Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TNT Can't Shake The Post-Race Blues

NASCAR cut the pie into three pieces where the Sprint Cup Series TV contract was concerned. Sandwiched between the high-profile FOX and ESPN portions of the schedule is the tiny little slice of the pie that was left for TNT.

Once coined as the summer six-pack, TNT has one big race at Daytona and five other races that are not exactly the pick of the litter. The response of the network has been to become the outlaws of NASCAR TV. The idea is to be different.

Wally Dallenbach Jr. has been gone from NASCAR for a long time. Kyle Petty works fulltime for SPEED and only takes his hat off for the TNT races. Adam Alexander used to be SPEED's pit reporter for the truck series. The TV booth for the TNT races is different.

TNT's infield rig is outdoors. The wind blows, the sun shines and with the push of a button it begins a nauseating spin that redefines motion sickness on a big HDTV screen. One of my personal highlights was pit reporter Marty Snider stealing the controls and continually rotating then host Bill Weber during a rain delay. Weber's screams of protest were to no avail. TNT's infield set-up is different.

The shining jewel of this package isn't on TV at all. RaceBuddy is the free online application that is run through the NASCAR.com website, which Turner Sports operates. This year, users have ten video sources including four in-car cameras, two different battle cams and views of both the backstretch and pit road. It works on iPhones, iPads and pops right up on the Sprint Mobile app as well. TNT's online approach is different.

In the first season of the new TV contract, we published a story in June of 2007. "TNT Dumps NASCAR For Van Helsing Movie" was the title. Click here to read the full post. Basically, after the race at MIS our friends at TNT left the air to actually start a scheduled movie 15 minutes early.

The theory from the entertainment-driven network was that the movie would get more viewers because the NASCAR race had just ended. There was a little problem with that theory. That problem would be called NASCAR fans.

On that occasion TNT interviewed the winner, both DEI drivers and then sprinted for the airplane while the movie started. Today, things are a bit different. After this year's MIS race TNT left the air eight minutes ahead of the scheduled off-time for the race coverage. But, this time they had a reason.

After also leaving early at Pocono, the TNT explanation was simple. After a basic post-race show on TV, a full post-race show would appear on RaceBuddy over at the NASCAR.com website. Sure enough, once the MIS coverage was off the air up popped Lindsay Czarniak and Larry McReynolds on the Internet.

This duo hosted another 15 minutes or so of coverage that included additional driver interviews, highlights and analysis from McReynolds. All the pit reporters were used and it basically had the exact same quality as the network TV coverage. The only problem was that it wasn't on TV.

In moving to a strictly Internet environment for post-race in order to switch TV quickly back to entertainment programming, TNT cuts-off all the NASCAR fans who are not online. If my feedback is any judge, that seems to be an awful lot of folks.

Whether the issue is the economy, technology or simply choice there were a lot of upset fans when TNT strolled off to Internet land. Fundamentally, it seems strange that after a pre-race show and then a live race telecast that TNT wants fans to watch for hours, there would be a problem with a full post-race show.

Back in 2007 at MIS, Michael Waltrip had finally finished in the top ten driving a MWR car. That was a big moment. Kyle Busch had finished sixth in the middle of career chaos. Casey Mears was fourth and Jamie McMurray was eighth as both fought to keep their rides. None of that made TNT.

This year, that type of content was also not on TV. Instead, the same promomotional reel for the new season of TNT shows that viewers saw after Pocono was on the air after MIS. Despite the fact that the post-race went on for those online, TV viewers got the short end of the stick.

While there were billions of dollars spent by the NASCAR TV partners on the current contract, perhaps this is not exactly what NASCAR intended back in 2007 when the TV pie was sliced.

We want your views on this subject. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


KAuto26 said...

Why do we even need so much pre-race coverage? Do you think a 30 minute pre-race and a much longer post-race show would be more popular.

Craig said...

It seems that networks don't really care if they piss of the NASCAR fan! I am more than unhappy with TNT's complete lack of post race coverage. The question is, how do we change this?

Ir42nate2bhere said...

This is interesting in the how much are we entitled to category.I view a ton of sports and not a lot of National Telecasts get a long post-event wrap-up. TBS or FOX Sat. baseball-when your game is over, see ya.Golf similar.Even the NFL, when your CBS 4:15 is over, it's 60 Minutes.I view a Penn State game, when it's over, for me to find more info I go to radio or online.There are a load of very good web sites and great racing journalist to catch wrap ups, and Speed has plenty of evening programming to catch you up on all the stories. I'm more afraid of TNT solving this by shortening the race window and screwing up DVR recordings of the race.

OSBORNK said...

I think the pre-race and post-race time should match. I think the post-race of TNT is fine and I wish the pre-race was the same length. A 15 minute pre-race and a 15 minute post-race would be fine with me. How many times do you need to hear the same thing by different talking heads?

GinaV24 said...

I have internet access BUT I still want to see the post race interviews done on TV. If they aren't in an overrun situation (and even if they are), there is no good reason to interview the winner and then bolt off for whatever movie or promo TNT wants to run.

All of the broadcast partners need to catch a clue. Umpteen hours of packaged and predictable pre-race garbage does not offset a good solid post-race show.

AncientRacer said...

Let me put on my cynical hat *rummages around, finds hat, puts it on*.

Now let us say you are Turner. You have the runt of the litter in terms of races, but you have developed, and are continuing to refine, a good product called "Rascebuddy," and the exclusive on content like that under the current contract.

Let us also say you know contracts will be coming up again at a date certain.

Let us also say, as a content provider, you are aware of the, now becomming cliche, received wisdom that, "nobody under 25 watches TV for content and nobody over 25 uses the computer for content".

Hmmmmm. How to make a market for your Racebuddy service? Hmmmmmm. How to make it something everyone (ABC/ESPN; FOX; whomever) must have eventually? Hmmmmm.

I got it! How about we drive the audience to it? MAKE them go there?
Get them used to receiving content on the interwebzes?

I mean, if they want to hear the end of the story why not make them go to where we want them to be?

It is *removes cynical hat* called "the future." Many fans may not like it now, but "now" is not the point.

And that is just the way it is. :o)

Anonymous said...

Between Speed and the Network televising the race, there is three hours of pre race broadcasting. Both could easily be cut to thirty minutes. I'd prefer 30-45 minutes post race to follow up on events requiring follow up and interviews of the drivers that distinguished themselves during the event. I can't remember the show, but there was a post race show that had a bunch of interviews over at the heliport or air field. By this time, the drivers had showered, calmed down and gave more deliberate and objective opinions instead of the raw emotion we see from a few when they jump out of the car.

Paul said...

I'd love to use RaceBuddy. But I have HughesNet Sat. internet, no choice. They have a limit on what I can download and I wouldn't be able watch the whole race on 'buddy'.

James said...

I do not understand why there are hours of pre race coverage and so little post race coverage? Could it be that the folks covering the race are tired and confused? I am much more interested in what is happening NOW after the race! I want to hear from the drivers owners and crew cheifs that just made what I watched for four hours happen! All we get in pre race are the spin casters and history of past things that can be brought up during the race when the talking heads and parrots run out of things to say! I agree a half hour of pre race is ENOUGH! I want to hear the drivers, but no they are too busy rushing to their private planes. The fans need to see and hear the participants after the show, get the real answers before the PR people put the spin on it all. I want meaningful content not FLUFF and if the drivers do not have time for the fans, then WE have a right to know, so we can make an informed decision as to who we support! I only support people who support me! Based on that I sure hope ESPN is not given any race to cover, because the NASCAR series on NOT a priority on their list of sports! If softball games are more important than NASCAR great, cover that! I do not ever want to hear stupid remarks over a life and death sport that idiots think are trivial from the network that pays to cover its races. I makes no sense to me, never has, never will! There are some sports, bull fighting, mountain climbing, and motor sports,that risk life and limb that are serious, the rest are JUST GAMES. Out of respect to the participants they should never be belittled and criticized by the talking heads, it just is not correct on a professional level! If the folks who are reporting do not like or understand that, they need to continue to report on the fastinating sport of Softball!

I would like to think NASCAR is paying more attention to the loss of the middle group of teams that it is forcing out of the sport, certainly Nationwide teams that can not afford this new car and absolutly can not keep up with the satellite cup organizations technology! But that is another issue.

It is a shame, but it looks like my beloved NASCAR has gone the corporate route instead of its local heritage, I can only wonder if the demise of indy car will caution the powers that be, A class example is its struggling sport car series that has little if any following and does not appear have much interest.

Mïk said...

I appreciate TNT's attempt to 'be different' for these six races, BUT...
why don't they try actually showing the race. In the "good ol days", Cameramen and directors could be on a car when they were involved in an incident. This was because they were race fans and had the interesting part of the field onscreen, which allowed us to be watching the ones in action when the action started. No playing with the toys, no filling in action missed, no announcers talking one thing, with the screen showing another.

All of TV needs to up their game to show us the race. I doubt it'll ever happen, but it would be nice.

GinaV24 said...

AR, by jove, I think you've got it!

Hadn't thought of it from that point of view at all. However, without those of us watching "now", there may not be any "future" market.

I just bought a new TV -- this one can hook up to my cable provider AND my wireless internet so I can do both things from one set. I'll see how it goes.

Buschseries61 said...

I don't care how long the pre or post race should be as long as the stories are covered.

The main issue is not covering NASCAR while there is still open time in the broadcast slot. There were stories that could have been told. But the tv previews started, and NASCAR fans turned the channel. Movie fans turn to something else until their movie starts. TNT looks bad cutting viewers short to self-promote the network. Nobody wins in this deal.

TNT programs are advertised enough in the numerous commercials, let NASCAR have its full allotted time.

KoHoSo said...

If there is anybody sane left at NASCAR's headquarters in Daytona Beach, they should be absolutely livid at Turner. I am very lucky. Fontana is relatively well-wired for Internet access with multiple choices and price levels to pick from. Not all NASCAR fans are so lucky. Many fans are like Paul above especially in the more rural south and mid-west (the strongholds of the NASCAR fan base). They have very limited Internet access if any.

Let me stress here...the problem is not that TNT's post-race shows are short. The problem is that TNT promises fans TV coverage until time X and then does not deliver. Worse yet, that move rubs it in the face of what I believe is a significant portion of the NASCAR fan base that do not have a broadband Internet connection, cannot afford one, or are not yet savvy about modern technology.

In what is otherwise an extremely welcome breath of fresh air between the overbearing Cup coverage of Fox and the mostly underwhelming coverage of ESPN, TNT needs to be told by NASCAR the next time around...deliver what you promise to the fans and don't shortchange them on promised coverage or we'll find somebody else that will be more than happy to take the mid-season six-pack or even more along with our website (which Turner has done a generally abysmal job on since day one anyway).

Anonymous said...

If TNT aired material that would have been online, who would bother to watch the online post-race broadcast?

It seems to me TNT has a set formula to bring a certain amount of post-race coverage over TV, and put the rest online. The online broadcast needs viewers. Airing all of that stuff over TV would cannibalize the viewership, and sends the wrong message to the online sponsors who allow things such as RaceBuddy and the post-race coverage to be shown free.

The TV windows themselves don't mean much. If a race runs long, that broadcast window is extended. If it runs short, I don't see any problems with it being shortened.

Please Don't Eat Me said...

Man, if you think the Nascar post-race coverage is bad, try watching an Indy car race on ABC. Talk about quick exits, if ABC's exits were any quicker we wouldn't even see the winner in victory lane.

And unlike Nascar there's virtually no 24/7 on some alternative channel for the race weekend...

So, umm... consider yourselves lucky for what you get.

longtimeracefan said...

The Michigan and Pocono races finished in less time than normal, 10 or so minutes at Michigan and around 15 minutes at Pocono. TNT ran the same amount of post race that would have been seen if the races had not run short. They then used the extra time to run their promos. Smart move, basically free advertising. Plus they are giving fans another option for additional content online, as JD puts it, "The shining jewel," and it is that indeed. True, some folks don't have the bandwidth or processor speed or updated browser to view online video content, but that's not the content providers fault. I think this is kind of a gift horse situation. I'll just say thank you TNT, I'll be so sorry to see you go after Loudon. I'm just glad that there was a small piece of the pie cut for someone who likes to be a bit different.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people either cannot afford the internet or do not have access where they live. A lot of Nascar fans live in the country and both those issues effect whether or not they can take advantage of the technology. That being said, another reason may be that some fans/viewers have other obligations or just don't care to go on line. Either way, there are so many post race shows that one never really misses anything because all the channels that have race show recaps etc keep showing the same old interviews and expressing the same old opinions that they want fans to have truly indocterinating the fans to their way or thinking, be it right or wrong. Trouble is there is not enough fans anymore who really know what they have seen on the track. They just repeat what they are told and take it to be right. So these fans who really know just keep hoping that they will get the real facts after the race, rather than some p.c. responses and hogwash. All the networks are in the same category with just different announcers who want us to see just their side of what just happened or is happening. Post race is not an issue for me. I just hate the in-cars, the favoritism from the announcers, the jumping to conclusions and the me agendas along with other things.

GA Red

Anonymous said...

I know that TNT leaves the air before their air window is up, but isn't part of the problem that the drivers drive back to the hauler and then bolt for the corporate jet?

Daly Planet Editor said...

With the need for corporate sponsor exposure greater than ever before, drivers have been outstanding in suddenly making sure to take advantage of post-race exposure on national TV.

Anonymous said...

Not only do they -not- give the full air time, but they have so many darn commercials! Was reading another blog and someone had it all broke down, ~~It's unreal~~

I want my full.... air time, I don't care if its just 2 min. If they do this what the heck is gonna happened when they run over !! ~~Will they tell us, **SORRY...**, you'll have to go to NASCAR.com~~ lovingnascar (but not TNT)

Anonymous said...

Don't the top five finishers HAVE to go to the media center for Press availability??? I have seen segments on TV where there is intense rivalry to be the first plane out of the track. Usually, it was guys finishing way in the back. They would jockey their golf carts at the gate blocking the tunnel. Funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Half Hour pre race is plenty for the mindless fluff that gets covered on them. The post race is where all the stories are. That's when we want to hear from the drivers not before the race!

Adam and Eve said...

Adam must have some incriminating stuff in his trailer... about nascar. There is no other explanation for the fact that he is all over the place
like my dog and his pals... putting stuff down on the ground
Any ideas.