Saturday, July 7, 2012
TruTV Daytona Simulcast Aimed At New Fans
This approach of blurring reality has been a gold mine for TruTV and the parent Turner organization. A significant number of TV viewers could care less about what is real and what is not. They just want to be entertained.
Now, a new programming element is on the way to the loyal viewers of "actuality" series like Operation Repo, South Beach Tow and Hardcore Pawn. It's NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
Saturday night TruTV will simulcast sister network TNT's live presentation of the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona. The simulcast will include the pre-race show that features the musical group Train. Also, Turner-owned HLN will have morning anchor Robin Meade hosting interviews and then singing the National Anthem.
Veteran fans may remember it was an appearance by Carl Edwards on HLN's Morning Express program weeks ago when he "asked" if Meade could come to Daytona and sing the anthem. It seemed ironic that ESPN's rising on-air star Edwards was on a Turner network participating in his own "actuality" moment.
The Daytona race brings the annual "Wide Open" coverage that replaces the vast majority of the commercials with side-by-side style commercial messages, additional advertising logos and graphics within the race itself. This change comes on the heels of perhaps the worst NASCAR commercial disaster in the past five years.
The memories of Pop Pop and Junior wrestling over the side-order menu from Kentucky Fried Chicken is permanently burned into the brains of many NASCAR fans. One-third of the actual time of the race was covered by commercials. What made it worse was the exact same commercials repeated endlessly.
Throw in one of the tracks on the "cookie cutter" list and a less than inspired effort from the TV booth and the result was a fan backlash that spread through social media and NASCAR websites. The TNT package is just six races and the results have always been mixed. This time, the mixture has been rather potent.
Daytona offers the network an opportunity to use the holiday, the setting and the racing to escape the past few weeks. Meade is a well-known on-air presence and has a great relationship with the armed forces through her HLN features. Daytona is the right place for the sport to put on a good show and all signs point to the most popular driver being in the mix. A more race-focused effort from the booth would be a topper.
There are no different production elements in the TruTV simulcast. What the folks are Turner are doing is just exposing a live sport to a new audience. Those loyal TruTV viewers who do not watch sports get an exciting race in primetime on a Saturday night. TNT's regular programming is very different from TruTV and this is a positive move.
Tony Stewart will be the special guest on the TNT set. Adam Alexander and Kyle Petty will once again do double-duty working on the pre-race show and then moving upstairs to call the action. Larry McReynolds will remain in the infield as Wally Dallenbach Jr. joins Petty and Alexander in the booth.
This is the big one for the NASCAR on TNT package. While the Lizard Lick gang showed up for the first TNT race, there is nothing to indicate that they are headed for Daytona. But as we all know, anything can happen because it's actuality, not reality.
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