Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boom Goes The Dynamite - Updated Sunday 11/18

Update 11/18: During the final episode, it was announced that the NASCAR Performance on SPEED would not return for 2013. This show has been a hallmark for the sport and the network for years. The column below was first published when FOX signed the new Major League Baseball deal that confirmed changes would be coming for SPEED.

"Boom Goes The Dynamite" is one of the most popular viral sports videos of all time. Former Ball State University student Brian Collins will live on forever in the YouTube world. The clip shows the total meltdown of a TV sports broadcast, but Collins puts the video over the top with his now infamous line toward the end.

What this video shows is a situation where things are just going so wrong it's painful to watch. On Tuesday afternoon the FOX Media Group officially signed a TV deal with Major League Baseball. Just like that, the SPEED network's fate was sealed. It will cease to exist and become the FOX Sports 1 cable network in 2013.

Boom goes the dynamite.

Here is an excerpt from Joe Flint's outstanding "Company Town" column from the Los Angeles Times:

The new contracts take effect at the start of the 2014 season and run through 2021. FOX's rights fees will go from a per-season average of about $257 million to $495 million. The deal also clears the way for FOX to use baseball for a new national sports cable channel it is planning to launch in the summer of 2013. 

FOX also received broad rights to baseball highlights that could be used for a sports news program similar to ESPN's "SportsCenter." While FOX has declined to comment on its planned channel, people familiar with the matter said the company will convert its niche sports channel called SPEED into a broad-based sports network.

Besides baseball, Fox will also put NASCAR racing, college football, soccer and Ultimate Fighting on its cable channel. The working name for the channel is Fox Sports 1.

Well, there you have it. The baseball game of the week slated for the FOX Sports 1 network is going to be on Saturdays, either at 4 or 7PM Eastern Time. As Flint's column mentioned, FOX will also use the new network for college football on Saturdays as well.

While those sports put FOX out of the mix for a future bid on the Nationwide Series, it does keep hope alive that the Camping World Trucks may survive the cut. The trucks have given SPEED it's only major NASCAR series carried by the network from start to finish for many years.

These tentative plans also seem to suggest an end to the type of all-inclusive TV coverage from the Sprint Cup Series tracks of Saturday activities seen on SPEED in the past. A FOX Sports 1 commitment to both Major League Baseball and college football would add Saturday telecasts throughout most of the NASCAR season.

It's unclear why a mediocre sport like baseball would draw this kind of national TV interest. Like hockey, baseball has traditionally been a regional TV sport up until the playoffs. There are an endless array of MLB games already available on regional sports networks, home satellite and online services. It's a bit of a head-scratcher.

Our primary concern is the confirmation that SPEED will be ending. Flint was the first to offer a timeline for the transition in mentioning next summer. Since it would be impossible to begin 2013 NASCAR coverage in February and then end it in late April for baseball, we can perhaps speculate that this may be the final season for some familiar NASCAR programming and some familiar NASCAR faces on SPEED.

Change in sports television is almost always awkward. There is also little doubt more significant changes in NASCAR's future TV plans are on the way. The tough part is, despite all its faults, SPEED has done the heavy-lifting for NASCAR's TV needs for a very long time.

It still seems strange to believe it all may be over when the current NASCAR racing season ends. But as young Mr. Collins would say: "Boom goes the dynamite!"

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

Click here for a story on what happened to Collins on this fateful night, where he is now and his level of media involvement.