Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Danica Changes The TV Dynamic

It really doesn't matter if she wins. It really doesn't matter if she gets along well with others. It doesn't even matter if she hides in her bus until driver introductions. The only thing that matters is that Danica has arrived.

According to multiple reports including the AP, NASCAR and ESPN have been given an early Christmas present. Danica Patrick is coming to the Nationwide Series full time in 2012.

The script for ESPN could not be written much better. It looks like Patrick will stay with her JR Motorsports team and the former Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. These two have a colorful relationship that also lends itself to TV.

Listening to Eury deal patiently with Patrick and her open-wheel vocabulary and skill set has been nothing short of comic gold. Whether trying to get Patrick to run up and bump the car in front of her in the Daytona draft or teasing her about her high-fashion choice of footwear, Eury and Patrick have clicked.

ESPN is the exclusive TV network of the Nationwide Series in a deal that runs through 2014. Trying to promote a Reed Sorenson vs. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. championship match-up as the reason to tune-in has been a challenge this season since NASCAR changed the rules.

The popular theory is that Patrick will run for the Nationwide Series driver's championship in 2012, while also running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule for Stewart-Haas Racing. That instantly provides a storyline that crosses over into the mainstream media.

Powerhouse personalities like Danica trickle-down in the media where TV exposure is concerned. With her change to NASCAR, Danica will now be regularly interviewed during televised Nationwide Series practice and qualifying sessions. She will come to know and interact with the ESPN and SPEED pit road reporters, whether she likes it or not.

Patrick will also be exposed to the daily TV shows NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and RaceHub on SPEED. While Patrick has been on NASCAR Now in carefully arranged interviews, it should be interesting to see how she reacts to the more casual style of RaceHub.

Many top NASCAR drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards have worked hard to learn how to deal with the constant TV presence in NASCAR. It's one thing to speak with reporters who are going to then write stories for websites and blogs. It's quite another to forge an on-camera relationship with full time NASCAR TV reporters who must be relied on for sponsor exposure and balanced coverage.

As fans know who have recently watched the TV coverage of standalone Nationwide Series races, there is often not a lot of glamour to be found. Patrick may find herself in some very different company on the road with the Nationwide Series gang.

Anyway you slice it, the value of adding "Danica the brand" to the Nationwide Series is going to change the TV dynamic. One fan already emailed to ask if Danica was going to be the ESPN in-race reporter for every Nationwide Series race next year.

I wonder if that conversation has already taken place somewhere in an ESPN advertising sales office? Stranger things have happened.

We invite your comment on the topic of Danica bringing change to NASCAR TV in 2012. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below.


Spencer said...

Oh no

Sam said...

I remain underwhelmed by Danica Patrick. She's not ready and is only doing this because of the money flow. In my opinion she should stick to open wheels because she will get schooled in Nascar when she goes full time.

And I'm not bashing because she's a female. Only because she's shown me very little on the track where it matters.

Darcie said...

I, for one, am not looking forward to all Danica all the time. They will run this story into the ground, to the detriment of every other driver. If we think that we're tired of ESPN's love affair with a handful of drivers in Sprint Cup, wait until Danica mania starts.

But my question is, once it becomes obvious that she's nothing but a back marker (unless she gets lucky and all the major players get into Talladega-sized big ones every week and she runs in the top 3), will her luster fade or will they continue this Danica overload?

But I'm guessing the powers that be at the three networks are salivating at the thought of increased revenues because of Danica. But most NASCAR fans have short attention spans for also rans, unless that also ran is named Dale Jr.

Anonymous said...

All queen of hype all the time during and after the race.Really something to look foreward to.NOT!

Anonymous said...

I say welcome! She will be another "character" in the nationwide series, regardless of whether she wins or not. It is up to nascar and the media to offer a balanced and decent coverage - which so far they have failed to do. MC

Sally said...

At least TV will be giving time to a full time Nationwide driver instead of the Cup Bushwackers. We all know that ESPN is going to find a 'storyline' to follow. If she struggles, it will be interesting to see how long they hang with overexposing her.

OSBORNK said...

I'm not a Danica fan but there will be one thing I look forward to. It will take Steve Wallace and the Wallace Clan out of the spotlight except when he is wrecking Danica.

James said...

The greatest race driver I ever saw is named Shirley and she is a multiple world champion. I grew up in the same town and watched her from start to now, because she will never retire. If you do not know who she is shame on you. To cast a shadow over Danica is to do here a disservice. The truth is she is running much better than you give her credit for. The NNW series should benefit from her and racing will become more popular and yeah she probably will make more money. If you have watched her run a stock car, she is certainly brave and not afraid to mix it up with other drivers. When in Dayton last, she got a quick lesson in drafting from Tony Stewart and proceeded to run as well as any other racer out there. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick both had tried to do the same with her in past races, but she did not have the seat time to understand it. While other Indy car stars have failed at NASCAR she is doing a great job. I am not to thrilled about the commercials, but I blame that on the marketing people. The radio chatter between Tony jr and her is a "HOOT" and should entertain us next year. Danica has found a home in NASCAR and I believe she is a racer that happens to be a "woman", a tenacious competitor, just like SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY!

Marsha said...

In the interviews I've seen, both Indy and Nationwide, she always appears rather unfriendly for lack of a better word.

If a PR person works with her and schools her in how the media attention will increase significantly in Nascar, she has the opportunity to present a friendlier situation.

Having a microphone put in your face right after something goes bad lends itself to bad things unless you know how to deal with it.

Everything she'll say will get magnified attention.

Danica gave up a lot of her childhood for her racing dreams. Indy racing now gets little media exposure outside the 500.

The much longer season and media responsibilities and probably even sponsor obligations will increase significantly her time commitment. It definitely will be interesting.

Eury Jr and Danica over a full season - will be interesting. Danica and Tony Stewart - very interesting.

It will be a media circus, but I hope she succeeds. Hard to think she can be worse than Steven Wallace - are they moving him up to cup so he won't have to compete with her?

MRM4 said...

Who will get more face time on NNS races in 2012: Danica or Carl Edwards?

GinaV24 said...

well, that's the nail in the coffin to me watching the Nationwide races.

If they'd just treat and cover her during the races like a regular driver, I'd be fine with it, but the drooling and fawning is a complete turnoff for me.

glenc1 said...

If Danica comes full time, I guess we can expect the full on media machine...but really, this has been going on since the beginning of sport on TV. Whether it's a fresh faced Jeff Gordon, a surprise winner like Trevor Bayne, or any other 'new on the scene' sports figure who captures their attention, it soon gets to be overkill. Right now we're on 'Carl Edwards watch'. Now, I have to cynically say if someone wasn't watching it, it wouldn't work (in other words, we do somewhat feed these frenzies...) *Someone* is watching. But frankly, if I were the other guys...I might enjoy flying under the radar a bit while someone else gets followed around.

But I will say this...I won't blame Danica for what the networks choose to cover; she can't control that (unless she draws attention in some ridiculous way.) I remember all the Gordon haters going on about the media hype back in 98, and it wasn't his fault we complain about JJ the last couple years during the Chase, same thing. Let's blame the networks for overhyped coverage and not the person.
you know...I guess I'm an optimist, but I'd like to see what she can do. I had the impression that Tony Stewart was testing her a bit...trying to see if she was 'teachable'. Let's face it, she's been trying to do the impossible, which is to do it on a part time, occasional basis. Ricky Carmichael's been at it full time for a few years now, and he's still working at it (and I'd like to see him success as well...but we all know, equipment, money, all those things figure in.) We'll see if she goes at it full time if she can adapt--if not she'll probably end up back in the IRL.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all your comments but she wont go back to IRL.
Once you go Cup racing anything else is a step down.
Dario did it because he had to and and he's driving for Ganassi who like Penske is the top dog.
So no...going back to IRL is a career killer. Why do you think Montoya is still hanging out in Cup?

The Mad Man said...

So celebrity spokesmodel Danica will be moving full time to NNS. We won't be watching any NNS races next season because they will be replaced by The Danica Show. All Danica All The Time. Guess this will free up a couple of hours for me.

Anonymous said...

Both my daughter and I follow Danica's career closely.
It will be a pleasure to follow her steady improvement.
I just hope she can stay away from the human pinballs in that series...
(Stevie Wallace, Jason Leffler et al)

Marsha said...

Hopefully, Carl, Kyle and Brad will reduce their Nationwide races next year. Sure don't know why Carl is doing it full time now with two small children - seems a little selfish of him.

Nationwide needs a recognizable name to draw in viewers - whether they are a fan of the person or not. Eyes need to be on the race to get fans involved.

It's up to the media to not overhype Danica which is probably asking the impossible.

I'm concerned about Danica's relationship with the Nascar media turning ugly.

Both Dale Jr and Tony should be able to provide her valuable advice in media relations. But, it is still up to her.

Trevor and Ricky are good guys, but I doubt they are bringing in new fans. Look at the fizzle that occurred when Pastrama had to withdraw last week. He most likely would have brought in viewers if for no other reason to see if he could be successful in both NW and X games in the same weekend.

Buschseries61 said...

Honestly, who knows what will happen with this series in 2012. Money has run dry for a lot of teams. IRP is gone, Montreal might be gone, Dover Motorsports ran Nashville into the ground.

Danica might help keep the series on life support for another year. But her competition looks to be very meek.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Danica supporter at all. If it wasn't for Go Daddy and her supposed "good looks" she wouldn't even be close to driving in Nascar. In my opinion there are way more talented females that deserve this ride.

In fact Angela Cope in her 2 first Nationwide races had better finihses than what Danica did in her first two Nationwide races last year, yes you did not hear one mention of that.

Danica has showed that she is clueless about Nascar asking questions she should clearly know, and is getting excuses made by the announcers. Do the announcers really ahve a right to stick up for her?

If she attempts the Daytona 500 it will be an awful 2 weeks at Daytona. There will be a Danica mention every 30 seconds and I owuld be shocked if Darrell Waltrip can mention anyone but Danica.

I might, just might be watching fewer Nascar races next year.

And this has nothing to do with her being a female. Johanna Long I root for in the truck series. She is working her way up, something Danica didn't have to do.

Anonymous said...

I guess maybe Danica should not come to NASCAR full time because the sport will lose some Daly Planet viewers. Personally, I like her. Not because she is cute, but because she's feisty, not afraid to mix it up on the track, and actually seems to have some personality. In a way she mirrors Tony Stewart, including her surly manner with the press. And she's not a half bad driver. And let's not forget. Even though strategy was a factor, I believe she has the highest finish ever by a woman in the top levels of NASCAR. I also don't recall the race, or maybe it was more than one, but she was running mid pack and they didn't give her any extra coverage. The more she races, the less coverage she gets if she doesn't run well. Did anyone stop watching Cup races over the last few years because Jr. got more coverage then he deserved?

SnowdogBob said...

James -
I think you do a large disservice to compare the First Lady of Drag Racing to Danica. Anyone who watched her race, or met her, or saw Heart Like a Wheel would have to respect her for drive and desire as a racer, and she was successful and a trail blazer. If Danica could get through an interview without talking about her "Brand" instead of her performance I'd begin to give her some more credit. She can save those conversations for meeting with her army of marketing people. Danica may make a GREAT stock car driver, but comparing Danica on any level at this point to Shirley is like comparing Landon Cassil to Dale Earnhardt. (and i don't mean that as a dig at Landon...there's no basis for the comparison)

Danica is breaking a trail for Danica, but her success has lead to more women in Indy car. And if somehow her being in NASCAR makes it easier for Rusty to boot his son in favor of his more talented niece, then i'm behind Danica all the way. (and the views not bad from behind her either)

Roland said...

Danica full time, Pastrana with 20 races. Dont forget ESPN's man crush on Carl Edwards and their awe of Kyle Busch's "accomplishments". Yipee lets go racing

West Coast Diane said...

I say come one come all. More eyeballs watching to see or succeed...may help other teams. I look at Trevor Bayne and at times Ricky Stenhouse who have no sponsors. And they race for Roush and are tagged to be the future stars of Cup.

Agree with a previous comment. Danica went to Europe totally on her own, no family or friends. You have to be dedicated and serious about your racing career to make a move like that.

Do I like Go Daddy as a sponsor? No. But I don't watch their commercials or use their product.

I enjoy seeing racers from different disciplines trying out Nascar. As long as they treat the sport with respect I think it is great exposure for NASCAR. They bring new fans. Nelson Piquet Jr tweets in Portugese, more than English, for a reason. I like his attitude about the sport and his goals.

If the reports are true I say welcome Danica.

Just a side note. Danica will get more coverage than Carl, because Carl has already made decision not to run the full schedule. Danica wins by default.

Anonymous said...

lol Roland!
That's the best comment I've seen on here.
What's so sad is ESPN doesn't even care that most fans see it the way you do. Talk about covering sports with a SLANT! Geez...

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people are jumping to conclusions that they will do nothing but talk about Danica. They talk about the big time sponsor drivers a lot and those who are in the first few points positions. They also seem to zero in on claim jumpers like Edwards, Busch and others. Also, if they keep Rusty in the booth, then we know they will hi-lite his son still. So why not wait and see what happens before writing off Nationwide as a loss? Aren't we supposed to be fair just as we wish the announcers would be but aren't? Do we really want to be like them?

GA Red

Anonymous said...

I think Danica deserves whatever attention she earns based on her on-track performance and results. What I dread is undue attention based on the cult of celebrity.

I also dread more Go-Daddy commercials. They creep me out. I don't understand how parents of daughters could hold up Danica as a role model.

Roadgeek Adam said...

Marsha: Carl Edwards had already announced a full NW Series schedule is out of the window next season.

I am probably one of the few looking forward for Danica full-time and not because its her, but she's drastically improved and probably deserved the Daytona win if anything. Stuff works in those ways sadly.

glenc1 said...

anon 9:55, I know why Montoya is still in Cup--he's good, he has a sponsor, and Chip is willing to pay him to drive. I would agree the IRL is step down from a monetary standpoint, as well as it being harder to attract sponsors, but if you don't have those things in Cup/NW, well...where else would you go? So if Danica keeps her sponsor, she stays, simple as that. But if she lost that and wasn't running well...I think she would fall into 'Sam Hornish' territory. Nothing against Sam--I think he (like Dario....) was driving crappy cars most of the time; but there weren't many bright spots. I'd still be curious to see what they could have done in a decent ride. Really not sure. But all of those really show you how *hard* it really is. So I hope people don't write her off too soon--guys in the best NASCAR rides (all 3 series) are amongst the best 50 or 60 stock car drivers in the US. That's a pretty elite group.

Actually I think the media has given the other ladies quite a bit of attention, including the Cope girls and their, um, interesting look..., Johanna Long and Jennifer Jo, Chrissy Wallace (and would sure be interesting to see if she was better than Steve in that car....) So in my mind, the difference is not the has to be the audience reacting to her for whatever reason. anon 11:37--she didn't work her way up in stock cars, but then, neither did Juan Montoya. Just saying; there are different paths to the series. It's what you do when you get there that counts.

James said...

@ Snowdog > I think you need to read my initial post again, taking note I make the reference to Shirley as the best I ever saw, compairing her gender to Danica, and NEVER stating any reference to her appearance. I also stated I was no fan of her commercials, but Danica is certainly the product of other lady racers who have tried to race in the "BIG TIME" auto racing series. She took a page from other sucessful racers and got a "BIG TIME" sponsor to finance her efforts. Danica is still the one going 230 @ TEXAS wheel to wheel with her INDYCAR rivals. I wish Simona could secure a sponsor to run NASCAR, but the point is they are racers in spite of being women. To slam them, is to cast a shadow over what they are trying to accomplish. To insert the "VIEW" comment secures that!

GinaV24 said...

James, I would root for Simona far and away over the QoH. Heck, I'd even root for Christie Wallace and I'm not a fan of anyone named Wallace.

DP has chosen to market herself as an object and refers to herself as a "brand". Well, I'd choose brand X over DP any day.

As a young girl, I remember being amazed and impressed at Shirley Muldowney's skill and nerve. She was someone that I admired for doing something most women didn't.

She didn't need to do swimsuit layouts to get attention - she was a racer, as you pointed out.

Dennis said...

Well said James.

Anonymous said...

Forbes reportedly announced that Danica took in $12 million in the last 12 months. I wish her well, but could care less what she says or does. All I ask is that she not get in the way or cause wrecks. The TV shows can say as much or as little as they want about her too. I'm all set as long as my "mute" and "On/Off" buttons work.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with her moving to NASCAR full time. She's made some big improvements this year and she seems to be having fun.

Never really like her attitude but even that seems to have gotten a bit better over the last year and a half. Granted, her old attitude does tend to come out at times.

Will I enjoy seeing those GoDaddy commercials? Nope. That's just something I'll have to deal with.

Hopefully ESPN doesn't go overboard with the coverage of her but they probably will. Can't blame Danica for that though, since she has no control over it.

I'm kind of excited to watch some Nationwide races next year. It'll be interesting to see how Danica does. Looking forward to seeing Travis Pastrana in at least 20 races as well.

OSBORNK said...

I wonder if Danica is good for the series in the long run. If we get Danicamania and the networks concentrate most of their attention on her, will the sponsors that are ignored along with their drivers continue to be a sponsor? What is in it for them? They sponsor drivers for the exposure to sell their product and if there is little or no exposure, there is no reason to spend the money.

SnowdogBob said...

James - sorry if my post misstated my intention. I'm not terribly interested in Danica's appearance. Comparing her midpack and back performance to Shirley was what i took issue with. Danica reminds me more of Janet Guthrie who was in racing because that's where there was the chance to market herself (and in Janet's case it was another thrill for her checklist) I look forward to Danica coming to NASCAR and seeing if she can work the craft of stock cars into her skills. It's only Danica and her sponsor her make her more about Appearance over Performance. Any attempt by Danica or her fans to separate the two need to get her to make performance vs. "Brand Awareness" the defition of success.

If Danica comes to races next year and talks racing in prerace and post race(and not how supportive fans have been) and runs top 10 in points (which isn't hard this year) it will get media a great chance to market her as a challenger.

-- but separate from that --

Over the last 30+ years I've been old enough to follow NASCAR closely it's become more and more about marketing and talking heads and sponsor plugs than racing. I just worry Danica will prove a further distraction from the sport I love and remember.

I listen to talking heads brag about how great NASCAR is now because of 30-35 cars on the lead lap at the end of races. That doesn't make for better racing, it just detracts from people being able to make decisions for no tires, 2 tires, 4 tires at the end of races.

Yes...Media can spin Danica into a NASCAR success story, but to me it's just a little more erosion of NASCAR. I want to get excited about the next great things (like Carl Edwards was) or like Joey Logano was supposed to be. The next recycled driver coming to NASCAR off less than stellar competetive alternatives just isn't exciting anymore. I've not heard rumor of Danica turning down moving to Ganasi or Penske vs. for JR Motorsports. If we hear she turned down championship caliber rides to come here i'll definately have more respect for her intentions.

I go in once more hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst. I really hope this time next year I can call myself a Danica fan thanks to her positive attitude and work effort (and possibly even her heartwarming successes). The combination of Stewart, Earnhardt and Danica working together can mean nothing if not the largest opportunity to get NASCAR more headlines and coverage next year. Every Indy car race Danica's finish is in the first paragraph of the stories I've read. (but maybe i'm reading the wrong stories) Top 10s will mentioned, Top 5s would generate feature stories written. A win would guarantee a media tour akin to what a Daytona 500 winner or Indy 500 winner gets. If she wins a race in Iowa she'll likely be doing weeks of Late Night and Sports appearances to talk about her win. This could be HUGE....fingers cross it does.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "BUST"?

Anonymous said...

I am intrigued by the Danica move. She brings a new dynamic to the sport that we haven't seen as often as we should (talented female racer).

However, I am also anticipating the All-Danica NNS coverage.

Her interviews in pre and post-race with her publicity woman / assistant / whatever she is by her side always crack me up.

The Academy or Ormond Beach said...

I remain disgusted as the new NASCAR diva will unleash its presence every 30 seconds on my Saturday or Sunday race day. I detest the constant coverage, and moreover, detest the Godaddy ads that will itercept at least one commerical during each "station identification". I can't fathom NASCAR as a SPORT any longer due to Patrick's icon status as a result of bringing more money into the circuit due to sponsorship.

I've stopped watching Nationwide series since her first debut as the only exemplified driver on the track. I do tune in when she is not on the circuit so I can get an accurate account of all the drivers.

I can see now that at least part of my Sunday races will be tuned off, too, as long as she is on the track. We travel to other tracks, and I will be sure not purchase tickets during her races.

NASCAR has done this sport a disservice by allowing Patrick so much coverage with so little experience. Had she moved up the ranks like any other athelete, I think fans would have embraced her more. Now NASCAR may soon find itself with the female worker/housewife looking for the underdog. Possibly its audience will see a wave of pink througout its stands, if they can afford it and don't lose interest after a few races. Shame on you!