Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day Two: "RaceBuddy" Reactions

It certainly sounded pretty good in the news release. Turner Sports and ESPN had made a deal. RaceBuddy was coming to the Chase. That is the Broadcast Slate 3000 pictured above that takes selected video feeds from the TV truck at the track and routes them to the video sources on the RaceBuddy page.

"Enhancing the viewing experience and improving the sport's digital and social presence for our millions of fans at the track, at home and everywhere in between is a goal we never lose sight of," said NASCAR's vice president of digital media Marc Jenkins.

"Turner Sports is delighted to partner with NASCAR and ESPN to expand the award-winning RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup," said senior vice president of Turner Sports Matthew Hong.

"Feedback from fans has been that they wish RaceBuddy were available for additional races outside the TNT portion of the season," Hong said. "We're proud to be able to bring them ChaseBuddy and extend the interactive experience of RaceBuddy to nine playoff races."

Hidden in the news releases from the various parties was this little nugget. "RaceBuddy will feature two mosaics with a mix of eight in-car and stationary cameras positioned around the track," said the Turner statement.

A key concern of ESPN when the network returned to the sport in 2007 was that an online product like RaceBuddy would take viewers away from the actual TV coverage. Racebuddy was created to simply be an addition to the telecasts, although it did have one camera dedicated to showing racing at all times. Now, that has changed.

While the in-car cameras and the "speed shot" from the stationary cameras were popular, it was the "battle cam" that gave RaceBuddy its heart and soul. That camera has now been completely eliminated from the Chase for the Championship version.

"Battle cam" was one of the "high cameras" positioned on the grandstand tower at the racetracks. It could see all the way around the track, but more importantly it was used to show something that current television coverage has long since cast aside. It constantly showed the best racing on the track regardless of position.

Follow the leader is the mantra of the current Sprint Cup Series TV partners. During the FOX portion of the season, the complaints pour in that the TV mix is simply the leader of the race and Junior. There is no RaceBuddy for these events. NASCAR on FOX absolutely wants nothing to do with online video.

When TNT rolls around, RaceBuddy eases the pain of viewers who again watch the leaders go around and around on TV. RaceBuddy allows users to watch the best racing on the track from the green to the checkered flag on the "battle cam." That will never be something shown on TV for more than a minute or two.

When RaceBuddy popped online last week for the first Chase race it offered fans multiple in-car cameras chosen by the Turner Sports folks. The two other slots were filled with cameras assigned to one specific view. ESPN had effectively shut the door to being able to use RaceBuddy to actually see cars racing around the track.

Fans who only had computer access of the rain-delayed Monday race either rode in-car with their favorite driver or watched the field drive through the other two camera views. While fans who attended the event told us there were some good battles in the middle of the pack, that was again eliminated in the ESPN production formula of tight camera shots of one or two cars.

It's not known who blinked, but RaceBuddy was effectively neutered in this deal. If your driver is selected for a featured in-car camera, then perhaps the value of this online application remains high. But without the "battle cam," it's just a watered-down version of the original concept.

For those asking, RaceBuddy will also not be providing an audio track of either the ESPN telecast or the radio coverage of the Chase races. Sound from team scanners can be heard when an individual camera is selected and the natural sound of the racing is heard on the other camera choices.

Sprint is paying the bill, so changing between mosaic views or individual cameras will get you a Sprint commercial playing on the screen. Perhaps, the 15 second versions will be inserted for the New Hampshire race instead of the longer 30 second versions that proved to be tough for race fans after several hours of use.

While RaceBuddy has finally cracked the online ice where ESPN is concerned, this Chasebuddy version packs a lot less punch by eliminating the most popular feature. Perhaps, this compromise deal meant that all parties had to give up something. It's pretty clear that "battle cam" is what Turner sacrificed.

We invite 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...

Lately, I see more and better racing on YouTube. Post-produced by amateurs.

Anonymous said...

I've never found race buddy type sites very helpful.When they are on the jayski site doesn't bother to to put updates on.Been following NA$CAR since 1961,but my life has not revolved around it.I can waite till the race is over as there is no more racing,just fuel streching stuff,but that's what it takes nowdays.

Anonymous said...

Would be happy with in-car scanner of all drivers. We seem to get more than enough in-car cams and "exciting" shots - least Speed was honest about it, and you could see what their cameras saw, including how hard it is to film something like this accurately.

No thanks on RaceBuddy - the sound never even worked for me. Can see Stewart giving what was presumably a salient and honest interview. Delayed, as others have said.

Couldn't hear crap, Cap'n!

My editorial, in one sentence: This isn't about competition, or racing, or entertainment...this is a business of stock numbers, personal investment accounts, those that run them, and those who laugh while benefiting; a technological, new-millenium (remember that?) version of Bread and Circuses.

(okay, a run-on sentence)

Once you realize that, mowing the lawn makes a lot more sense. Everything in business and entertainment is pointing that way. It's not about you, the viewer, short of stage performers or circuses or buskers or's about holding companies and stockholders getting more out of it this year with less work than the last.

Stop howling about ESPN, Bestwick, or Nascar...all three, and all participants, are in it to make a buck before anything else.

That's business. Business feeds kids. Don't like be cliched...don't watch!

Painful dilemma when this used to be fun, though.

GinaV24 said...

I like the original RaceBuddy offered when TNT is hosting the races. Without the battle cam, it's useless. I don't need in car cameras - I need to see what's happening OUTSIDE the car.

I'll stick to following the race using trackpass with pit command. I can listen to my driver and follow his position even if I can't see his car on TV or my computer.

Nice try, no sale.

GinaV24 said...

Anon 12:17 a.m.

"That's business. Business feeds kids. Don't like be cliched...don't watch!"

A decision that a lot of us made last year. You are correct, I can choose to do it again and honestly probably will.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Anonymous said...

I liked the old race buddy a lot. I tried the new version from work and quickly dismissed it. But at least it's better than nothing.

sbaker17 said...

If the TV broadcasters were doing their job, RaceBuddy wouldn't be needed.
If NASCAR has provided the broadcasters with lemons, then the broadcasters need to make lemonade.
I.E. : Show the viewers the racing action wherever it is on the track.
Provide useful sidebar info. Interview more than the top 5 drivers.
Give us full field shots and rundowns, etc.
After YEARS of watching NASCAR on the tube, with the way the current product is being presented and the continued use of poor quality TV personalities (any last name beginning with WAL) to present said product, I do believe if I am going to use my valuable time each weekend watching TV, it will be viewing something other than NASCAR

Anonymous said...

It was lame, to put it politely. The sound was the most annoying. A dull hum of engine noise was about it. I was limited to internet only to watch. ESPN has streaming on the net but you have to subscribe through some other medium to qualify. Stupid! If I have cable or sat then I don't need it on the net. I'd be happy to pay ESPN directly $5 a month or so to get the stream during the season but they don't offer it. These networks are run by people with no common sense. My only option was to watch it on a pirate feed that I will not name here for fear they will kill that too. Want to loose viewers? Keep locking us out.

Anonymous said...

A key concern of ESPN when the network returned to the sport in 2007 was that an online product like RaceBuddy would take viewers away from the actual TV coverage. Racebuddy was created to simply be an addition to the telecasts, although it did have one camera dedicated to showing racing at all times.

Fans who only had computer access of the rain-delayed Monday race either rode in-car with their favorite driver or watched the field drive through the other two camera views.

Isn't that the point? Race Buddy is not a replacement for viewing the race on TV. What is the problem?

Vince said...

I checked out ChaseBuddy for about 5 minutes and saw there was no Battle Cam and switched it off. The Battle Cam is the best part of RaceBuddy. That and the broadcast audio missing are big negatives. I don't really care to see a bunch of in car cameras and a fixed camera on the backstretch and the pits. ESPN & Turner, you could have done so much better than this. Go back to the version of RaceBuddy we had with TNT. This version is useless.

I switched to my pirated on line source to watch the ESPN feed.

Buschseries61 said...

Exactly my thoughts & frustrations JD. The fun of RaceBuddy & TruckBuddy was the ability to see things that were not on tv. Camera operators also had fun with the viewers with some of their shots. Instead, we had 6 in-car cameras and 2 fixed cameras on the backstretch and on pit road.

The Monday race added to the frustration because viewers without tv access became more reliant on ChaseBuddy for race coverage. ChaseBuddy missed on that opportunity. But progress takes time, and hopefully ChaseBuddy will improve for next year.

Charlie said...

I used Chasebuddy as a scanner and very rarely watched the in-car of the driver I was listening to.
I would rather have the scanner like they have for the NNS races.
With no battle cam it is not much use.

The 30 second commercials they run if you decide to change from one in-car cam to the other is annoying and the commercial is very loud.
I would like to have someone that controls Chasebuddy to put on headphones, go to an in-car cam driver, adjust the volume to hear the driver and others on the team talking and then without changing the volume, change to another in-car cam and see how loud the commercial is. It will blow you away.
The delay in Chasebuddy is also a problem. If you watch the Tv and also have Chasebuddy, Chasebuddy always tells you something you already know because of the delay.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
ChaseBuddy ...get real, it's ESPN and NASCAR ...should we have expected something worthwhile? NOT!

Anonymous said...

For reasons beyond my control I was not able to use Race Buddy on Monday. Fortunately I was able to see part of the race on TV... thank you CiCi's pizza.

However, I'm really disappointed, though not particularly surprised that Race Buddy was neutered the way it was. The real racing in NASCAR moved away from the track and into board rooms long ago.

Drivers in NASCAR make a point of thanking the fans in just about any interview they give. But I'm sure they're only following orders from the ivory tower.

As far as NASCAR and it's partners are concerned, fans are just numbers.

earl06 said...

As a fan, all I want is to be able to watch the races. On tv, on my laptop, on my phone, whatever, I just want to watch the damn race.

I can watch it on tv, as long as I am home when it airs for about $1000 per year. I can get a DVR to watch it at my leisure for another $200 per year. Not worth it.

My cable company is not part of the group that makes WatchESPN available, so mobile use is not for sale at any price. I guess I could switch to Sprint, but around here, Sprint has nada for coverage so I really can't. I can, however, get a pirate feed for free.

Online access, same as mobile, is not available at any price. But again, I can get a pirate feed for free.

Next time the media package is auctioned off, they better make damn sure there is a way for folks to consume the races live - tv, radio feed, online, mobile, the whole enchilada. This 20th century media garbage, plus no NASCAR app, plus the world's worst website is a perfect recipe to hemorrhage fans like what's been going on the last 5 years.

Sophia said...

If Racebuddy does NOT offer the "battle cam" = useless.

The more I skip watching races, the less aggravation.

A sport we all loved has become a GIANT commercial.

P.S. I did watch the last 2 laps on DVR & was happy to see Tony win. But after reading the horrid cam comments online I deleted the race, same as I've been doing 90% of races except for the TNT ones.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love Al Gore's amazing internet (apologies to Chris Plaint) it is a poor substitute for TV when watching live events.

My guess is that when the new smaller TV contract comes out Nascar and its "partners" will figure out a way to charge you for internet viewing.

Wonder how the sponsors like this?

Jack Shaftoe said...

I think that we care more about racing than do either ESPN or NASCAR.

Mule said...

ESPN need not to worry about losing TV viewership due to on-line resources.
Their doing a fine job of it all by themselves.!

scarletandmaize said...

It's not worth the time and effort. Just another example of how the WWL is trying to drive people away from the sport.

Kevin said...

I for one was a big fan of the RaceBuddy option this past Monday. It was my first time every using it...normally I watch the TV telecast delayed via DVR so as to cut out commercials.

I agree, the RaceBuddy option was limited. I'm a 24 fan, so I wasn't able to see an in-car view with him. But, I was able to follow pit road action, etc. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing. I had to "work" Monday, so being able to follow the race on one of my monitors was handy vs. following it with racecast.

An expanded RaceBuddy would be perfect, of course, but I wouldn't expect that for free.

Sally said...

I think it's a sad statement on race coverage when fans have to resort to multiple media just to be able to follow the race at home. Shouldn't we be able to do that just by turning on the TV? By the time you fire up the TV. the computer, and the radio just trying to keep informed on what's happening on the track, some thing has gone terribly wrong.

Vicky D said...

I watched a little of ChaseBuddy at work then I came home and watched the rest of it on tv. I feel so sorry for the other 31 teams who aren't in the Chase. I could follow the race a little bit but not as much as the battle cam. Hopefully, we'll have that this upcoming weekend!

Anonymous said...

I DVR every race. Only worry about the last 20 or so laps live, and I catch those after I have fast forwarded through all the b s commercialS and lame announcers. All the media garbage is old, and I am over it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone blames NASCAR for everything that OTHERS do! NASCAR puts on a great product -it's the TV "partners" that screw it up. Specifically ABC/ESPN. This combination is ONLY interested in nascar for the advertising money. If it was a ball sport, you would see a total effort to do a great job. ABC/ESPN thinks motorsports of any kind are not sports. Just turn on sportscenter and try to get motorsports news. Virtually impossible, but if you want ball news they are glad to give you more than you could possibly want.

TNT does a pretty good job, but they still could do better. I can't say about Racebuddy cause I've never been able to get it to work. Why, I have no idea. But it's a good idea I'd love to try.

NBC's coverage always just pure sucks. Enuf Said.

Fox does the best job. Period. I know there are people who will argue this, but it's a fact. Yep, they've got a few annoying things (the gopher for one), but looking at the overall package, they can't be beat.

Is any of this NASCAR? NO!!! They govern the sport, not the networks and their production people.

Blame the Networks...Hell, COMPLAIN to the networks -that will do much more good!!!