Thursday, March 28, 2013

NASCAR's Scene Daily And Rowdy Closed


Update: The story below was originally published on April 3, 2012. Today we learned of 12 sports writers and editors fired from The Sporting News even as it partners with a UK-based company called Perform to chase digital sports rights and invests millions of dollars into this project. Another bad digital decision for this very strange management group.

It's been a long and winding road for The Sporting News (TSN). The weekly "Bible of Baseball" that started publishing in 1886 is now an online publication struggling for an identity. Pictured above is a 1949 edition featuring Jackie Robinson.

In 2006, TSN was purchased by American City Business Journals (ACBJ). If this company sounds familiar, it should. Scenedaily.com and Rowdy.com are two NASCAR online brands owned by ACBJ. The company calls itself the largest publisher of metropolitan newsweeklies in the country and is known for its business journals.

Back in 2008 a new online version of TSN was rolled-out called Sporting News Today. The project was designed to deliver updated sports news in a daily online publication. Click here for a story from sportscircuits.com about the ultimate demise of the product in August of 2011.

In a subsequent move to gain digital market share, ACBJ pulled-off one of the most unpopular moves in recent sports history. Click here for a story from sportsbybrooks.com on how ACBJ paid America Online (AOL) millions to kill the popular AOL Fanhouse and replace it with TSN-branded sports content.

"Our target is to be a top 10 sports site in terms of traffic, and the immediate combination with AOL should satisfy that on day one," TSN president Jeff Price said to paidcontent.org.

Price left Sports Illustrated Digital in April of 2009 after working as SI's Chief Marketing Officer for years before being named president in 2005. His history is one of mergers, agreements for shared content and purchases of smaller sports websites. He joined TSN in February of 2010.

Price's shared content efforts appeared to get a shot in the arm when AOL decided, in what some called a desperate move, to purchase The Huffington Post for over $300 million. Click here for the official press release where the top executives from both companies talk about everything under the sun, except sports coverage.

TSN boasts of its connection to the Huffington Post through the AOL deal. Click here to view the front page at HuffingtonPost.com. To get to sports, users must click the "More" button. The sports tab sits between the "Good News" and "Gay Voices" sections. Once on the sports front page, there are no links to NASCAR or motorsports of any kind. TSN is a tiny link at the bottom of the page.

All of this brings us back to NASCAR and ACBJ's record in the sport. Most fans remember the day in January of 2010 when stories began to appear online about a massive layoff underway inside ACBJ. It was targeted at NASCAR and it was not pretty.

Click here for a link to a Tom Jensen story about the demise of the NASCAR Scene publication. Once the dominant publication in the sport, ACBJ never "got it" during the digital transition and in the end Scene was closed and staff members terminated.

Two of the remaining NASCAR-themed business interests of ACBJ were SceneDaily and Rowdy, both online projects. Rowdy was a small and independent effort led by a group from Charlottesville, VA. ACBJ liked their efforts so much they bought the entire thing and moved the Rowdy staff to Charlotte, NC.

Click here for the note only weeks ago from Rowdy.com co-founder Tom van der Voort about changes to that business. After several years of floundering without direction or support, Rowdy.com was closed. Any remaining NASCAR content will appear on the TSN website.

Tuesday, word began to creep out that this time it was SceneDaily about to be affected. Reporter Bob Pockrass then confirmed that later this week visitors to SceneDaily.com will be redirected to the TSN NASCAR page. Just like that, another stand-alone NASCAR website is gone.

Pockrass advises that he is still working full time on the NASCAR beat for TSN. Click here to view the TSN NASCAR page which features little original content, many links to other news sources and a generic feel. It's clearly a move to put NASCAR content into a much broader online framework within a specific brand.

Price has the backing of top executives at ACBJ who are putting it on the line that he can bring The Sporting News brand back to life and make it a profitable business. With bigger fish to fry, NASCAR is going to take a step back on the sports priority list.

SceneDaily and Rowdy were both good websites that made a concerted effort to provide fans with original content. Thanks to those who worked on them both, your efforts will be missed.

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.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am absolutely shocked. Just a few hours ago I was reading the Jeremy Mayfield story (and comment section) at SceneDaily, and there was no hint on the website that it would be closing.

SceneDaily has always been my first stop for NASCAR headlines. I find NASCAR.com to be biased towards pro-NASCAR pieces and often omits stories. I find ESPN's NASCAR content to be too gossipy, and far too driven by whichever personality has the byline. I find Jayski to be great, but somewhat overwhelming. When I just want to load a page and right away see the top 3-5 newest stories on the NASCAR beat, SceneDaily was always the place to go. ThatsRacing is okay, but they don't update often and their NASCAR content can sometimes be sparse.

Without a doubt, SceneDaily was my #1 stop for NASCAR top news stories. I am really saddened by this.

That said, I also don't totally blame TSN or ACBJ. At the end of the day, these are businesses, and if their properties are not bringing in enough income to cover costs, then they need to go.

If someone else could find a decent URL, and create a clean and concise page to feature the top half-dozen stories of the day, I still think there is a huge market for it.

Anonymous said...

I thought something was up when Steve Waid showed up on MotorSports Unplugged.

Ella said...

Oh my, I am saddened and infuriated at that same time. Loved Scene Daily and admired Rowdy.com. I followed both every day for NASCAR news. Phooey on TSN and ACBJ!

AncientRacer said...

More consolidation in the paid-content online media that is not just limited to sports. The goal, of course, is to find the Holy Grail; the formula that will make the internet pay.

I cannot tell you how many meetings/conversations I have been party to in the past year and a half on this general subject.

I also cannot tell you how hard I laughed at the reference to HuffPo. I seem to end up there once a day or so, but ONLY when directed there by a specific link to a specific story. Why? Because the site is a mess, hard to navigate and takes forever and a day to full load. If that be one of the models of the future I imagine I shall slowly sink into total and perhaps blissful ignorance.

Still, the demise of SceneDaily does not upset me nearly as much as did the end of the weekly print tabloid a tidbit which betrays my age.

Buschseries61 said...

What a sad loss. I was upset when the NASCAR Scene ended, now two more good things are also gone. Brian's Big Top Circus needs to get a clue. It's not Brian's fault a company made a series of stupid decisions. But it is Brian's fault that NASCAR's media presence is not what it used to be, it's shrinking rather than expanding. It's a good thing NASCAR is finally finding a direction when it comes to media, hopefully the coming changes help all the media members involved in the sport.

GinaV24 said...

Really sorry to hear this. Seems there are fewer and fewer "independent" outlets for news and information from Nascar. I used the get NASCAR Illustrated but the articles became more like "people" magazine than actual racing information, so I stopped getting it. I liked being able to read articles by the writers who cover NASCAR for a living and I will miss SceneDaily in particular as the information was well done and not sensationalism.

Mergers are not always a good thing

Anonymous said...

It's been clear to me for a long time that objective media is almost impossible to find. Huffington Post is hardly objective. Hard to believe but the Associated Press (AP) is even worse. Nineteen cars failed pre-qualifying inspection at Daytona. Hendrick said three cars including another he sponsored had to have their 'C' posts ground down to pass inspection. No one in the Nascar media asked why only one car got penalized. TDP is the only site I go to for Nascar related news.

Roland said...

Well at least Bob Pockrass got to keep his job. The guy is one of the best in the business. You know what I like about him? He doesnt get personal with his tweets, just gives the info. People like Jim Utter and Jenna Fryer try to be cute with their tweets, big reason why I do not follow them.

Pretty soon though its just going to be a few left. Dustin Long cant even get a job and he is right up there with Bob. Getting to be a sad state of affairs in the media center.

SnowdogBob said...

I think it's quality reporting by yourself and other followers of the sport that makes it hard to justify the cost of full time reporters. In a sport that so many people love and follow closely, people outside the paid media (Speed, Fox, TNT, ESPN, and Sirius) just don't seem commercially viable.

It would seem as likely you would get people to pay for NASCAR content on the web as to pay for "Pay-per-View" races. I just think you'd lose more people than you'd gain and couldn't gain enough to pay a staff well enough to live off and do it right. So unless NASCAR decides it's in THEIR best interest to underwrite quality reporting I think we're at the end of an era.

While on the topic...anyone know how Mike Mulhern is paying for his continued NASCAR coverage? certainly doesn't seem to be any attempt to make the site profitable. Excellent writer, minimal sponsorship (and i don't see a sign he's selling the stories to newspapaer...but I would think he must)

Fed UP said...

Who's going to pay to read the same content in print that is available online? Not many, and that is why print today is a changing business.

Notice, I didn't say a dead business, but one in transition. More and more companies need to take the time to make their website and content to be made available on a pay basis. You can read the front-the headlines-but in order to get to the meat, you must pay.

Its not the businesses fault per see, its the "idea" that the internet provides free information..somewhere, someone has paid the ultimate price in losing their jobs because of it.

Mergers usually lead to closures, and this is no different. Sorry to see it go.

OSBORNK said...

I think these developments are a continuation of the drop in the interest in NASCAR. I live where the media, both written and over the air, is based in the Bristol, TN area. Several years ago, NASCAR was the focus of the sports reporting in newscasts and the sports pages because it was the only professional sport within hundreds of miles. That is no longer true. We have occasional pieces on NASCAR but the focus is now on College sports (UT in Knoxville and Va. Tech in Blacksburg) as well as High School Sports. The interest in NASCAR has dropped to an all time low around here.

Anonymous said...

I am with Buschseries61....Brian does need to get a clue. Really, does he actually care about the sport? Sure doesn't seem so. Great read JD.

hotaru-hockeymaiden87 said...

Scene Daily... I will never forget their stupid and pointless "Feud Of The Week" collums... mostly 'cause I posted on them telling them how stupid they were. Got a lot of people who agreed... it was good times!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a member of the Brian France fan club, but I don't see what in the world he has to do with this. If I start a NASCAR website and eventually it fails, is that Brian France's fault, too?

C'mon guys... blaming him for everything you don't like about the sport is going too far.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:12, ordinarily I might agree with you, but the problem is that NASCAR (not specifically Brian, but the buck stops with him) *controls* all their media outlets, and controls the reporters who work for other media outlets by providing them access to the garage & pit areas, which they would not have if NASCAR pulls the plug on them. They have been threatened with removal, even fired (back in the day) for saying things that were objective but didn't suck up to NASCAR. For that part of it, NASCAR is responsible. It's not a good time out there for publications, but the readers being aware that they're not always hearing the right story does not help potential customers.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Unfortunately these actions are indicative of the nature of doing business today and in the recent past ...one-time subscriber to the 'Scene' ...still appreciate the feeling of newsprint in my hands ...and the perspective of a print journalist ...I must say that IMO, Marty Smith has made the transition to broadcast media well
Walter

Erik said...

SPEED may be on its way out as a motor sports channel as well...The winds of change are blowing


John Ourand ‏ @Ourand_SBJ
Sources: A Fox plan is to flip Speed, not Fuel, into an all-sports channel to compete with ESPN. Fox has talked with leagues & distributors.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Erik,

I'll have more on this topic Thursday night. FOX has discussed this very issue many times before. Nothing ever happened.

JD

Garry said...

What Brian wants eventually, is for everyone to drink the Kool Aid. This is starting to look like the Dark Ages, or a certain country circa 1939....or a better analogy: 1984 by George Orwell...

Anonymous said...

Well now that the switch has happened, it isn't so bad. The SceneDaily page has a better design and still has Pockrass. So I consider it a wash.

The ony thing I don't Iike is that the front page has a photo of Dale Jr. In a chef outfit and they photoshopped a NASCAR and Mtn Dew logo (poorly) on the chef jacket. That is lame,

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon,

Trust me. It's not a wash. Wait and judge the content generated over the weekend and see how it stacks up against SceneDaily.

JD

Anonymous said...

Eh, Scene Daily never was a powerhouse for weekend content. They recapped the race, did that stupid Feud of the Week column, and maybe highlighted a few news stories. I don't doubt they can replicate that.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, so far the "new" Scene Daily has plenty of content.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR fans are screwed again.


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