Friday, January 20, 2012

The 6PM TV Traffic Jam

It's a topic that becomes relevant for NASCAR fans starting once again on Monday. As the 2012 racing season gets underway, host Steve Byrnes will crank up another year of RaceHub on SPEED. This series became the de facto daily NASCAR TV show in the middle of last season.

In order to make way for a new block of afternoon talk shows, ESPN2 moved the NASCAR Now program from 5PM to a much earlier afternoon timeslot. The 5 year-old series that had finally come into it's own never recovered. This season brings more of the same. It's 3PM ET again for NASCAR Now on ESPN2 when the series starts in February.

Byrnes and company put a one-hour show together Monday through Thursday all season long. Despite the carefully controlled agenda, RaceHub puts out a ton of quality news, interviews and features. It's an important show that keeps a weekday NASCAR presence on national TV.

On September 12 of last year SPEED changed the air time of RaceHub from 7 to 6PM ET. This move was made without explanation and by a senior management team no longer in place at the network. "Puzzling TV Changes At SPEED" was the TDP post that discussed some of the inherent problems in committing the series to this timeslot. Click on the title to read the original column.

In addition to going head-to-head with the traditional East Coast hour of local and national TV news, RaceHub faced another significant problem. Most NASCAR fans also are fans of other sports. Coming off a lead-in from the powerhouse Pardon The Interruption, 6PM on weekdays is the time for ESPN's franchise series SportsCenter.

ESPN puts a ton of resources into this show that primarily serves to preview the key sports match-ups of the day. In addition, any breaking sports news is also featured. Where sports fans are concerned, the 6PM SportsCenter is the king of the TV hill.

This month, VERSUS was rebranded as the NBC Sports Network. Part of a massive allocation of sports resources was the commitment by NBC to establish a daily sports news program. The new series, airing up against SportsCenter at 6PM, is called NBC SportsTalk.

Hosted by sports TV veteran Russ Thaler, SportsTalk is currently focused squarely on the stick-and-ball world long dominated by ESPN in terms of covering daily sports news. It's very clear that the new management at NBC is ready for a fight. Appearing on the show are a wide variety of personalities from different TV networks, websites and publications.

What NBC has cleverly done with SportsTalk is unite the sports media resources outside the ESPN bubble into a powerful mix of experts, analysts and commentators. What makes the series click are the diverse points of view freely presented.

As RaceHub enters the 6PM battle once again, it resembles SportsCenter in that the show line-up is comprised of FOX and SPEED personalities almost exclusively. There have been no independent journalists, traveling media members or NASCAR critics featured. Any difference of opinion comes from within the FOX/SPEED family of on-camera personalities.

RaceHub's strength is in it's geographic proximity to most of NASCAR's shops, vendors and suppliers. This allows for easy access to personalities across the NASCAR spectrum. The results have been simply tremendous in terms of additional exposure for drivers, teams and sponsors. Danica Patrick is the in-studio guest on Monday's show.

SPEED's programming schedules confirm RaceHub at 6PM ET through February. That is surprising given that SPEED's 7PM hour is filled will repeats of shows like Pass Time and Pumped!

Looking down the dial at SportsCenter and SportsTalk in the height of the NFL playoff season might suggest to SPEED that the original 7PM timeslot would make a lot more sense. Perhaps, even re-airing RaceHub again at 7PM would reap better benefits for the network than repeats of lifestyle shows.

The regular cast of characters returns with Byrnes. Danielle Trotta is the full time field reporter, Matt Clark is the pit crew coach and Jimmy Spencer is...well...Jimmy Spencer. The FOX and SPEED personalities on the show include Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, Bob Dillner, Ray Dunlap and Randy Pemberton.

Before the season gets underway, perhaps you can share your perspective on this NASCAR TV series, the personalities involved and the impact it has on your viewing habits. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion. Thanks as always for taking the time to stop by.


Brian Vermette said...

I don't know if I'm going to watch NBC SportsTalk or NASCAR Now, well I know the DVR will working if I want to watch either show.

But I do like the 6pm timeslot for NASCAR RaceHub on SPEED. It works very well for me. However 7pm does too as its going to get DVR'ed anyway. I try not to watch live TV that often.

But I can see where the problem would be in dealing with other shows.

Well I say give it a chance and if SPEED doesn't like the ratings, then they will move it to 7pm.

However RaceHub is the only real daily NASCAR news show, I just wish SPEED would change RaceHub to all motorsports and not just NASCAR. That would get even better ratings and its something ESPN nor NBC even have.

PhoenixHotZonie said...

JD you asked..... "perhaps you can share your perspective on this NASCAR TV series, the personalities involved and the impact it has on your viewing habits."

Well, it's getting old.

Groundhog Day.

The twitter & tweetes just is not going to do it.

NASCAR .....underpromise and over deliver!

glenc1 said...

For me, 6pm works fine for Racehub, 7 would be okay too. If I want to catch Sportcenter, I can do so at another time. I won't get the NBC sports station until I upgrade (which I plan to do). But who knows, they may repeat some other time as well.

But I tend to look at these shows as not individual shows but part of the network's offerings...Sportscenter evolves as stories ebb & flow. Frankly, I hadn't paid much attention to the lack of 'independent' journalists, because I watch PTI & ATH, both of which feature just that and often talk about the same topics so frankly, it gets old sometimes (and of course, they all admit to knowing little when the subject is racing, pretty much *any* racing, not just NASCAR.) I do watch NFL network, mostly during the season, and they often feature 'local' reporters who cover their teams all the time, and I do like that aspect of coverage.

But I have given up on the idea of any independent views of simply doesn't exist, and we've gone on & on about the reasons why. I think NASCAR is wrong to think their sport can't handle criticism as the others do. If they want to run with the big dogs, they need to get off the porch.

AncientRacer said...

Jd Thanks for your comment ending the comments on yesterday's topic. Anyone who has not read might be well served to do so. :)

I have repeatedly said that I would prefer the Hub to be on at 7ET as that is a much more agreeable time to me. Let me add to that by saying I know I could TiVo it to watch when I want, but I will not. It is a peculiar quirk of mine that I just do not TiVo newsy-type shows. Their shlf life is short and the effort too great for me.

As for the personalities who appear on Hub, well, it comes as no surprise they are FOX/Speed people as Newscorp owns both. Would I like other voices? Of course, but I also recognize the practical problems there related to warm bodies in the studio like, for instance, where is this or that person based? Are they nearby? This is particularly true in the case of sports journalists etc. who are not based in Charlotte.

However, there is always the option of electronically delivered guests and this is way, way underused given that FOX is a traditionally constructed network with brick and mortar affiliates nationwide.

I may have more to offer. If I think of it then I'll post it.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think this topic has been beaten to death.

Speed is typically on the premium cable channels and more often than not, come with a free cablebox/DRV.

For myself, i really don't care what time any show is presented. I watch 99% of my TV via the DVR, so it just doesn't matter.

Maybe after the season actually begins, there will be something more valuable worth discussing.


Roland said...

Ive said it before, but RaceHub just doesnt do it for me. Id rather DVR Nascar Now and watch it at 6 than "hub it out". Both shows have their strengths and weaknesses, but Nascar Now is a much more professional, unbiased show. And I do enjoy the roundtables. Speed just drinks the Nascar kool aid. And I do not like the Jimmy Spencer segments, they are kind of embarrassing. But at least Speed never preempts the hub for tennis or the little league world series. At least you can count on the hub being on every night. That is a big plus.

Vicky D said...

Here in Houston Hub had been on at 5 PM too early for me 6 PM was better. But I guess the guys at Speed no better than me what time is more popular with the viewers.

Robert M. McAdam said...

Who care what time the show is on? DVR it and watch it when you want.

AncientRacer said...

@Anon (JR)

You are correct.

We have near beat this topic to death, but I for one for instance am content to continue do so for as long as it takes.

Just like some other topics we thrash over and over again.

GinaV24 said...

I prefer 7 p.m. I'm seldom home from work yet at 6 and if I am, I'll plan to watch the news. I do have the DVR set to catch the Race Hub but it would be nice to be able to watch it "live".

I don't watch any ESPN unless it's for the races. That's a big part of why I'm considering downgrading my cable service - ESPN for me is a wasteland of voices - I know others probably rely on it, but I can find out what I need to know other ways. I did enjoy the Monday NASCAR roundtable and obviously having Allen hosting it helped improve my perspective on the show but ESPN's constant relocation or pre-empting the show made me not bother for the most part.

Anonymous said...

JR & Robert McAdam.....not *everyone* has a DVR, and they are not offered 'free' usually pay for the service as part of your deal (or when your free deal runs out). Or the package *with* the DVR costs more. It's just one more add on to already high costs.

Bobby O said...

I do not watch any nascar news shows anymore. The only one I use to watch was not really news, and I forget the name. But the one with AB, MW, KS, and JB.

I liked the way their personalities conflicted and it was funny.

Now I either do not like the personalities, or the presentation of the shows.

SnowdogBob said...

The only reason 7pm is better than 6pm for me is because Moody is on until 7pm on Sirius so I'd rather listen to that than watch any of these shows. I'll set the TiVo to pick the shows up and if time allows i'll likely watch in the 7pm slot before primetime starts.

Shayne Flaherty said...

I got rid of my DishNetwork system last year, after being loyal a customer for over a decade. The package to view channels such as SpeedTV, ESPN, Versus no longer made sense money-wise.

Thanks to the internet, there's no reason to wait until 6 p.m. for a recap of NASCAR news, especially stale NASCAR news.

Sally said...

I guess I'll just have to tape Nascar Now, as I (as are most people) don't get out of work in time to watch it 'live'. Race Hub has gotten pretty stale for me lately. I know I'm always going to hear that Nascar is perfect and every race was the best ever. Being in conflict with my local news hasn't helped a bit.

FloridaMatt said...

I originally favored Nascar Now, but regardless of its time slot, ESPN didn't run it as scheduled so often that I just plain gave up making any attempt to record it.

At an hour, RaceHub frequently feels like a half-hour (and less) of content stretched to fit. At this point I've got the dvr set to keep only one recording of it, and I usually won't watch unless I've read about something that might be worth looking at their coverage.

Buschseries61 said...

I'm just happy NASCAR will finally have a weekly presence on tv. TV failed NASCAR fans this silly season, which is sad considering we won't see another crazy active silly season for a while as the cycle rotates.

Anonymous said...

Its its its its its

It is = it's
Its = possessive, like His or Her. It isn't His's or Her's.

Its time slot. It's a great show. It's a new year. Its host is Steve Byrnes. It's taped in Charlotte. Its one hour format is awesome.

The Loose Wheel said...

I can't say I have recovered from the death of the RPM franchise, or even when Totally NASCAR got the boot. Thanks to life, I have really never had a chance to get locked into Hub or NN because the timeslots don't work for me. No DVR hasn't helped the case, and with the boom of social media by the time the news hits those networks it's already been broken and a column is up somewhere somehow.

That being said, there are 90 minutes of NASCAR news daily, 120 on Monday's, 30 on Friday's, not including pre-race shows during the weekends. It's given me NASCAR burnout on news content. My heart still yearns for the RPM days when a racing show may still have been dominated by NASCAR, but still contained solid content about all racing and didn't beat up on the same old stories week in and week out.

How many times can you continue to ask when is Dale Jr going to win, or how Danica will do in a stock car before you want to hear something else?

Okay off my soap box now.

Long story short, I could take or leave either of these. Hub brings more to the table but both need to get out of their comfort zones and bring in more diverse opinions from time to time.

I seriously miss David Poole right now.