Friday, February 3, 2012

"Race Hub" Takes It On The Chin Again


The saga of the TV series created to offer NASCAR news, interviews and features on weekdays at SPEED is fascinating. Race Hub started as a thirty minute show with a rotating cast of hosts and reporters.

"SPEED Jumps In The NASCAR News Game" was the TDP column from September of 2009 when Race Hub suddenly sprang up on the network from out of the blue. Lots of things about this show didn't make sense in terms of timing, but for NASCAR fans frustrated by the network's excuses, any racing show was welcomed.

The suggestion still lingers that the odd start date of Race Hub was due to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. SPEED was trying to become the official NASCAR Hall of Fame TV network, but that was a tough sell.

For years the network had been peddling endless "lifestyle" shows on weeknights and offered nothing but excuses to the fan base about the lack of NASCAR programming. Race Hub was perhaps the result of a mad scramble to get something on the air and fill that void in order to accomplish a bigger goal.

While Krista Voda and others did an admirable job of hosting Race Hub in 2010, several things quickly became clear. First, the show needed a full time host to establish a presence and personality. Secondly, covering the NASCAR shops and facilities in the area required a full time reporter. Finally, the show needed to be an hour in length for all four Monday through Thursday programs.

Steve Byrnes made a big decision and changed the strategic direction of his TV career by accepting the role of full time series host. It was the right decision. Byrnes combined with reporter Danielle Trotta to cover an incredibly diverse landscape of NASCAR personalities and topics.

The show settled into a 7PM Eastern timeslot with a 9PM Pacific re-air. Now, NASCAR had a weekday TV platform in primetime on a major cable network to feature the activity in the sport away from the track. Perhaps, it was too perfect.

"Puzzling TV Changes At SPEED" was a TDP post from last September. Just as strangely as it had arrived, Race Hub was now the victim of an incredibly poor programming decision in the heart of the 2011 NASCAR season.

In mid-September, Race Hub was moved to 6PM Eastern time and the re-air moved to 11PM Pacific. 6PM is the traditional hour of TV news on the East Coast. It is also the time for the featured SportsCenter show of the evening on ESPN. In 2012 the NBC Sports Network also rolled out SportsTalk, an hour of national sports news and interviews, in the very same timeslot.

Where NASCAR fans are concerned, this move by SPEED overlapped the final hour of the powerful Sirius Speedway show on SiriusXM NASCAR with Dave Moody and Angie Skinner. Moody has a wide variety of guests, many of whom are on the show after making news that day or being involved in ongoing NASCAR issues.

At the end of the day, pushing Race Hub out of the early primetime cable window was a tough decision to swallow. Fan feedback on moving the West Coast re-air to 11PM was also overwhelmingly negative. Well, fasten your seatbelts because SPEED has done it again.

The network has confirmed that Race Hub will remain in the 6PM timeslot this season, but the West Coast re-air has been effectively cancelled. Instead, the show will only re-air the following morning at 7AM Eastern time. Lets look at these two issues.

As we mentioned, the 6PM original air time puts Race Hub up against powerhouse sports and news programming of all kinds that has been firmly entrenched in that timeslot for many years. Although SPEED now has Byrnes host the show live, that makes little sense if many viewers are forced into other choices at that time.

The real head-scratcher comes with the end of the West Coast re-air. This season, NASCAR fans from Seattle to San Diego can only catch Race Hub at 3PM and then 4AM the next day. As one California viewer emailed, she will be working for the first airing and sleeping for the second.

This isn't an issue about DVR's and recording devices. Networks want their premier products to be seen as they air and that is the entire science behind TV program scheduling. The science behind these recent decisions may still be unexplained.

The original idea was that Race Hub would run at 7PM followed by three hours of primetime programming. Then, that four hour block would re-air at 11PM, which is 8PM Pacific. Regular viewers of other cable networks see the same type of pattern which allows multiple timezones to be served with a single satellite feed.

SPEED's new interim president is Scott Ackerson, a FOX Sports veteran joining the network from Los Angeles, CA. Ackerson is in the process of making changes throughout the company, but is once again saddled with a variety of worthless "lifestyle" shows that flopped.

Ackerson spoke to the Charlotte Business Journal's Erik Spanberg recently about the network's NASCAR agenda. "I’m hoping that we’re able to personalize the drivers a bit more, so that the viewers get a chance to know these people better," Ackerson said. "If they know people better, the more apt they are to watch."

Ackerson told Spanberg that SPEED will call on drivers to sit for more extensive interviews and features, using the material on multiple shows in multiple airings across the network. Click here to read the entire story.

Those words seem ironic for a network that purchases its weekend Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series TV coverage fully-produced from the NASCAR Media Group. One key reason SPEED created Race Hub was to finally put an in-house network production stamp on a NASCAR product.

So, there you have it. Race Hub will be at 6PM ET with a single re-air the next morning at 7AM beginning next week. It's a shame to see this series move from "must-see" to just another title on the recorded program list for many fans. Good luck to all those involved in Race Hub as the sport heads to Daytona.

We welcome 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.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speed has made all their shows silly and stupid for a true race fan. In the past I hardly missed their race shows, now I hardly ever see them.

They better hope they gain new viewers because they for sure are losing the old ones. Ls

AncientRacer said...

I, who, at a late hour, must catch a plane (and how exactly does one do that?) for an undiscovered coast on the interior of the North American Continent simply refuse to be an Angry Ant and reject Anon 11:47's opionon.

A New Season approaches.

Despite all the unspeakable insults to hardcores and BZ (...uh .. Uh ... Yes ... That one. The BZF) I say go here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlBiLNN1NhQ&feature=player_detailpage

Works for me. :)

Speedweeks Next!

Bobby said...

The irony of 4 AM is that the "typical business day" of West Coast investors (even the regular investor) starts around 4 AM because of the 6:30 AM opening bell on Wall Street.

BToS JD said...

SPEED has finally worn me out on this issue.

I'll TiVo Race Hub like I TiVo the local news broadcast; then I'll scan for interesting items which I'll watch.

After spending a few minutes with the show, I'll delete.

sue said...

No dvr in this family and the 5 o'clock showing is just in the middle of dinner for this family. Was bummed when the start of the season began with no reairings the next morning. But thanks for the heads up that they will be starting next week. Now does anyone have the transcript of Stewarts 3 part interview that I missed??

glenc1 said...

I don't have NBC Sports network or Sirius, so I guess that's why 6pm never bothered me (and I don't like TV news, I'd rather read it.) But I liked RH at 7pm also, and it would seem to make more sense. But the West coast thing just defies logic, unless there really are so few fans out there that SPEED just doesn't care? I wonder if local ratings had to do with their decision. Anyways, I am not so much concerned about the time as I am about the contents. Did I need to see Jimmy Spencer in a groundhog suit (or worse yet, dressed up like Danica?) Why not spend that time giving some love to the 'backmarkers' trying to pick up sponsors or something?

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Use the DVR so not an issue personally.

I do like the sit down, extended interviews.

I do not care for the silly/goofy stuff, like "RV There Yet" so I just fast forward. If the various producers think that the majority of viewers enjoy that kind of programming then so be it. I just won't be a viewer.

I made a decision for this year to not get aggravated about NASCAR coverage. Life is too short. Sister's 27 yr old step daughter has breast cancer and under went a mastectomy.

Won't prevent me from giving constructive criticism if I have an issue with something. Just not going to get overly agitated.

Let's see how long that lasts...lol!

PammH said...

I would rather record, then I don't have to watch the silly stuff. Takes me 20 mins tops to watch a show. Can pick & choose interviews I like, etc.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

I'll assume(silly me maybe) that the numbers on the re-air were bad enough to gong the show. What should be done at least is the good features should be archived to be shown on the Speed web page, and Speed should become part of the OnDemand package of cable systems, so the viewing options increase. Now i have no clue about the legalese to all this, but it's a thought.

Anonymous said...

I hate most of SPEED's programming to the point of, I only watch the channel for NASCAR. Guess I don't count.

3#Kevin said...

I have never watched Race Hub in my life. Not to say that I wouldn't have. Just never think about it when I'm looking for something to watch. However, Jimmy Spencer dressed up like a groundhog and like Danica... yeah, I just lost my lunch and have guaranteed myself I'll never watch the program.

Anonymous said...

They lost me when they went from 7 to 6. After that, I would watch occasionally when I was still up at 2. I am NEVER up at 7 AM.
I loved the show - almost never missed it when it was on at 7.

Haus14 said...

I live in the Chicagoland area but I appreciate the West Coast re-airs as I usually watch my shows during that time slot. I don't typically watch tv live during the evening as we have kids homework, supper and family time. I already DVR race hub but it was the West coast time because other things are being recorded during the 6pm time slot. I cant believe that any of the lifestyle shows on Speed are more valuable than Race Hub. C'mon Man!!!

Oldirtracker said...

I like race hub because in the winter it is the only game in town,of course i already have any breaking news at least a day earlier from Sirius nascar radio , and after that i can watch more reruns of pass time and what other dribble with RV, wreckers, semis,shop dribble about all kins fo stuff that doesnt go fast, lets remame the network to ABN ( automotive boring network.)

Anonymous said...

We record Racehub to be able to fast forward all the commercials and garbage like Spencer. Before too long we will see DW and some of Speeds other idiots cluttering up the show,so it's best to be able to have this option.

Anonymous said...

i think it was so much better in half hour format. You got racing news. Now most if it is just stupid silly crap with Spencer, Kyle Petty, Rutldge, and Kenny Wallac all trying to be funny. You may watch half of the dumb stuff before you get real racing news, or driver reports.

Do love Daniella Trotta. Good move, but sadly the only good part. Do not waste my time anymore and no longer TVO.

AveryNH said...

i feel at this point speed channel is run by the monkeys in the careerbuilder.com commercials. Seriously this is the opposite of what EVERYBODY wanted.

mrclause said...

Looks to me as if everyone wants the money that comes with most things NASCAR but have little interest is providing a decent product including the talking heads at Daytona. No matter what it's the fans that come up short.

Anonymous said...

These are the same people who took Jeff Hammond off the pre-race show & put Michael Waltrip on, no matter how unpopular that decision is.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, everything is driven by ratings and as much as we love the sport, NASCAR related shows don't draw huge ratings. The races do OK, but other shows just don't cut it. Then the powers that be come up with the Spencer in the groundhog suit and other silly things and it alienates people like myself, I stop watching. If ten years ago someone told me I would skip a race on TV, there was no way that could happen. But last year I didn't watch one truck race and skipped the cup race with the Waltrip brothers in the booth. That's the effect the lack of professionalism has on me, and many others. There's nothing worse than someone who isn't funny, attempting to be funny, it's just plain sad. Hopefully the people in charge will see the error of their ways and upgrade the on air talent.

justaguy said...

Watched the first show of the season and it was full of stupid stuff. A silly game and old twitter news. Haven't watched one since. Done with it and anything else speed dreams up...

Anonymous said...

No matter what my interests are on TV, I tend to record and view later when I can fast-forward through 90% of it to view what appeals to me. Race Hub is really a half hour show with an additional 30 minutes of silly fluff. Hub usually has something half interesting at the very beginning and at the very end hoping you'll endure Ruttledge,Kyle and Kenny. I've come to really appreciate Matt Clark. He knows what he's talking about and gives you no BS. Randy Pemberton has lately come across as a used car Salesman. While Hub is doing all these interviews, I wish they'd trot out the producers and directors so they could share with the viewers all their Nascar-related experience and knowledge. It shouldn't take long.

larry said...

I DVR the show and fast forward through all the silly stuff (and commercials). The Wood/Petty stuff is trash.

ibndn57 said...

Can't stand the silly stuff alright for kids I reckon but at 74 its to much to watch so after all those yrs. of watching I just change the channel

JimH said...

Just another miscalculation by Speed. But I don't expect anything more or anything less from the network that loves to cram the Waltrips down my throat.

Vicky D said...

I guess Speed thinks that all their reality shows are more interesting for viewers than Hub. I don't get that since I don't like any of them.

SD80MAC said...

Speed is not alone in giving the shaft to worthwhile TV shows in favor of "Lifestyle" scripted so-called reality shows. I just learned that Discovery has cancelled the Storm Chasers show. And even The Weather Channel is getting into the Lifestyle gig with new shows about Life Guards and the people who build power generating wind turbines. This Lifestyle programming needs to go away immediately, if not sooner!

Anonymous said...

That's why I posted that the Hub Producers/Directors should introduce themselves to their Nascar audience. Just who are these people that give us Hub and the other Speed TV programming?? Most of the Speed shows that are advertised appear to targeted towards those that watch Comedy Central. I'd pay a lot extra to have a cable show similar to Speed Vision or the Speed Channel. Motor Sports coverage for adults....

Anonymous said...

Just man's opinion but Speed seems to be run by high school kids or a bunch of college frat boys.

Dot said...

The only good thing about RH being on at 3PM (PST), is that you know when you DVR it, you'll see it. Unlike what BSPN does to nascar now. That is when you can find it. And, even then, you may have recorded a rerun of a 2011 poker game or tennis.

Scott said...

Anonymous 10:26, I understand the point you’re trying to make but as a Comedy Central viewer, particularly of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I'm insulted that you would think Comedy Central would find the Wallace/Petty/Wood/Waltrips and *puke* Spencer in any way humorous or appealing to the vast majority of their viewership, and they have had some real dogs in their time as a network, but nothing as sadly unfunny and insulting to viewer intelligence than the above mentioned crew. Because of them I have as little interest a person can have in RH or Race Day. Byrnes, Roberts, Voda and Trotta do a fine job, but not enough to overcome the crap and scheduling changes Speed inflicts on us.

Anonymous 11:27, I would welcome frat boys or high school students running programming compared to those who actually do so. I fear they're suits being cycled through who try to justify their existence and have not the slightest clue about the sport and what fans want. Their opinion of the NASCAR fan base seems unbelievably out of touch and insulting to the serious fan. They seem to operate on the basis only of ancient and ignorant stereotypes of the NASCAR fan.

It flogs the imagination when trying to wrap one’s head around the fact that the same network that produces and runs RH and RD also generates F1 on Speed, not to mention Wind Tunnel. The F1 team is excellent and covers that racing discipline brilliantly. DeSpain, like him or not, is an incredible fan of all racing and draws some truly quality guests.

How can Speed exhibit such truly flaming contrast? It’s stunning.

GinaV24 said...

Well, all the scheduling changes have forced me into DVR mode for RaceHub which is a shame because I really enjoy Steve as the host and I always made sure I tuned in to see Hammond do his show and tell on tech on Wednesdays.

It's not the same if I have to do it this way. I looked forward to interviews with drivers - especially the young up and comers that I didn't know much about.

Guess as others have said it is all driven by ratings - so do the stupid (IMO) lifestyle shows get great ratings. Don't know because I've never bothered to watch them.

Going to seriously give consideration to dropping down a tier since ESPN for me is a wasteland -including Nationwide coverage - and why bother with Speed when there's only one show on that I actually watch and that isn't on at a time that works for me?

Roland said...

Doesnt matter what time it comes on, I still wont watch it. Like a lot of people have said they do so many things that are childish and unprofessional. Nascar Now just takes it to school. Race Hub was better when it was 30 minutes. Less time for their antics. The Jimmy Spencer segments are embarrassing. The only good thing about them is the Kurt Busch Radio Sweetheart segment. Randy Pemberton isnt a very good analyst, he hits the Nascar kool-aid a little too hard.

On the plus side its on every night at the same time, and has never been pre-empted for a month due to little league baseball.

This show could be a lot better, but in typical Speed Channel way its nothing more than 5 minutes of good quality TV with the rest a bunch of skits that are intended to be funny yet fall short.

Vicky D said...

Dot, you are right, trying to track when Nascar Now airs is difficult, (it's hard to nail down a moving target). Why doesn't ESPN just put it on a certain time and be done with it. And when we sometimes DVR they are likely to show the 2009 tiddly winks championship or 2010 WSOP than NN!

Janrod14 said...

Speed seems to think that the west coast doesn't seem to matter. Everything is geard for east coast time. If they keep that up there will be less and less fans due to lack of Nascar news coverage. There are a lot of dedicated fans out here that will be upset with this decision. Get it together Speed!!

Bucky Butler said...

I don't watch Race Hub and never really have. There is enough NASCAR ONLY programming on Speed to last a lifetime. I've said this before and will continue to beat the drum, I truly believe that what RACE FANS want is an all around, nightly, motorsports news show. RPM Tonight was must see TV in my house for years and it only seems a no brainer to me that a channel called "SPEED" would have such a program. Especially when their own website is full of motorsports news and commentary from around the country and around the world. I just don't understand.

Anonymous said...

Bucky Butler-- It's not an every night show but that's what SPEEDCenter is.

Anonymous said...

John Daly -- It would be interesting to know what your age demographic is of people posting here. I'm guessing "older" 40+. They have to remember that they are not the coveted 18-34 demo anymore. Advertisers want to spend $ on where that younger demo watches. If any channel ups that demo they will be happy.