Saturday, July 7, 2012

TruTV Daytona Simulcast Aimed At New Fans

Of course Lizard Lick Towing is fake. Ronnie Shirley and his wife Amy were originally cast on the reality TV show Wife Swap. Once the TV producers saw the interesting elements in their lives, the shift was on to build a reality show around these colorful characters. TruTV calls the mixing of real people with scripted action "actuality." That is an admission that acting is at the core of the series.

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.

We welcome your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.


Jacob said...

Oh good. Awful coverage on two channels. Thanks Turner.

Jonathan F said...

I'm looking forward to this weekend's race and the wide open coverage. The commentary should be more race-influenced considering it's Daytona & little to none commercials will be even better.

Anonymous said...

I really can't see any negatives here. It's a great race to promote NASCAR and that's exactly what this should do. If anything, it can't hurt.

MRM4 said...

TBS shows 85 episodes of Big Bang Theory a week. Why not make it across the board and have the race on there too?

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Now they've really gone and done it ...admitted NASCAR has sold it's soul to reality TV ...yeah, we know it's not reality, it's actuality ...pitiful, pitiful ...this 50+ year fan won't have to look far to find better things to do with my Saturday evening.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm being naive but if TruTV lures even a 100,000 viewers away from the mothership doesn't that mean it will decrease ratings for TNT? If TrutV pledges no KFC commercials I might make the switch.

Ben Worcester said...

If they would call the race instead of unwrapping the endless story-lines (most of which is already known by most fans), then there would be no problem.

Ancient Racer said...

Two Obervations:

Truman Capote essentially invented the form we call in video "actuality" with his prototype in print "In Cold Blood" in 1966 and from time to time I wonder what he might think about what he hath spawned. I am sure whatever he might say would be amusing because he was an amusing man.

Ted Turner, was once asked back in the day as the obscure UHF station he inherited, WTCG Ch.17 Atlanta (which before he bought the Braves made what money it did off old movies with Dialing for Dollars, Ginsu Knives and Wrestling), was morphing into the Superstation which in turn would lead to CNN etc. whether as the station moved to a wider and wider audience Wrestling would be dropped. Turner said NO. Wrestling had kept the operation alive when nothing else had and would always be a part of WTCG/TBS on as long as he was in control.

Well, Turner is long gone from the control role, but this move seems to harken back. If we needed more proof NASCAR is in danger of becoming wrestling we have it.

Now, if TNT and TruTV will only revive the Ginsu Knives...

Happy 4th of July, Planeteers!

OSBORNK said...

I think this is just a publicity stunt that means nothing. Tv programing is sold to providers in a bundle. Anyone who gets TruTV also gets TNT. If any of the TruTV viewers wanted to watch the race, TNT is available to them. The ONLY viewers the race will gain from this stunt is from those people who are to lazy to change the channel. They will just be showing the Daytona Infomercial on two stations instead of one.

Joj said...

Alienating fans on 2 yes 2 networks.

What a feat of modern technology for NASCAR!

Maybe the new KFC commercial is ready, the follow up where the old duffer gets busted for child abuse & the kid gets cuffed for elder abuse.
We can only hope.

WB said...

I'm not sure I understand this. The exact same broadcast will be shown on TruTV? Why? Adding viewers? The folks at Turner don't believe the loyal TruTV viewer who does not watch sports does not know how to change the channel? Really?

Daly Planet Editor said...


Turner only has the cable TV rights.

Anon 12:12AM,

That is certainly the risk of a simulcast, but the idea is that TruTV viewers who remain on the channel would have done so anyway.


As I mentioned in the column, what TruTV is enjoying right now is amazing viewer loyaly. Like it or not, lots of viewers simply like the mindless fake reality drama and violence being offered. Turner is just trying to get something going with a NASCAR package that has certainly been a dud so far this season.

KFC Update: Emailed the company asking about the oversaturation of the exact same ad on the NASCAR race and got no reply.


Anonymous said...


Longtime "listener", first time "caller". Like our friends Ancient and Walter - I too am a legacy fan of NASCAR and have watch our sport morph into what it is today. As with our fandom of the Redskins, we do remember the great times as we wallow in current ungreat times. Its my understanding that the media partners paid upfront for the current TV package. How do they recoup what they paid? Ads unfortunately. As we all are so familiar with, the business model of TV - the more ads, "supposedly" the more revenue generated. For us, that means less coverage of a sport that we all love - or through all the recents scars, deep down we still love!

TNT/Tru is a win win if any bump comes out in ratings or if Tru places their own ads on the screen during the wide open coverage.

Think this will be a win win for all and better coverage of racing only because the big 4 superspeedway races are not cookies and there isn't enough time for the TV parnter to place their pre-scripted packages in with constant racing all around.

I look forward to the non-closeups, wide shots, good racing and hope the cloud deck is so low that the incar helicopter cannot get into the air to beam down the signal (hence NO IN CAR CAMS!)

Enjoy your blog and hopeful can contribute more in the future here and TDP1. Side note about our Redskins. Radio team of Larry, Sonny Jurgenson and Sam Huff...Sam is only doing home games and 2 roadies this year (Dallas/NYG) - the old guard is indeed changing in all sports! HAPPY 4th to all planeteers. From DC, I'm ~BUSHMAN~!

GinaV24 said...

I don't think I've ever watched TruTV - I may have surfed by it but like OWN and Lifetime, I seldom stop for longer than it takes to click on the next channel. I am not a "reality" or "actuality" tv fan. If I'm going to watch fiction, then I want it to be reasonably well written.

If the race is broadcast on another channel and those people didn't plan to watch a race but were expecting to see something else, will that really make new race fans? Maybe or maybe it will just piss them off the same way the overabundance of KFC commercials did most of the NASCAR fans from TNT's broadcast last week.

I know this is TNT's nonstop broadcast but I'm not committing to being home on Saturday. I don't particularly like RP races and I'm annoyed enough at NASCAR in general and the TV coverage in particular that I may well simply find something better to do with my Saturday night.

Happy 4th of July, Planeteers!

GinaV24 said...

LOL, JD, sorry I just read your last comment about the e-mail to KFC.

We had one KFC in my local area and that has been closed for 6 months.

I'm thinking about e-mailing them and telling them that they ruined the race and my appetite, so i won't be shopping there any longer.

West Coast Kenny said...


Isn'this a classic "bait 'n' switch"? If any new fans on TruTV decide they might want to see another race, they'll be angry when they see normal coverage, regardless of which TV partner they watch.

Even though the national commercials will be displayed side-by-side, the local breaks will still be there. What's more, unless the sponsors unearth some of their older spots or fast-track the next campaigns, we'll be seeing the same monotonous spots over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over ...

Next week at Loudon, it will be back to business as usual with another 32% commercial load. What kind of stickiness will NASCAR have with new fans when they discover that normally one-third of the race they watch will be commercials?


Paul said...

The only way this simulcast could work is if they kept the cameras rolling on TruTV during the commercials.

Viewers would get the same broadcast on TNT and TruTV, but when TNT goes to break, the cameras on the TruTV broadcast would move over to the announce booth.

That way viewers of TruTV can get in touch with the "actuality" of NASCAR and we get to see what AA, Wally, Kyle, and Larry Mac do and say during commericals.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see Wally ignore AA's every word? How about Kyle mocking AA's attempt to be a PxP? They wouldn't discuss the race or racing period, they'd just be talking for 3-5 minutes during each commercial break. Maybe they'll pull a FOX and show the people in the control tower or the production truck.

They might as well do something to fit the "It's not reality, it's actuality" slogan that TruTV has. No NASCAR fan is gonna take the time to search for the TruTV channel if they already have the TNT channel memorized.

The sport's already a mixture of reality/comedy/drama. The network that strives off those three things may as well embrace all three.

Buschseries61 said...

Happy 4th of July! Here's my post from yesterday. Feel free to delete my post on the other column JD.

I'm disappointed with the announcement. Putting the same thing on 2 different channels offers nothing to entice the viewers. Turner can put slug racing on all it's networks, but if people aren't into it, they won't watch it. It's not wintertime 1979 where you could count the channels on one hand and entertainment options on the other.

I've seen the argument that this puts the sport in front of truTV viewers, but does network loyalty even exist today? I watch the network for the shows, not the other way around. If one of my shows happens to not air that night, there's many other things to do, it's summertime.

It seems like nobody in the sport gets it. NASCAR doesn't need a thousand marketing people to return to it's former popularity. Instead, NASCAR needs to fix the game it created. That's what attracted people, then turned fans away. 1,000 people screaming the praises of NASCAR will do no good if the problems with the rules, cars, schedule, and tv coverage are not addressed. Also, Turner doesn't need to put NASCAR on two channels to promote viewership. End the booth conversation & news hour and try calling the race. Decrease the odds when I flick to TNT that it will be a commercial. Simple stuff.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Couldn't resist a 2nd post - with all the conspiracy theories about which team/driver favors or has it out for, why not promo this as 'The Smoking Gun - World's Dumbest Racing Promoter'? ...celebrity analysts already in place for me, don't you know ...would like to see shock of regular TruTV viewer tuning in for Saturday night fare and seeing a race break out.

Michael said...

I agree with the earlier poster's opinion that this is a glorified publicity stunt meant to put TruTV's name out there.

If the situation was reversed (if the race was originally on the lower-distributed TruTV and then simulcast on TNT) I could buy the reasoning that this expands viewership. In this situation I don't buy it one bit.

I had hoped the TruTV airing would be some form of alternate coverage and am very disappointed that it's just the same broadcast being shown on two channels.

Lame, lame, lame.

GinaV24 said...

Buschseries61 - Perfect, your comment is right on the money. Unfortunately NASCAR is myopic and can't see the forest for the trees.

Sally said...

Again, all the marketing in the world won't sell a bad product...or a product presented badly.