Friday, April 8, 2011
Happy Hour In Texas Not TV Happy
Friday is day two of the TV clash between the Barrett-Jackson auto auction from West Palm Beach, FL and the on-track NASCAR action from the Texas Motor Speedway.
Nationwide Series practice ends at 1:30PM ET and that overlaps with the start of the Friday auction coverage at noon on SPEED. So, neither of the two Nationwide practice sessions will be televised.
Later in the day, Happy Hour for the Sprint Cup Series starts at 3PM but the Barrett-Jackson auction coverage is live until 6:30PM. So, no Happy Hour from Texas for NASCAR fans.
Click here to discover an interesting twist to the auction coverage. The SPEED production is being made available live online for the entire 6.5 hours on Friday. Where can it be seen? At the SPEED website, of course.
It seems ironic that a private company auctioning cars can arrange a simulcast live on SPEED, SPEED-HD and SPEEDtv.com all day long. Meanwhile, NASCAR and SPEED cannot figure out how to offer one moment of Nationwide Series practice or Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour online at either the NASCAR or SPEED websites.
The frustrating part is that all the parts and pieces are on-location in Texas. The TV cameras are there. The production team is there. The cars are on the track. The product that is being seen by the fans in the stands cannot be seen by the fans nationwide and that is a shame.
Our friends at Turner Sports Interactive who own the online video rights to NASCAR just recently finished offering an amazing online package of basketball games during the NCAA tournament. This weekend, The Masters golf tournament is also available online for fans who would like to view by computer or smart phone.
There are four more seasons of exactly this type of coverage under the current NASCAR TV/Internet contract. FOX and TNT cannot help because they only carry the Sprint Cup Series races. Until July rolls around and ESPN takes over, the opportunity to provide Sprint Cup Series TV "support programming" like practice and qualifying belongs to SPEED.
Despite protests to the contrary, ESPN has continually given only lip service to the Nationwide Series since 2007 and happily throws them to the TV wolves of college football once ESPN's own coverage of the Sprint Cup Series begins.
The bottom line is that the teams in the Nationwide Series need more help through exposure on TV. When SPEED covers Nationwide Series practice and qualifying, the "regulars" are given strong exposure and all the stories of the day are followed. The teams are all treated equally.
ESPN has never grasped that concept and continues to hound the Sprint Cup Series drivers during Nationwide TV coverage like demented stalkers. Every move is documented as if they are somehow the entire show, instead of being exactly what NASCAR is trying very hard to downplay this season.
Once the Nationwide Series race coverage hits the air on ESPN2, the realistic opportunity for a team of "regulars" to get coverage is gone. ESPN loves stars and when the big boys are playing in the minor leagues, the big boys get the TV coverage.
This weekend NASCAR.com has a slate of press conferences, appearances, chats and video clips. What NASCAR's own official website does not have is any of the live on-track action from TMS.
It seems clearer by the moment that as SPEED and ESPN continue to gather diverse high-profile sports properties, expanding online NASCAR offerings is the only way to continue to make the on-track sessions before the races themselves available to fans.
Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree will handle Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday for ESPN2 starting at 5PM ET. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will host the Sprint Cup Series qualifying on SPEED at 6:30PM. Reid and company then return with the NNS race coverage beginning with the pre-race at 8PM ET.
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