Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NASCAR's DVR Theater In Full Swing

As part of the on-going fan discussion here at TDP, we have been asked to talk about the programs that sometimes slip below the radar where NASCAR TV is concerned. Unfortunately, this season the pickins' are slim.

These non-primetime shows and off-network offerings are often put in timeslots where they need to be recorded to be seen by most folks. Hence the term, DVR theater.

ESPN Classic is re-airing the weekend's Sprint Cup races on Mondays at Noon. Formatted for three hours, this is basically an "classic instant replay" while ESPN still has the rights to show the race. It is a straightforward re-air with no frills that is cut down if needed to fit the time period.

As the Chase races wind-down, look for ESPN to throw some additional NASCAR programming on Classic. This week's historic race is a beauty. On Thursday at 1PM ET the 1976 Daytona 500 lives again complete with the original announcers. This is a good one to record as Richard Petty and David Pearson have a difference of opinion on the final corner of the final turn. The rest is history.

SPEED used to replay the Cup races in primetime during the week, but those days are long gone. Instead, the network offers a replay at Noon on Thursdays. This version has been run through the NASCAR Media Group folks who get it all cleaned-up and pretty, but it is essentially the same as the ESPN Classic Monday offering.

Unfortunately, even after cancelling The Chase Is On this year, SPEED has not added any additional NASCAR programming during the week. That leaves This Week In NASCAR on Monday and the Thursday Cup replay as the program offerings until the live shows from the racetracks begin on Friday.

The gaping hole in the SPEED schedule is the lack of a weekly TV program in support of the Craftsman Truck Series. This is the only major NASCAR series that SPEED carries. It tries to survive outside of the racing with only a thirty minute pre-race show and some weekend highlights.

With no sponsor for next season, Dodge factory support gone and only 31 trucks in the last race, SPEED's reluctance to expose the series beyond the track may have actively helped it come to a grinding end.

It seems that this season NASCAR is destined to run all the way to Homestead with little long-form TV programming exposure during the weekdays. Yet, somehow Sirius manages to keep a full-time NASCAR channel on-the-air twenty-four hours a day and the search activity on for "NASCAR" is one of their busiest categories.

What all of that means is lots of folks are out there looking for more audio and video information about the sport. It seems ironic that normally when audio and video are combined, the result is TV programming. This season, that certainly is not the case for NASCAR.

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