Thursday, August 25, 2011

"SPEED Center" About To Play A Bigger Role

One of the most interesting changes to SPEED since Patti Wheeler took over the programming and production departments at the network has been a show called SPEED Center.

Many viewers may remember The SPEED Report, a one-hour show aired on Sunday night at 7PM. It was the network's only true motorsports program for news, highlights and interviews.

Wheeler's idea is to expand the TV portion of that concept and tie it to the instant information available through new technology. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter contain a steady stream of information about virtually every series racing worldwide.

"In continuing to differentiate SPEED Center as the definitive source for news and analysis from across the motorsports world, we wanted to create a ‘command center’ that not only incorporates all forms of racing but also integrates the latest technology to deliver up-to-the-second information from any racing venue in the world," said Wheeler. "The show is as fast-paced as the racing it covers, and we think the new look reflects the sense of urgency in motorsports and live television."

The bottom line is, she is right. TV is changing and much of it is quickly falling apart as it lags behind in technology. How many local TV news shows use YouTube clips, tweets and Facebook page information? The answer is a lot.

The missing link for SPEED for years has been updated motorsports news and information presented in a timely fashion. The new SPEED Center is designed not only to host the one-hour show on Sundays, but to be active throughout the racing weekends. That is a huge undertaking.

The good news is that the show host Adam Alexander has toned it down. He is much more effective working at a deliberate pace and passing along information without fake excitement or his personal volume control set on high.

The new SPEED Center set rolls out on Friday at 7PM as Alexander hosts a NASCAR-themed edition of the show. Here are some specifics on the technology he will have available.

This from SPEED:

The motor sports news program unveils a contemporary and completely interactive set anchored by an 85-inch on-air touchscreen linked to a real-time timing-and-scoring database. The new set also boasts a graphics overhaul and more than 31 video display devices controllable from multiple points.

The set was designed by Lead Designer Jim Fenhagen and Senior Designer Larry Hartman of the Jack Morton Company. They have designed some of the most recognizable sets on television, including those of Good Morning America, Piers Morgan Tonight, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show and World News Tonight.

SPEED has come a very long way from renting studio space from a religious network and then having to rent office space across the street. These days, the network is settled into a High Definition studio in the Greater Charlotte area put together specifically for the TV operations.

It should be interesting to see Alexander work the new set and all the gizmo's this weekend. It just might be that SPEED has added a key piece of the puzzle as the network grows more toward motorsports programming and news than "lifestyle" shows and infomercials.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

I just hope that the set design doesn't use the garrish red,blue and silver that SPEED has become so fond of in the past.It looks hard and cold to me.Nothing to invite me to watch and feel comfortable with.

Nature Boy NC said...

I'm afraid that with the much bigger set, Adam A. will start shouting again. He turned down the volume when he went to the much smaller set. With the bigger set and more gizmos at his disposal, I think he'll go back to his bad habits.

glenc1 said...

If they're using technology to bring *important* information to the viewers, that's great.

But you say:

How many local TV news shows use YouTube clips, tweets and Facebook page information? The answer is a lot.

My answer would be way too many. If there are tweets from drivers explaining something useful, or a photo of say, the Pocono flagstand when it was hit, that was interesting. If, on the other hand, they are telling us tweets from fans and facebook pictures of them standing next to Jeff Gordon, count me out. The Weather channel has now become largely unwatchable--I really don't care what people think about the least people who are not meteorologists. I don't care about their photos of puffy clouds or the fact that they're tired of the heat. I don't watch the TV news anymore and that's part of the reason. Why this obsession with what other viewers think/share? I find it quite pathetic. Just saying there are two ways this can go. If people are irritated that Miss Sprint is reading tweets on Racehub, more of the same might not go over well.

I do recall the set in the old Speedvision days for 'Inside Winston Cup.' Looked like it was built by a high school shop class. They've come a long way, and that's a good thing.

GinaV24 said...

LOL, GlenC1, you hit on one of my annoyances with the addition of "social media" to the news channels. I used to tune to TWC to get (gasp) the weather! Now I get silliness and preproduced nonsense.

If Speed Center can offer me real news and information real time, that's great. If they are going to just tell me silly crap that I don't care about, well, I'll tune it out.

I agree with Nature Boy, too, that if Adam starts "yelling" again, I'll tune out for that reason as well.

Sophia said...

I agree about SPeed set design & colors garish. I MISS the warm tones of comfortable room & chairs on TWIN w steve byrnes & the guys or the show it was called before then.

As far as adding tweets/fb? Everybody is doing it from CNN/Fox to sport shows to local news. It's too much. It's minutia to me and wastes time.

I've even noticing some of us early to the SM scenes w blogs (Tried wordpress, hated it, switched to blogger) and MySpace & Twitter have cut back in comments. Those attatched 24/7 w smart phones (99% of my local twitter line)are also turning OFF the technology more.

We still like it but the entire internet/media world is trying to copy it.

When I watch TV, I want to see TV. Nothing annoys me more than to hear "for more on this story or interview go to our website..."

No! That's why I'm watching tv.

I did totally enjoy Robin Miller & Varsha on Wind Tunnel together last week. One of the most fun & INFORMATIVE shows I'd seen in months. I don't do that chat room on that show either, not even if i listen to WT extra.

It's information overload imo.

James said...

Has it ever been asked, if we continue to focus on post race weekly coverage, and allow the actual race coverge to be as bad as it is, why would a fan spend four hours on a Sunday watching?

Vicky D said...

Looks like the studio will be fancy schmancy! And we'll hear stupid twitter questions to the guests and screaming from the host.

GinaV24 said...

ah yes, James. The 800 lb gorilla in the room is that if all we need to do is watch the last 10 laps and the post race recaps, why would we tune in for the entire broadcast.

It is definitely a dilemma for NASCAR. LOL, heard where Jr gave an interview saying it wasn't the track reconfig that caused the problems with the racing -- it was the CAR! oh boy, Mike Helton will be ticked!!

glenc1 said...

Sophia, I think you hit it with 'minutia' that's wasting our time. I don't mind features along with the news, but viewer input is...well, largly pointless. I must say, Dave Despain does get intelligent comments but the show is designed around that, not the news.

I love the ad for...I think it's a car...where some young woman is lamenting that her parents only have 13 'Friends' while she has 550 or something. Meanwhile her parents are out partying & having a good time with *real* people, and she's looking at pictures online & wondering if they're real. It would be funnier if it weren't so true.

You know, the Adam shouting thing never really bothered me, but clearly it is an issue from all the complaints. It's probably true that a bigger set might make you feel as if you have to talk louder.

Kenn Fong said...

J. D.,

Opinions are like, well, you know what. Everyone has one. Just because some fan knows how to use #hashtags doesn't mean his opinion is worth anything.

The only time I pay attention to the hashtags of strangers is when they tell about weather at the track or some other factual matter the racecast is not reporting.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

Roland said...

A new set is still not going to get me to watch it. The only part of it thats useful is the Final Lap, cause sometimes theres some rumors. I dont want social media interraction. Its a news show not SportsNation. Youtube clips are perfectly fine though.

John in Chico, Ca. said...

It’s been said here before and it’s worth saying again in relation to Speed Center.
I liked RPM2Night with John Kernan.
There was 2 Wheel Tuesday and Open Wheel Wednesday and other themes that allowed the host to bring in a driver or owner to match the titled night and explore in depth a particular subject. News was covered on a daily basis covering everything from Indy car to the NHRA.
We like NASCAR, very much. But have you ever been to an Outlaw race or a drag race or several other forms of professional forms of racing? None of them get the kind of coverage that NASCAR does and there’s good reason for it, there is no closer racing, anywhere, but SpeedTV might do well to open up a little more in the RPM2Night vein.
And Daniel Trotta has done a fine job when filling in and has a good tone to her voice.
Just sayin’.

NorCalFan said...

Caught Adam A. on a commercial this morning promoting the new Speed Center set and its premiere tonight. Hope he tones it down an octave or two during the show because he was shouting as if we were all deaf.