Friday, January 22, 2010

New TV Series Changing NASCAR Landscape

The four day event called the Charlotte Media Tour is now over. Mixed in with the team and NASCAR announcements was a good amount of TV news. Let's talk about the shows and programs that were mentioned to set the tone for 2010.

Michael Waltrip got our attention by confirming that he was the third panelist on Showtime's new Inside NASCAR series. Kyle Petty's name had been put out several weeks ago, but that information proved to be incorrect. Both Showtime and Waltrip clearly loved keeping that secret until Thursday morning.

It will be Chris Myers from Fox Sports hosting the series. Myers has a long track record of hosting studio shows on networks like ESPN and The Tennis Channel. ESPN's Brad Daugherty will also appear on the show. This is a great opportunity for Daugherty to escape the confines of ESPN's structured on-air product and engage in some spirited and opinionated conversation.

The final panelist is SPEED's Randy Pemberton. While perhaps the least well known to some, Pemberton has been connected with the sport for decades. In his previous appearances on SPEED's Tradin' Paint series, Pemberton showed that he is informed, opinionated and not afraid of anyone. Those are good traits to bring to this new series.

Finally, Showtime promises to make the series available online, through cell phone streaming and on cable television Video On Demand services. This will allow those fans who cannot or choose not to subscribe to Showtime to still access the programs. The series begins on Wednesday, February 10 at 10PM ET and runs all season long. We will pass along the streaming and VOD specifics when they are announced.

Over at ESPN, things remain almost the same. NASCAR Now will return on Monday, February 1 with the same three hosts. Allen Bestwick will anchor the Monday hour program, while Mike Massaro and Nicole (Manske) Briscoe will handle the remaining duties. The only change is that due to earlier race start times, the weekend morning edition of the show will move to 9AM ET.

Meanwhile, over at SPEED there were wholesale changes in the TV line-up. Kyle Petty will replace Jimmy Spencer on both the NASCAR RaceDay and Victory Lane programs. Petty will team with Kenny Wallace and John Roberts on both shows. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler also return.

Spencer moves to a Monday night 8:30PM ET timeslot with a still developing thirty minute program titled What's the Deal? Explained to TDP as an issue-oriented talk show, SPEED wants to allow Spencer to voice his sometimes controversial opinions in a different format. More to come on this topic, no doubt.

What's the Deal? will occupy the second half of the hour that used to be filled by This Week in NASCAR. After 14 years, that series has been cancelled. SPEED felt the show had run its course.

Filling the thirty minute slot at 8PM on Mondays will be a recap version of the NASCAR in a Hurry show. This program will essentially be an extended version of "Scanner Chatter." Using video and audio captured by The NASCAR Media Group over the weekend at the races, the show will feature content not seen on the TV coverage and offer the kind of emotional behind the scenes moments NMG is famous for producing. Several existing SPEED announcers will voice the show on a rotating basis.

That makes the new Monday night line-up Race Hub, NASCAR in a Hurry and What's the Deal beginning at 7:30PM. SPEED also has several program concepts in the hopper for later in the season as well as returning the fan favorites on the weekend from NASCAR Performance to Wind Tunnel.

Over the next couple of weeks, the specifics and additional information on these shows will be made available. In the meantime, let's ask for your comments on the pending line-up of studio and news programs on NASCAR TV for 2010.

To give us your opinion, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks as always to you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.