Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sprint Cup Series From Bristol On ABC

The media loves it when Kyle Busch starts talking and he has been talking this weekend in Bristol. He hates the track changes, refuses to admit Chase pressure and seems to be ready for some rough racing tonight.

The ESPN telecast crew will use ABC for the broadcast, which has caused some problems. First, there are six TV markets that will be carrying local NFL pre-season games. Secondly, TV markets in the Central time zone with local news will be preempting the pre-race show. Finally, the approaching Tropical Storm Isaac will get non-stop coverage on the ABC affiliate in Miami tonight.

The good news is that all six NFL conflict markets have alternate viewing options available. Also, none of the local stations airing news will miss the green flag. Finally, Miami viewers can turn to their ESPN cable channel and will find the ABC coverage of the race. For a full breakdown of this information, check the previous post on this blog. Thanks to ESPN for keeping us updated on this topic.

Nicole Briscoe gets Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham in the Infield Pit Studio for the NASCAR Countdown show. Rusty is clearly under pressure to ramp-up his intensity and has responded with some controversial statements. Brad remains a cheerleader, but Evernham has begun to insert his opinions into the telecasts. This pre-race show should be one to watch.

Allen Bestwick has Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside as usual. Unfortunately, ESPN often framed only two or three cars on-camera when covering the Friday night Nationwide Series race. It was awful. On a tiny track like Bristol, staying wide and then moving in after an incident or to cover a pass is the right way to operate. It's fundamental. This style of production makes effective play by play almost impossible.

What Friday night viewers saw and heard was PXP man Marty Reid following the pictures on the TV monitor instead of looking out the window and calling the race. Reid could not locate cautions on the small track until he saw the pictures. There was an awkward delay when the caution lights came on and while ESPN searched for a replay of what had happened.

While Bestwick has his work cut out for him, the pit road gang is really in the worst environment possible. Hand signals will be the order of the day once the green flag flies. The noise in the Bristol infield is intense. Keep an eye on Jerry Punch, Mike Massaro, Vince Welch and Dave Burns as they try to provide info under green flag conditions.

ESPN paid the money and the network has the right to present the sport as they see fit. The battle is clearly between the HD-driven images being produced for the "younger set" and the need to provide perspective and information for those of us who are hardcore fans. It's been an ongoing conversation.

Keep your eye on how the restarts are presented. Wideshots that show the field vs. in-car cameras and tight zooms for dramatic effect is the battle. Pitstops under green should be presented in a split-screen video box, so that both the race and the pitstop can be seen. This is easy to do with the small track.

Ultimately, the chief complaint of this race is commercials under green. Lap after lap goes by as the two and three minute commercial pods roll slowly by hour after hour. Of all the tracks on the Sprint Cup Series circuit, Bristol makes the fans crazy when things happen during commercial and the TV coverage comes back to caution on the track. Look for that to happen tonight, as there are no split-screen commercials in the coverage.

The good thing is that the changes to the track have generated a buzz. The truck and Nationwide Series races have proven to be interesting, but no real conclusions of how the Sprint Cup Series cars will be affected could be drawn. Also, Danica Patrick is in the field and will no doubt be a topic of the TV coverage tonight.

As usual, we chat live on Twitter during the race by using the #TDP1 hashtag for TV comments. We invite you to join us. Comments will be updated on this post during the race and there will be a Race Wrap post after the race for your opinion on the coverage. Thanks as always for dropping by.

Alternate Plans In Place For NFL Conflicts (New Info)

Update: ESPN has advised that due to Tropical Storm Isaac, the Miami TV market can see the Sprint Cup Series race tonight on the local cable channels for ESPN. The ABC affiliate advised ESPN that they will be providing non-stop storm coverage, so ESPN made the switch. Great move by both parties.

The powers that be assure us that NASCAR fans will not get run-over Saturday night by local NFL preseason games. Before the regular season starts, some local stations get to actually produce and cover these semi-meaningless affairs. This Saturday, several areas will be affected.

There are six TV markets in the country that have NFL programming conflicts. All of them have made alternate viewing arrangements for NASCAR fans.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to switch NASCAR fans to the ESPN cable channel in their area. ESPN is not carrying the race nationwide, it's just a local market temporary channel switch. Buffalo (NY), Tulsa (OK), Quincy (IL) and Westlaco (TX) are the areas where fans just switch to their regular ESPN cable channel for the race.

Update: In the four markets where the race will be on ESPN, the race will also be on DirecTV channel 210, and DISH channel 145.

In the major market of Detroit, the ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV will move the NASCAR race to the station's digital tier 2 channel and the main station will join the live race when the Detroit Lions game is over. WXYZ's D2 channel is called “Live Well Detroit” and in the Detroit area is channel 7.2 over the air, 437 on Charter, 297 on Comcast and 127 on Bright House.

Update: More locations for WXYZ-TV tier 2 "Live Well Detroit" viewing:

ACR Cable Beacon Hill: Channel 8
Lamont Digital Systems: Channel 144
WOW: Channel 101
Wyandotte Cable TV: 141

In Rochester, NY the local station WHAM-TV will do the same and carry NASCAR on its digital 2 tier channel. WHAM-TV’s D2 channel is also the CW affiliate. It is Time Warner Cable Channel 16 or Channel 1016 for CW-HD, Digital Over-the-Air: Channel 13.2.

Due to the time zone issues, there are a handful of ABC stations that have news at 7PM ET when the NASCAR Countdown show is on. In Little Rock (AK), Corpus Christi (TX), and Omaha (NE) the news will end and NASCAR will be joined at 7:30PM before the green flag.

Local stations have their own agendas and sometimes that just does not mesh with live national sports. Over the years, ABC stations have preempted NASCAR races for everything from local charity telethons to the Mummer's Parade in Philly. That is why the move of most of the Sprint Cup Series races to ESPN and away from ABC was a good one.

Needless to say, the Watch ESPN service cannot be used as this telecast is on ABC. All those fun features fans get when telecasts are on cable go away in the broadcast network world. Thanks to Andy Hall from ESPN for providing the specific information on Saturday night's issues.

We will be here on Saturday and also on Twitter monitoring the situation. Stop by and drop us a line if there is a problem. Happy to have your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.