Sunday, April 24, 2011

NASCAR Strong Amid Pro Sports Chaos


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.

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26 comments:

slander said...

Durrl and MotorMouth in the same booth?

Well, I had planned on watching the race. Not so much, now...

starrcade76 said...

I think the only way NASCAR benefits from any of this is if come September the NFL is still in a lock out. With Sunday's left to NASCAR and baseball to fill the void.

Beyond that, I don't think it really matters to 95% of the audience who the play-by-play or color analysts are. It will mostly be about the competition on the track, and the drivers being compelling figures to the viewers at home.

Dot said...

I predict that the NFL season will start right on time. Wouldn't they lose even more money if the lock out goes on and on? Kind of off topic, do they still do the draft even though there's no season yet? What will BSPN do with that block of time if not?

JD, isn't it unethical for McCourt to ask for a loan from FOX?

OSBORNK said...

I think the pairing of the Waltrip brothers on Friday will reinforce the perception of many folks that NASCAR is a redneck hillbilly sport that educated and city people should avoid (and will). The Waltrip Shenanigans on Friday could be more than Waltrip than many can handle and they will find something else to do when the Cup race is on.

GinaV24 said...

A golden opportunity indeed, but will Fox, ESPN and NASCAR step up? If they just give us the same old, same old, it won't matter to me that there isn't football or baseball on.

I'm with slander - sorry DW & Mikey together in the booth. Too painful for me.

MRM4 said...

If the NFL's lockout extends into the start of the season, they are the biggest idiots on the face of the earth. They have it all their way, they shouldn't screw with that. NASCAR should not bank on the lockout wiping out part of the NFL season. The bad thing where NASCAR is concerned is when they seem to have things go their way, some controversy happens and the black could remains.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Step up this weekend? Not at all ...not with two Waltrips in the booth and not even with one Waltrip ...I'm hunting radio broadcast for both nights and plan to channel surf ...as for Richmond's dynamite weekend ...a treat for teams and drivers who get to spend race night in their own beds since Charlotte is an easy drive away ...now will NASCAR (RIR) step up to use local talent - best National Anthem singer I've heard was Henrico County Police officer ...flyovers always on cue and great overhead scenes for sure ...thanks to SPEED for stepping up on Denny Hamlin's charity event ...great to see local, working men and women (weekend) racers get a shot at recognition across the country ...next week, I'll be viewing ...this Waltrip overload weekend, not too sure
Walter

w17scott said...

@slander
@GinaV24 -
Waltrips too painful? ...not for me ...I won't hear a word they say ...I have better things to do

Ir42nate2bhere said...

Come Sept., if there are no NFL games, then we'll talk about that effect.And maybe Sprint Cup is strong against the situations in other sports, but NASCAR and their tracks aren't. Next Thursday and Friday NASCAR will be up against NFL draft, NBA Playoffs,and Stanley Cup playoffs. Care to guess the order of ratings? It will just be another NASCAR weekend, no better or worse. And I don't think that's the worse thing to happen.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Fox does not have a strong play by play announcer. Mike Joy is well past his prime, and his skills have regressed over the past couple of years.

The Mad Man said...

While NA$CAR has a chance to step up and really capitalize on the NFL's problems, they show no signs of it. The lack of leadership and foresight is rather apparent.

With both of the Motormouth Brothers in the booth this weekend, I'm wondering if I should get a lobotomy so I can enjoy it, get my gums scraped which would be less painful that listening to the DW Comedy Tour on Faux, or hit my local short track and see some real racing without the Motormouth Brothers trying to talk over each other, shill us to death, and play their game of one-upmanship in the booth?

GinaV24 said...

W17Scott -- exactly!

Loudmouth said...

It's 'The Darrell Walmouth Show' starring Darrell Walmouth, with guest stars Mikey Walmouth, and Kenny Walmouth! Sporadic glimpses of racing action courtesy of NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Hope there is good viewing on other channels as I don't care to listen to two Waltrips spout theirs and Toyota's agenda on one show that may give us a bit of racing in between.

Wait til NFL season before making any predictions that Nascar is a winner on this one...

slander said...

Sporadic glimpses?

My, aren't we feeling generous today...

slander said...

@W17Scott:

True that. The relative lack of racing this weekend comes at the right time. I have an upcoming CCNA test to study for, so otherwise I'd be torn between what I need to do and what I want to do.

Stereophonic Waltards in the booth makes that decision easy for me.

Anonymous said...

Dot - McCourt tried to borrow $200M a few months ago from FOX and wanted to use future TV rights of Dodger home games as collateral but Selig said no. A few days ago when it was announced that McCourt had a personal loan from FOX we were guessing Selig would be pretty upset.

Note the local FOX affiliate has the rights to Dodger home games, the next contract in a year or two is supposed to be worth a billion or so. That's what the divorce attorneys are arguing about.

I doubt TV will allow football to not start on time, but both sides appear to be holding their ground at the moment.

-Yet another Mike in SoCal

Jonathan said...

I hope Nascar, Fox, Espn, and TNT all look at this seriously and try to bring there best in the upcoming months cause this is so true! Nascar can come out big

Im sorry but I dont see there being much football this year!!

Greta said...

I won't see it since it's on SPEED. I wonder who Larry Mac pissed off. They have him not saying his "pull the belts tight" at the green flag, and he isn't really a presence on the FOX broadcasts this season. And he's not calling the NW race on SPEED.

Russ said...

A sad commentary when your supporters are hoping the 800lb gorilla will shoot himself to give you a chance.

Face it, everybody knows that the NFL is THE dominant sport. Whatever traction Nascar gets will only be temporary. As soon as the NFL starts its back to business as usual.
Much like this season is slowly sliding back to where it was last year.

crabber1967 said...

OH WONDERFUL! Both Waltrip brothers on one TV broadcast? I'm sure they will be proud on how many people [both fans and potential fans] they will drive away from the broadcast and NASCAR in general. Funny how NASCAR had a problem with its "redneck" image in the past and now the Waltrip Brothers will start the "redneck sport" comments all over again. UGH!

tonybct said...

why does Speed, and Fox think we want to hear those two?, I tune in to watch and enjoy the racing, it will be almost impossible now, for some reason they both think they're the reason we watch, thank God for MRN once again!!

Gymmie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MortonGroveDon said...

Whats the over /Under gonna be on the word "Toyota" when those two get in the booth? Ill have to trust one of y ou to let me now, becuase there isnt a way in holy hand grenades will I listen to the worst broadcaster inmotorsports, and his brother.I wouldnt bet on a whole NFL lockout either...

Horn Fan said...

NASCAR strong? It's the same four teams dominating every week.

The Nationwide still a joke, and Trucks needs to be saved from being Busch wacked every race.

It's a no brainier that Busch will dominate the series, due to the resources he has at his disposal compared to the other teams.

Why do all three series have start and park teams, young talent sitting on the outside unable to find rides due to no funding, full-time sponsorship fastly disappearing, and every week we still see empty seats in the stands.

Gymmie said...

Agree Horn Fan. Unless he has issues Kyle is going to sweep the Pick 'em Ups & N'wide. Otherwise it's going to be Carl or whatever Cup guy is in the race.

It's nice to change the "pick your series" but is it still any better when your "champion" never won a race. The rumors as to why Cup has the it's not a playoff playoffs, is because of Matt's sole win in 2K4, that that wasn't worthy enough to claim a champion. Others who had more wins had used up all their mulligans & Matt was consistent. IIRC, the only trouble he really had was the Homestead race.

If there's someone on the track I'll watch it but can understand those who chose not to watch or attend to see the Cuppers come in & dominate. Saturday the top 4 were Cup drivers. There have been races where you've had to go to 12th & back to find the FIRST N'wide only guy.

I only watch a NFL game here & there so blackout or not, it won't affect me. But I think folks have a bad taste in their mouths & wouldn't be surprised regardless of what happens in the NFL if folks leave in droves.

Some of my favorite writers gave up after the "it's not a playoff" playoffs were introduced. One gal who was a die hard Jr. fan got rid of everything she had & walked away after it. She is one who if she were at a race & Jr. was knocked out on lap 1, would leave the race. When watching on TV once Jr. was knocked out she turned it off & did something else.

Thanks Mike in SoCal for the info. I don't pay close attention to baseball so didn't know the backstory or how the loan came about. Interesting :)