Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday: TV/Media Question And Answer Session

It's been a whirlwind off-season for the NASCAR TV and media folks. We have also raised some new topics that have been hotly debated since the season ended.

Here are some items of interest. Feel free to add your opinions and questions in the comments section of this post. All questions will be answered ASAP with some help from our friends in the media.

SPEED will resume NASCAR TV with Daytona testing in mid-January. We are being told that the RaceHub series will return in the last week of January, but no time has been passed along.

The network has a new interim president named Scott Ackerson. A TV production veteran, Ackerson gets SPEED without Patti Wheeler present and is said to have been meeting with various staff members to get a feeling for the network's issues.

Sports Business Journal reporters John Ourand and Tripp Mickle published a story that NASCAR is going to buy back its digital (online) rights from Turner Sports. This move is said to be completed for the 2013 season and will reportedly cost over 25 million dollars.

NBC announced that the Super Bowl will be streamed online for the first time this year. NASCAR and FOX Sports continue to be at odds over any potential streaming of the Daytona 500. In the next TV contract, look for online streaming of live content to be a key element.

NASCAR's official satellite radio partner is SiriusXM. NASCAR owning digital rights could swing the door open to making the weekday NASCAR shows available on smart phone, tablets and laptops via streaming. How that deal would work is still up in the air.

Several veteran journalists have raised the issue of just how much reporting and healthy debate about issues in the sport will go on in 2013 if NASCAR itself is running the website from its HQ in Charlotte, NC.

Right now NASCAR has a digital chief, a marketing/PR chief and a VP dedicated to television operations. It will be up to these three players to craft a working agreement on how to most effectively cover the sport 24/7 online beginning in just one more year.

Michael Waltrip has been very active online during the off-season. This multi-car team owner will soon be moving into the Hollywood Hotel and sitting alongside his older brother Darrell for the NASCAR on FOX coverage. Waltrip will also retain his duties with SPEED as an analyst for the truck series.

The debate has already begun about how an active owner is going to offer analysis on teams, drivers and incidents in a series in which he has a major financial stake. Issues arise that require strong opinions and Waltrip is going to be facing a new situation where it's not going to be hard for fans of drivers to wave the conflict of interest flag when they are called out on TV.

ESPN has been silent on the future of Marty Reid. He was removed from the Sprint Cup Series telecasts on the network in the week before the first race. While he handles duties on the Nationwide Series telecasts down the stretch, ESPN does not cover the Sprint Cup Series until July. Since Allen Bestwick moved into the Lead Announcer role, we should find out what Reid is going to be doing for ESPN this season shortly.

Finally, the debate that just won't die is the absence of any live studio news programming from SPEED this off-season. Repeats of old shows highlight the primetime schedule even as the NASCAR and the motorsports world in general continue to generate big news stories on almost a daily basis.

The emergence of social media as a key pipeline for this information has made the lack of news programming on SPEED stick out like a sore thumb. Although SPEED threw together one special show after Kurt Busch departed Penske, nothing else has followed during the off-season.

We invite your comments on these topics and your questions on anything related to TV or media in NASCAR or motorsports. We will try to get answers ASAP and invite you to check back during the day on Wednesday as these Q&A sessions usually get rather interesting. Thanks again for stopping by.