Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sirius Satellite Radio Helps "NASCAR Now" With Content Problems

Tuesday, despite the presence of top NASCAR reporters on its own staff, NASCAR Now chose to credit The Associated Press as the source for the show's "lead story" on DEI negotiations.

The resulting anger from NASCAR Now's own reporters just added to the "ESPN vs. NASCAR" tension that has been building on this program since Daytona. Its a struggle between the non-NASCAR "hype guys" of ESPN and the "real NASCAR guys" on the show who live the sport every day. It is very real, it comes through clearly on-the-air, and its about to get ugly.

On Wednesday, in a move that still has heads shaking, NASCAR Now lead the show by actually playing-back over three minutes of audio from the "Tony Stewart Live" show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Let me say it again. They played the Tony Stewart Show on ESPN2. I bet that got the attention of the ESPN Sports Radio guys. Maybe the big Sirius logo on the ESPN2 TV screen helped.

I know it got the attention of the NASCAR Now reporters. They were the ones Tony did not speak to at the track. They were the ones unable to report on Tony after the race for ESPN2. Now, they are the ones sitting-on their hands while NASCAR Now plays-back a national Sirius Satellite interview of almost four minutes on their show. And its of Tony...on his own show. I wonder how that is working for the stress level in the NASCAR Now newsroom?

In the TV world, we call that "importing content." Taking a block of information from one source, and using it in another show. Normally, it is information not available elsewhere, or something very newsworthy at the moment. In this case, Tony Stewart kept his mouth shut until he got back to Sirius, then provided exclusive content for that network. You see, he works there. Along with our friend Matt Yocum as Producer, Tony has his own national network show. Its very popular and sometimes controversial. Now, Tony and Matt have basically re-aired an entire Sirius Satellite Radio program segment on ESPN2.

The popular NASCAR Now reporter Marty Smith was then brought on-camera, basically to speak to the Sirius Satellite Radio story. Marty confirmed Tony Stewart was not required to go to the media center after the race, and then confirmed that NASCAR can do anything it wants to fine a driver for his actions of comments. Looking directly at show host and "hype king" Doug Banks, Smith said that the answers to these questions..."are obvious." Marty was not smiling.

Somewhere at ESPN, someone made a very bad decision. The NASCAR Now reporters could have come on-the-air and dealt with this Tony Stewart issue in thirty seconds. A driver blows off the media and then talks about himself blowing off the media on his own exclusive satellite radio show. Then, the exact same media he ignored takes exactly the same content and re-airs it on a TV network. This must be the reason they make Motrin.

They "hype kings" roared in this program, including the fake story of Gordon and his flag, Kyle Busch "leaving" his car, whether the Busch Series will start "a chase to the Cup." As a topper, they played-back video of Montoya jokingly flipping the digit as if he commited a felony. One Daly Planet emailer suggested this show has become "Access Hollywood" meets "Around-The-Horn."

In closing, Doug Banks eventually read scripted questions to top reporters Marty Smith and Terry Blount right off a page. They knew them in advance, Doug rehearsed them in advance, and the entire "news" portion of this program was a sham. The best part is, the two reporters knew it. You could see in their faces that this joy ride was coming to an end. The only question will be, how ugly will it get?

A while back, ESPN Program Director Julie Sobieski promised change in NASCAR programs as the network evaluates their performance. After a great show on Monday filled with hard news and lots of information, this show again showed that NASCAR Now does not know "who to be" on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The show refuses to acknowledge the other NASCAR racing series, refuses to acknowledge CASCAR, and refuses to do any behind-the-scenes profiles of anyone involved in this sport. No wonder mid-week is slow! Anyone ever hear of viewer mail?

Let's hope that cooler heads will prevail, and NASCAR Now can right its ship before things get any worse. Making quality national reporters employed by ESPN2 dance like puppetts while answering scripted questions is not going to attract viewers to this show. Airing entire segments of other network's programs on NASCAR Now while the reporters watch may elicit a much different response. Without the news, NASCAR Now is running on empty. It might be time to check the fuel gauge.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for stopping-by.

Big thanks to Dave Moody and the entire crew of "Sirius Speedway" for allowing me to chat with them about NASCAR's TV issues. I had a great time, and hopefully, we can return for more with Dave as the season rolls-on. Thanks to all once again.