Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Still Waiting On TV Issues From Sprint Problems

Click here for the official word from NASCAR.com about the massive layoffs just announced by Sprint, the title sponsor of NASCAR's top series.

Sprint has deep ties to all three of the TV networks involved in broadcasting the series and the Chase for the Championship. Advertising, sponsorship and integrated marketing efforts are everywhere in the sport.

Story links, just click on the title:
Kansas Star - Video story on Sprint layoffs.
USA Today on Sprint's cost-saving measures.

As this story continues to develop and the media ramifications become apparent, we will update this post. Please feel free to leave your comments on this topic below.

Truck Series Reality Coming To TV Soon

The first of the three big races at Daytona will involve the newly-named Camping World Truck Series. The CWTS has consistently provided some of the most exciting racing and closest finishes in recent NASCAR history.

Whether it was on a race-by-race basis or for the season championship, this series did not disappoint. The secret weapon that brought fans to the trucks was the TLC given to the entire series by SPEED.

In a happier time and on a hilarious night, the CWTS TV gang posed for the picture above after producing the entire thirty minute pre-race show in costume to celebrate Halloween. Then, they delivered another sparkling TV broadcast.

Now, their world is about to change dramatically and no one can say what will happen as a result. Here are some words from a Monday column by SM Napier for The Bleacher Report:

So far twelve teams have confirmed they will be racing in 2009, of these nine are fully-sponsored. Three others still need sponsorship and one team is running a limited schedule. As of today, their are thirteen teams with open rides both full and part-time and four drivers with some form of sponsorship looking for teams.

Eighteen drivers are looking for a ride in 2009, with a few big names in the series still looking (including Mike Skinner). We've had about ten teams close after the 2008 season.

Napier's full column can be read by clicking here. Thanks to The Bleacher Report.

Over at Jayski.com, this page (click here) makes the reality hit home. Scrolling down to the team grid shows just how many teams are left and how many have closed.

Unfortunately, SPEED does not have any TV programming that is themed around the CWTS other than the pre-race show and the races themselves. Last season, TDP urged SPEED and ESPN2 to integrate truck series highlights and interviews into the live and recorded programming on Sundays.

This proved to be a tough challenge, because the CWTS drivers and owners were gone by the time RaceDay and the morning edition of NASCAR Now rolled around. Even SPEED's own This Week in NASCAR on Mondays rarely had an interview with the truck series race winner.

Lack of TV exposure for sponsors is an issue even at the Sprint Cup level and that series has many hours of national TV programming before and after each race.

Imagine how hard it is then for a sponsor to commit to the CWTS knowing the race itself is the only time their logo and team will be shown. There is no other regular TV exposure for this series and that is a key issue.

NASCAR.com's CWTS section is limited in scope. Clearly, the focus and effort by the Turner Interactive group that runs the site is on the Sprint Cup Series.

Over at SPEEDtv.com, the CWTS drivers and teams section sits blank while the news section offers four truck series stories before updating the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge.

In his column, Napier called the Camping World Trucks the forgotten series of NASCAR. In the 2009 season there will once again be no TV programs (weekly or monthly) about the trucks. Hopefully, NASCAR.com's new online programming initiative may result in some regular updates and news where the CWTS is concerned.

As Darrell Waltrip said very correctly, every team that has a truck will try to make the race in Daytona because of the payday and exposure. Only once the series has made the turn and heads for California will the stark reality of what has been hidden from TV viewers so far this season emerge.

Just how many trucks will make the trip and what that will do to the racing on SPEED is something we will all experience together. Let us hope that Camping World and NASCAR will both help this series pull through what is going to be a very difficult season.

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