Saturday, April 30, 2011
It's a very different weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Other than Marty Smith and Shannon Spake on-site for NASCAR Now, there is no ESPN presence at the track. SPEED handled the Nationwide Series race Friday night and FOX will produce the Sprint Cup Series race tonight.
Darrell Waltrip is a busy man. He is clearly the personality that both SPEED and FOX want on as many NASCAR shows as possible. This has pushed Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds toward the back burner.
Waltrip once again will be the star as he kicks-off the pre-race show with Chris Myers and Hammond from the outdoor infield stage. Hammond and Myers then move inside the Hollywood Hotel for the rest of the event.
Waltrip heads upstairs for the race telecast with Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds. Richmond needs the excitement that we used to see from Joy, not the current level of information being offered between Waltrip outbursts of emotion. Friday night, SPEED's Rick Allen kept a tight leash on Waltrip for the truck series race and it worked out quite well.
There are lots of stories tonight including Denny Hamlin racing at his home track and Kyle Busch continuing to grow-up before our eyes. The reality is that the stage is set for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to continue his resurgence at a track where he has a history of success. An Earnhardt win would a huge shot in the arm for the sport.
FOX has choices tonight on how to present the race. Last night, SPEED used wideshots to show groups of cars racing and keep the TV viewers in the loop of who was where and how they got there. This season FOX has been enamored of in-car cameras and "hyper-tight" coverage. On a short track, it could be a disaster.
Tonight will also shine the spotlight on the pit reporters. Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are the best in the business. FOX has allowed them to fade as the race telecast rolls on and Waltrip takes over. With all the different fuel and tire strategies we will see tonight, it will be important to make all four pit reporters an integral part of the telecast.
Richmond under the lights is exactly what NASCAR needs to shake the "lovebug" racing out of the minds of the fans. The Nationwide race featured two-wide racing and fantastic restarts. While the Cup drivers are concerned about tire wear, the story of the race may be fuel if long green flag runs are the order of the day.
This post will serve to host your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Richmond, VA. To add your TV-related comment, 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.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Here we go! Big night for SPEED as the network produces the Nationwide Series race from Richmond International Raceway.
It will be Rick Allen calling the action with Darrell and Michael Waltrip in the TV booth. Krista Voda, Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler are the pit road reporters.
ESPN is involved in NFL Draft coverage and ESPN and ABC are also booked. NASCAR brokered a deal to get the race over to SPEED, knowing that network was already very familiar to NASCAR fans.
The telecast promises to be very different from the ESPN presentations. SPEED will focus on the race, as opposed to the Sprint Cup Series emphasis that has been an ESPN pattern.
The evening will also have a live and free RaceBuddy over at NASCAR.com and many of the SPEED personalities will be tweeting all night long during the race. Twitter has proven to be a great outlet for live updates on NASCAR news.
This post will serve to host your comments on this Nationwide special. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks to everyone for dropping by The Daly Planet.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Here is a review of what is going on Friday in terms of NASCAR TV:
SPEED is on the air at 10:30AM with Nationwide Series practice. The complete Friday NASCAR TV schedule is located on the left side of the website. Interesting to note that Darrell Waltrip will only do the early Sprint Cup Series practice. It will be Kyle Petty in the TV booth for final practice and qualifying coverage.
Because SPEED is covering the live Nationwide Series race, Trackside is being split into two shows of thirty minutes each. Matt Kenseth is the first guest at 7PM ET and David Gilliland is the nightcap at 10:30PM or at the conclusion of the live race.
NASCAR.com has announced that there will be a free RaceBuddy application for the Friday night Nationwide Series race. This should provide four additional cameras views and social media chat. Down the road, team scanners and live leaderboards will also be a part of this Internet tool.
Most everyone knows that the race will also bring Michael and Darrell Waltrip to the TV booth along with Rick Allen. Fans have suggested Allen bring everything with him from a hard hat to a fog horn. This idea of two Waltrip's is either going to be outstanding or cause a titanic trainwreck.
Thursday NASCAR hired a Vice President of Broadcasting. Steve Herbst is a stick and ball guy who worked heading-up CBS College Sports. Herbst first made his mark with a 20 year career at the NBA in a variety of TV and media roles. Herbst will be based in NASCAR's New York City office and will report to NASCAR Media Group President Paul Brooks.
Also on Thursday SPEED televised Denny Hamlin's late model charity race from the Richmond International Raceway. This was the first live telecast of this event, but when SPEED came on the air the K&N Series cars were sitting under rain tarps. Kudos to the network for showing the remainder of the K&N race and then airing the Hamlin event in full.
There is now a big push at SPEED for announcers to interact directly with fans via social media. There will be more detail on this topic tomorrow, but it is very clear that Twitter and Facebook are going to continue to be hotbeds of NASCAR content.
We will update any additional news that comes out on Friday, but in the meantime please feel free to offer comments on any of the Friday TV coverage on SPEED. Just click the button below to post your comment. Thanks for stopping by, there will be a live blog of the Nationwide Series race open at 7PM Friday night right here at TDP. See you then!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
We are going to step away from NASCAR for one day and return on Thursday evening with a new column. Many Americans lost their lives on Wednesday night in an amazing tornado outbreak that stretched from Texas through Virginia.
As perhaps many of you did, I turned to the cable news networks for updates. I found O'Reilly on FOX, a show about greed on CNBC, Nancy Grace on Headline News, former Gov. Spitzer on CNN and some guy who wanted the last word on MSNBC. What I did not find was coverage of this national disaster.
It was only the hardworking men and women at The Weather Channel (TWC) who were holding up their end of the bargain and offering non-stop coverage of the storms. Radar, videos and pics were great tools to help people across the Southeast stay informed.
TWC had reporters in the field doing liveshots, several roaming with the storms. The network has a severe storm expert following the live radar and offering a tremendous amount of information to viewers. Finally, TWC was completely on top of the social media side with information, pictures and videos from Twitter and Facebook.
The outrage that FOX, CNN and the NBC cable news nets appeared not to care about the weather situation is well-deserved. Between President Obama's birth certificate, the royal wedding and Donald Trump's self-promotion there was plenty of juicy content for the various primetime programs.
These types of shows are called long-form branded content. Long because they are one hour in length and branded because they have a specific person, like O'Reilly or Nancy Grace, associated with them. It wasn't always this way, but it is what the current cable TV news networks have become.
TWC's severe weather expert Dr. Greg Forbes was no doubt a lifesaver to many Wednesday night. The tireless meteorologist was constantly updating a myriad of radar images on the fly and continually moving people out of the way of the storm.
His intensity made it even more ironic when a spin of the dial caught the cable news talking heads ranting on subjects that made little impact but let them make noise in the ratings.
Perhaps you can share with us your actions on seeking news about these Wednesday evening storms. What network or website did you wind-up turning to for the information you wanted? How did it work and what made sense to you the most?
I think it's time for the cable news networks, especially CNN and HLN to look in the mirror and return to program line-ups based on information from the real world. It used to be that the cable news nets filled an agenda of updating the stories of the day in primetime. Now, it's all about scripted drama, overstatements and agendas.
Leave us a note on your opinion of this topic by clicking 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.
It was back in early February when NASCAR confirmed that there would be a TV network switch for the Nationwide Series race from Richmond, VA. Normally, all the races in that series appear on ESPN2 or another of the ESPN family of TV networks.
At the time, it seemed simple enough. ESPN2 was going to be smack dab in the middle of the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday night, April 29. The company's other two networks, ESPN and ABC, were also tied-up.
All eyes immediately turned to SPEED. The network would already be on-site providing the kind of "support programming" it has offered for years. In addition, the NASCAR on FOX team would already be there for Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race.
SPEED has produced the Camping World Truck Series for years. In addition, the Gatorade Duels and the All-Star race air on SPEED with a hybrid team of announcers and production staff. One Nationwide Series race certainly would not be a problem.
After NASCAR made the switch to SPEED official, things quieted down rather quickly as the season got underway. Now as the race approaches, business is picking up where the topic is ESPN and the Nationwide Series coverage.
Click here for the Bob Pockrass column from Scenedaily.com. Here is an excerpt:
"But the switch (of networks) comes across as a sign that ESPN doesn’t care about the Nationwide Series and that other sports programming comes first."
This frustration is born out of the conflicts ESPN has been involved in with the Nationwide Series and other live programming for several years now. The biggest clash has been with college football. From September to November, the Nationwide races are stuck in a little afternoon timeslot between football games.
It's very interesting to see an entire company geared-up for college football come to a screaming halt for NASCAR racing. It appears to be an inconvenience and the topic has often been raised as to why those races just don't move to SPEED.
Back in October of 2007 this situation came to a head with the stand-alone Nationwide Series race in Memphis, TN. Click here to read "ESPN Pushes NASCAR to the Back Burner." It was a classic moment in NASCAR TV history. Here is an excerpt:
"The Busch Series has sometimes hopped between three ESPN networks in one single race. In Memphis the caps were off, the heads were bowed and the invocation was underway. Then, suddenly on ESPN Classic...NASCAR was no more. College football took to the air right in the middle of the NASCAR prayer. Does it get any worse than that? In the middle of the prayer and without Marty Reid saying a word."
"NASCAR fans quickly grabbed their remotes and switched back to ESPN2 only to see live college football. Switching to ESPN it was live horse racing. Ladies and gentleman, The NASCAR Busch Series had left the building, the network and the airwaves."
"NASCAR had been told where it stood very clearly. Only a nice tackle by a young man from the Iowa Hawkeyes ended the ESPN2 game a short time later and allowed NASCAR to return to the air. But, the point had been made clear."
Just this week, the double top secret NASCAR Fan Council survey was focused on one topic. That was questions about each of the NASCAR on ESPN announcers. Fans were asked, in confidence of course, to detail the likes and dislikes about the members of the TV team that provides the coverage of these very Nationwide Series events. The survey pulled no punches.
Making hay while the sun shines is a phrase that the folks at SPEED know all too well this week. Since there is no truck series race, SPEED's focus has been on getting as much publicity as possible for the Nationwide Series telecast.
There is perhaps no better way to get tongues wagging and keyboards typing than to announce that it will be a double-barreled Waltrip attack for the Richmond coverage. Darrell and Michael will be teamed with truck series announcer Rick Allen for this special event.
Tuesday, word leaked-out that SPEED had added yet another wrinkle. The popular online RaceBuddy application will be used for the Richmond Nationwide Series race. Fans love gizmo's and this allows for four additional camera views, social media live chat and no TV commercials. It can be accessed for free and without any sign-up at NASCAR.com on Friday.
So, the ESPN Infield Pit Studio and Tech Garage are both parked this weekend. Instead, SPEED will offer over twelve live hours of programming from RIR beginning at 10:30AM ET.
Ironically, it will be the Nationwide Series cars taking to the track at that time for practice. ESPN2 will be showing Skip Bayless holding Court on First Take while ESPN will be offering yet another hour of SportsCenter.
When the dust settles after Friday night, it will be interesting to gauge the fan reaction to this SPEED telecast vs. the regular NASCAR on ESPN TV team. Maybe, the NASCAR Fan Council just wanted a jump on this topic.
We invite your views on this subject. To add your opinion, just click on the comments butto 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.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This is a little bit of a different week in NASCAR TV land, so here are the latest updates as the circus heads to suburban Richmond, VA.
Friday night ESPN2 will be covering the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft from New York City. The network will have no event production presence at RIR and SPEED will produce the Nationwide Series practice, qualifying and race.
Lead Reporter Marty Smith and reporter Shannon Spake will be in Richmond to provide news coverage for ESPN's networks. Nicole Briscoe will be hosting NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 5PM ET Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday's show is at 10PM Pacific, 1AM Eastern Friday morning. The one-hour Sprint Cup Series preview show will be at noon ET on Saturday.
Rick Allen, SPEED's play-by-play announcer from the truck series, got the call to work the Nationwide race on Friday night. That was the good news. The other shoe dropped when SPEED announced that it would be Michael and Darrell Waltrip joining Allen in the TV booth. Allen may have his work cut out for him keeping the telecast on track with all that Waltrip family enthusiasm in the booth.
SPEED tapped Krista Voda, Hermie Sadler and Ray Dunlap to cover pit road and handle the reporting duties for qualifying and practice. SPEED's solid coverage of the truck series should serve as a great foundation for this weekend's Nationwide production.
Before the SPEED folks head to Richmond, there is a full week of Race Hub shows at 7PM ET. Tuesday features Nationwide hot shoe Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as the in-studio guest, but Wednesday packs a surprise. Kyle Busch is stopping by the studio to chat with host Steve Byrnes. Certainly, SPEED would like nothing more than to get Busch comfortable with the concept of "just dropping by."
Thursday night at 8PM ET SPEED is going to cover Denny Hamlin's late model showdown from RIR live. A diverse group of drivers is going to participate in this charity event. Formerly held at Southside Speedway, the closing of that track this season put RIR in play and SPEED just happened to be there with all the TV equipment.
Mike Joy is going to host the telecast with Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader in the TV booth. Both of the Kenny's have a long history of late model racing and should make it fun. Bob Dillner and Dick Berggren will handle the reporting duties.
On Friday from Richmond SPEED will produce two new Trackside shows. Matt Kenseth will be the guest for the live show at 7PM ET before the Nationwide Series race. At 10:30PM, David Gilliland will be the featured interview in another thirty minute show. Regardless of Darrell Waltrip's desire to be featured on endless SPEED TV shows this season, Trackside is just not the same without Larry McReynolds.
SPEED continues to record the Victory Lane show after the Sprint Cup Series races that happen on Saturday nights and hold it for airing on Sundays at 8PM ET. This is the schedule for this weekend. Even if the race ends at midnight ET, there are certainly fans who would like to see an hour of interviews, comments and highlights. Especially the ones in the Central and Pacific time zones.
Click here for a peek at the new Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame website. It's a nice group of TV veterans from different sides of the business. In addition to having voting representatives, NASCAR also has the likes of the late Jim McKay, Keith Jackson and George Wensel who directly affected the early TV days of the sport.
We invite your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click 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.
Monday, April 25, 2011
It's going to be Sunday, July 31 that marks a major milestone for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. That is the day ESPN will produce the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While there may be some hot tempers on the track, the real action is going to be behind the scenes.
Just ten years ago, sanctioning bodies like NASCAR sold the different rights to events like a pie. The television, radio and Internet rights were the big pieces. TV was then divided into domestic and international slices. Radio was split into terrestrial and satellite. Internet rights were one big piece that combined both audio and video slices.
Needless to say, back in 2006 when the current NASCAR TV deal was done the sport was in high gear. ESPN, TNT and FOX lined-up to pay top dollar for Sprint Cup Series TV rights. Turner Sports, the company already operating the NASCAR.com website, was awarded the Internet rights.
Since that time, the rapidly changing online technology that many of us use every day has left NASCAR in the dust. To protect the value of the Sprint Cup Series TV rights, the existing contract says Turner cannot stream races at NASCAR.com unless the TV network producing the event does it first.
Years ago this seemed to be a simple concept. To watch the races, find a TV set. FOX and ESPN had no interest in putting any Sprint Cup Series races online. Well, that was then and this is now.
WatchESPN (click here to view website) is only one of the emerging technologies that the Disney-owned company has unveiled to push the legal envelope of rights agreements like the current NASCAR TV contract.
ESPN's new concept is that any person who pays a cable TV provider to watch ESPN should be able to do it on any device anytime. WatchESPN is an app that allows live viewing of the entire network on an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. As you might expect with ESPN, there is a much larger agenda at work here.
ESPNNetworks.com (click here for website) is the big daddy. A simple authorization code from your Time Warner, Bright House or Verizon FiOS provider allows online viewing of ESPN on any type of computer. The theory is that you watch it at home, but the reality is that ESPN is simply trying to expand its brand.
Needless to say, Turner has been frustrated for years in terms of online NASCAR offerings. It used to be that the Internet was dark during ESPN's coverage of the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races of the season. Well, it's not dark anymore.
When the first moments of ESPN's Brickyard 400 coverage is streamed online by the various ESPN apps and websites, the red light at Turner's Atlanta headquarters that has been lit for five years will turn green. Once ESPN is online with Sprint Cup Series content, Turner's Internet rights activate and it's off to the races, literally.
As you might expect, the Turner folks are playing it low-key as July approaches. "We continue to talk to both NASCAR and ESPN about making more NASCAR content available to fans across all digital platforms," said Turner Sports spokesman Jeff Pomeroy. "Not only mobile, but broadband as well."
It's not all smiles in Atlanta, because to make the races available online Turner needs a little help. That help is access to the ESPN production of the event. It's ESPN paying the bills to produce the telecasts. Turner's level of access and integration is yet to be determined.
In theory, NASCAR.com could produce a separate pre-race show, offer the races live and then host an exclusive post-race program. Using individual camera feeds NASCAR.com could also provide continuous racing without pausing for TV commercials.
Since many fans chat online, adding a social media presence would bring the fans from Twitter and Facebook. It's easy to see that packaging a Sprint Cup Series race into a full online presentation could result in an attractive product.
Over the next three months, we will track the progress of Turner, ESPN and NASCAR as the Brickyard 400 approaches. It will be interesting to watch these three parties sort-out the particulars of this tangled web of technology and contracts. One thing is for sure, one way or another the Sprint Cup Series will soon be coming to an online device near you.
We welcome 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.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
It was a shock to hear that Major League Baseball had taken over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Team owner Frank McCourt, seen on the right, needed a $30 million loan from LA-based FOX TV just to meet his payroll last week.
Apparently that forced the hand of MLB commissioner Bud Selig, seen on the left. The Dodgers issue was only the tip of the baseball iceberg. The NY Mets lost $50 million last year and are well on the way to a potential financial collapse with comparable losses this year. Los Angeles and New York are the two top TV markets in the country.
Over on the hardwood, NBA Commissioner David Stern has divulged that 22 of his teams are on track to lose an estimated total of $300 million as the season winds down. There is little doubt that the NBA and the players may be headed for an extended lockout once this season is over.
Meanwhile, NASCAR's number one competitor is already in a lockout. The NFL and it's player's association are not even in the same ballpark on a new collective bargaining agreement. Since both financially healthy parties continue to do nothing more than posture, there is a very good possibility that there will be absolutely no pro football on the field at the beginning of this season.
The most recent shocking sports story happened two weeks ago. The owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were arrested by the FBI. The online gambling websites run by those companies were shutdown. The FBI alleged that the sites laundered money and defrauded banks to get around gambling laws. The money in question is said to be in the billions.
This put an immediate stop to many of the poker shows on TV. ESPN, NBC, Fox Sports and The Game Show Network all used a portion of the $26.8 million spent on TV advertising by the indicted companies to sponsor these series. There is little doubt that things are about to change forever in poker-land.
Finally, a while back TV viewers tuned-in to see 35 year-old Tiger Woods come from behind and win The Masters Tournament. It never happened. The wheels came off for Woods again and golf fans are now left with the usual cast of characters. Woods' TV profile has changed radically. No longer Superman, just another golfer.
NASCAR has basically been handed a golden opportunity to recapture the slice of the sports TV market that has been lost over the past five years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. emerging from his slumber, the new Kyle Busch looking to put his stamp on the sport and Carl Edwards trying to flip his way to a championship are just a few of the topics that have come forward this season.
After Easter the sport will head to one of the most fan and TV-friendly tracks on the circuit. With ESPN out of the picture with a scheduling conflict, SPEED and FOX will be charged with delivering a NASCAR tripleheader. That's right, a tripleheader.
Richmond International Raceway will have Denny Hamlin's charity late model showdown on Thursday night at 8PM ET. For the first time, it will be televised live by SPEED. This is a great opportunity to warm-up the crowd by letting them see a wide variety of NASCAR drivers from different series interacting on and off the track for a good cause.
Friday night brings the only Nationwide Series race ever produced and televised by SPEED. The network had played host to an ESPN-produced telecast after a rain postponement, but this is different. It's a NASCAR TV showcase.
SPEED has paired Darrell and Michael Waltrip in the TV booth with Rick Allen for the coverage. Ray Dunlap, Hermie Sadler and Krista Voda are the pit reporters. Any way you slice it, there's going to be a whole lot of talking going on.
Saturday night FOX has a chance to step away from the two-car drafts and get NASCAR back to the side-by-side short track action that fans love. It's going to be important for Darrell Waltrip to let Mike Joy call the racing. Fans need to be reminded of what a difference a strong TV play-by-play announcer can make to a telecast.
What an interesting week this should be. Perhaps, it could lead to an even more interesting season due to some amazing twists and turns among many of the other pro sports on TV. Instead of simply building toward the Chase, this year NASCAR may be building toward the Chase with no NFL football on Sundays.
That reminds me of a certain Daytona 500 when a blizzard across much of the country made it the only live sporting event on TV. I seem to remember a strong play-by-play announcer, some great racing and some post-race festivities making a big impression on a lot of people. It seems that formula has some history.
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.
You may have stumbled across a channel on your cable dial called Discovery HD Theater. The network is an eclectic mix of car shows, motorsports and adventure programs. It is even the TV home of the WRC rally series in the US. When my remote brought me to that location, I often came to a screeching halt.
It certainly looked like Discovery was putting something together for the future. Money was being spent on programming and resources were being used for production. A national HD channel was being cleared for new programs. Something was bound to happen. Now we know exactly what was in the works.
Discovery Communications is a monster. The corporation likes to use the term "The world's largest nonfiction media company." The programming content distributed in all kinds of categories spans the globe and touches 180 countries. The corporate headquarters are in Silver Spring, MD.
Most recently in the headlines was Discovery teaming with Oprah Winfrey to launch OWN. That's right, the Oprah Winfrey Network. The talkshow superstar is expanding her brand into an entire 24-hour cable network aimed at the kind of demographic she has been able to attract for years. Having a loyal audience is the key to this entire equation.
On the heels of OWN, Discovery finally confirmed what had been rumored for a long time. In the fourth quarter of this year, Discovery HD Theater will become a stand-alone HD cable network called Velocity.
At this point, you may be asking why this news item is appearing on a NASCAR TV blog. Before we answer that question, let's hear from Discovery's President David Zaslav.
"Velocity continues Discovery's tradition of maximizing the value of each of its cable platforms," said Zaslav in a media release. "It is going to be a game changer when it officially joins our portfolio of U.S. networks later this year. As the first network devoted to the upscale men's market, Velocity will be a hub for viewers within this key demographic, as well as the wealth of advertisers that target them."
So, what Discovery has been slowly piecing together is a line-up that appeals primarily to men and involves cars, motorsports and adventure programming. I wonder where they got that idea?
Currently, Discovery HD Theater is in about 40 million cable homes in the US. Expect this number to start to creep up now that the announcement has been made of a full-blown cable network with original programming starting in September. Helping that growth is the name behind the project.
Bob Scanlon is a familiar name in cable TV circles. After leaving ESPN with several other top executives, Scanlon began to assemble a new cable network from scratch as the Vice President and Executive Producer. Based in Stamford, CT it had an interesting mix of programming. There were cars, boats, airplanes and motorcycle shows. The name of the network was SpeedVision.
When SpeedVision launched in 1996 it quickly became the fastest growing cable network in history. Never before had the ratings folks seen such a strong male demographic drawn consistently to one cable TV network. It was clear from the start that SpeedVision was going places.
In the summer of 2001 News Corporation came calling and Rupert Murdoch bought one-third of the company. In August of that year, he leveraged a buyout that gave him majority ownership and control. As FOX arrived and changed the name to SPEED Channel, Scanlon departed. Such is the nature of the television business.
Now ten years later, Scanlon is back and Velocity is ready to go. "In the same way that a car once defined the person who drove it, Velocity will define the viewer who watches it," said Scanlon. "Whether you are a car aficionado or just someone who prefers fast-paced, high-stakes television, Velocity will become a must-have entertainment destination."
Scanlon also talked a little bit about the programming. "Velocity will televise an upscale sailing race that touches five oceans," said Scanlon. "It will also offer travel programming to upscale locations, adventure sports and real-life adrenaline shows."
To many NASCAR fans, Scanlon is known for something else. A very long time ago and with very little money in the budget, Scanlon commissioned a NASCAR talk show from a dingy little studio in an industrial park in Charlotte, NC.
Inside Winston Cup Racing on Monday nights featured an unlikely cast of characters. Johnny Benson looked like a Midwestern accountant. Kenny Schrader was a wily racing veteran who had a wicked sense of humor and a touch of mischief in his soul. Michael Waltrip was completely off his rocker.
By putting that trio in a controlled environment and challenging host Allen Bestwick to maintain order, the TV series became a cult hit. There had never been anything like it on the air before. It served to introduce NASCAR fans to the other forms of racing on SpeedVision. It worked like a charm.
Monday, Scanlon confirmed to The Daly Planet that he is currently working on a new original television project for Velocity with the NASCAR Media Group. After all the frustrating years of SPEED turning down NMG projects, it seems ironic that things may have come full circle.
NASCAR desperately needs new and original TV programming out in the marketplace other than just the races or news shows. Velocity will be a network driven by high-end HD programming. This is exactly what NMG loves to produce. Many of us can recall several series cancelled by SPEED that later won awards for production.
There is little doubt that Scanlon intends to make Velocity the newest NASCAR TV partner. Scanlon also made it clear that he is open to ideas and discussions about other motorsports and adventure programming. That is even better news for independent TV production companies like the ones owned by Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt. Jr.
There is nothing like having the top executive of a new cable network launched under the Discovery umbrella saying he is open to new programming ideas. Come September, we may find ourselves with a new TV player in town chasing many of the same eyeballs as the current NASCAR TV partners.
The big difference this time around is that the guy actually driving the bus has made this trip before. He knows all the bumps, sharp turns and obstacles along the roadway. Scanlon and Velocity may be just the TV shot in the arm that NASCAR needs this year. We will keep you posted as the news continues to develop on this new network.
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.
Disclosure: I worked for Scanlon at ESPN for several years in the 1980's. Later, as a TV consultant, I was hired to assist SpeedVision in ramping-up for the launch of the network. Subsequently, I provided programming to SpeedVision as a producer. I currently have no association with Scanlon or the Velocity network.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
There is a brand new presence in the ESPN TV booth in Nashville. Towering over Ricky Craven and Marty Reid is the pride of the Infield Pit Studio, Brad Daugherty.
This is a weekend where the Nationwide Series races with the Camping World Trucks and the Sprint Cup Series is off. ESPN has put Craven and Daugherty out in the field to call the activity from the speedway and the results so far have been solid.
The team called practice on Friday and qualifying early Saturday afternoon. In both programs, the trio just clicked. Craven let Daugherty be the excited presence while he provided the detailed racing info. Reid let them talk and simply directed traffic, which is his role.
You never know in TV when things are going to work out and it has been fun to listen to this combination. Reid has struggled with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth, despite the fact that both are well qualified.
ESPN has been showing signs of change in the production this season and Nashville might allow them to do even more. It should be interesting to watch the mix of wideshots, in-car cams and close-ups. The knock on the network has been that they are caught-up in Sprint Cup Series worship and push the Nationwide Series regulars to the side.
The first positive sign of the day was when the network stayed on the air after 1PM since qualifying ran long due to issues with teams going through the tech line. Pit reporter Dave Burns will host the pre-race show, then work with Jamie Little and Shannon Spake during the race.
This has the potential to be a fun telecast, despite the potential for the Sprint Cup Series guys to dominate. This post will serve to host your comments on the Nationwide coverage today from Nashville. To add your TV-related opinion, just click 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.
Friday, April 22, 2011
The TV coverage from Nashville starts at 5PM and continues through the live Camping World Truck Series race at 8PM ET.
SPEED starts the day with Rick Allen, Darrell Waltrip and Phil Parsons calling the truck series qualifying at 5PM ET. Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler will handle the reporting.
Waltrip has been hit or miss in the truck series TV booth. He has been informative and supportive of the trucks at times, but has launched into his over-the-top NASCAR on FOX personality at others. It should be interesting to see how this day progresses.
Mike Massaro is hosting NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 6PM. Massaro has been hosting gangbuster shows this week with outstanding content. ESPN has really stepped-up the quality of NASCAR studio programming and it is a welcome change.
Brad Daugherty has been turned loose from the Infield Pit Studio and is working in the ESPN TV booth at Nashville with Ricky Craven and Marty Reid. This trio is on the air at 6:30PM on ESPN2 with Nationwide Series practice. It will be nice to see exactly what Daugherty can bring to the table in this role.
No one does a better pre-race show than Krista Voda and the truck series. Not too many voices, no phony props and no acting. Voda dishes the news, sets-up the interviews and introduces the features. There is more racing content in a thirty minute truck series pre-race show than in the hour shows on FOX and ESPN combined. Voda is on the air at 7:30PM ET with The Setup on SPEED.
The trucks 8PM and the live race coverage should be the solid product we are used to seeing from this veteran crew. Straightforward coverage with the focus on the racing, updates on the teams and excitement from Allen in the booth.
Let's hope the truck series puts on a good show in the middle of struggling with quality teams and limited budgets. This is a viable series that only needs a couple more personalities driving the full season to make it come to life.
On the TV side, the struggle for air time between Allen and Waltrip will be the key. Simply letting Allen set the tone and maintain his regular rhythm will result in a nice payoff for Waltrip in the long run with fans and the SPEED TV team.
There are no NASCAR on FOX guys in Nashville. Waltrip is simply a loaner for his younger brother to a group that has been producing very successful truck series telecasts for a long time. Let's hope the thoughtful, veteran former driver shows-up instead of the carnival barker.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Friday TV from Nashville on ESPN and SPEED. To add your TV-related 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 time out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This is an off-week for the Sprint Cup Series, however both the Camping World Trucks and the Nationwide Series are racing in Nashville, TN. Trucks are on Friday night and Nationwide teams race Saturday afternoon as NASCAR stays away from the Easter holiday.
Michael Waltrip is away this weekend, so it will be older brother Darrell teamed with SPEED's regular CWTS crew of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons to call practice, qualifying and the race. Hermie Sadler and Ray Dunlap will handle the reporting duties.
The senior Waltrip is very popular these days. As you may know, SPEED is carrying the upcoming Nationwide Series race from Richmond, VA due to an ESPN scheduling conflict. There had been much speculation about who from the SPEED and FOX stable of announcers would be selected for this one-time special.
SPEED has now confirmed that the line-up will be Allen with both Waltrips. That's right, Michael and Darrell working together on a race without a "crew chief" up in the booth. This is a bit surprising, because Jeff Hammond and Hermie Sadler have been teaming-up on the Nationwide Series practice and qualifying telecasts on SPEED with good results.
Details are still being worked-out on the pre-race show, but covering pit road in Richmond will be Krista Voda, Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler. Look for Voda to be tapped to handle the pre-race duties.
Back in Nashville, ESPN is covering the Nationwide race with Marty Reid, Ricky Craven and Brad Daugherty in the TV booth. Since this is a stand-alone race, the pre-race show will be hosted by pit reporter Dave Burns. Shannon Spake and Jamie Little will be the other two pit reporters.
This is an opportunity for Craven to showcase his skills as he continues to emerge as a talented NASCAR TV analyst. Daugherty has been frozen in time since he came on the scene back in 2007. This telecast will put him in the position of doing a lot more than cheerleading from the Infield Pit Studio.
On Thursday, April 28, there will be a live telecast on SPEED of Denny Hamlin's annual short-track shootout charity event at 8PM ET. This year, with Southside Speedway temporarily closed, the Late Model race is going to be held at RIR.
SPEED has passed along that Mike Joy will call the racing that night with Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace in the TV booth. Handling the interviews will be Bob Dillner and Dick Berggren.
Over at VERSUS, the new Comcast/NBC management team has done as we all expected and announced that network will be rebranded with something containing an NBC in it. The network of IndyCar and the NHL also hosts NASCAR programming consisting of post-produced Whelen Modified races and a late season weekly review program.
You can scroll down to the earlier post for full details, but the announcement that the former head of SpeedVision, Bob Scanlon, has returned with a new HD network backed by Discovery has some folks scrambling. Velocity is going to be 24 hours of male-oriented motorsports, adventure programming and high-end HD car shows. It will take the place of Discovery HD Theater on your cable dial.
The great news from Scanlon is that there is already an original series in development with the NASCAR Media Group. No details yet, but Scanlon is the original man behind the Monday night Inside Sprint Cup Racing franchise. Stay tuned.
Just as Rupert Murdoch used News Corp to buy SPEED and get into the motorsports TV business, there is a report out that he may be eyeing Formula 1. Click here for a story from Mark Kleinman about this latest project continuing the path of Murdoch and his family trying to acquire truly global sports TV properties.
On the ratings front, the Nationwide Series race came in with a 1.8 and the Sprint Cup telecast managed a 4.6, down slightly from last season. Ratings are affected by many factors and reading too much into them just gets the true discussion off the right track. ESPN and FOX have simply been resistant to real change and this is the result.
Mike Massaro is hosting NASCAR Now this week on ESPN2. It's unfortunate that ESPN has eliminated the reporter roundtable shows on the Sprint Cup Series off-weeks. That leaves a big TV hole on the Monday before Richmond. Danielle Trotta is hosting Race Hub on SPEED Wednesday and Thursday as Steve Byrnes is on vacation.
After his strong finish at Talladega, there has been a groundswell of fans who would like Dale Earnhardt Jr. to get on Twitter. Jimmie Johnson has recently come on board and is having a great time with the fans. If you have not done it, take a second to sign-up and download a free Twitter app to your cell phone.
Twitter is an amazing resource for NASCAR information and does not take up any more time than you allow. You can follow us at twitter.com/thedalyplanet for news, opinion and links. If you ever wanted to communicate directly with a driver, team or media personality, Twitter is the place for you.
Please feel free to offer your opinion on the topics mentioned above. To add your comment, 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.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Buford Pusser retired from professional wrestling and moved back home. He quickly found that corruption riddled his county. He ran for sheriff, got the job and proceeded to unleash a clean-up campaign that made for a powerful 1973 movie called Walking Tall starring Joe Don Baker.
Pusser wanted to deal with the elephant in the room, which was the gambling and moonshine activities in his county. It was an issue almost no one wanted to admit existed, but almost all wanted solved.
This week, the NASCAR elephant in the room was the two-car teams that drivers were forced to form in order to compete. No single car could race at Talladega and remain in contention. This was the single biggest issue that the TV telecast would deal with from start to finish.
The pre-race show contained all kinds of features and guests. Chris Pizzi toured the Talladega infield and discovered NASCAR fans eating food. The Auburn football coach got TV time as Michael Waltrip was driving a car with AU football sponsorship. The starting command was a tad weak.
Darrell Waltrip called the racing "different, but an exciting different." Waltrip, Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond were on the infield outdoor stage at the end of pit road. This time, fans were present around the stage.
Waltrip's "Revved-up" segment was about Talladega racing. His commentary was about last minute passing, accidents and surprise winners. Never in his comments did he mention the fact that the entire race was going to consist of teams of two-drivers who must stay nose to tail to win.
At one time, Waltrip appeared to drop the S-bomb. He did not, but was struggling in his unscripted commentary to talk about "sitting around a fire" (Survivor) as a reality show he hated and Talladega as a reality show he liked. This "Revved-up" segment has never clicked.
The race began with Mike Joy trying very hard to explain the new drafting format to fans. Larry McReynolds and his famous "pull the belts tight" is apparently gone for good as Waltrip screamed his customary "Boogity!"
The race immediately settled down into drafting practice with pitstops. There was not much the TV announce team could do. Some teams raced while others controlled the speed and hung in the back of the lead lap. Accidents between teammates were the order of the day early on.
FOX continued to deliver on caution flag pitstops with good angles and the graphic of cars as they left pit road. Green flag stops got a double video box with the leader on one side and the key car making a stop in the other. It worked well.
On the Kyle Busch accident, the network came back early from commercial. At one other point in the race, FOX returned to show a bumper bar on the track as the field continued to race under green. A caution flag was quickly thrown.
The event continued with little racing as the two-car teams just drafted up, then faded back as they had to swap positions to cool down the cars. It was a struggle for continuity as random teams appeared and then disappeared from contention.
A caution with less than 30 laps to go bunched-up the field and made it better for the finishing laps. The field stretched out again and then bunched up resulting in two accidents involving Ryan Newman. Waltrip claimed Newman's dirt track driving skills saved him from bigger problems.
The final segment was a two-car team dash for the cash with eleven laps to go. It was a lottery and ultimately resulted in Jimmie Johnson being pushed over the line by his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the race. The post-race interviews revealed drivers frustrated by this style of racing. Look for some changes by NASCAR to make this go away before Daytona in July.
This post will serve to host your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Talladega. To add your TV-related comment, 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.
Tuesday mornings there is a weekly online live video chat at the NASCAR.com website. It is about the Nationwide Series and features all kinds of folks. This week the session hosted a Nationwide Series owner and occasional driver talking with moderator Joe Menzer. His name is Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Although far from reclusive, Earnhardt has a strange relationship with the online world. While active in personal pursuits like iRacing, his online video exposure last year consisted mostly of Amp Energy chats through his sponsor's website.
This season, it has been abundantly clear that the hot ticket for NASCAR drivers, teams and sponsors is social media. Specifically, Facebook and Twitter. Facebook creates a controlled web presence and provides an online platform that serves millions of users worldwide.
NASCAR's Facebook page has 1.4 million fans. Earnhardt's own Facebook page managed by his JR Motorsports folks has almost 900 thousand. This page is only a presence for official updates. Earnhardt himself does not participate. Imagine what kind of response Earnhardt would get if he took a moment to say hello.
Perhaps the most powerful and effective communication tool in 2011 is Twitter. It gives users the ability to offer up to 140 letters or numbers in each message that is called a tweet. Pictures, videos, Internet links or just plain text can be passed along. The format is simple.
Twitter is designed to be the ultimate portable communication tool. In the blink of an eye, one check of a cell phone can immediately offer customized and instant information to users. Laptops, iPads and almost every portable online device can use Twitter without a glitch.
My Twitter moment came when, as a new user, I griped about something Kyle Petty said during a live TNT telecast. I was shocked when seconds later he responded to my tweet live on TNT. Not only did Petty respond to my issue, but during the next commercial break he tweeted me back and wanted to know if I heard his answer!
Petty has used Twitter for years. He now regularly interacts with fans during his shows on SPEED and will do so again this summer on TNT. Petty embraced the fact that direct interaction with NASCAR fans is a positive thing and moves the sport forward.
It has been interesting to watch the NASCAR personalities creep onto Twitter and then embrace it. The most recent has been Jimmie Johnson, who has been having a blast. He hosts giveaways for fans, interacts with them and seems to be having a lot of fun. Twitter is showing his personality to fans like television never could.
Twitter veterans like Kevin and DeLana Harvick work this technology very effectively. Whether answering fan questions on the morning of a race or offering pictures of new KHI sponsors, Twitter has proven to be a tremendously effective marketing platform for this NASCAR power couple.
Many other NASCAR television personalities use Twitter extensively. Even Darrell Waltrip, who was dragged on by his SPEED co-workers, has fallen in love with the simplicity and efficiency. Now, Waltrip keeps an iPad with Twitter running alongside of him in the TV booth so he can interact with fans and stay current on information and news.
Before the NASCAR.com chat session, I asked my Twitter followers to put the question of why he won't join Twitter to Earnhardt. Sure enough, it got asked and he answered. It followed along the lines of others who have never given it a try. Too time consuming, too invasive and a burden. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What Earnhardt would find on Twitter is what he may have been searching for all along. NASCAR fans are informed, funny and opinionated. Junior's fans on Twitter would do nothing more than offer him the opportunity to be himself.
There are no obligations that come with Twitter. No issues with time-consuming work. You just come and go as you please, leaving what content you want to share with others. In a fast-paced NASCAR world, some top drivers like Brad Kezelowski, Denny Hamlin and even Kyle Busch have sometimes used Twitter just to have some fun with the fans. I think that all three would say it has been a rewarding experience.
In this season of personal and professional transition, direct contact with a supportive fan base might be just what the doctor ordered for Earnhardt. It's a personal yet non-invasive way to tap into the very heart of those people supporting his efforts on the track and in the sport.
It's pretty safe to say that Earnhardt has millions of fans across the country and around the world who may never actually get to a race in person. Giving those fans a little controlled glimpse behind the scenes and into the real life of their hero can only yield positive results.
A personal Twitter account makes sense for the most popular driver in the sport. It makes sense for a businessman with a variety of interests to promote. It makes sense for someone who genuinely cares about others and enjoys making new friends.
Right now seems to be a very opportune moment to get Junior to stick his toe in the water and see why hundreds of NASCAR personalities and millions of NASCAR fans interact on Twitter every single day.
We welcome 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.
It is a saga that is one part Talladega Nights and one part Southern Fried Stings. It has NASCAR lawyers, drunk stepmothers and wild allegations. Buzzwords like meth and urine sample clash with aero-push and tight in the middle.
Jeremy Mayfield was supposed to be in the rear-view mirror of NASCAR and fading into the distance right about now. Frozen out of the sport and mired in continuing legal action, Mayfield was yesterday's news.
In February, Mayfield's name suddenly appeared as a featured in-studio guest on SPEED's Race Hub program. This one-hour show airs at 7PM Monday through Thursday and is hosted by SPEED and FOX veteran Steve Byrnes.
Many media outlets, including this one, worked hard to promote the appearance after being told Mayfield would be allowed to speak his mind. It would be a good way to get things settled before Daytona and the beginning of the Sprint Cup Series season. Instead, the result was quite the opposite.
Click here to read a post from Dave Grayson at Racing West.com about the topic.
Here is an excerpt:
WAZZUP with last Tuesday's live television interview with Jeremy Mayfield on the SPEEDs Race Hub program? The promos suggested that the embattled driver was finally going to get to tell his side of the story. What we saw instead was a vague interview that offered nothing new. I truly felt sorry for host Steve Byrnes who had to carefully navigate his way through an interview that was a waste of perfectly good television time.
One had the feeling that Mayfield had been carefully coached by attorneys to be extremely careful regarding comments on his legal issues with NASCAR. "I've got a lot things to say that I can't obviously because of the litigation," he said during the interview. "I don't want to get into any more trouble whatsoever by what I'm saying. It's just hard because, when you're in this situation, there's a lot of anger now and things could come out that wouldn't be good for either one of us. It's tough when you walk around everyday and you get the chance to finally tell your side of the story, there's so much more to it that would really enlighten a lot of things that you just can't tell."
Well, that was Mayfield on TV back in February. Now, he is singing a much different tune. The theme of his current complaint is that SPEED "got the call" after his Race Hub interview was recorded. That call was supposedly from NASCAR.
Mayfield recently referred to the Race Hub situation in a rambling interview at the CaptainThunder.com website. Click here for the entire interview including the audio portion.
Here is an excerpt:
I had a great interview with the SPEED Channel about a month ago with Steve Byrnes, the best one ever. It was going to be great! I couldn't wait for them to air it. It was honest. From his (Byrnes) point of view, he was asking me honest questions that I could answer, he wasn't trying to set me up. Everything was great and then NASCAR gets wind of it.
Paul Brooks (President of the NASCAR Media Group) calls Hunter Nickell (President of SPEED) and says, "If you air this show with Mayfield on it, it's going to jeopardize our relationship." So, they took out everything I said, anything that amounted to anything at all...took it all out and basically made me look like an idiot on TV, like I wasn't saying anything. That's what I'm dealing with.
So, rather than solve a problem as it was originally intended, the Race Hub interview controversy has created another one. This time around, however, something is different. Mayfield has discovered Twitter.
Few communication technologies have impacted NASCAR as much as Twitter. It has established a NASCAR information superhighway that can yield amazing results. Suddenly, Mayfield has a very effective forum to air his complaints about Race Hub and NASCAR.
Although with still a relatively small amount of followers, Mayfield has found a theme that seems to resonate with some fans. He continually points his finger at NASCAR Chairman Brian France as the wizard behind the curtain controlling the action. That ranges from Mayfield's original drug test to the supposedly doctored Race Hub interview.
Now without real access to TV, radio or the mainstream media it should be interesting to watch and see how Twitter works for the Mayfields as they continue to ultimately battle for what they see as justice.
We will keep you posted as the season rolls along. Twitter is free and available to anyone by going to twitter.com or downloading a free mobile app. We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
There is an elephant in the room. Racing at Talladega this weekend is a tag-team affair. A single car racing alone or a big pack of cars racing together cannot compete. Only two cars, running tightly together, will produce the fastest lap speeds. The picture above is the view from the NASCAR on FOX broadcast booth of the finish line.
The challenge for FOX is clearly to put this item out front to the fans and TV viewers quickly. This is not racing. FOX knows it, NASCAR knows it and the fans know it. It has to be sold as competition by FOX even though drivers have been saying all weekend long this event is nothing more than an exercise in two-car drafting.
Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond are up first from the outdoor infield stage. This week, it is located at the end of pit road. Waltrip will move up with Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds to call the race. On pit road are Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren.
There is no opportunity for change, so Joy has to get used to offering information in groups. There will be no leader, but a two-car team leading the race. There will be no individual passes, but one two-car team passing another. The scoring ticker at the top of the screen is meaningless.
FOX director Artie Kempner has been in love with in-car cameras this season. In this race, the roof cam of the pushing car has been the favored view. The bumper cams are not going to show anything but another bumper for the entire event. It should be interesting to see how Kempner cuts this event.
The stories of pit road will include teams coming in together under green and who is going to be forced together when the race restarts after pitstops under caution. The pit road reporters are going to have to frame their comments in a completely different manner.
Accidents have been a big part of this new drafting tactic. The second car simply cannot see ahead and as a result there have been numerous incidents of the first car being spun or even running into cars ahead as the closing rate is so high. Any way you cut it, this is going to be an interesting telecast from start to finish.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Sprint Cup Series race from Talladega on FOX. To add your Tv-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
This week it's Rusty Wallace on vacation. Allen Bestwick will host the infield pit studio with Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty alongside. Jarrett will then move to the TV booth and work the race with Marty Reid and Andy Petree. Pit reporters are Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.
ESPN has added Hendrick crew chief Chad Knaus as an in-studio analyst for this telecast. The network is searching for something that can add an element of interest for viewers since the series once again this season is dominated by Cup drivers.
Talladega is still recovering from some severe weather yesterday that shook up a lot of folks. The Friday ARCA race was run at 9AM and Sprint Cup Series qualifying is just finishing up.
Racing in the Nationwide Series should not feature the kind of total two-by-two drafting we have seen in the Sprint Cup Series. The bumpers on the Nationwide Series cars do not line up for bump drafting.
ESPN continues to use the Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers almost exclusively for interviews and information. Despite NASCAR's attempt to develop the credibility of some Nationwide Series regulars, ESPN simply wants the big names on TV.
Talladega is a huge track and TV has plenty of options in covering the actual racing. In big packs, in-car cameras are effective but only for a short time as the overall perspective is lost. Low angle speed shots work to establish the intensity, while aerial shots are great at the runs down the backstretch with cars jockeying for positions.
This post will serve to host your comments about the Nationwide Series race from Talladega on ESPN2. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Things got wild and wacky at Talladega on Friday. Although the Nationwide and Cup Series got some track time, it was the ARCA race scheduled for 5PM that never took the green flag.
Instead, Saturday morning at 9AM ET SPEED will be live from Talladega for all the ARCA action. Rick Allen is calling the race with Phil Parsons and Kenny Schrader in the TV booth. Bob Dillner and Ray Dunlap are handling pit road.
The driver with the most curious past is Milka Duno. The 38 year-old Venezuelan is driving for Sheltra Motorsports, a Florida-based team. She will start from the eighth spot. Duno has tried her well-funded hand at IndyCar and sports car racing with little luck. It may well be that ARCA might be her best chance to actually bring the Citgo brand to Victory Lane.
A couple of well-funded familiar last names are also in the race. Ty Dillon and Brandon McReynolds will have some nervous dads on the pit box. The reality of ARCA these days is represented by the fact that the pole sitter is more than ten miles an hour faster than the tail of the field.
The boys in the back include Darrell Basham, who is said to be sponsored by the F&W Bar and Grill of Lincoln, AL. Apparently, Darrell and the boys were inspired enough by eating F&W's BBQ that they decided to bring the establishment along for the ride.
We will use this post for TV-related comments on SPEED's ARCA coverage Saturday morning. To post your comment, 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.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
They have been doing it for years and know how to get it right. No Digger, no Tim Brewer and respect for all the teams and competitors. It's Friday on SPEED from Talladega.
Noon is Nationwide Series qualifying with Rick Allen, Kyle Petty and Jeff Hammond. Since Allen is on-site for the ARCA race, this is a good opportunity for him to get some more TV face-time working on the Nationwide Series. Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini are the reporters. Hammond and Petty have been fun to listen to when working with Steve Byrnes, Allen better hold on tight.
The Sprint Cup Series cars take to the track at 2PM. That session will be Mike Joy with Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Krista Voda and Matt Yocum will be the reporters. Waltrip is very different on SPEED. His FOX personality is gone and we get observations from a veteran driver. If only he could transfer that to Sundays.
John Roberts and Kyle Petty will be up next with NASCAR Live from the SPEED Stage. This little show is a great tool for highlights, to follow-up on stories in-progress and do live interviews. Randy Pemberton and Wendy Venturini will be the reporters.
The final Sprint Cup Series practice is next at 3:30PM with Joy, Waltrip and McReynolds. This time, Steve Byrnes and Dick Berggren will be reporting. By this time, we should have a very clear picture of whether the "lovebug" style of two car drafting will be the order of the day in the actual race.
Roberts returns with Pemberton, Sadler and Venturini for the final edition of NASCAR Live. This show will bridge the time to the 5PM ARCA race.
Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Kenny Schrader call the live ARCA race, which has proven to be both exciting and rather dangerous over the past several years. For you IndyCar fans, the one and only Milka Duno is racing again so that alone should add some spice. Bob Dillner and Ray Dunlap will be covering pit road.
The night ends with Trackside at 7PM and then SPEED Center at 8PM. Adam Alexander has been given the task of trying to get a general interest live motorsports studio show up and running and slowly but surely SPEED Center is getting better.
Trackside has an identity crisis and I am not sure how it will be solved. Byrnes leaves the show as host once the FOX portion of the Sprint Cup Series season is over and that time is rapidly approaching. The new set is disjointed and while the conversation is still interesting, Darrell Waltrip often appears to be out of the loop of current events.
This weekend Brad Keselowski, Slugger Labbe and Paul Menard are the guests. It should be interesting to see how the production team integrates three guests into this one hour show. Trackside has tons of potential, it just has to find it's way since leaving Larry McReynolds behind.
This post will serve to host all your TV-related comments on the Friday on SPEED coverage from Talladega. 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.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Update: Leaving this post up as the lead for Monday. Lots of folks visit us then. Originally published late Saturday night after the Cup race.
A good cowboy hat goes a long way. In the 1970's, Marshal Sam McCloud made his way from Taos, New Mexico to the mean streets of New York City. He was on special assignment. When Chief Clifford would yell at him, McCloud would always respond calmly with his signature phrase. "There ya go," he would say to his boss. McCloud was a solid hit for NBC.
Texas Motor Speedway has always posed a challenge for FOX. Jeff Hammond gets to wear his own cowboy hat, Darrell Waltrip gets a big stage and Chris Myers looks like a fish out of water. The NASCAR on FOX team repeated this again during the pre-race show Saturday night.
Mike Joy called the race with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. As the cars came to the starting line, there was an awkward pause. That used to be the time when McReynolds said "Reach up pull those belts tight, DW." Apparently, the powers at FOX put the whammy on McReynolds and his signature phrase for this season.
Once the green flag flew, the emphasis changed to the traditional NASCAR coverage style of FOX. Showing one or two cars on camera was mixed with in-car camera shots with the "natural sound" turned up loud. Over and over again, the pattern was repeated.
Perspective was tough to get between cars on the track. Few aerial shots were used, even going to and coming back from commercial break as what are called "bumpers." This was a shame, as TMS has one of the most beautiful aerial views on the circuit.
Replays are crucial to the FOX coverage. The "hyper-tight" coverage rarely allows for something developing on the speedway to be followed until conclusion. This was the case early in the event when replays had to provide updates on incidents on the track and pit road.
The pit reporters added factual information, but were not integrated into the telecast as other networks do when covering NASCAR. The FOX TV booth is very busy with promo's, sponsor features and Waltrip stories.
It was almost impossible for Joy to update the positions on restarts. Joy worked hard for the first half of the race to keep things in order. It was not easy. Perhaps no one is better at directing traffic in the booth, but Joy is clearly playing second fiddle to Waltrip this season.
A backstretch accident after a restart showed the incredible love affair director Artie Kempner has with in-car cameras this season. At high-speed, Kempner took Mark Martin's in-car camera aimed at the driver live as the accident was in progress.
Martin had no steering and hit the inside wall very hard. He also hit it live on FOX. He also hit where there was no SAFER Barrier. Those of us who have been around for a while got pretty upset over that. NASCAR is about racing, not sensationalism.
While Martin had to sit down in his interview with cowboy/pit reporter Dick Berggren, he was luckily not injured in the accident. This one move may signal a change in the FOX production philosophy. Had Martin been injured, bloody or unconscious the reaction from fans would have been swift.
Years ago, we applauded Mike Joy and the SPEED staff for the way they handled the Michael McDowell accident during TMS qualifying. They waited until McDowell emerged to make any comment and kept the camera wide during the actual accident. Apparently, things have changed.
The last 100 laps were rough from the booth but contained good information from the pit road reporters. Green flag pitstops were tough for Waltrip but Joy kept the order updated for viewers. It fell to McReynolds to update strategy while Waltrip just continually reacted to what was appearing on the TV screen.
FOX has long since refused to peel-back through the field during long green flag runs like the radio coverage. This allows fans of cars not in the top five or even ten to get updates on their favorite driver. With FOX, the only info on teams struggling is provided by the silent scoring ticker at the top of the screen.
The event turned into a gas mileage affair and the coverage followed the stories as they unfolded. Joy's attention to detail got the facts right, despite the fact that Waltrip struggled to keep the pace. It was very clear he was tired toward the end.
The race ended under green with a very non-dramatic ending. Kempner chose to jump around again at the finish line. The scoring ticker never changed to show the winner, there were no headshots or drop-down scoring graphic. Coverage jumped to pit road and then back to the track as Joy called several of the races to the line.
It ended with a thud on TV, but what viewers saw at home seemed to be rather different than what fans at the track saw in the final laps. FOX seemed to be just as out of gas as several of the teams down the stretch.
This post will serve to host your race wrap-up comments on the FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Texas Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
A reader emailed me today and asked that I watch a portion of the FOX Sports coverage of the MLB game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
When I turned on the game, it was quickly apparent why the reader emailed. Never during the thirty minutes that I watched was there an establishing shot of the entire field. Never once was there a camera view of the outfield, so fans could see the "shifts" teams put on for select hitters.
Instead, the production was an endless parade of faces. The camera shots were so tight you could not even see the player's belts. Just chest-high tight shots of batters, pitchers, managers and players in the field.
In a word, it was horrible. The director reluctantly pulled out wide just before each pitch. It was just wide enough to show the pitcher and the batter, nothing more. After every pitch that made it to the catcher's mitt, the parade of endless close-ups began again.
I honestly don't know how baseball fans watched that game on TV. Just like our complaints about NASCAR on FOX, there was no perspective for the TV viewers. It was nothing more than a deliberate attempt to build drama that was not there.
Tonight at 7PM, Chris Myers will again take to the outdoor pre-race stage and go into his act as the bumbling fool. Darrell Waltrip will be alongside and continue preaching his own version of the truth about the sport and everything else that goes along with it. Jeff Hammond will roll his eyes and try to get a word in edgewise.
What began in such a promising manner at Daytona is now falling apart at the seams. Instead of innovating from this new location surrounded by fans, FOX has simply given Waltrip a new pulpit from which to preach. His "Revved-up" segments provide Waltrip the ultimate last word before sprinting to the TV booth for three more hours of telling fans what to think.
Update: Being told FOX is moving the entire pre-race into the Hollywood Hotel due to the high winds at the race track. (6:15PM ET)
FOX is coming off another flat performance at Martinsville that reflected in the ratings. Instead of showing the race as fans in the stands would see it, director Artie Kempner continued to be fascinated by the decades-old technology of the in-car camera.
Texas has the potential for long green flag runs and Kempner may well continue this apparent FOX approach of "hyper-tight" coverage. Last week, Kempner fell apart on the final lap and had to actually replay the cars on the lead lap crossing the finish line. That is the ultimate humiliation.
Kempner's attempt at drama at the finish consisted of showing the winning crew chief take off his headset and climb down from the pit box. Meanwhile, the entire field was racing to the checkered flag with only the first few cars that happened to get in the camera frame shown live.
The disconnect between FOX and the fan base is complete. Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds have been muted. FOX has re-signed Waltrip through 2014 and designated him as "the show." Even the best pit reporters in the business get only moments to spit out a sentence or two before Waltrip passes judgement.
Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Dick Berggren may need to bring a chair if the race consists of long green flag runs and pit stops where every team takes four tires. Pit stop times might be critical, but without a key mechanical failure or big caution flag period the news from pit road might consist of slim pickings.
Under the lights, this race may take on a new dynamic. That is certainly the hope of NASCAR. There was a big crowd for SPEED's RaceDay show and that is a good sign. There is a strong fan base in the area and the TMS promotions team is very effective in that market.
While David Ragan might be on the pole, viewers know that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch are two big FOX favorites. With Carl Edwards tied to ESPN, it should be interesting to see how FOX treats Edwards should he dominate.
Ford is also on the verge of a strong race as a brand. It's no secret that Waltrip and Toyota are well acquainted on many levels. Waltrip may have recently added Subaru to his car dealership interests, but Toyota has a soft spot in his heart.
This post will serve to host your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Texas Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for stopping by.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Allen Bestwick will have Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty alongside when he opens the pre-race coverage on NASCAR Countdown at 8PM tonight from the Texas Motor Speedway.
Wallace will then move to the broadcast booth to join Marty Reid and Andy Petree for the Nationwide Series race at 8:30PM. Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch, Jamie Little and Dave Burns will be the pit road reporters. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage.
This is a great opportunity for ESPN to showcase the Nationwide Series in primetime on a Friday night. The track looks great and the field is fast. While there will still be a smattering of start and park cars, the race itself should be solid.
Reid and Wallace are not the best combination of personalities in the TV booth. Reid has very little NASCAR experience and Wallace is not the type of person who can help out his play-by-play partner.
Once the race is underway, the role of Bestwick and Daugherty at this track is to site and watch. Unless there is a long caution period or a red flag, we may not hear or see too much of the infield team.
TMS is fast and the restarts require two things. First, the TV network has to be out of commercial break so viewers can see the green flag fly. Secondly, Reid has to reset the field as to who is restarting where, what cars took a wave around and who was the lucky dog.
This race should be a good snapshot of where this production team is this season in terms of revamping the disastrous coverage of last year. So far, there have been a lot of changes for the better and hopefully that can continue.
ESPN offered no coverage from TMS except qualifying, which was done from the infield pit studio. Let's hope the pit reporters are up to speed on stories other than just those of the Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers as we have seen in the past.
Danica is gone and the real racing is different this season. One group of fast cars is racing for the owner's championship while another group is racing for the driver's title. The challenge for ESPN is to update both.
This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN2 coverage of the Nationwide Series race from the Texas Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related 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.