Sunday, July 15, 2012
NASCAR On TNT Ends In New Hampshire
Adam Alexander once again hosts both the pre-race show and then calls the race. Kyle Petty also appears on both programs. Wally Dallenbach Jr. joins Petty in the booth while Larry McReynolds appears on the pre-race show and then remains in the infield.
The bright spot for this coverage has been the pit reporters. Marty Snider has been under the weather and did not travel to New Hampshire. He passed along that he is doing much better and expects to recover quickly. So, TNT will go with Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Chris Neville to cover pit road for this race.
A casual atmosphere might be the new and cool thing in sports TV, but for covering a live NASCAR race it just does not work. Both ESPN and SPEED use traditional play by play men in Allen Bestwick and Rick Allen to call the racing action. Alexander has spent the summer doing just the opposite.
Dallenbach is so far removed from the sport he is irrelevant. Despite his personality, his limited NASCAR experience was long ago he brings little to the telecasts. With two drivers in the booth, Dallenbach spends the entire telecast either agreeing with or disagreeing with Petty. Despite the fact that a former crew chief sits in the infield, this booth chemistry just does not click.
The subject of much media coverage this summer has been the commercials. Despite the fact that amount did not increase, the long green flag runs and the awareness of fans through social media has changed the landscape. No longer are fans willing to miss one-third of the racing while staring at the same commercials over and over again for three hours. That was made clear after the Kentucky Speedway disaster featuring the brawling Kentucky Fried Chicken family.
The buzz in TV town is that TNT may not return for 2013. There are two more seasons left on the existing NASCAR TV contract but FOX has been making lots of noise about wanting additional races. The six TNT races are the only ones possibly in question. Turner Sports has just sold back to NASCAR all the sport's digital rights, including operating the NASCAR.com website and controlling all the online audio and video footage.
Should TNT care to sell the remaining two seasons of summer coverage to FOX, it could walk away with a pretty penny and end all ties with the sport. Over the years, TNT never carried any of the qualifying or practice sessions. There has never been a NASCAR weekly show on the network. It just might be the right time to walk away.
This season will also find negotiations being done on the sport's TV coverage starting in 2015. Without the digital connections, there is little reason to expect that TNT will be a part of that new package.
It is unfortunate that the network's 2012 coverage will go out with a thud. New Hampshire is a track position race that focuses on pit stops and fuel mileage. Combined with the casual style of the TV booth, this one could be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Goodbye TNT, it certainly was interesting.
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