Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day Two: Hall of Fame Nominations Deserve TV Special

This Wednesday there will be a historic moment in the sport. The names of the 25 nominees for the 2013 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be announced.

It is not a secret that the Hall of Fame has struggled with identity and attendance issues since it opened in Charlotte, NC. No amount of old cars, historic clothing and video clips has been able to spark a buzz among the fans. On my last visit to tour the Hall the mood could be best described as glum.

The actual live announcement of the new Hall of Fame nominees will be done on the one-hour Race Hub show at 6PM on SPEED. Also on that very same program reporter Wendy Venturini will preview the truck race at Rockingham, analyst Matt Clark will interview MWR Competition Director Scott Miller and there will be a special feature on the old North Wilkesboro Speedway.

The Hall of Fame nominations are a moment in time. They are part of a NASCAR branding effort that is critical to connecting younger fans to the history of the sport. While SPEED has been a loyal NASCAR TV partner, the network has its own agenda and ownership.

It only takes a moment to remember that the original Race Hub TV concept suddenly popped-up out of the blue as SPEED was maneuvering to become the official TV outlet for all Hall of Fame activities. For many years, SPEED had rejected completely the idea of presenting any NASCAR programming on Monday through Thursday.

Adjacent to the Hall of Fame are the TV production facilities of the NASCAR Media Group (NMG). As you may remember, Showtime recently shut down the Inside NASCAR program produced in the NMG studios with vague promises of returning for The Chase. SPEED moved the NASCAR Performance TV series out of the Hall of Fame and into the network's own studios.

Without any other original programming to produce, there have been plenty of NMG folks sitting on their hands recently. It seems strange that with the combination of the Hall of Fame, a TV production facility and tons of historic footage there was no one who perhaps considered a TV special built around the Hall of Fame nominations.

Wednesday night after Race Hub is over at 7PM, SPEED has one hour of Pass Time and another of Dumbest Stuff on Wheels. Both represent the type of shows that make up weekday primetime programming on the network.

If NMG had produced a three minute video feature on each nominee, that would have resulted in 75 original minutes of NASCAR programming being available. Add in the Hall of Fame as the location and a NASCAR veteran like Mike Joy as host and perhaps the result could have been a mid-week primetime live TV special on SPEED that fans could watch and record. Two hours would have been a nice length.

Assisting the Hall of Fame with growth and direction begins with supporting that facility through original content spread over television, radio and online platforms. The Hall of Fame website mentions nothing about the Wednesday nominations. The NASCAR website does not point fans to Race Hub or preview the announcements.

A clear part of a live primetime TV special would have been social media. NASCAR fans could have been actively engaged while the special was in progress. The pairing of NASCAR and Twitter has been nothing short of sensational. The NASCAR fan base is vocal, informed and familiar with the latest technology.

It might have been interesting to see drivers, NASCAR personalities and fans offer comments when nominees were announced. Names like Rick Hendrick, Benny Parsons, Buck Baker and others are certain to elicit instant opinions. Both NASCAR and SPEED have been pushing the social media agenda this season and it's sad to see an opportunity like this go by the wayside.

Make no mistake, Race Hub has matured into a solid TV series offering a large amount of content each week. But the topic on the table is how best to use the combination of SPEED, the NASCAR Media Group and the actual Hall of Fame to expand the brand, celebrate the moment and get the message out to the fan base.

Perhaps in the future these moments will be part of a coordinated effort by NASCAR to utilize all the resources, technology and manpower available to put the sport back on the map in terms of national media presence and prestige.

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.


RPM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RPM said...

If you think the mood was glum because of attendance at the HOF, wait till you see the numbers at Texas. I'm predicting another Bristol-like turnout. I know many Season Ticket holders (including myself) that didn't renew because of all the camping restrictions and heavy handed security that has taken over the track. If Bristol is being handled similarly (they are both SMI tracks), that could be a reason people aren't showing up. It's not fun anymore.

Anonymous said...

JD, the only thing you need to bring about your excellent scenario is a true leader. We have BZF. Kind of says it all. MC

glenc1 said...

They had me worried during preseason, but Racehub has settled into its comfortable self again, no silliness except for the Spencer segments. And I will admit I laugh occasionally in spite of myself. Anyways, yes, they probably could have expanded the show and made it more special (I remember they had done that in the past...the melodrama with DW...) but at least they're covering it. I do agree as you say, SPEED & the Hall could 'partner' up more to boost interest.

It's a shame about the Hall--I had a chance to go there last fall & I thought it was great--and even the 'casual' fans I was there with found interesting things to see. I don't understand what 'identity' issues they have though....I mean, it is the NASCAR Hall of Fame & I'd have thought that was pretty cut & dried (I've only been to Canton to compare.) I thought they did things in a similar way (actually I thought they probably *studied* how it was done at other Halls & went in a similar fashion). It would just seem they had bad timimg with the economy, which obviously is affecting the track attendance as well (and I believe that's the problem, not the racing.) People sticking closer to home & doing other things. Cheaper things.

Joj said...

JD -having lived in Cleveland OH when the Rock & Roll HOF was getting started it too was glum. No nothing local, little mention of it before & little after the announcements were made. Its as if NASCAR is using the same people. And making the same mistakes. There was no social media back then, and with the way NASCAR has embraced it I'm really surprised that NMG isn't using it to full advantage for this.
SPEED has had a rough road trying to decide who they want to be when they grow up.
You are right both have missed a golden opportunity to get the word out about NASCAR, the HoF & the nominees. What is need is someone like Humpy to think big & get it to be an event. Something to look forward to, & dear BZF & Co are not the group to do it.

AncientRacer said...

Not to mention the 3min mini-bios could be cut to run within races, Raceday, etc. in place of standard NASCAR promos. As there is a fan voting component to the selection this would be appropriate and informative.

As for BZF in this, I really cannot find him here. He has not been publicly involved in much of anything lately in the public eye. I would lay the responsibility for the coverage of the announcements soley at the feet of SPEED.

GinaV24 said...

I probably won't tune in for the HOF announcement,just as I wouldn't tune in for the academy awards announcements, but if NMG had done some video about each of the nominees to be broadcast, well, that I would have tuned in to see.

I think the only thing I do record on Speed these days is Racehub, so I'll see the names there or on line, whichever I get the chance to check first.

NASCAR and Speed continue to miss opportunities to engage the fans. The social media is a good component that the drivers have certainly embraced, but in depth coverage would be a good thing

KoHoSo said...

I pretty much echo what Anonymous 5:11 had to say. Having a show like JD outlined would be a completely common sense programming move. However, we are talking about two organizations -- NASCAR and NewsCorp -- that have show far too little of that trait lately to racing fans.

Then again, one has to wonder with the rumors (please all, strong emphasis on the word rumors) swirling around about whether or not Speed's position on everybody's cable lineup will still be there by 2014. Could there be a lack of motivation by NewsCorp to do anything extra on that channel until any plans for a new Fox Sports Channel are finalized and how that might affect, Speed, Fuel, and Fuse?

At this point, one has to grasp at such straws no matter how strong or weak because the TV support this supposedly major sport gets right now is laughable.

Anonymous said...

Well all they're really doing on Wednesday is adding 5 more names to the list of 20 that weren't inducted in the last round. So you already know who 20 of them will be if you just look at the previous list of nominees. The special should be built around the next 5 to go in when that announcement is made.

Anonymous said...

I usually record the Hub and will on Wednesday. I am anxious to see if they will finally include Smokey Y. this year.

GA Red

sue said...

So your suggesting having a 2 hour HoF tv special with the final 1 hour going up against American Idol? Don't think it would fly and I also don't think it would be widely watched.

Speaking of the HoF I read that the Baseball HoF along with the NFL HoF have also had drops in attendance. Even the Football HoF enshrinement had a 28% decrease in attendance last year. The economy is bad.

RaceHub is the best show on Nascar right now in my opinion. Up to date information, great interviews, knowledgeable roundtable (even though I'm still up in the air about Matt Clark). Yes even Jimmy Spencer and his Dale Jr and Kurt B digs is fun to watch. Its a shame that Nascar Now isn't consistent with their times as it was a good show.

Anonymous said...

sue, Racehub would be 6-8 ET...Idol comes on at 8 ET. I know we have other time zones, but we always have to deal with that. Ratings are the same reason 8pm is chosen for primetime; it covers most of the viewers.

TEX said...

RPM...Can you elaborate what those restrictions were and what do you mean by heavy handed security?

I camp there too and not sure what you mean.

Yeah i've encountered some crazzzzy stuff but nothing to make ME not want to renew.

By the way you may be right on the attendence numbers...the weather is looking quite stormy for the next 7 days.

Probably not helping either.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Part of the reason for this column was to suggest that NASCAR begin to establish a yearly pattern of self-promotion, regardless of whether SPEED wants to play ball or not.

The Hall of Fame needs help and the way to help it is to expose the history of the sport on TV.

Right now, there is no series on any of the NASCAR TV partners that is tied to the history of the sport.

Humpy Wheeler's interview show never got funded, the various NMG series about people in the sport got cancelled and even Showtime took a walk.

It's going to take someone pushing this agenda and creating a package that includes social media and online video in addition to a TV special.

Not worried about American Idol, don't care about repeated nominees and totally still enjoy Race Hub.

The point is that NASCAR needs more TV, not less.

This was a great opportunity to show the Hall on TV, use a class act like Mike Joy and his knowledge of the sport and get the NASCAR Media Group to prepare complelling video on the nominees.

I just see it as a moment lost in time.


Anonymous said...

dsJapLove the idea but have 1 question - who is paying for this? It's not just NMG putting together the videos but the camera, audio, lighting, graphics and all the others who would work the show. Who is paying those people? I agree that NASCAR needs more TV shows but if no one is paying for it then I don't see where it is coming from.

RPM said...

RPM...Can you elaborate what those restrictions were and what do you mean by heavy handed security?

I camp there too and not sure what you mean.- Tex

I'd be glad to Tex. Mainly for me, it's the new golf cart policy. Unless you are handicapped the new pass is all but impossible to get. They will impound any golf cart without one on TMS property. We camp in the outer areas and have always used carts to ferry people to and from the track and never encountered a problem before last year when I was threatened with confiscation of my cart and my tickets for ferrying people to the track.

The FWPD used to "live and let live" in the campgrounds. Unless you really screwed up or started a fight they left you alone. Now, it's no bands, no DJ's, no large parties. It used to be a fun festival atmosphere in the campgrounds very similar to Talladega. That is dead and gone now.

The buzz among most people I talked to in our campground last November (which was less than half full, btw) was "I'm not coming back". We'll see what the numbers look like Saturday.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:18,

Ad sales for specials are normally done with companies already involved with the actual topic/theme of the show.

In this case, everything from Carlotte tourism to existing Cup sponsors would be in the mix.

By splitting inventory and sponsor features, SPEED and NMG would both share in revenue opportunities.


Anonymous said...

Talladega does not allow DJs or golf carts either. Most tracks (if not all) don't, probably because of insurance (and maybe people abusing privileges--such as driving them while drunk). It only takes one clown to ruin things for others. JMHO, but if you need those things to have fun, you're doing it wrong...a bigger problem might be the threat of severe thunderstorms this weekend....

I think Charlotte tourism would be a great sponsor/partner--and you'd think hotels, restaurants might like that kind of exposure too. Maybe when they actually get to the real announcement, someone will do a better job putting it together.

Anonymous said...

What does MLB and NFL do with their hall of fame nominations? I wouldn't expect any more than what happens there.

glenc1 said...

The NFL network carried the announcement live, and has people in the studios commenting/debating on them and showing film clips as they narrow it down in the committee room. I saw some of it this year.

53 yr. fan said...

Most local folks see the HOF as just another entertainment venue
to get your money. For generations
we have taken family and visitors to the free (except MWR)local race shops and local museums which are filled with lots of racing memories. Selection of HOF inductees has already proven to be very subjective in my opinion and I lost all interest when DW turned it into a begging contest.

AllisonJ said...

Could not make it through Race Hub tonight. The lead host is simply there as eye candy. The show is a joke.

If it were not for the DVR, I wouldn't watch NASCAR ever again.

Anonymous said...

Can we please move on to more important topics? I am fed up with the lack of practice coverage on Thursdays. Practices should be mandatory for the TV partners for live coverage. All sessions, not just happy hour.

17972 B. C. said...

An interesting thought as I read Anne Bledsoe France on the HOF list. To do the profiles of the nominees, one would need to know the nominees in advance, which greatly increases the leak possibility. Reading some online articles i enjoyed a few different views of possible names, and it was obvious the seal on this was held pretty tight, as Mrs. France was not a name in any list I read.

Anonymous said...

would anyone watch a Hall of Fame special? No. That is why Speed doesn't produce one anymore...no eyeballs. Come on guys!

Charlie Spencer said...

I've found several online references saying Pro Football HOF draws 200K annually, mostly in the summer and for the HOF preseason game. Other references say Baseball HOF does about the same or less. Maybe NASCAR is doing about par for a sports history building.

Although I'm just two hours down the road, I haven't been to the HOF yet. I think my Rockingham ticket will get me a discount so I may get up there, eventually.