusive.

“The show aims to bring NASCAR fans deeper inside the sport than ever before,” said Ken Hershman, General Manager of Showtime Sports. “We delivered precisely that in season one. Now, with the new half-hour format, Inside NASCAR will become the fastest show on television.”

If Inside NASCAR has a challenge this season, it will be to provide commentary from four panelists, weekend race highlights and the infamous uncensored scanner audio in a 30 minute format. It has not gone unnoticed that two of the panelists participating in this shorter program are named Waltrip and Petty.

Our original suggestion was to make the show available online at the website on Fridays, two days later than the 9PM ET Wednesday original air date. Online viewers would get to see what Showtime can do with NASCAR content while Showtime subscribers would still have an exclusive two day window for viewing re-airs.

Perhaps as the Showtime universe of subscribers continues to be affected by Netflix, offering this one series online will become a smart business and public relations decision. After all, that was the original idea when Inside NASCAR was created.

We invite 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Ann_Ominous said...

I don't have Showtime anymore. Having to cut back more and more. No Netflix either.

racingfool said...

It will be a great show with Kyle added to the mix with Chris.
Those two will have at it.
Both very skilled at the gift of gab.
As a matter of fact, I think Kyle has been excellent since he started with TNT.
Now Showtime? WOW!
Wish I could watch.
The only Showtime we have in my house is me running to catch the phone coming out of the shower.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why Showtime even bothers with NASCAR. I thought people just got Showtime to see T & A anyway. Put that show on a channel people can get without paying $$.

Ben Florance said...

Why is Brad Daugherty still on this show? The man knows nothing about NASCAR.
They should have JD as a panelist haha.

Anonymous said...

I do not, and will not, have showtime so I cannot comment on the show. But, the shortcomings of the availability of the show to nascar fans again shows where nascar's priorities are. MC

Chadderbox said...

I don't have Showtime and I will not be getting Showtime. This is the same answer I had for this show last year. I am not paying extra on my Direct TV package for Showtime and I am definitely NOT paying to see Big Brad and Chris Myers. Are you kidding me?
Maybe next year they can add Joe Buck!

MRM4 said...

I can understand Showtime not wanting to allow the show to be streamed. Their purpose is to gain subscribers. But I don't see how they're gaining all that many subscribers by having this show.

Adding Kyle is a great move, but they needed to cut one of the others out. And cutting it to 30 minutes seems like there isn't enough time to let everyone have their say.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the 'issue.' Yes, NMG should not have promised it if they couldn't deliver, but if you want it, you pay extra, simple as that. Showtime doesn't 'owe' us anything; it's a pay service and they choose to keep it that way. I wouldn't pay 5 cents to listen to Michael Waltrip and Brad Daughtery talk about anything.

GinaV24 said...

I don't subscribe to Showtime and I wouldn't do it just to see this show. I'm not a fan of Mikey or Brad and although I think Chris Myers does a very good job when he is a reporter for the NFL, the stupid shtick that he does for NASCAR doesn't impress me.

And wow, their big "draw" is the uncensored scanner feed? I'm not opposed to hearing it - I use the scanner on trackpass to follow along - but that aspect would not make me pay to tune in either.

I'm not asking for anything for free which is always the argument when I say I won't watch. I'm perfectly willing to pay to see something that I like, but for me, Showtime isn't it.

AncientRacer said...

I can see all those people in other places so, just like last year, I do not give a hoot.

But it does sound like another -- yes, another -- poor contract negotiated and approved by The Palace.

...and the band plays on.

storkjrc said...

anon 10:20

one of the main features of the show is "uncensored" in car audio. it cannot be broadcast on the "free" networks. In fact, the only Nascar content you can watch for free, are the races broadcast on FOX.

17972 B. C. said...

First, thx for all the work you do with your site n reporting, it is greatly appreciated. I have Showtime and HBO (promotional rates),and the things i like best about them are their commercial free original programs. The internet age has made us think we should have a free view of all. They are for profit businesses and that is what America is all about. I do not pay for Sirius/XM, or Direct TV, so i miss stuff on those outlets. HBO's 24/7 and hard knocks series are great stuff, and they don'r repackage them for the non-subscribers. That's just my opinion. We still get tons n tons of info about our sport on this here internet thingy, let's appreciate it. It wasn't always like that.

Andy D said...

I like Kyle Petty's commentary but I don't have Showtime and won't be getting it.

The original Inside Winston Cup was amusing but the only racing show that is and was ever good is Dave Despain. Which should return to being a two hour show.

KoHoSo said...

With the reuniting of the still sensible 3/4 of the old IWC gang over on ESPN, do more than just a handful of Kyle Petty and Michael Waltrip fans really care about this Showtime show anymore especially at a reduced length? If the only other appeal of this show is to be able to hear drivers cuss, I'll be glad to take any Planeteer along with me for free on my daily commute through suburban Los Angeles traffic. :-D

kswheels said...

Gotta be honest, I fastforwarded through most of it. Can't stand Brad Daugherty or Chris Myers. The in car audio is the only part I watched.

Anonymous said...

I have Showtime and like the show, but one hour is too long. It's at least 30 minutes of scanner talk with slo-mo race action. I'd like to see more panel and more discussion and fewer clips packages. Adding Petty to the show is a HUGE positive.

Anonymous said...

I'm really suprised to hear these negative comments about Big Brad. You people obviously have no idea of his extensive NASCAR knowledge and how many years he has been involved with the sport in one capacity or the other. He's certainly better to listen to than Mikey and Chris.

Palmetto said...

Like most others, a single half-hour program isn't enough reason for me to subscribe to Showtime.

I enjoy Petty, and Waltrip in this format (not in the CWTS booth). I can tolerate Daugherty, but actively dislike Myers' NASCAR persona; why can't he drop the goober routine and behave like he does on the NFL sidelines?

Sorry, not enough meat for the money, especially when there are a couple of decent alternatives on networks I already receive (Speed and ESPN).

Anonymous said...

we people know about Brad and how long he's been involved in NASCAR. We just don't think as an owner/fan he has shown he has anything to contribute other than being a really good cheerleader.

Anonymous said...

I might pay to see Michael and Brad play half-court one-on-one.

Unknown said...

I am a huge nascar fan in Bama no less (ROLL TIDE!) And I have Showtime but will dvr the show and watch just the scanner part,I just can't watch with Waltrip on. Its like fingernails on a blackboard for me.

uncredentialed said...

Showtime has one revenue stream: paid subscribers. There is no logical reason why they should stream it for free. Unless it would be subsidized by NASCAR or Turner or whatever. The other alternative is like through iTunes for a buck or two per episode.

I think the overall production of the show isn't bad, but the analysts are awful. I'm not a big fan of Brad Daugherty, but he actually is the best they've got of the bunch. That shouldn't be the case.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people watching a pay-cable service would be upset about profanity from the drivers. My goodness, there were 150,000-plus fans in attendance, and it really doesn't matter which driver they listened to on their headsets that day - they were ALL swearing. Even goody two shoes drivers like Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth regularly swear over the radio. As in: all the time!

I would venture that it would be impossible to listen to any radio frequency during a race without hearing some profanity. So what is the big deal?

And let me make another case in favor of profanity: it really shed light on both the intensity of the race as well as the drivers themselves. It is one thing to hear Kevin Harvick yell at his team on ESPN about changing tires, but it's another thing entirely to hear him scream repeated F-words into the microphone at his team.

If you're upset, you should be upset at Harvick, not the network that broadcasts it. I for one would rather have an accurate picture of a driver's behavior, instead of having a network sugar-coat and censor them so that I have a false idea of how that driver acts.

And one final point: this isn't exclusive to NASCAR. I've sat courtside at an NBA game and heard the X-rated trash talk from players. I've sat in the first few rows at baseball games and heard players swear, too. It's part of the intensity of the sport. If you don't like it, you have plenty of other options to get your NASCAR coverage on venues where they don't feature this. But to attack Showtime as if they are doing something wrong by simply showing what happened Sunday at the race is unfair from where I sit.

Anonymous said...

As excited as I was to have Kyle Petty added to the panel -- that excitement has been doused by the new format of the show.

The race-recap highlights are so extensive (lots of slow-motion, deep-voiced announcer like NFL films) that the discussion is limited to very very short segments with this new half-hour format. I think in the first three episodes, Kyle Petty has only been allowed to speak 10, maybe 12 sentences. Literally.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Well It appears with every passing day that NASCARS decision to air Inside NASCAR on Showtime was a horrific idea. Not everybody has Showtime. And with the economy the way it is Showtimes subscriptions will decrease and the viewership of the show will decrease.

NASCAR is without a doubt im my mind the stupidest most incompetent people to run a sport. BZF once again sold out fans for money. And the profanity and horrific promos on some telecasts mind boggles me.

Well once agin the rich get rich, and the poor get poor.


saltsburgtrojanfan said...

hey anon @ 10:57pm

NASCAR promotes itself as a family-friendly sport.

Pofanity on TV does not seem family-friendly to me.

The networks could have at least beeped it out or not aired it.

NASCAR is so money hungry they lost where they have gotten them to the forefront.

Anonymous said...

Editor, you said:

"Perhaps as the Showtime universe of subscribers continues to be affected by Netflix, offering this one series online will become a smart business and public relations decision."

And how, exactly, would giving their NASCAR show away for free to NASCAR fans, be anything but a drain on their existing subscriber base? There would be no reason for any NASCAR fan who just wants to see this show to subscribe to Showtime.

And can we please get OVER the fact that two years ago, someone from NMG misspoke about the distribution of this program? Its like hearing a kid complain to his mom, "But you SAID you were going to! WAAH!"

I actually like the more compact version of the show better. The highlight package with scanner audio produced by NMG is actually the best part, to me. The tighter time frame seems to force MW and the others to keep their comments relevant and succinct. No more going off on some unrelated tangent and hijacking the conversation.

BG said...

Many NASCAR teams used to broadcast a "message" that you were monitoring a private channel licensed by the FCC if you were listening on a scanner.

Maybe they should do so again for those easily offended.

You are naive if you think team radio traffic is ever going to be rated PG.

I'm sure you have seen the "warning" posted before Showtime airs Inside NASCAR.

As someone who spent 15 years in the team radio business, I really hate this is a major concern.

Anonymous said...

I really like this show and don't have a problem with the unedited scanner chatter. I don't agree that they "promote" the profanity. The meltdown by Biffle this week was quite interesting. We listened to trackpass and missed that. The show has a warning at the beginning about the language, so people who are offended by it have a choice NOT to tune in. I enjoy all the original programming on Showtime and find it well worth the few extra $$$ it costs me on DirecTV. I might not have subscribed just for Inside NASCAR, but it's a bonus with the movies and other original programming for which I already subscribed. As usual, not sure why there is so much hate for Showtime and this show on this site.

Dot said...

Ironic that I have Showtime and I don't watch the show. I don't like the stuffiness of it. Are they still wearing suits?

I wrote here last year that I was mad that they bleeped out all the swearing. I couldn't understand this when it's a show on cable I pay for and on past "family time". We've known for years that driver talk is rated R/X. If it offends, don't watch.

Last year when I did record Inside nascar, I too fast forwarded to the car audio part. There's a 12 year old in all of us. :)

GinaV24 said...

the profanity doesn't bother me. When I go to the races, I hear my driver's scanner and get the raw inforamtion which is fine with me - I'm a grown up. I don't get Showtime either - so I don't see the show, but I get all I can stand of Mikey and Brad on other Fox/Speed/ESPN shows, so missing another half hour of race recaps doesn't concern me.

I figure I already pay for cable tv and can get the same info in a better format on Race Hub (since I like Steve) and NASCAR Now on Monday's with Allen. I don't need this show.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Anon at 11:01pm

I have a problem with all of what you are sayng when NASCAR is promoting itself as a family-friendly sport. All the things you said is not family-friendly as NASCAR tries to promote itself to be. And NASCAR is caught into the fire with fan reaction. Not just with the way NASCAR does business but with the TV networks not providing quality broadcasts. NASCAR is on a path of destruction and the brass does not seem to care.

Anonymous said...

Never understand the hate this and all nascar programming gets.....people here and the old speedcouch forum just like to complain imo......they threaten to walk away and say people like DW are driving fans away but when attendence and ratings on the upswing they have find another reason to complain.....sad really

Newracefan said...

Don't have Showtime so can't watch but it's interesting the people are complaining about the language on the scanner. One of my biggest pet peeves is that I pay for Pit Command and now it is censored. Not's job to determine if it appropriate it's mine. It's Showtime have they looked at the other offerings on this channel. As we all know people who like things are less likely to comment VS people who don't like something and then they go a ruin it for the rest of us. Can't wait until I get to Dover and I can hear the real Chad and JJ, f-bombs and all

bowlalpo said...

I'm not "upset" about profanity, but the context of its presentation can be very damaging, and I'd like to know who controls the context; NASCAR, Showtime or the teams? It's one thing to hear the Biffle meltdown from the stands, but it's much different to hear it as a packaged television story.

I can't see where 3M, Ford or Jack Roush is very happy to have the dirty laundry so artfully packaged and aired, albeit to a small number of people.

The first time a sponsor says goodbye because of what got on TV, or when a driver gets fired because his comments publicly destroy the team, the fans or the sponsor, where does NASCAR and Showtime go from there?

It was a very good show. I like the NFL Films treatment of the races. I just worry about the fallout when all it seems is Showtime is saying, "oooh, an F-bomb. Let's keep that tape!"

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I had to *giggle* at people upset over the profanity. When they temporarily stopped playing it people were upset & couldn't wait for them to bring it back.

I don't have access to it so am not able to see it as my friend who I was able to see it via moved out to the boonies.

GinaV24 said...

newracefan - I'm with you. It bugs me that I pay for trackpass and they censor the radio traffic.

I don't have kids and I'm sure that's why it was changed, but it's NOT broadcast TV and I want to hear exactly what my driver said, not some sanitized version.

Anonymous said...

[i]NASCAR promotes itself as a family-friendly sport.

Pofanity on TV does not seem family-friendly to me.[/i]

I somewhat disagree. Look at the track and you have the Budweiser car running side-by-side with the Crown Royal car. What family sport promoted alcohol and driving?

And chances are if you watch these (or any) cars long enough, you'll see them flip the bird out the window (a common occurence). Not quite family entertainment, per se.

Showtime isn't creating the profanity, they are simply showing what happened. If you have a problem with profanity then you should either have a beef with the driver who swears incessantly or else be mad at NASCAR for letting kids listen to this on headphones at trackside. Showtime is simply showing what happened.

I for one am interested in hearing the radio chatter as it really happened. Frankly, the chatter I've heard on Showtime has had me seriously re-think how I feel about a few drivers. Personally, I would rather know how they really are and judge them accordingly, rather than only hear censored radio transmissions and be fooled into thinking they are someone they are not.