Friday, March 2, 2012

NASCAR's After School Special


After no NASCAR Now program on ESPN2 Wednesday, a stellar show aired on Thursday. Addressing the move by Penske to Ford and all the dynamics associated with that topic was the theme. In addition, the penalties to the #48 team were discussed since there was no program produced on Wednesday.

Once again, the Thursday program aired at 3PM ET and did not re-air. Lost in TV space were Ray Evernham, Ricky Craven and Ryan McGee. This trio covered a lot of ground and brought a wealth of experience to the key NASCAR topics they addressed on the Thursday show.

For a wide variety of reasons, ESPN has decided this year to continue to bury NASCAR Now at 3PM ET and pretend nothing is wrong. Well, something certainly is. Either ESPN is in or out where NASCAR is concerned. Despite the spin, the Afternoon Special is alive and well and living on ESPN2.

The column excerpt below (with original reader comments) is a repost from September of 2011 when ESPN suddenly decided to make a very drastic change to a series that involves ESPN core programming and a sport called NASCAR.

The ABC After School Special aired in one form or another from 1972 to 1996. That is a picture of the original TV title card for the series. The ABC programmers used a unique approach to get teens to watch shows about inspirational topics. They made the late afternoon timeslot special. It was an hour just for kids. In twenty-five years, the ABC After School Special won 51 Daytime Emmy Awards.

This week there will be some significant changes to the ESPN2 line-up. The programmers have decided to expand on the success of the afternoon Sports Nation show. Beginning Monday, 3:30 to 6PM ET weekdays on ESPN2 will feature nothing but talk shows. It's ESPN's version of the after school special.

You may remember Charissa Thompson as the co-host of Michael Waltrip's ill-fated amateur talent show on SPEED. Thompson has now moved to ESPN and will co-host the new 3:30PM program called Numbers Never Lie. ESPN's description of the show is "a lively roundtable debate pitting the wisdom of former professional athletes against the pragmatism of statisticians."

At 4PM will be another new show called Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable. The Miami-based Le Batard is well known to ESPN viewers. This 30 minute show will present Le Batard's views on sports topics of the day. Included in the program will be frequent appearances by his 72 year-old Cuban-American father, Gonzalo.

Next at 4:30PM will be TV veteran Jim Rome with his Rome is Burning show. Hard-edged and feisty, Rome is the bad cop to Le Batard's good cop. Rome's better days might be behind him, but he still is the king of sports smack-talk and seems to enjoy pushing the buttons of professional athletes.

The reason for all these changes is the Sports Nation show. Moved into the 5PM timeslot because of its ratings demo with teens and young adults, Sports Nation is an hour of classic MTV-style chaos. A pretty girl talks sports just like a boy while she shows lots of funny videos. The show also features Colin Cowherd.

This change has moved the daily shows that featured actual sports themes to different ESPN networks and timeslots. One of those programs is NASCAR Now. Since 2007, the show has been airing at 5PM Eastern with a West Coast re-air for Pacific time zone viewers. Those days have now ended.

The legacy of NASCAR Now is that starting Monday it gets stuck at the beginning of the new ESPN2 after school programming bundle. Also eliminated is any type of regular re-airing of the show at a later time for West Coast viewers.

According to the Nielsen company, the country has right around 100 million homes that have cable TV or home satellite service. Less than half of those homes have a digital video recorder (DVR). Moving NASCAR Now to 3PM Eastern with no additional airing is going to eliminate a significant number of households from viewing the series.

In the heart of the season and with the Chase storylines just starting to develop, NASCAR has taken a major blow in exposure from its largest TV partner. NASCAR Now will also not get a later airing on ESPNEWS and cannot be made available online. Now firmly stuck as the lead-in for an after school block of shows, the NASCAR series we watched ESPN work so hard to develop is headed for no man's land.

Over the years, the 3PM timeslot on ESPN2 has been occupied by a wide variety of TV series. The question is, can you remember the name of even one? Neither can I.

Farewell NASCAR Now, it was nice to know you.

Update: In 2012, the network also elminated the Monday one-hour Rountable show featuring Allen Bestwick. It is now 30 minutes in length with a regular news format.


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

52 comments:

tiamatsrevenge said...

Not like any of us on the West Coast wanted to watch NASCAR Now or NASCAR RaceHub ...

Oh well ... Disney and Fox ... You snooze, you lose (viewers) ...

Gymmie said...

That's such a shame :(. Just cancel the dang show since that's obviously their goal. 2:30 is in the middle of folks work day & with no re-air if DVRs fail, power/cable goes out, etc. people won't be able to watch.

Also, if something live happens to be on & it goes long, are they going to show NN or just go to the next After School Special? So with no re-airs we're SOL.

They lost a lot of folks because of it bouncing around if a live event ran long and sometimes the re-air doesn't run the time it should. So would have to set the DVR to record long just in case.

Also there's a change for the Roundtable, it'll be MartDawg & Allen with Johnny B., and Ricky :)

GinaV24 said...

Farewell, indeed. it's a shame. That program went from absolutely awful to done very well with Allen taking care of business.

I am simply not going to play "find the program" with it.

I know when RaceHub is on very night - even if I think that Speed made a dumb move by changing the time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. That means it will always be DVR theatre for me since I usually hit the gym on the way home from work. I can be home by 7 after a workout, but not by 6.

ESPN is out to lunch but I guess if the demographics they are trying to attract watch SportsNation, they probably aren't NASCAR fans anyway.

Anonymous said...

At this pace, NASCAR Now will be a morning show by the time this TV deal ends.

larry said...

Obviously NASCAR doesn't care...should we?

I haven't watched an entire race this year, after more than 50 years of being an absolute fanatic about NASCAR.

tommy1946 said...

We do not have a DVR upstairs where we watched RaceHub. We are doing something else at the earlier time. Guess we will watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. NASCAR programming bites the dust again. Sad....

KoHoSo said...

While I lament this move, I must also say that this is not a big deal personally for those like me that live on the west coast as those with regular working hours always had to record NASCAR Now anyway.

Still, it's a shame that the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network feels it has to put so much emphasis on the E in ESPN instead of the S. As I have said before, I don't fault them for going for better ratings but, then again, they should also find a way to better support the sports they have partnered with, especially one as popular as NASCAR.

Daly Planet Editor said...

FYI: NASCAR Now's re-air schedule, prior to today, was aimed at the West Coast audience.

Show re-aired between 9 and 11PM Pacific Time. Those re-airs have now been cancelled.

JD

Marylee in Richmond said...

Between NASCAR Now moving to mid-afternoon, and Race Hub moving to 6 pm, the schedulers have shown they have absolutely no concept of the TV viewing of mature, employed, adults. Especially those with no DVR.

Anonymous said...

The only time I ever watched NN was on Monday's when the panel consisted of folks with a Nascar background. I'm retired and we have two DVR's, yet I won't bother when the host/guest makeup is so weak. Just telling it like it is. Espn continues to demonstrate over and over their contempt for Nascar.

Anonymous said...

5PM eastern isn't that good of a timeslot for that matter. Many people are just leaving work during that hour. The evening rush hour is just begging.

I, personally, don't see that much of a difference. It gets missed either way.

There are also another type of device that can record a TV program. It is called a VCR.

West Coast Diane said...

I have Race Hub & Nascar Now on "season pass". However, I find that I usually only watch the Monday shows and if I like who is on the panel. If Rusty is on, I take a pass.

Rest of the week, if I do watch, it is usually Race Hub. I like Steve B. If there is news I may check NN.

Bottom line....I delete more than I watch.

dwight said...

I find it hard to get exercised about this. What messes me up is when shows are scheduled for one time, and pushed back. I hate it, for example, if I go to watch NN, and find poker or Sports Nation is the recorded content. In this age, if you want to watch it, you can. WITHOUT THE COMMERCIALS.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just the broke target-market, 20-something guy - but who the (expletives deleted) has money to get and use a DVR? You don't have one UPSTAIRS?

I can't even fathom that. I'm happy to have a bigger TV. CRT, even.

Disregarding conclusions as to market, demographic, et al - it's a stupid decision. Most of us normal non-DVR, non 50k+ fans can't afford to watch.

As said previously, cancel the thing. I hate ESPN and their idea of "coverage" and am happily ready to quit bothering come 2012.

SnowdogBob said...

I'd rather listen to Moody on Sirius from 3pm to 7pm anyway. But i'll DVR the monday roundtable and speed watch the interesting parts (for as long as it lasts) In that timeframe the chance for meaningful ad revenue will probably not cover the fuel cost for Ricky to drive down from Maine. Skype here we come.

BToS JD said...

I DVR the Monday NASCAR Now roundtable if Bestwick is on. The other NASCAR Now shows are typically drivel and not worth my time to record.

Nothing will change for me...

Anonymous said...

I don't see the big problem. I think that this could work, you cannot assume that it wont. I have watched almost every NASCAR Now since it began, and I have always DVR'd it, so now I will just set it sooner. Also, for me it would be easier to watch it live at 3 verses 5 because of my schedule.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:11PM,

Care to share any other 3PM show on ESPN2 that was memorable?

This is the timeslot of death.

Jd

boyd said...

Don't they just shelve NN after the season anyway?

I agree with a number of responses about only watching the Monday edition, so now I'll miss that too.

It shows that the NFL is the big boy in the house. If it doesn't show back up in 2012 we'll have a definite answer.

Roadgeek Adam said...

I personally don't watch most NASCAR coverage besides race weekend stuff. Trackside bores me to death, Victory Lane has been boring since they dumped the original format with D. Cope and the gang years ago.

NASCAR Now is not something that should be running 5 days a week (Monday evenings would've been better). Race Hub I normally can't catch due to other commitments. It's not a loss from my schedule if NASCAR Now is lost to the greedy idiots in television.

Darcie said...

Doesn't it seem that most of these new shows would play better on ESPN Radio? Who cares what Dan LeBatard thinks about anything? He's an empty suit and stinks on the only show I watch on ESPN, PTI, when he fills in for a vacationing person.

Numbers Never Lie sounds more like it would be better as a special, rather than a regular show. I mean, how many stats can you discuss without using them all up? Seriously, it sounds like a stupid idea.

Rome is Burning isn't a bad show, but again, suited to radio and not TV.

Finally, Sports Nation is probably the most low brow, stupid show on ESPN, and that's saying a lot because there's a lot of stupidity on that network. I swear it appeals to middle schoolers or those who still think like middle schoolers. It's slapstick and stupid, with no real sports value.

Again, ESPN proves that auto racing is the black sheep of the family, and will continue to be ignored. I just hope that in 2014, the bozos who make the TV contract money grab will wake up and find a network that will give Nascar the respect it deserves.

Karyn Stone said...

ESPN is really messing up! A question - who do you think does the best NASCAR coverage? Not say 'good', just of the 3, who does it best?

Ir42nate2bhere said...

Reading the comments here and on the repost of "ESPN downgrades stock", this is a core NASCAR site and many of your readers aren't watching the show,except for the Monday show., so you can't blame ESPN for trying to increase numbers, it is the name of the game.I also believe their college football and b-ball daily shows run in that 3-4 slot, arong with highly praised Outside the Lines.(FWIW,writing this as the new shows debut, they aren't too good)

Gymmie said...

That's a shame Larry :(. Hate to see long time fans just give up.

KoHoSo--true but as JD mentioned the re-air was when those working folks were at home so they could watch then or if a recording failure folks had a back up. So if they couldn't get the DVR'd show (i.e. cable/power out, a live event ran long etc.). they still had the re-air. Now if something happens to where it doesn't record there's no re-air :(.

I was doing things earlier & totally forgot about the show today :(. Oh well. I enjoy Allen, Boss, Ricky & Johnny B. :(

Anonymous said...

Mountain time zone evidently never matters to any of the networks. Nascar Now will be on at lunchtime, Race Hub will be on at 4pm with a re-air at midnight. I really like Steve Burns but I work for a living.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why Allen went to the booth. He saw the proverbial writing on the wall.

Although, with all of the Tivo technology those that want to watch will. Those without Tivo, will eventually get it and they will get to watch too.

William said...

Here's a novel idea, just put it online ( maybe they do, to tell the truth I have never been on ESPN's website ). It would eliminate any scheduling problems.

James said...

Just another reason NASCAR should not allow the networks to destroy the series.

Newracefan said...

Thank goodness for the DVR but what are they thinking. NN has come such a long way and now as the chase starts we are shuffled to the back of the pack. Every time I think ESPN gets it (se AB in the booth) they remind me that they really don't gave a crap about NASCAR. Not sure what RH is thinking either, it is basically forcing people without DVR's to be home timely or choose RH over the evening news. Kind of strange

Anonymous said...

Jim Rome is the king of saying the same thing 5 different ways in 30 seconds.

Anonymous said...

The continuation of the dumbing down of the race fan. I'm to the point I hate ESPN, 2, U, and any other version they shove down our throats. I barely had time to watch NN at 5 but now I will never watch at whatever god-forsaken time they decide on.
They do the same with other autoracing too. NHRA is the b***ard stepchild that plays behind poker and softball. I say just cancel the d*** show and be done with it - it's already full of forks!

Buschseries61 said...

It has to hurt for the people that worked on the show for over 4 years to be pushed into irrelevance. ESPN wanted in the NASCAR game in 2007, but wanted it on their own terms. NASCAR Network 2014 should solve that problem.

Quandary said...

That 4pm time slot might be opening up pretty soon. I watched the Dan LeBatard show and there's no way it stays on the air for very long.

Gymmie said...

William--they CAN'T. If they could we wouldn't have this column. JDs explained it numerous times.

The networks & Sirius can't put anything online without Turner's authorization (they run the NASCAR.COM site). That's why we only get Race Buddy during the TNT portion since that's them. And SPEED was able to get a dealio for Pick 'em Ups Buddy.

Anything that's streaming online is illegal & if they pursue it further to protect their copyrights it can get folks in LOTS of trouble.

Gymmie said...

Welp, looks like they heard our cries! Turner & BSPN decided to play together nicely! Now to get FOX to play nicely & for them to keep this going ALL YEAR LONG <3

Breaking news that 9 out of the 10 races will be online AND they're going to be putting NASCAR Now online as well!

Anonymous said...

The DVR has always been unreliable when it comes to NASCAR Now because it's so often not on when scheduled. If putting the show earlier will lock it into a reliable slot, that will actually make it better for me. I never watch live anyway. But I'm not holding my breath. ESPN might need to show ping pong or bridge or whatever instead.

sbaker17 said...

How about renaming it:
"NASCAR Not Now" as I am busy at 12:00pm Pacific

Vicky D said...

Boy, Nascar is really getting the short end of the stick. We wondered why NN didn't record on Wednesday now we know we thought it was our machine. And we really miss the Mondays Roundtable. What will ESPN think of next????

Joj said...

I don't get how espn pays a fortune for NASCAR then does everything in the world to kill it.
We gave up trying to DVR it( NN) when we got a soccer game from England. We do not watch espn except for NN or races. Now its 1 more reason to not bother to watch.
Farewell to espn

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is not the cash cow it once was. Whether it is being caused by the economy or Brian France or just a shift in public opinion, the dollars aren't there like they used to be.

With Showtimes announcement about Inside NASCAR and ESPN's slowly killing NASCAR Now, is this network shift away from NASCAR happening as part of the sport losing more and more of its market appeal? Ecomonic hard times are making sponsor dollars dry up for the hoods of cars so are they also drying up for the commercial slots of NASCAR programs?

Anonymous said...

This is one post I hope everyone reads and understands!! All TV now is hugely driven by ratings. Most people I'm guessing don't know this, but the networks can tell minute by minute what people are watching. As much as people on this site love racing and it's programming, evidently shows about racing don't score very high ratings, because if they did they would be put front and center. To me, there's nothing better than Ray Evernham and Craven , they are the best at giving great info, but obviously the country as a whole doesn't share my views.Race hub last night had Jimmy Spencer acting the part of a WWE wrestler answering questions, which I hate, but others must like that.Speed has tried many racing shows, only to drop them for reality TV. So ratings people, are what ails NASCAR. NASCAR has a lot of fans, but ratings show that the races do OK, but associated shows don't draw the ratings.

glenc1 said...

really, anon 9:27?...you think we're not aware of how ratings work? You think 'most people' don't know this? Oy vey, this is a *media* blog, we talk about this all the time. Sorry for my incredulity at your comment. But we are not naive race fans.

The point is, ESPN shows the weekly Nationwide race as well as the Cup races later in the season. What you would *think* they would want to do it promote their own programming (which is also a common theme amongst other networks); that could be beneficial for the ratings for the race programming. It's not just about TV sponsors. That is what they should be considering, ways to improve their viewership, not ways to make people not care. That promotion could ultimately drum up interest and raise the ratings for the actual events.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

What a waste of the talent. Especially Ray Evernham.

Once again, not sure why they even have a show.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

Glenc1
Viewership on races has improved. Since the shift to 3 PM the Chase and Daytona ratings all went up. Maybe instead of beating this dead horse it is time to accept this and move on.

glenc1 said...

I don't think there's a cause & effect there, Nate. It was the competitive Chase, and Daytona. I don't believe we've seen evidence of trending upwards. But whatever you have, you should want more. Frankly, I don't watch it at all anymore, but not to have a re-air on one of their many networks, instead of rerunning other shows multiple times is a no brainer. It would be one thing if there were really no room for it. There is.

nan said...

If the daily show was all motorsports, like the old RPM Tonight, then maybe it would have a broad enough audience to survive.

Tracy D said...

What Nan said.

GinaV24 said...

I don't even bother setting the DVR for it. I got tired of chasing it around ESPN's schedule and I already tape General Hospital to watch (yeah, yeah, I know a "soap opera") so 3 p.m. East Coast time with no re-air, I've lost interest and that's a shame.

Allen did a great job making this a show worth watching only to get screwed again, along with NASCAR fans.

Buschseries61 said...

I've accepted ESPN will not change the time, so I just accept I will never be able to watch it. I haven't seen a single Nascar Now show in 2012. I've only seen a few segments featured on SportsCenter. If that's what ESPN wants, mission accomplished.

RRA-Phil said...

Just exactly how dang hard is it to post a podcast of NASCAR Now on the ESPN web site? They post replays of seemingly every other commentary show they air plus the Jayski show that's not on the air at all. Now don't get me wrong, I think Jayski's site is one of the best things to happen to NASCAR media coverage since the '79 Daytona 500 and Mark Garrow is an excellent NASCAR PbP guy, but IMO NASCAR Now is quite easily the better of the two shows and honestly deserves at the very least a podcast audio replay. C'mon ESPN - posting one more podcast replay ain't gonna break the bank and you just might make a few NASCAR fans happy.

John Potts said...

I think you might be a little off on the Kenny Wallace license comment. The jump from $3,000 to $8,000 wasn't for just a Nationwide license, but a "Gold" license. I believe that covers ALL NASCAR touring classes. He had to have that to enter the Daytona 500. Either way, it's a hell of a jump in pricel.

Dot said...

As I've been saying, BSPN hates race fans.

What I don't understand is why the ball sports (even off season) still have new shows on all year long? Not to mention the 6-8 hours of sportscenter that shows nothing but ball sports.

I am so hoping BSPN does not bid on the new TV contract.