Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TV/Media Notes From The Post-Season

Now that the official things are over for the year, our attention turns to what will be changing for the 2010 NASCAR TV season. The answer is...a lot. The big players in the rumor mill are ESPN, TNT and SPEED. New NASCAR TV shows are also coming to HBO and Showtime.

Last summer, Bill Weber was released as the play-by-play announcer for TNT's NASCAR coverage right in the middle of that network's run. Into the position stepped TV veteran Ralph Sheheen, who finished the season. It should be interesting to see if TNT stays with Sheheen for the 2010 TV package.

Over at SPEED, the Race Hub experiment has paid off. Dropped seemingly from the sky on the week of the Hall of Fame selections, Race Hub is a Monday through Thursday studio-based program at 7:30PM each night.

SPEED is the same network that insisted NASCAR programming would not work in primetime during weekdays. For years, only This Week In NASCAR on Monday nights was offered for fans. There has been no additional programming to support SPEED's Camping World Truck Series or even the type of well-edited race review shows that are trademarks of The NASCAR Media Group.

The Race Hub experiment quickly established Krista Voda as the de facto host. It also allowed others like Jeff Hammond, Ray Dunlap and Randy Pemberton to get additional TV time outside of their traditional roles. In the final weeks, the show hit a home run with multiple drivers and announcers discussing topics within the sport. Issues for next season include adding a West Coast re-air and getting the studio set squared away.

The NASCAR Media Group announced this week that Inside NASCAR will be a new weekly TV series coming to the Showtime network for 2010. Wednesday nights at 10PM ET will be the time and February 10th will be the start date. Analysis and highlights with announcers to be named at a later date.

Another subscription cable net, HBO, will debut 24/7 Jimmie Johnson: The Race To Daytona on January 26th at 10PM ET. This reality/documentary project will offer three one-hour episodes before the Daytona 500 and the final episode on February 16th, two days after the race. Part of the award-winning HBO 24/7 series.

Silence has been the order of the day from ESPN where the 2010 season is concerned. The network shuffled line-ups and experimented with live race coverage this season but it was still a rough year.

NASCAR Now will be back on February 1st and there have been no issues with the line-up of Allen Bestwick, Nicole Manske and Mike Massaro as co-hosts. Up in the air are the play-by-play assignments for the entire Nationwide Series season and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. We will see how that all shakes out.

Finally, no word yet on whether This Week in NASCAR will be back for 2010 on SPEED.

There will be a weekly media/TV notes post during the off-season just trying to keep up with all the changes in programming and personnel. Feel free to voice your opinion on any of the topics above. Just click on the comments button below.

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