Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday NASCAR TV/Media Notes

As we move closer to the actual start of the season, the TV and media news is starting to heat up a bit. Here are some items from this week.

Bob Pockrass from said on Twitter that he recently talked to Carl Edwards and was told that Edwards has not yet made up his mind about working for ESPN on the Nationwide Series telecasts. I find that hard to believe, but there continues to be no comment from ESPN on the issue. Edwards recently confirmed he will not be driving in any Nationwide Series races in 2012.

A media favorite, Monica Palumbo, left her Miss Sprint Cup duties at the end of 2011. Sprint dropped a hint this week about who is replacing her. The hint was that the new Miss Sprint Cup team member had interviewed every 2011 X-Games gold medalist. Pretty good hint and I bet it starts some folks on a mission. Let me know if you think you have the answer.

Kind of a bombshell here. Apparently, Showtime is scaling back the Inside NASCAR show this season in a big way. As some of you might remember, this started out as a very expensive weekly hour show produced by the NASCAR Media Group from Charlotte, NC. It was cut to 30 minutes last year and now it is being slashed. I'm hearing only 11 episodes, one for the Daytona 500 and then none until the Chase begins. Still waiting for Showtime contacts to return emails to confirm.

Pete Pistone from SiriusXM radio mentioned earlier this week that he was told this season NASCAR on FOX will be using a side by side commercial format. This is a tough sell, as FOX is a broadcast network and has a totally different logistical method of running commercials. It is certainly possible for those truly national spots, but it cannot work for local station breaks. The FOX guys are working on a statement that should be coming Wednesday or Thursday on the topic.

Let's address some Hall of Fame issues. The actual dinner and induction ceremonies are going to take place on Friday night in Charlotte. The NASCAR Media Group is going to record the festivities and will edit the jacket ceremony, dinner and induction speeches into a show for SPEED that will air Sunday at 6PM ET.

The entire concept of the January induction was meant to hype Daytona and the start of the season. Instead, it happens at the height of the NFL mania currently engulfing American sports fans. There is no doubt that NMG will do a solid job, but there has to be a better way of handling this in the future.

I'm not a Barrett-Jackson fan, but this media release from Penske Racing got my attention:

"Tune into the Barrett-Jackson auction Thursday, January 19th at 8 pm ET on SPEED as NASCAR’s Roger Penske and Brad Keselowski along with Bruce Halle and Michael Zuieback from Discount Tire and members from Paralyzed Veterans of America will be in attendance to auction off the car Keselowski drove to his first win at Penske Racing. The auction of the 2010 No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger, which won the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway, will benefit Paralyzed Veterans."

Stewart-Haas Racing sent along a note that Tony Stewart will appear on an episode of Last Man Standing with Tim Allen scheduled to air in February. Click here to see some behind the scenes pictures of the shoot. I am certain we will hear more about this over the next several weeks.

Ben Grossman at Broadcasting & Cable just interviewed NASCAR Chairman Brian France. While much of the conversation was things we have heard before, France did point a finger at ESPN and talk about future TV negotiations. Here are those two questions.

B&C: You say you’re pretty aggressive about what your TV partners need to do for NASCAR. What do you want from them?

France: We are always the sport that is under-covered given the ratings and size of the events. In particular, ESPN. They just have so many platforms. So we are pushing real hard with them to have a more integrated approach. We have hired people to service them better, so we can help them accomplish that. They have the most assets to be deployed; it doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t have some big ones and good ones. We are going to work to make them a better partner.

B&C: Your TV deals are up in 2014, but when do your negotiating windows open with your current partners?

France: Not for a little while, but we are having conversations, because a lot of our partners have been clear they would prefer to renew. All things being equal, our first hope is that the incumbents do renew. . . I think [talks] could heat up at any time, that’s my sense. It’s not cold now, we are having conversations, my sense is things will happen sooner rather than later, and sooner than they normally would in a cycle of renewals.

This week marks five years since Benny Parsons was taken from us by lung cancer. Younger viewers may not have known this wonderful man, but veteran NASCAR fans certainly did. His knowledge about the sport and pleasant nature on the air helped to form an image of the sport that helped it to travel outside of the southeast and become truly national.

Former NBC and TNT announcer Bill Weber is a tremendous writer. He scripted a tribute to BP that aired during the TNT coverage. Click here to see it. You can also use the YouTube index to the right to locate other BP material, including the famous Buffet Benny segments on ESPN.

Please feel free to comment on the above topics. If any additional news rolls in, it will be posted right here. Thanks again for stopping by.


jerry said...

Wow, BF with a dig at the four letter. I like what he's saying but, it's not gonna happen.

There's a ESPN backlash coming(subscriber rates) if I'm NASCAR I'd rather not be there when it comes.

Vince said...

Ya know JD, I'm just not feeling it this year. The only good racing I saw last season was the last race of the year by Tony and Cousin Carl. I'm having a hard time generating any excitement about the coming year. Another words, in my current state of mind I don't give a rats a**. The current NASCAR is a complete 180 from the NASCAR I fell in love with back in the mid 1960s. I'm finding myself caring less and less about the sport as the years go on. Right now I'm thinking about hitting my local tracks and taking a year off from NASCAR.

I feel sorry for the newer fans that didn't get a chance to see the way NASCAR was back in the 60s-80s. It was nothing like todays NASCAR and that's sad.

Dot said...

I'm with Jerry, "Wow, BF with a dig at the four letter." I can't believe he noticed the poor coverage BSPN gives us, on or off the track.

Inside nascar scaling back doesn't surprise me. It's way too glitzy imo, not race fan friendly at all. I do like the race segments on IN though.

I bet if 3 drivers (not in suits) and a host sat and dissected races, it would be a ratings hit. Oh wait....

The HoF banquet is how the Cup banquet should be shown on TV. Edit the boring stuff, condense it to 2 hours and show it later.

JD, do you know why local commls can't be shown side by side? I don't get it.

I miss BP too. We shared the same birth date.

Buschseries61 said...

Something is not right about the Edwards situation. He said he was not running the Nationwide series in 2012, but he sounded very antsy to race in the PR release. Roush really needs sponsorship, and Edwards has the best image for sponsors. Clearly ESPN is in the way or else Roush would have to be insane to park Carl in the series, money-wise.

The NASCAR program on Showtime was traveling a downward path since it's beginning. I never saw the show since I don't have Showtime. SPEED does a great job covering the weekend activity at the track & RaceHub / NASCAR Now has fans covered during the week. There never was the desperate need for fans to spend extra for Showtime for one more NASCAR show. The panel was made up of NASCAR TV people seen all season long - no exclusive viewpoints. The show may have been fantastic, but a number of variables doomed the show.

BP gone five He had a comfortable way of transmitting his warmth and knowledge to all the fans watching at home. His work and relationships on ESPN in the 90's are still recognized and honored by the fans over a decade later. In the early 2000's, he was the glue that held together the two polar opposite personalities that shared the booth with him on NBC. He set a very high standard as a tv analyst that few have ever come close to. What a guy...

Anonymous said...

Brian has got to hearing drumbeats about ESPN NOT bidding for the next round of he will make it appear that NASCAR actually didnt want them back........right

AncientRacer said...

It is hard to believe Benny has been dead 5 years. I remember how when going to races we would sometimes try to hunt up the places he went to eat.

About ESPN. I follow this stuff, but right now the only "backlash" I see would be directed at the cable/satellite companies (and/or the government if they attempt mandate it) if ESPN or the Deuce are moved to a sports only or some mixed higher tier. People by and large out there in TV land neither know nor care about carriage fees etc.. They know about their bill, but there is a disconnect between its size and why it is so large.

What people know is what is on the TV when they turn it on and The Worldwide Leader has positioned itself so as to be all but indespensible to sports fans. Especially with its NFL package. Once Monday Night Football moved there and off-broadcast The Mouse had a stranglehold.

But there is always the potential of a silver lining for someone and here is something to think about in connection with ESPN. Something I have heard mumbled about in meetings. Let's say ESPN and ESPN2 do move to another tier and it is a mixed tier, not soley a sports tier. Well, that's like putting George Clooney in a movie when my character was supposed to be the star. Nobody much is going to come see me, but they will come for Clooney. It is box office. ESPN headlining a tier and you could pack a number of minor, sub-minor and sub-sub minor cable nets around it.

Just another way to look at it.

As for Cousin Carl. I would not be surprised to see him in a Nationwide car at some point(s) this year. As a "replacement" or for a "special reason". Cha-ching, cha-ching, etc.

Anonymous said...

Vince,i have to agree with you.The King coming out of turn four in a Roadrunner,that was stockcar racing!These iroc cars with stickers are what has contributed to fan loss.

MRM4 said...

I don't understand why the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction is this Sunday going against two NFL conference championship games. Seems like it would be better to show it on Saturday night or have the whole ceremony moved to next week with little competition. Same with the Barrett Jackson auction. It has typically been shown the week before the Super Bowl when there was little competition.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Ditto to previous comments for the current state of the sport, I'll paraphrase one of Benny Parsons' favorite quotes, "That's what I call an accident looking for a place to happen" ...let's see if BZF can set NASCAR back on course ...veri-word is snersiv if broadcast partners sneer at the sport which is on an IV

GinaV24 said...

Very interesting news on all this, JD. thanks for keeping us updated.

It would be good if BZF could actually effect some change in the way ESPN covers NASCAR, but I won't hold my breath. NASCAR has a long history of taking the $ and running and leaving the fans to deal with the aftermath.

I won't be watching the HoF induction stuff and if Cuzin Carl is in the booth for the N'wide series, well, that will just add to my dislike of watching it on TV.

Usually by this time of the year, I'm very excited about NASCAR starting up, but I just don't feel much interest. Once things get started, I know that I'll be tuning in - even with the sound down - so more likely I'll use trackpass to follow my guy on the track. That's less stressful than listening to the Motormouth boys in the booth - that goes for Fox and ESPN.

So Showtime is cutting back on its only NASCAR show? Not surprised in particular - you've pointed out before that Showtime has a smaller viewer pool to draw from and I'll say again that personally I won't pay extra $ for it to my cable provider. I'm giving a lot of thought to cutting back as prices continue to rise.

DaveM4210 said...

FYI, SiriusXM NASCAR (and possibly MRN) will broadcast the Hall Of Fame Ceremony live at 7:30pm ET. I dug out an old Cassette recorder so that I can listen to it after Barrett Jackson...IF I can find a new 2-hour tape somewhere!

Vince, I started watching NASCAR in the early 1980s and have been watchig ever since. It is definitely different, but I still enjoy the H E Double Toothpicks out of it. Some of the TV announcers, not so much.

Dot, I can explain the issue with local broadcast TV commercials not being shown in the side-by-side format. The TNT, ESPN, Fox, etc., control booth at the track sets their side-by-side commercials up to broadcast that way. Very few local stations, and probably all of the cable and satellite providers do not have the equipment to do that, and even if they did, it likely would be difficult to impossible to get local advertisers to go along with their ads being shown on just a small part of the screen.

And I agre with MRM4! Who forgot to check the NFL calendar with the schedule was set up for the Hall of Fame AND Barrett Jackson? With January 1 being Sunday this year, Barrett Jackson should have been one week later. And I totally fail to understand why the Hall of Fame Ceremony was moved to January. Keep in in May when there are thousands of race fans in Charlotte! The NASCAR non HOF events this weekend are mostly for the media.

And in my not so humble way of saying things, let's just hope that BZF scares ESPN into NOT bidding for the next round of contracts!

DaveM4210 said...

For the people that are saying NASCAR racing is not as good as it used to be...consider this...

I just heard a comment from a caller on SiriusXM NASCAR that caught my attention. Every race this year COULD be as good as the 2011 Homestead race. Remember that Carl Edwards lost by just one point, considering that he tied with Tony Stewart and the Championship was determined by tie-breaking rules. If Carl has passed ONE more car, he would have won. EVERYONE in NASCAR is now very aware that every car/truck they pass could be the one that wins the championship. I think we will see much more aggressive racing from a lot of drivers each time they remember what a difference that one point would have made. This year could be the best racing in many years for NASCAR. So don't give up on it now!

Dot said...

Thank you SD80MAC for the answer. I had no idea it was that complicated.

Funny veri-word: juspark

GinaV24 said...

SD80MAC, but if only the people AT the track see that good racing, it is still a problem. The TV broadcasts need to be better, plain and simple. They used to follow the racing action, now they follow either the cult of personality (Fox) or "the script" (ESPN). TNT does their own completely different thing and except for the commercial overload is my favorite any more - even though they have the worst races of the season to broadcast.

Show me that good racing and I'll continue to be a fan - if all NASCAR and the rest do is give me stats, it bores the bazinga out of me.

James said...

You have to wonder, does DW make a better canadate for the Hall of Fame than Benny Parsons, for all he gave back to the sport compared to all DW has taken from the sport?

As for BZF, who "really" listens to him?

DaveM4210 said...

Just heard on Tradin' Paint that SiriusXM NASCAR channel 90 will have live coverage from the Hall of Fame almost all day Friday starting early and going until midnight.

Vicky D said...

Maybe Cousin Carl likes the idea of folks begging him for interviews regarding whether he'll do any of the NW telecasts or even race in that series this year. And I really don't care where Miss Sprint Cup ends up those Tuesdays on Hub were terribly boring with her reading tweets from the drivers???? Word Verification is joining - wonder what they want me to join????

AveryNH said...

I'm actually happy Edwards isn't returning to the nationwide series this year. I want more regulars like Aligier Bayne or Stenhouse winning. As for France and the negationsits about damn time he demand something from ESPN and put a halt to them ruining the sport i love. I was born in the early nineties and fell in love with it as a toddler. BP was my absolute favorite. I used to look forward back then to ESPN's coverage. And in the new age, him, Wally , and Allen. Nobody could beat that. All of them were such a riot every weekend. I still to this day remember the '06 Ford 400 and BP filling us in all day on the race to be in the top 35. He was pulling for Kyle Petty to pull it off and be able to clinch a spot in the 500. Kinda ironic.

Anonymous said...

Lets see, BZF is going to "make" ESPN a better partner. Hum, wonder which one needs the other one more?
Seems a trifle arrogant to me, but what do I know.

Garry said...

Miss BP as well. Does anyone know where we all can see the last sign off from him on telecast? I think France's statement was a clear shot actross the bow at ESPN.I agree with Vince. It's hard to get jacked up about something that is already scripted, and we pretty much know who is taking home the hardware at the end of the year.

Garry said...

Remember, folks, a Daly Planet article awhile back: NBC Universal Sports. Another shot across the bow of Disney's sports channel. I don't think it's just NASCAR getting miffed. Look at all of the colleges that get overlapped coverage, because of overtime games, etc. They have their plate too full...

Daly Planet Editor said...

End of the day summary:

No response yet from FOX on the side by side commercials mentioned on SiriusXM radio.

Two new Miss Sprint Cup members revealed on Saturday during the NASCAR function in Charlotte at 10:30AM.

No response from Showtime on the limited production schedule for the "Inside NASCAR" show.

MRN and SirusXM both told me that they will carry the Friday night Hall of Fame ceremony live. As you know, TV will edit a show for airing on SPEED 6PM ET on Sunday.

No update from ESPN on Carl Edwards and his status as a 2012 Nationwide Series TV announcer.

We will keep on top of these stories and include them in new posts as the week goes on.

Thanks for all the great comments!


Jonathan said...

I dont know how you cant be excitied for the 2012 Nascar season?!?! I dont know but I sure am so much going on this off season its going to be a very very interesting year! I like Brian going after ESPN its bout time! I for one am sick of the way ESPN treats us and it needs to change

Thanks for the updates JD will be tuning into Speed for all the HOF stuff

Anonymous said...

Any time we hear Benny's name mentioned we realize just how much of an asset he was to this sport.Especially when we hear the type of garbage out of the likes of DW.There has to be good people out there on the racing scene just as there is in other sports who can at least tell it like it is and show some knowledge of their sport.Can't help but wonder if there are really very many people out there who really give a darn about the racing hall of fame.When we were in Charlotte last summer it sure looked pretty dead around there.

jerry said...

Wish I could say nice things about Benny like the rest of you all. I saw him be absolutely rude as you can be to my father. Not to mention what was written about him in American Zoom.

Benny took just as much from the sport as DW.

The HoF was moved to January to try and increase visitors. They figure everyone coming in May to the races is coming to the HoF anyway. Doubt it will work but we will see.