Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mid-Week Media News And Notes

This week all three of NASCAR's national touring series head to the Dover International Speedway. Here are some news and notes about what is ahead.

Rusty Wallace will again be in the TV booth for ESPN's coverage of the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. Dale Jarrett has the weekend off. Wallace will join Allen Bestwick and Andy Petree to call the race.

After being selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Wallace said he was stunned he was chosen before some of the older pioneers of the sport. Then, he went on to criticize NASCAR for having what he believes are too many Sprint Cup Series races.

"It’s the classic case of supply and demand," he said. "Too much supply and not enough demand. I love NASCAR. It’s been good to me, it’s made me a lot of money. I think it’s OK for me to give my opinion. I don’t think NASCAR would get upset about that. Maybe take four races off the schedule and increase that demand that means so much."

Click here to review a 2011 story where the president of Iowa Speedway discusses his desire to obtain a Sprint Cup Series race date. Wallace designed the track and is part of the ownership group.

After years of pushing for a change, this year the 5PM Camping World Truck Series race from Dover will be live on SPEED. In years past, this race was tape-delayed until Friday evening. Dover has no lights and while the intentions may have been good, the non-stop world of social media and digital communications makes tape-delaying a NASCAR race ridiculous. Positive move by SPEED to go live and even a better decision to replay the race that same night in primetime.

Dover is the final race of the season for the NASCAR on FOX team. For those of you complaining about Waltrip brothers overload, you better sit down. Darrell confirmed on Twitter that he will be working for SPEED during the TNT portion of the season and Michael will continue to provide color commentary for the Camping World Truck Series.

Both Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds move away from the RaceDay program on SPEED when the TNT schedule rolls around. It would appear that Darrell will replace Petty during those six races and the buzz is that TV newcomer Matt Clark may replace McReynolds on the panel.

While we do know most of the pieces of the puzzle when TNT begins coverage, what we do not officially know is who will be hosting the six events from the infield. The name that keeps popping up is Krista Voda, although TNT has made nothing official at this point. There have been several faces in that chair over the past five seasons.

ESPN2's NASCAR Now series continues to air at 3PM, but at least the show has a nice new set. Without the Monday one hour roundtable show, the new set gives the program a polished look. Allen Bestwick was back to host early this week, but the afternoon shows are preempted Wednesday and Thursday.

FOX pit reporter Dick Berggren recently confirmed that this will be his last season working on TV. He made clear that he is not retiring, but will continue to work on his publishing interests, spend more time with the family and continue to be involved in the racing world.

Click here to see former ESPN and current NBC Sports Network announcer Bob Jenkins also confirming he is stepping aside after the IndyCar season. Jenkins has been in the motorsports TV game for over three decades. His voice will continue to be heard as the PA announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bob is a former co-worker and has always been a class act through thick and thin.

Any additional media news that comes along on Wednesday will be added to this post. We invite your opinion on the topics above. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

SportsCenter: The Unwatchable Hour

The program that carried ESPN through the early stages of its existence was SportsCenter. The idea was simple. Use technology to record as many sports highlights as possible and then play them back in one show. There were no rights fees to pay, nothing to negotiate and plenty of sports up in the air to record.

The early version of SportsCenter at 7PM previewed the match-ups of the night and set the table. The 11PM version showed highlights of the East Coast games now over and updated the West Coast in-progress scores. Finally, at 2:30AM in the east, the wrap-up show put all the highlights in one place and then replayed in the morning.

Since that time over thirty years have passed. ESPN has become a global media company with digital businesses of all kinds. While the faces, sets and studio locations have changed one thing has remained constant. ESPN continues to use SportsCenter as the backbone of its existence.

These days, SportsCenter expands to fill the holes in the ESPN TV schedule that have seen various types of programming come and go. National business shows, exercise series and even movies have all been tried and failed. The bottom line is that ESPN struggles in dayparts when no live events are scheduled.

A quick check of the ESPN schedule shows just how valuable sports highlights and news are to the network. On Tuesday, 15 of the 24 hours on the ESPN network programming schedule will be filled by SportsCenter. In essence, SportsCenter is the de facto "filler show" between ESPN's live events.

While it made sense to show timely sports highlights when SportsCenter was made available on a limited basis, the opposite is true these days. The over-exposure of this franchise program has led it to morph into something few believed it could become. Sportscenter is now truly the unwatchable hour.

The late night show now originates from ESPN's Los Angeles studios. The morning and afternoon versions are now live from Bristol. The results of these efforts is often nothing more than a disjointed stream of seemingly random content. Even with the labels of the upcoming stories right on the TV screen, it's become very clear that a lot of this content is being created simply to fill time.

Now with such a demand, the network often focuses SportsCenter around a continual stream of experts who seemingly appear to be on-duty at the network 24 hours a day. From Barry Melrose and his mullet to the hyperactive Herm Edwards, there are always former athletes or coaches available to talk about anything. Their role is to take what should be a highlight and expand it into a full-length program segment. Their presence is often recorded, a fact that is rarely made clear to viewers.

The second wrinkle in the modern SportsCenter is the emergence of the non-story. The reporter assigned to document Tim Tebow's first organized team activity (OTA) as a New York Jet found out what others already knew. There was nothing to report. That no longer matters. Simply by taking a reporter, adding a sports celebrity and showing video of both it becomes content now suitable for the SportsCenter marathon.

What the plethora of in-house experts and the forced presence of non-stories has done is eliminate sports that do not fit the SportsCenter mold. Such is the saga of NASCAR and motorsports in general. Since 2007 and the new eight-year NASCAR TV deal with ESPN, nothing has been a bigger disaster than the lack of consistent coverage on the network's flagship news program.

Here at TDP, we have written story after story on the embarrassing and even comical manner in which the various SportsCenter anchors have tried to deal with NASCAR. Here are a few:

SportsCenter Drops The NASCAR Ball from September of 2008

Why SportsCenter Hates NASCAR  from June of 2011

This weekend both NASCAR and IndyCar ran Sunday races. The Indy 500 was featured on ABC while the Coke 600 was on FOX. Like many other Americans on holiday, I tuned into SportsCenter late Monday morning to watch the highlights and get the follow-up reporting on both races.

Dario Franchitti had won one of the most exciting Indy 500 races in years. This event is the jewel of the ESPN IndyCar TV package. The race featured a furious sequence of passing on the closing laps and a final lap crash that became the story of the race. ABC had left the coverage with many stories untold and missed showing many memorable images.

SportsCenter had no Indy 500 highlights, no follow-up and never even referenced the event during the three hours of programming I recorded.

Popular NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne had finally broken his run of bad luck and won in Charlotte. Danica Patrick dominated the pre-race publicity. Favorite Jimmie Johnson had trouble on pit road. There were stories throughout the field. ESPN carries the final 17 Sprint Cup Series races, including the entire Chase for the Championship.

The SportsCenter shows I recorded had no NASCAR highlights, no results and never referenced the race. Fans have told me an earlier AM version of the show had Rusty Wallace talking about the event. Wallace was in Bristol to appear on the 3PM Monday afternoon NASCAR Now program.

In 2011 some key ESPN staff members were taken on an "immersion trip" to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Click here to read the story. This trip was not arranged because things were going well, but because it was very clear NASCAR's presence on SportsCenter and other ESPN programs continued to be a struggle.

Now, one year later, my Monday SportsCenter experience included Steven A. Smith loudly debating NBA topics, extended analysis in May about the NFL season and a Top Plays feature that did not show the Indy 500 finish.

The unwatchable hour is alive and well. Perhaps that immersion was not quite deep enough.

We invite your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Charlotte On FOX

The Sprint Cup Series race this weekend was run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway under sunny skies and then a clear night. There were no TV technical problems or red flag periods.

FOX provided the coverage with Chris Myers hosting Darrell and Michael Waltrip in the Hollywood Hotel for the pre-race show. The senior Waltrip then moved upstairs to join Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds to call the race. Pit road reporters were Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren and Krista Voda.

Earlier this week, Berggren confirmed that this would be his final season working on TV for FOX. He said he was not planning to retire, but stay busy with his publishing and family interests. He confirmed that he will continue to have an active role in the racing world.

I am on hiatus from watching Sprint Cup Series races live on TV until Pocono when the TNT coverage begins. I made this choice after watching the Darlington telecast. I will view the Charlotte race on Monday and add my opinion in the comments section just like every other reader.

Please give us your summary of the FOX telecast and thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Special: Indy 500 Live Blog

Every year we live blog the Indy 500 telecast as it takes place on ABC. This year, we will once again be hosting comments here but will also have a Twitter stream going using the #TDP1 hashtag. That is Nicole and Ryan Briscoe shown above in the pre-race parade as Ryan is the polesitter this season.

There are lots of IndyCar folks on Twitter, so this year's race should have the most information and the most commentary ever provided by social media in real time. SBNation reporter Jeff Gluck and AP reporter Jenna Fryer, both formerly assigned to the NASCAR beat, will be in Indy for the 500 this season instead of Charlotte.

ABC will host an hour of pre-race with Brent Musburger beginning at 11AM Eastern Time. Marty Reid will call the race with Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. Jamie Little, Jerry Punch, Vince Welch and Rick DeBruhl are the pit road reporters.

The ESPN production team is a hybrid mix of IndyCar regulars, NASCAR folks and lots of company management types. This is the big one. There will be 80 cameras, nine cars with onboard cams and the infamous "bat-cam" that races down pit road on a slim wire at up to 80 mph. It's great for restarts.

Here is a breakdown of the elements that TV viewers will see in the pre-race:

•Dan Wheldon: A Champion’s Story — interviews with drivers, owners and family members celebrating the life and championships of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner who died in a racing accident in October.

•JR Hildebrand: 799 Correct Turns and 1 Wrong Turn – A first-person feature about the heartbreaking finish of the 2011 Indy 500 for Hildebrand, who crashed with the checkered flag in site.

•James Hinchcliffe – The driver who has captured IndyCar fans with his sense of humor as well as his ability behind the wheel does a parody of the Danica Patrick/ commercials.

•Dario Franchitti Museum Tour – The multi-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion takes a private tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, exploring the history of the race and his desire to win his third.

•Charlie Kimball: Inspiring Others — Kimball, the first diabetic driver to finish the Indy 500, has inspired a 12-year-old girl from Kansas to believe she can do anything, despite living with diabetes.

•ESPN Sport Science takes a detailed look at the new DW12 IndyCar chassis that debuted this year and details the changes from previous chassis.

•Memorial Day — The story of a mother who sacrificed a great deal when her son Ben lost his life fighting for his country. She visits Arlington National Cemetery to tell her story.

This year for the first time ESPN will be streaming some video online during the race. ESPN cable TV subscribers who have the WatchESPN service will be able to log into ESPN3 and watch the in-car cameras live. It's not clear from the media releases if the audio associated with those feeds will be the team radios, the natural sound from the car or the ABC telecast.
One unique feature of this Memorial Day event is that the race will be seen internationally not only on ESPN's affiliated networks, but on the American Forces Network that serves US troops worldwide.
The current version of the IndyCar is very different from last season. The challenges of racing at Indy look to make two-wide racing impossible through the corners and tough on the straights except to pass. Even the restarts after the ceremonial three wide start are going to be single file. It's going to once again be a war of attrition.
Reid had a tough time coming over to NASCAR, but hosts a solid Indy 500 and is a veteran at keeping the information flowing. His analysts are outstanding and the disagreements between the analytical Goodyear and the emotional Cheever make for great TV. It's going to be very hot and the pit road reporters may be telling a tale of both mechanical and personal challenges during the race for the teams.
After the final race last season and the resulting tragedy, it is going to be more important than ever before to put on a good show on this big stage for the series. Without Danica it may come down to the powerhouse teams vs. the underfunded independents to create the storylines when all is said and done.
We invite your TV comments before, during and after the race. Please focus on the ESPN coverage of this event on ABC.  This is not a post for NASCAR or Formula One comments as both series will also be racing on Sunday. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nationwide Series From Charlotte on ABC

It might be ABC for the television, but a nice story from Saturday afternoon's Nationwide Series race is Wendy Venturini co-anchoring the PRN radio coverage with Doug Rice.

Meanwhile, Dale Jarrett has the weekend off. So, Allen Bestwick will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree in the TV booth. There is 100% local TV station clearance today, so the race will not be delayed.

ESPN has an agenda that is drive by celebrity and popularity. NNS driver Johanna Long had none of her qualifying laps show and was not interviewed while driver Danica Patrick had extensive coverage and her qualifying effort shown from start to finish before a live interview. It's just today's nature of sports TV.

As usual, it will be the Cup cross-over drivers vs. the Nationwide regulars. ESPN has been rough on the series with fundamentally bad coverage featuring Cup drivers and Danica Patrick. The network believes the connection with Cup drivers will keep viewers interested. It's been awful for the full time NNS teams.

Sponsorship within this series has been directly affected by the fundamental refusal of ESPN to update the full field or even the cars on the lead lap. The disconnect between the teams in this series and ESPN is huge. Often, ESPN is only on the air for the race and SPEED covers practice and qualifying.

It should be interesting to see how Wallace handles being back in the TV booth on such a big weekend, especially after a week where he was chosen for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in what even he admits was a shocker. Wallace's Nationwide Series team is closed down and his son has not found a full time ride.

The weather is hot, but it will be very interesting to see if the action in the race mirrors that of the Cup Series with long green flag runs and the emphasis on pit stops and fuel mileage. There was a "Global Rallycross" race done as an exhibition and a small jump on the frontstretch caused gouges in the track. Keep an eye on that issue as the NNS cars are going to be the crash test dummies for this potential problem.

Twitter is the place for live Nationwide Series race chat. My account is and I urge you to sign up and check it out for free. We will live blog the Indy 500 Sunday on Twitter as well.

As always, happy to have your TV comments before, during and after the NNS race today right here. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Media Award Small Step In Right Direction

There was an interesting twist on Wednesday during the Hall of Fame selection day. A new award was introduced. It was the first official confirmation that the NASCAR media was finally going to be acknowledged as a vital part of the sport.

Here is the announcement:

NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame have announced the creation of a new award to honor the media’s contributions to the success of the sport and it carries the names of two legendary broadcasters from the Motor Racing Network.

The careers of Barney Hall and Ken Squier have now been permanently woven into the sport’s historical timeline with this week’s unveiling of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.

A special exhibit will be incorporated into the existing Media Section within the NASCAR Hall of Fame, honoring Hall and Squier – who received the inaugural award during Wednesday’s introduction of the Class of 2013. They now join former MRN broadcaster Ned Jarrett in the halls of the NASCAR shrine, who was inducted in May 2011 as a two-time Cup Series champion.

“Media have played an important role in the growth and popularity of NASCAR over the years,” said Chairman and CEO Brian France. “The voices of Ken Squier and Barney Hall are an indelible part of our sport’s history and we couldn’t be more pleased to recognize their long and outstanding careers.”

Hall is widely known for his calm voice and unmatched storytelling. He’s been a part of MRN’s award-winning race coverage since the network’s debut in 1970.

“I don’t think I could have picked anybody I’ve ever enjoyed working with as much as I did Ken,” Hall said. “He taught me that you don’t scream and holler on the air. You get excited in your voice, but there’s a way to do it without screaming and yelling.”

Squier also was part of the MRN team starting in 1970. His golden voice helped take NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage. He moved from the radio booth to network television at CBS, perhaps best-known for his work during the 1979 Daytona 500. That day, Squier welcomed millions of viewers to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of “The Great American Race” … his phrase which has stuck with the event ever since.

“I was blessed and fortunate with how things worked out,” Squier said. “To be a small part of anything as large as this is a pretty good deal.”

Each year, five nominees will be selected by a panel that includes NASCAR executives, Hall of Fame staff and the president of the National Motorsports Press Association. From there, a voting panel will select the winner of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, which will be announced in conjunction with annual Hall of Fame festivities.

“Ken Squier and Barney Hall provided my primary education about the sport and fueled my passion for it,” said MRN President and Executive Producer David Hyatt. “No other broadcasters have had as much impact on the development and popularity of NASCAR as Ken and Barney. They each played pivotal roles in the history of the Motor Racing Network, drawing the blueprint for our success. I’m thrilled that the inaugural award has been given to them, and humbled to be part of the industry and the network they helped create.”

Here are some comments on the award:

Darrell Waltrip: "The constant between both of these guys is the humility they bring to the table." "One of NASCAR's original broadcasters, Ken Squier worked with Motor Racing Network to take NASCAR to a broader audience. His distinctive voice took listeners to the track no matter where they were. Squier first showed his face to audiences with the 1979 Daytona 500, when CBS aired the Great American Race - a name he coined - live for the first time on national television." "Barney Hall has been part of my Sundays for as long as I remember. The southern gentleman who calls races on the Motor Racing Network is simply the smoothest voice in radio. Race day without Mr. Hall is not race day and yet I wonder where is Chris Economaki? Where are Tom Higgins and David Poole?"

One of the fundamental drawbacks to the Hall was the lack of acknowledging the radio, TV and print media contributions to the sport. On my visit, I was struck by the contrast between the amount of videos featuring NASCAR personalities used to explain the various exhibits and the lack of any designated area that focused on the contributions of those same individuals.

Nothing would make the dry as toast NASCAR Hall of Fame come alive more than having fans sit in a mock MRN radio booth, pick a classic race video and then call the action. How about digging up the original Hollywood Hotel, putting it in the Hall and letting fans record themselves taking a turn at the microphone?

These days, families visiting the Hall come equipped with smart phones or a digital handicam to record the visit. The best part about it is they bring all the technology needed with them. Maybe adding a live webcam so that friends and family back home could watch and listen would spur the kind of interest that cars you can't touch and firesuits behind glass just can't muster.

Happy to have your thoughts on the media's role in NASCAR over the years and what you think the best way to incorporate these reporters, radio announcers and TV personalities into a historical perspective might be. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 2: Digital Darkness Surrounds Hall Of Fame

At 8PM Tuesday night the front page of the website did not contain any mention of the Hall of Fame selection that would happen on Wednesday.

There were no stories, no pictures and not even a TV listing of the live programs on SPEED that would discuss and then announce the new inductees. The lead story at was about the friendship between driver Carl Edwards and country singer Justin Moore.

NASCAR's Facebook page, liked by almost three million users, also had nothing about the Hall of Fame. No mention of who was on the candidate list, how the process worked or who was on the committee involved in making the selections. No fans were debating, no comments were being left.

Shortly after 8PM, NASCAR's official Twitter account posted one tweet about the Hall of Fame activity on Wednesday. That was the only tweet of the day referencing the selection process. It contained no links to pictures, information or videos. It just said if you are in town, the Hall is open for business.

Since there was no link to the Hall of Fame website on the front page of, I typed in the address and went to the digital home of the Hall. Promoted on Wednesday was a pre-vote tour of the actual voting room. It was for those fans who had paid $50 to become members of the Hall of Fame.

There are no live webcams in the Hall. Visitors can't call the family back home and wave online as they do at attractions from Key West to Venice Beach. On Wednesday, there will be no live webcams in the voting room as the committee assembles. No live video will appear on the sport's website.

Hashtags on Twitter have been all the rage. They allow users to quickly access information on a specific event. There was no promotion of the #NASCARHOF hashtag to be seen in advance of Wednesday on the NASCAR or NASCAR Hall twitter accounts.

Live tweeting events to create a central hub for content and get information out to fans and media is key in this social media oriented world. There was no mention of NASCAR live tweeting the activity Wednesday as the committee assembles, debates and then votes.

NASCAR's PR department says this vote is wide open. The candidates come from different eras and there are going to have to be some persuasive speeches by those voting in support of their choices. There are great storylines emerging in the debate between honoring the candidates from the past and celebrating those who ushered in the modern era. The day's activity should make news across the sport.

Click here for a link to the SPEED TV website page about the Wednesday Hall of Fame activity and coverage. SPEED is the official TV network of the Hall of Fame, but is not owned by or affiliated with NASCAR.

There has to be a more cohesive way to rally the various NASCAR-owned digital resources in support of the Hall on days like this. While SPEED will provide some TV exposure and Sirius Speedway will originate a satellite radio broadcast, the missing piece of the puzzle belongs to NASCAR itself.

Between the NASCAR website and various social media accounts, Wednesday should be used to generate as much fan involvement and media coverage as possible. Live webcams from the Hall, Facebook updates on the progress of the day and a promoted Twitter hashtag with live tweets would bring a new level of exposure to the struggling facility.

We invite your comments on this topic. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gentlemen Start Your Hashtags (Updated)

Updated: Tuesday ESPN's John Skipper told CNBC that ESPN is also cooperating with Twitter to control hashtags for live sporting events seen on the ESPN networks. Skipper admitted that while one goal is to make it easier for fans to see the content in one place, ESPN and Twitter will be inserting advertising into the hashtag streams and splitting the revenue. Maybe we finally got the real story that NASCAR never mentioned. Here is the video:

Amid the news from the All-Star festivities at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, there was one announcement that pertained to social media and NASCAR TV. An executive from Twitter and the Chief Marketing Officer of NASCAR announced a partnership that will begin with the Pocono race in June.

Here are some of the details in the media release:

NASCAR and Twitter announce a unique digital partnership that will create a new way for the sport's millions of fans to experience what happens inside NASCAR and its teams on race day.

During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, search for #NASCAR on or visit, they'll reach a new Twitter experience where they will see the most relevant tweets from their favorite NASCAR drivers, NASCAR families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities. will be available starting with the Pocono Raceway race weekend and will be most active on Sunday, June 10, in conjunction with TNT's first of six television broadcasts of the Sprint Cup Series season. This new product will provide a complementary Twitter experience to TNT viewers looking for in-depth access to the happenings at the track and in the garage of a NASCAR race weekend.

Twitter is a simple concept. Each user selects from a huge list of folks on Twitter and creates a timeline that allows a stream of tweets from those selected to appear. A tweet can contain a link to a picture, video or webpage. This service is useful because it appears in real time and can be accessed on any kind of portable device.

Over the last few years, Twitter has gained a strong foothold with NASCAR fans. Teams, drivers, sponsors, tracks, and NASCAR officials have found it an incredibly quick way to get information to fans. The NASCAR media including the radio, TV and online news reporters have also gravitated to Twitter. News is now often reported first on Twitter and then in longer form on NASCAR news websites.

When an event is happening, Twitter uses hashtags. This feature has a # symbol and then a word or abbreviation. So, #BBMA was used for Monday's Billboard Music Awards. Twitter users just type that into the search box and all the tweets with that hashtag pop right up. It's a handy feature.

This hashtag search is automatic, but that seems to be on the verge of changing. Here is what Twitter executive Omid Ashtari explained on the topic of NASCAR.

"During the race, we’ll curate accounts from the NASCAR universe and surface the best Tweets and photos from the drivers, their families, commentators, celebrities and other fans," said Ashtari.  Mashable reported Ashtari called the arrangement "part search algorithm and part editorial."

What Ashtari is talking about is a Twitter social media producer taking active control of the #NASCAR hashtag during a race and adding an editorial voice to what is now a fully automated feature. Control is a word that NASCAR already knows very well in terms of social media content created about the sport.

Just as SPEED created the Social Media Garage to try and encourage Twitter users to interact with the network's TV offerings and personalities, it seems that NASCAR and TNT are combining with Twitter to try the same thing on a much broader scale. There is little doubt that the content from the new supervised and coordinated #NASCAR hashtag is going to be actively featured during the TNT telecasts.

It's still a puzzling issue as to how many active Twitter users will follow a #NASCAR hashtag for an entire race. Most users have worked hard to create a timeline that is perfect for their taste in teams, news and information. The real impact of a coordinated and produced #NASCAR hashtag might be on non-users.

TV viewers not using Twitter will be seeing tweets about the sport on the TNT telecast throughout the race. Apparently, non-users will also have access to the #NASCAR hashtag stream of comments online. This second stream of information is one that current NASCAR fans on Twitter are very familiar with these days. There are many voices all competing for the attention of the NASCAR fan base. 

This shift signals the insertion of the marketing arm of NASCAR into social media. The issue of what content will be included also brings up the issue of what content will and can now be excluded. It's no secret that social media has empowered a portion of the fan base not pleased with the current state of affairs within the sport.

Ashtari said working with NASCAR will enable Twitter to learn how to move into a more editorial role when it comes to working with professional sports leagues. It's interesting to remember that a key attraction of Twitter to many is that users are judged on what they tweet solely by the other Twitter users.

By encouraging NASCAR fans to move to this controlled hashtag environment Twitter gets an opportunity to dip its toe into professional sports, TNT gets a unique TV feature and NASCAR gets a user-friendly feed full of positive content about the sport.

What is not very clear right now is what benefit fans get from the arrangement. While not actually blocking user access to any NASCAR content, this adding of an "editorial voice" during Sprint Cup Series races simply means fans will now see an edited and controlled stream of information on the #NASCAR hashtag.

For a global business built on delivering real time digital content, moving into controlling and editing that same content for a specific target group is a curious move for Twitter. Ultimately, all of this may be just a confirmation of the significant impact that NASCAR fans using Twitter are having on the sport.

We invite your comments on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Your Turn: All-Star Evening on SPEED

Saturday night featured SPEED's coverage of the All-Star festivities for the Sprint Cup Series from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Krista Voda hosted from the Hollywood Hotel. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds provided commentary from the booth. Many other SPEED and FOX personalities were featured throughout the coverage.

This post will provide NASCAR fans an opportunity to discuss the TV coverage. Please refrain from profanity or hateful speech. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Post That Will Not Die: NASCAR On FOX From Darlington

Update: This is the post that will not die! Just topped 100 comments and what a diverse group of fans we have posting. So, I am leaving this up as the lead post for one more day.

There was little doubt that TV viewers were going to see a lot of Danica Patrick on Saturday night. Her sponsor was also the race TV sponsor and her story of driving at Darlington was destined to attract viewers.

This week, we will once again let you offer the first comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Darlington Raceway. This removes any suggestion that I have set the tone or moved the discussion in one direction or another.

Chris Myers opened the show with Michael and Darrell Waltrip from the Hollywood Hotel. Jeff Hammond continues in his role as a roving reporter. Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren and Krista Voda were the pit reporters. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip called the race.

There were no weather problems and aside from some viewer complaints about the audio mix, there were no serious technical problems.

We are looking for your wrap-up of the NASCAR on FOX coverage. Comments with hateful speech, profanity or derogatory comments will be deleted. The way to make your comments count is to voice your opinion as a true fan. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Edwards Moves Into ESPN TV Booth

This Wednesday a simple press release went out from ESPN about the upcoming Nationwide Series coverage from Darlington, SC. The actual content was anything but simple.

Lead Analyst Dale Jarrett is taking the weekend off and joining Allen Bestwick and Andy Petree in the TV booth for qualifying and race coverage on ESPN2 will be Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards. He will also be in that role for the June 29th race at Kentucky Speedway.

"Having a past NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and active NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the booth will certainly bring some unique perspective to our viewers,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president of motorsports. “We have a very strong on-air team for NASCAR and this addition makes it even stronger."

It was September of 2011 when Jack Roush was answering questions at Iowa Speedway. He was asked about the budding Nationwide Series rivalry between two of his drivers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Edwards. "I think he's (Carl) made his decision," said Roush. "I think he is going to become a sportscaster for ESPN for the Nationwide Series races (in 2012). I'm not sure if he is going to just do the companion races or all the races."

That started the speculation that Edwards was following up on his frequent TV appearances during the 2011 season on both TNT and ESPN with an expanded role in 2012. Then, Edwards himself addressed that issue before the start of the current season. He spoke to Insider Racing News reporter Becca Gladden while in the Phoenix area for a golf tournament.

Gladden: Will you be spending more time in the broadcast booth on ESPN in the Nationwide Series this year?

Edwards: We haven’t made a final deal and there’s really no ‘deal’ – you know, it’s not a money deal or anything like that. It just basically comes down to time. If there are weekends where I can go up there and help the broadcast and they’ll let me do it, then I’d love to do it, but I don’t know if I’ll do one race or ten races …

Gladden: There was a rumor out there that you were cutting back on driving in the Nationwide Series in order to do more TV broadcasts.

Edwards: No, that was not my intention. Number one for me is to win the Cup championship. But, I do think – after thinking about it a little bit – I think that I might actually be able to learn some things being up there in the broadcast booth, to be able to watch the races that closely. Sometimes you see things up there that you don’t see either on television or in the race car. So, if it turns out to be something like that, I might do a lot more of them.

Well, the time is now and Edwards is heading into the highest-profile role on ESPN's motorsports coverage with no experience. Well, TV booth experience that is. Edwards is a past Nationwide Series champion and has also spent a lot of quality time over the past season or two popping-up in various support roles on ESPN.

Darlington's Nationwide Series race will feature the typical battle between the Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers and the Nationwide regulars. Sprinkled in will be stories like Danica Patrick tackling the track and veteran Jeff Green stepping in for Eric McClure, who was injured in a Talledega crash.

The Infield Pit Studio will also return for Darlington so Edwards will be interacting with Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Nicole Briscoe before, during and after the race. ESPN's four pit reporters will also be working, so Edwards will basically be in the key position with a full NASCAR on ESPN TV team at his disposal as the Lead Analyst.

Several times since the season began Edwards has specifically pointed out that his goal this year is to win the Sprint Cup Series Championship and stay focused. Now ten races in, he is 11th in points without a win and has two-time winner Brad Keselowski only one point behind him in the standings.

The interesting TV note this weekend is that the Nationwide Series telecast will have an active Sprint Cup Series driver as the Lead Analyst in the TV booth while the Sprint Cup Series coverage will have a multi-car Cup team owner and part-time driver as the Infield Analyst in the Hollywood Hotel.

All of this points to the struggles of the TV partners to capture and keep the attention of the fan base in the era of online radio streaming, real time social media coverage and the easy recording of live events via the DVR. It should be interesting to watch the fan and media reaction to Edwards on TV this weekend.

We welcome your thoughts on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Buzzwords Flying In Latest Media Mess

Just as the buzz over Darrell Waltrip's recent comments about the fan base was starting to die down, a former NASCAR crew chief and now a top executive of the sanctioning body has heated things back up.

This time, the topic was the late debris caution at Richmond that was called out by various drivers, crew chiefs and fans as being thrown only to bunch up the field for the finish of the race. NASCAR disputes those contentions and apparently has some other issues with the topic of justifying cautions.

Here is how Jeff Gluck reported it over at SBNation:

"Sometimes, some people are a little more needy than others and they want to see that for whatever reason," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton (pictured above) told reporters attending a function at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "And whatever their thought process and beliefs with the governing body (are), they think they need proof.

"Sometimes you see (the debris) and sometimes you don't, and that's based on TV coverage, basically."

But Pemberton said FOX "didn't do anything wrong" and he doesn't mind TV not showing the reason for debris caution because, "I don't have an issue with (the reason for the caution)."

He also said NASCAR does not keep the debris as evidence of why it called the caution. "We don't inventory it, we don't tag it and put it a library anywhere or anything," he said. "It's just trash."

"A lot of times, you call it for one thing and then you pick that up and anything else that's in the vicinity," he said.

So what was the debris at Richmond? Pemberton said there may have been a water bottle on the track, but there was also a beer can or piece of aluminum that had been run over.

The ripples from Pemberton's rock thrown into the pond did not take long to spread. This same issue has risen to the surface several times over the last couple of years. It's basically a shame that it had to be discussed at all, but it just comes down to one simple truth.

The FOX telecasts are not produced to serve the hardcore fans. They are produced to serve the network, the advertisers and the production team. FOX paid the money to telecast the races and that brings them the ability to pick and choose what to include and what to exclude.

If FOX chooses not to show viewers the debris that brought out the caution, NASCAR has nothing to say about it. As Pemberton stated sometimes you see the debris and sometimes you don't. That mostly depends on which Sprint Cup Series TV partner is televising the race.

If FOX chooses only to show the winning car cross the finish line, NASCAR has nothing to say about it. Fans of the other lead lap drivers who have been watching the telecast for hours may be frustrated, but the FOX production team can decide that it is more important to show the winner slowing down, the pit crew jumping around and the crew chief smiling than the field racing to the finish.

As Jeff Hammond detailed in a recent report, the FOX team focuses the cameras on two cars at a time under green flag conditions. Jumping between tightshots of cars instead of presenting the best racing on the track at the time is their right as the official TV network. Mixing these tightshots with in-car camera views serves to top-off the production approach to green flag racing.

The network does many things well including having the best corps of pit reporters, a flawless record of making superb pictures and sound as well as adding side-by-side commercials this season for the final scheduled hour of the races.

What they do not do well at FOX is respond to fans. Gluck wrote both last year and this year about his experience and subsequent frustrations of watching a full race on TV away from the track. He and I exchanged views on Twitter recently about that. His words serve as a popular view on the relationship between FOX and NASCAR fans.

"Those words from last year ring true today. The TV networks don't care about fan input, and that's my point then and now," tweeted Gluck. "It does need to change, but they don't care what you or I think. They're going to do what they want."

There are four more Sprint Cup Series races this season that will televised on FOX. The existing NASCAR TV contract runs through 2014. This means there will be two more full years of coverage by the current TV partners after this season.

We invite your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sprint Cup Series From Darlington On FOX

This is going to be a very big night for the NASCAR on FOX team. It's been an up and down season on TV with the addition of a second Waltrip and the ongoing struggle between the "hyper-tight" coverage and showing viewers the actual racing.

Last weekend in Talladega, FOX surprised many of us by returning to a classic style of NASCAR TV that focused on the groups of cars racing for position and then used tight-shots and in-car cameras to emphasize the speed and danger. It worked like a charm.

What did not work like a charm was the commentary from the Waltrips. Michael continues to be conflicted by his team interests, sponsor mentions and over-the-top promotion of the sport. Darrell is having a tough time focusing on the specific issues on the track and the details of the race.

Many fans told us they used the MRN radio feed which is streamed online for free and muted the TV, keeping the pictures but shutting out the audio. That is really a blow to FOX, a network that features the best group of pit reporters and one of the best play-by-play men in the business in Mike Joy.

Darlington is a great opportunity to finally get the TV pieces together. Mike Joy should have lots of work to do in calling the action on this tough track. Hopefully, he is allowed to do just that. His performance will work much better if we are seeing wideshots and the groups of cars rather than just a chosen one or two.

As a reminder, Darlington features single file racing in the corners and the passing is done down the straights. At the end of the straightaway, one car must yield for the corner and that is where the incidents have traditionally taken place. Keep an eye on whether we see most incidents like or replayed.

There is a blimp cam and Josh the cameraman supplied the picture on this post. Hopefully, especially on restarts, we will see an aerial shot and let the night pictures tell the story of the racing. The darker it gets, the better these pictures look.

We put this post up for your comments during the race, but we chat live this season over on Twitter. Please join us by typing #TDP1 into the search box at or tagging your tweets with #TDP1 to be included in the live stream. Twitter is easy to figure out and there are hundreds of NASCAR information sources that provide content during the live race.

There will be a post up immediately after the race for your long form comments. We appreciate you taking the time to stop by and hope to see you on Twitter tonight!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Join Me On SiriusXM At Noon Saturday

Kicking off race day with an appearance on the Press Pass program on the SiriusXM NASCAR channel at noon ET. Happy to join co-hosts Jim Noble and Dustin Long to talk some NASCAR TV. The program starts at 11AM and runs through 2PM.

Sirius is available online, but only to subscribers who have a car or portable Sirius radio. There currently is no "online only" option. That is something we are working on, but no luck yet.

Jim sets the tone and asks the questions, so all I know is that we are going to talk about some current TV topics. It will be great to get some opinions from Dustin on those same topics. He has been working hard on his "Backseat Fan Council" for quite some time and gets some great fan feedback.

Hope to see you then. There will be a new post up later for the Cup race and a full night of live chat over on Twitter beginning at 6PM ET. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day Three: NASCAR On FOX From Talladega

What a surprise when after another amateurish pre-race show, the live race coverage from the NASCAR on FOX gang appeared to be significantly changed.

The pre-race featured the Waltrip brothers again trying to top each other and the results were not pretty. Jeff Hammond dusted off Mr. Pizzi for a tasteless look at the infield happenings. While the pit reporters appeared, the spotlight once again was on the Waltrips and lots of conversation. A delay in the start of the race due to rain only made it seem worse.

After all the recent controversy between Darrell Waltrip and the fans, it was interesting to see him hosting a pre-race feature that recapped the biggest Talladega wrecks from the past. FOX once again sold accidents as the appeal of Talladega.

This Sunday, the pictures being shown to the fans at home were completely different. Gone were the two-car tightshots and instead the entire field was featured on-camera consistently. Also gone were the single views of pit reporters, green flag pitstops and Jeff Hammond's feature reports.

The director used a split-screen continually during the race for a wide variety of content and it was a welcome change. The integrity of the green flag racing was made important once again. The only drawback was the music and the recorded "bumpers" of drivers shown going to commercial under green.

Looking much more like a truck series race on SPEED, the FOX presentation from Talladega gave race fans a preview of just what the sport would look like when the best racing on the track was made the center of the telecast. It was a refreshing treat.

FOX continues to have outstanding pit reporters, but the mix upstairs is still dominated by Waltrip. Joy is simply not allowed to call continuous laps of the race as a play-by-play announcer and that is a shame. He can bring excitement to a telecast in an instant.

Late in the race, FOX began the side-by-side commercials. There were a lot of them. Even with the ability to see the field, the frustration of late commercials after a long day and rain delay was felt in fan comments.

The mess that resulted featured FOX missing a Kurt Busch spin, but rebounding with the correct replays. The green-white-checkered finish was anti-climactic but FOX used the correct wideshot camera and showed the lead lap cars all racing to the finish. A super slo-mo replay was a bonus.

The directing of this coverage was radically different than what we have seen this season from FOX. Whether it is a shift in philosophy or just a practical matter of covering restrictor plate racing is yet to be seen. Either way, it made for a day of solid pictures from start to finish.

We welcome your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Talladega.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sprint Cup Series On FOX From Talladega

It's been a wet morning at Talladega with a consistent rain. NASCAR has advised the teams in the driver's meeting that an updated schedule will be announced at noon ET. The good news is that the rain has passed and it looks like it's just a matter of drying the track. That effort normally takes about two hours.

The usual cast of characters is along for the ride this week on FOX. Michael Waltrip is driving in the race, but will still be a part of the TV coverage from start to finish. It will be interesting to see just how much FOX uses him and in what type of a roll once the race begins.

Originally, we were told Jeff Hammond would return to his past role of being located in the Hollywood Hotel since Waltrip was racing, but things have a way of changing at FOX these days.

It's been a tough comple of weeks for Darrell Waltrip and the FOX gang. It should be interesting to see if anything changes for the coverage today once things get underway.

We will be on Twiter with the #TDP1 livestream. Just come to and type #TDP1 into the search box to see your conversation. Join Twitter and tag your tweets with #TDP1 to be included. Feel free to post your comments on the coverage here as well. There will be a full post here after the race for your comments.

Thanks for stopping by! Photo from Jeff Gluck via Twitter.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nationwide Series From Talladega on ABC

Danica was out partying on Talladega Blvd. last night with the fans. She sent along some interesting pics. We can't quite tell what exact look this gentleman was going for but it's clear Danica got a kick out of it.

ABC is the place for the 3PM Nationwide Series race. The ESPN team is in full swing, but Vince Welch is off and Mike Massaro will take his place on pit road.

ABC is reporting all stations nationwide will carry the race live, so no more problems for the West Coast with sports on at noon or the East Coast with telethons or parades.

We will be chatting on Twitter, but please feel free to leave your comment on the coverage right here. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day Two: The TV Bait And Switch

Look, there they are. NASCAR fans filling Bristol Motor Speedway back in the good old days. Fans knew the product they were getting. TV and radio spread that message and the mainstream media pounded every single accident into our heads once the race was done. Some of the incidents actually became legendary.

Well, times have changed. Wins are nice, but Sprint Cup Series drivers now race to get in the Chase. The cars are different, many tracks have been resurfaced and the new breed of driver spends more time tweeting than fighting. Fans know the sport has changed.

Unfortunately, that message has not been received by NASCAR's TV partners. There is no better example of that than the NASCAR on FOX pre-race show. The Waltrip brothers have been off-balance this season and Richmond may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Darrell bemoaned the fact that fans were upset because of the lack of wrecks and caution flags. He promised that the "Action Track" would deliver the goods. Michael continued his gushing promotion of the sport and everyone in it. Tonight would be different they said. It was not.

When the carnival comes to town you may be talked into buying a ticket to see the freak show on the midway. More often than not, you have been tricked. After dusty exhibits and perhaps some laughs, you walk out the backdoor knowing you have been had.

This season, FOX has continually promised one thing and delivered another. Since 99% of the fan base watches the sport on TV, this bait and switch approach has resulted in a backlash. Fans are using social media to point out that what they are being sold and what they are seeing do not match.

In response, these last few weeks have seen Darrell Waltrip say fans don't know what they want. He lamented the Bristol Motor Speedway changes without ever taking responsibility for FOX promoting the exact opposite of what the repaved track was made to deliver. That is side-by-side racing.

Instead, Waltrip pointed the finger at the fans. He called out the NASCAR Fan Council and even social media as being problems in the sport. That would be the exact same social media that Waltrip has taken to like a fish to water. His use of Twitter reflects the problem all too well.

The desperation of being stuck between what FOX is promising and what NASCAR is delivering is reflected in Waltrip's recent tweet to driver Jimmie Johnson. "Some of the best driving, racing I've seen in years, just wish fans appreciated the skill you guys have to make it happen!"

You know why fans can't appreciate the skill and the racing? Because they can't see it and can't hear it. Between the inability of the FOX director to show the actual racing and the inability of the Waltrip brothers to stop talking there is a product being produced that does not even fundamentally follow the race.

In response to the fan backlash, "crashing" is the new media term being thrown around. Now when fans speak about the difference between what FOX is promising and NASCAR is delivering it's a "crashing" issue. Those bad fans who just watch for the "crashing" are to blame. Meanwhile, the fact that FOX continually uses accidents and not racing to promote the sport is overlooked.

This season, a new TV twist is to try and show the in-car camera views of drivers involved in accidents. The FOX production team loved that technology let them see Danica hit the wall hard and Jimmie Johnson get t-boned by a car at speed. Nothing like seeing the driver's body get flung around to make good NASCAR TV apparently.

FOX viewers may not see the debris that brought out the caution, the key pass for the lead or the best racing on the track but by God they are going to see Johnson get crunched over and over again.

This weekend in Talladega, the current pattern has the potential to repeat itself. Michael Waltrip is driving in the race, but will still be part of the FOX broadcast from start to finish. This may be the ultimate MWR promotional tool. Darrell is in the Hollywood Hotel and will then call the race, no doubt with another promise of "more action" despite the reality of the season to date.

Race cars at high speed do not need to crash to entertain. If FOX promotes "the big one" this weekend at Talladega it will have learned nothing from Richmond. Perhaps, after all the talking that has gone on this week, just letting the racing on the track be the center of attention might be the best idea.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Updated: NASCAR On FOX Comments

Update: Keeping this post as the lead since the reader comments continue to come in. New post up Tuesday night. Thanks to all who took the time to leave a comment.

That's a Paul Menard crew member making sure the NASCAR official knows Jimmie Johnson's crew incurred a penalty on a pit stop. It was part of a great replay from the NASCAR on FOX crew. They also documented Johnson's pit issue and Carl Edwards apparently jumping the restart.

Last week I offered my opinion of the NASCAR on FOX telecast before giving you an opportunity to comment. This week, you get the first word now that the race is over.

Please leave us your opinion of the FOX telecast and update us on just how you feel about the Sprint Cup Series TV coverage this season? As always, we appreciate your honest comments as passionate fans.

The race was on FOX. Chris Myers hosted the pre-race show with Michael and Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip then moved upstairs to join Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds to call the race. Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Krista Voda were the pit reporters. Jeff Hammond was the roving reporter.