Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't look for 'side-by-side' advertising on a NASCAR telecast

OK, before you guys start...
Item No. 1 - No, the "side-by-side" thing ABC did for the Indianapolis 500 isn't likely to come to NASCAR on that or any other network.
Frankly, I don't think the split screen is all that great to start with. But I can see how fans would rather see racing on part of a screen than be missing it all together.
Still, you have to remember that the rights fee the IndyCar Series gets for its races is a pittance compared with what the networks are paying for Nextel Cup and Busch races.
Whatever fraction that is, that same fraction is what the network can charge for commercial time.
If you're paying (and these are made up numbers) $10,000 for a commercial on an Indy race, you might be willing to take half the screen for that. But if that same spot costs you $100,000 on a Cup race, you want the entire screen.
I will say it surprised me that ABC stuck with the "side-by-side" for the Indianapolis 500, the one open-wheel race in this country that still has any real significance. The overnight TV ratings showed Indy with a 5.2 and the Coca-Cola 600 with a 4.7. Both were down some from last year, when Indy also won that battle.
I guess if Firestone and Target and all those other sponsors are going to settle for half of a screen for all the other IRL races, they figure they can do it for Indy, too. But I am going to be very surprised if you ever see anything like that on a Cup race any time soon.
Item No. 2 - No, the fact that Tony Stewart is banged up after crashing in the Busch and Cup races back to back at Lowe's Motor Speedway does not mean that drivers in the Cup series are going to think harder about running in Busch races for fear of getting hurt.
First, to get into one of these things you have to have a large capacity for deluding yourself into believing that you're not going to get hurt driving a race car.
Second, in the minds of a racer the financial and competitive benefits of seat time in a Busch car outweigh the risks involved.
And third, you can't ask guys who do this for a living to run around being scared of their shadows. These guys race. Remember the wrecks Stewart was in at the Chili Bowl in January. If he'd missed Cup races because of that it would have seemed stupid for him to be running sprint cars indoors in the winter time, but one of the things that makes Stewart as good as he is that
he competes all the time at everything he does.
Finally, sometimes people get hurt. Elliott Sadler, for instance, could have broken his leg - or his dang neck - with that "stage dive" stunt he tried to pull at the end of "Trackside." No, it wasn't the smartest thing anybody's ever done. But race fans don't want drivers who sit around getting pedicures between practice sessions, either. These guys are real human beings, and
sometimes they bump into things.
Item No. 3 - No, the media didn't "cover up" the fact that Jeremy Mayfield's car failed postrace inspection after the Coca-Cola 600.
Here's the way it works. After the race, reporters are working on their stories. Usually, somebody wanders out into the garage to check on inspection and see if any problems have been found, and almost always they're not done yet. So we finish our stories and, at some point, somebody from NASCAR comes in and says, "Everybody's cleared inspection," or "We've got an issue, somebody will be in to talk about it."
After night races, reporters usually leave a little sooner after the race because deadlines are tighter. Still, if inspection's not done and something comes up NASCAR's PR folks have always called a handful of regulars - somebody from The Observer, from NASCAR Scene, from The Associated Press and from the local paper near a given track, for example - and said there's a
problem.
None of that happened Sunday night. It was Tuesday, at the car of tomorrow test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, before anybody said anything.
Rest assured that there will be plenty of discussion about that breakdown at Dover this weekend.

8 comments:

Monkeesfan said...

1 - That fans would even think that side-by-side would come to NASCAR telecasts shows how emotion can get in the way of fact and logic. When TBS did the split-screen broadcast in 2000 at Charlotte, the sponsors all told NASCAR and the broadcasters never to do it again because it cut down on sponsor exposure.

2 - Drivers will not hesitate to run WC support races (Truck or BGN) until NASCAR specifically bans them from such support races. Tony Stewart won't run a Modified at NHIS just because it's a good race; he's running it because he has to get realtime track knowledge for Sunday. Getting injured in a support race won't stop anyone; only NASCAR displaying a rare instance of real leadership will do that.

3 - I'm not sure why people would think the media would cover up a car failing postrace tech.

Richard said...

I think the side by side is a good idea. During the Indy 500 I never turned the channel during the side-by side breaks. I ended up seeing commercials I normally wouldn't have. Plus I didn't miss any restarts. Such was not the case during the 600.

Monkeesfan said...

The only way they can limit commercial interruption is if the FCC steps in and limits broadcasters to one 60-100 second block of commercials per half-hour of a broadcast day.

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