Sunday, February 20, 2011
The NASCAR on FOX team comes out of the gate in 2011 trying to get different results from exactly the same personalities in front of and behind the cameras. It's going to be a tall task to get the momentum flowing in the right direction where NASCAR fans and TV are concerned.
As you can tell from the picture above, the theme of this one is going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. trying to win the race on the 10th anniversary of his father's passing. Fans will once again hold up three fingers on lap 3 of the race. Keep an eye on how FOX handles this topic during the event.
Chris Myers is back in the Hollywood Hotel and it should be interesting to see if he continues the same act of being Mr. Confused. In fact, Myers is now in his second season of hosting Inside NASCAR on Showtime. Myers has a long history in TV as an informed and sophisticated on-air professional.
Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond join Myers for the pre-race show. Hammond has been outstanding this season with focused TV comments and an informed presence. Waltrip has been overused by SPEED and the result has been a tired guy who is talking too much. A well-rested Waltrip is going to be needed for this race that promises to have a very different dynamic.
Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds join Waltrip in the booth for the race. This mix has been effective for many years, but Waltrip's non-stop chatter last year at this event set the tone for what was to be a rough season. If the producer allows Joy to take charge and direct traffic, things should be fine.
Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are the top of the heap in terms of pit road reporters. A diverse group of professionals with other interests and TV projects, FOX has failed to effectively use their talents for several seasons. Hopefully, a new focus on information will allow them more air time.
There is no RaceBuddy for the FOX races this season. That means during TV commercials fans have nowhere to continue watching the race. NASCAR.com has a live leaderboard but no free scanners. Basically, FOX and the radio are the only two information sources for the event.
FOX has not embraced social media and there is no focused location for tweets or Facebook conversation with fans during the telecast. Darrell Waltrip has an active Twitter account, so it should be interesting to see if he will be interacting with fans from the TV booth during the race.
The network has FLIR technology, new in-car camera angles and a race where two cars can pull away from the pack. It's an interesting combination of elements where making TV is concerned. FOX has a long history of overusing in-car angles, trying to build drama and focusing on the winner instead of all the finishers.
There are four years left in the current TV contract. In reality, FOX may well have only four more cracks at covering the Daytona 500. After last season's pothole issues and the erosion of TV viewers, the pressure is on to deliver a memorable and informative telecast.
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