Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bumped broadcast symptom of a bigger ill

In the grand scheme of things, ABC's decision to dump the final 34 minutes of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix over to ESPN2 might not matter all that much.

We do have bigger things to worry about, not only in NASCAR but in this great big world of ours. Race teams are fighting for survival and NASCAR management either doesn't care or doesn't have any good ideas on how to help them. Some teams have lost or will lose sponsors and even those who have contracts with sponsors don't know if those sponsors will be in business long enough to honor them. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people who'll be at the track for this weekend's season-ending Truck, Nationwide and Cup races can't be sure if they'll have jobs on Monday.

Compared to all that, switching Sunday's broadcast from one station to another doesn't seem that important.

But it is.

One major newspaper columnist wrote afterward that ABC's decision ends the argument as to whether NASCAR is a major sport once and for all. The end of an NFL game doesn't get handed off from network television to second-tier cable. Networks, broadcast or cable, usually don't bail out on playoff games -- especially if the option is a piffle of a program like "America's Funniest Home Videos."

A lot of us who work around NASCAR have known for a long time that the sport's leadership has basically handed control of the sport over to television. TV sets the starting times. NASCAR will let it's television "partners" push around the timing of the green flag if a baseball game leading in goes to extra innings or if a football game goes to overtime. Qualifying and practice coverage is shuffled off to other cable outlets, shown on bizarre tape delay schedules or omitted entirely.

All of these things could be written into NASCAR's television contract. The TV deal could stipulate that no race can be moved to another network unless the start is delayed more than, say, two hours. The TV contract could force networks to commit to support programming. All of that could happen if NASCAR had the power to set those conditions and the will to stand by them even if it meant taking less money from partners willing to make the commitments they'd have to make to comply.

In the final half-hour of its telecast from Phoenix, ABC got a 4.6 rating. The 30-minutes it aired "America's Funniest Home Videos" got a 3.8. So ABC lost viewers. What it didn't lose, however, was revenue. ABC had aired the commercials it had sold for the race coverage. It had picked up all the money it was going to get there. By switching to its regular prime-time schedule, it also collected the money it was owed for commercials sold on that programming.

Were viewers served? Were race fans served? Not those who didn't hear or otherwise notice the announcement of the switch. Not those who were taping the race hoping to view it later. Not those who don't have ESPN2 on their cable.

What happens this week, if there's a South Florida rain shower and a race that won't start until about 4 p.m. Eastern is shoved back past the scheduled 8 p.m. close of ABC's broadcast window for NASCAR? Will Jimmie Johnson's championship celebration be shown as part of a special on ESPN Classic at midnight? If so, the sad truth is that NASCAR apparently couldn't do anything about it.


Anonymous said...

The bigger ill is that ESPN has performed much better than TNT and much worse than FOX - which the vast majority of the print media will not discuss. ESPN shifted the race and clearly showed NASCAR fans what ESPN feels about us. ESPN is not likely to clean up its act as long as the print media keeps protecting them from any and all criticism. ESPN has a special obligation to its viewers (especially NASCAR fans) since a meaningful part of those increases in cable bills over the past few years are from increases in ESPN carry charges.

Mike Hutton said...

David hit it on the head when he mentioned the revenue angle. ABC had already aired the commercials it sold for the NASCAR broadcast, and wasn't going to make another dime if it stayed with that programming. By switching to "America's Funniest Home Videos," the cash register was sure keep ringing.

The next TV deal has to include 4 things, and NASCAR has got to have the stones and the will not to relent:

1) Starting times. I suggest 1PM local for all day races and 7PM local for all night races. The only exception might be the Coca-Cola 600...that's probably best-served as it is now.

By start time, I mean green-flag-in-the-air, cars charging toward Turn 1 time. Pilots refer to it as "wheels up." That's maybe not the best description of what a race car should do, but you get the idea.

2) All or nothing. Your deal starts with the Budweiser Shootout and ends at Homestead. Not this FOX / TNT / ABC / ESPN junk we have now.

3) Unless, as David suggested, weather or another act of God pushes back the scheduled start by more than 2 hours, if you air Lap 1, you air the last lap as well. None of what happened Sunday.

4) No Rusty Wallace.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that there was no mention on Jayski Sunday night about the backlash of ABC's boneheaded decision.

I'd be willing to bet that Jayski received dozens of e-mails from irate fans who were simply looking for a way to vent their frustration.

Oh wait a minute, Jayski has ties to ESPN. So that's why there was no comment or commentary over ESPN's sister network's idiotic move.

In years past, Jayski would at least post a disclaimer on how to contact network executives.

Thanks goodness for journalists such as David Poole, who isn't afraid to step on anyone's toes.

Unknown said...

NASCAR is going to affected much more by the economy than other sports. It relies on the sponsors and car manufactures. If GM Ford and Dodge go under or cut back, most teams are toast. Sponsors want only good drivers, which leaves Roush, Hendrick, Gibbs, and Childress. GEM barely squeaks by for their guys. Petty and lesser teams are toast unless the conglomerate ponies up for Petty. Plus NASCAR viewship is sinking every year. The normal races like Daytona or Bristol will get good ratings, but the others slack. Especially tracks like California, Kansas and Chicago. Plus people are sick of the same winners week after week, Johnson, Edwards, Kyle Busch, maybe Gordon, etc. If your a fan of theirs thats great, but when your favorite driver sucks, who cares.

As for the ESPN thing, I can't help but think that ESPN isn't getting NASCAR back. Back in 2001 when NASCAR got the big contract w/Fox and NBC, after years of ESPN support before, that, they essentially told ESPN thanks but no thanks. Most fans don't realize ESPN built NASCAR fanbase. They know only 2001 and beyond. I remember it go so bad that NASCAR banned ESPN reporters from tracks. Now that nobody wants NASCAR, they let ESPN back in. ESPN knows this and knows NASCAR isn't in the drivers seat anymore. Karma I say. And don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Anonymous said...

Big Deal, Maybe Na$Car should re-think there television deals, IMO if you want your product exposed, then stay off cable, for years and years they have attempted to compare themselves with stick and ball sports, started a playoffs system in attempts to legitimize the horrendous product, It's time to put your Big Boy pants on and suck it up!

Anonymous said...

steve in nc

espn doesnt care about nascar. they are nfl affiliated and thats all they really care about. fox did a great job for nascar and yes get rusty off the nationwide races he doesnt know chit about racing except for his son

Anonymous said...

I am an avid NASCAR fan who watches most races. However, because of the the fact that the #48 car basically wrapped up the the championship weeks ago (barring a disaster), the excitement is just not there at this time. It would be nice to see someone else win the championship again. If the Chase championship had been closer, ABC would have had more viewers and would have stayed with the race until it's conclusion. I am already looking forward to 2009 hoping the series will be more competitive.

Anonymous said...

Agree the commercial revenue probably was the main reason they moved it. Like a lot of Mike H's suggestions there although I think Nascar asks way too much for the rights and the season is too long to convince one network group to take it all season. Would be great if they could get it down to 2 network channels that would fully commit though. Fox for one and then ABC, NBC, or CBS (pick one as long as it's network and available to all fans that have a tv) but a solid contract with each to cover the whole race, every race that airs during their part of the season.

Comments by fans who blame any of the woes of Nascar on Jimmie Johnson or the other guys who win alot cannot possibly have been fans long. Racing has always been dominated at one time or another by certain drivers. Richard, Cale,Dale, Jeff etc. And along with each of those were maybe another small handful of drivers who won also. Right now it's Jimmie, Carl, Kyle, and the like. Even at the small local tracks there are usually one or two drivers who win most of the races. Talent and the ability to build a better car work the same no matter the size of the venue.

Personally I'll follow Nascar whether they are as big as the NFL or not.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR died with the inception of the C.O.T.and BRIAN FRANCE... All the TV people want to play to is the 24 to 40 year old people when they forget that us SENIOR NASCAR fans are the one's who put them where they are and when the going gets tough we will be the ones that will stick with them as we can enjoy the "luxury" of not partying all during the week so we can have the $$$ to go to the NASCAR race.... while those generation X'ers & Y'ers will say screw NASCAR on Sunday let's party tonight. When will NASCAR ever realize that. Come on NASCAR listen to what Kyle Petty (is not afraid to say)says and let's get back to our roots!!!!! I suggest that we get Brian Silver Spoon France out of control and put people who know racing back in charge... let him own it but let Junior, Bobby, Cale, Darrell, Len Wood, Junie Dunlevy, etc etc sit in the boardroom and R-E-A-L-L-Y operate NASCAR!!!!
Thanks I'm off my soapbox now !!!
Anderson SC

Anonymous said...

I personally didn't see a probelm with them switching channels, it was during a caution period, you were given more than enough time to find the remote and change the channel, most people now have cable or satellite and i know that ESPN2 comes on most cable system's basic service.

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan since 1978...The year "Ironhead" hit the scene. Racing in the 80's and early 90's was awesome. But I am sick of Brian France and Mike Heltons shenanigans they have tweaked and screwed and shot everything to hell in my book. Greed will get ya everytime. Personally, I think it was funny that ABC shunned them for AFV. Yes, I switched to ESPN2 and wondered why they did it. But I didn't have to wonder long. Racing to me has gotten very boring. NASCAR has to be all P.C. and that just isn't what it used to be all about.

Anonymous said...

OK, NASCAR is broken, that much is a given. Now, lets roll up our sleeves and fix it. Here's my 2 cents worth.

1) GET RID OF THE COT!! no excuses, do it now. Outlaw them for 2009.

2) Quit measuring spoilers you wussies! If a driver has enough guts (and is stupid enough) let him take Daytona, Talledega, Atlanda etc with a flat spoiler ... it's his crash to worry about, not yours. One crash later he'll be back on the track with a sensible spoiler.

3) Get rid of restrictor plates. Same argument as for #2 above.

4) Don't ever, ever, ever let a race be decided based upon fuel mileage! GIVE ME A BREAK, or go to the Prius racing league. Give me a 20/25 gallon tank, then when my tires are toast I'll come in.

5) Standard starting times are a must. I like the suggestion of 1:00PM EST or 7:00PM for night races. And a race starting time is the time the race starts!! What is so complicated about that?

6) A points race within a points race? WTH? fugedaboutit ... One points race, One winner.

7) You get points for RACING, not cruising around in the back "just staying out of trouble" No points are given unless you finish in the top 20 ... PERIOD! And more points for winning as well as more points for leading 2 or more consecutive laps, no more letting you teammate slid in front for a quickie 5 points.

8) Mike Helton (& maybe Robin Pemberton) please quit trying to justify your pay by creating arbitrary rules that stifle racing excitement. For Gods sake ... LET 'EM RACE.


10) Get the racing back on the east coast so the teams can spend their time fabricating & testing and not having to jet back & forth to Napa Valley then Daytona then Las Vegas then ... oh heck, you get the point. An added plus is it makes it more economical for the teams to operate and wasn't that the reason for the COT anyway?

11) BEG, BRIBE, BLACKMAIL ... do whatever it takes to get Hoosier to compete with Goodyear, there has to be an alternative to Goodyears tire monopoly.

12) I'm not so hung up on the one network idea. I don't mind seeing 1 or 2 or maaaaybe even 3 networks involved as long as one of them is FOX, but whoever is carrying it needs to be commited to carrying the entire broadcast. And the HAVE to be a basic cable network or a least 1st tier.


But Hey, I'm just a dumb redneck good 'ole boy who loves me sum racin!! GO EARNHARDT!! (SR., wherever you are)

OK James, it's your turn.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the switch to ESPN shows a total lack of respect from the networks. It's a "playoff race" and no Disney spin can excuse this move. It's guaranteed that the NASCAR execs are livid over the relegation, even though they don't really say so. However, once again Poole and his posters are going way overboard blaming Brian France and TV for everything that's suppposedly wrong with NASCAR. Of course TV is the major player with start times . . . Just like every other sport. Do you think the NFL starts at 1:00 and 4:15 because Pete Rozelle thought it was best for the fans or because the networks liked it? In fact, in recent years the move from 4:00 to 4:15 was done because of . . . TV!. Also, other sports will sometimes work with networks for last-minute changes because another event goes over. It's comical that David wants NASCAR to take less money and fall on their sword over start times. Or how he wants ABC to give up all that commercial revenue in the midst of the worst recession in 70 years. I'm sure his newspaper employer, McClatchy, always chooses the greater good over financial concerns. I don't see David complaining about all the perks and favoritism his radio employer, Sirius, gets from all the money they pay NASCAR. They get the inside lane on all sorts of things from NASCAR PR. How about a column denouncing how a "partner" gets special treatment from NASCAR? This includes favoritism with interviews, guests, scheduling and many other things. But David's well-documented hatred for all things touched by the TV compound once again cloud his judgment. Also, for those complaining about inconsistent start times, 17 of the non-night races all started at 2 p.m. ET this year, more than any in recent memory. The West Coast ones start later because they can, and it's OK that some start later to take advantage of greater potential viewership. Let's quit the griping for just a moment and marvel at what Jimmie Johnson has done, one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

"Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered". NASCAR has become a hog. Bacon anyone?

Robbie Mac said...

I think 2009 is going to mark a lot of change in NA$CAR. Cutbacks abound and a recession are going to turn things upside down. Which teams are going to be gone? Which tracks will be threatened after empty seats dominate camera shots. What will NA$CAR do to fix this if anything at all...

ABC didn't make any friends pulling the plug but in my mind neither did NA$CAR when they moved away from 1pm starts and night races to look forward to. This crap now not ending till supper time or shortly there after doesn't work for me.

What makes me happy now? The truck series. Great racing. Great coverage and all in one spot on SPEED.

Change is coming and it might not be pleasant.

Is NA$CAR sliding back to the past that I still treasure as a somewhat obscure sport with a cult following? Time will tell.

Thanks for this David and keep it up on Sirius.

Rob from the Great Soon to be White North

Anonymous said...

The sport is in shambles and ESPN is pushing it off the cliff.

Anonymous said...

First of all:

And what's wrong with Rusty??? Hey, Rusty! If you or one of your "peeps" is reading this, I think you are a great asset to the pre-race. Not sure what the rest here have against you!


NASCAR has never been and never will be a top tier sport. Ain't going to happen. Just not enough people that interested in watching cars race. Face it. I love racing as much as anyone, but a football game has a lot more excitement, so does basketball, even baseball! But racing is boring most of the time. And now that Mike Helton and Brian France are in charge, so are the drivers!


Monkeesfan said...

ABC's decision reflects several realites -

1 - NASCAR sold its TV partners a bill of goods - we all know the ratings for NASCAR have not been that hot for several years; whatever NASCAR promised its TV partners for ratings and thus recouping of their investmnt in rights fees has been exposed as a sham. NASCAR got its billions of dollars, and the networks got a bill of goods, all for a price that was inflated by NASCAR badly - the rights fees should have been no more than half of what NASCAR actually got, such as $1.2 billion instead of $2.4 billion over six years.

2 - There wasn't reason to think any kind of upset would happen - The bill of goods NASCAR sold is a competitive product that isn't competitive. There was no prospect of any kind of upset at Phoenix, as there has been no prospect of a surprise winner or first-time winner or comeback winner anywhere outside of the plate races. So what viewers who came back to ABC missed wasn't worth seeing to begin with.

3 - NASCAR got what it deserved by being humiliated by ABC - NASCAR has spent the decade mismanaging the sport and being axed by ABC at Phoenix was a comeuppance the sanctioning body deserved - you want your races to be carried to their full length, then fix the competitive product so there's actual battling for the win all day, the same drivers and teams don't win all the races, we get first-time winners, upsets, and great comebacks, and everyone on the track races like they actuall want to win - in short, give us something worth broadcasting.

Jessica Essex's epistle is strange. Saying the NFL switched late-afternoon kickoffs from 4 PM to 4:15 because of TV ignores that a lot of 1 PM games run into 4 PM; this move was not dictated by TV as much as by the reality of how long some 1 PM games ran. Her attack on David Poole for "wanting NASCAR to take less money and fall of their sword over start times" and "for ABC to give up all that commercial revenue in the midst of the worst recession in 70 years....."

First, it's nowhere close to "worst recession in 70 years"; the Jimmy Carter recession was worse than this.

Second, there is zero evidence that putting start times back to 12-1 PM instead of 2:30 PM costs the networks any significant revenue or ratings; that "greater potential viewership" is a ratings fiction; instead putting he start times back to the beginning of afternoon improves convenience for the fanbase and this always does more long-term good for the sport as well as its TV partners.

Third, NASCAR should not have asked for as much money as they did because they didn't need it and all it did was help them ignore the need to attack the sport's costs for real instead of pretendng to do so as they've spent the decade doing.

Finally, there is nothing to marvel at Rick Hendrick buying an eighth title and Jimmie Johnson getting a third-straight title bought for him.

Sophia said...

OMG! I so agree with David's article about tv problems. I have only been watching NASCAR since 2004 but appreciate the history of the sport.

I have yet to figure out this Etch-a-Sketch rulebook for the sport and I now know they make the rules as they go along, depending on the whim du jour. Or the car that got busted...not a black and white area, but a gray area we--NASCAR never thought bout, therefore, it's illegal...sigh.

I know the COT is about the safety, folks. That said, the racing has stunk and the problems with all drivers scared to pass each other because the cars high center of gravity makes it tough for even veteran drivers, is a drag.

Yes I know they have gone thru car changed decades before this middle aged woman started watching this sport, but this has been HUGELY expensive...and the testing needs to be organized and happen on tracks where they race and less need for the very expensive the wind tunnels. the drawing of a race car in theory and how it comes to race on a track is like comparing hangnails to hand grenades. I have hated the cost to the smaller teams..but that's a whole 'nuther rant.

Also second the person about the LUDICROUS travel costs....Daytona, Ca, LV ??? Here's an idea, make the travel pattern have some sense to it and for GOD's SAKE package the TRUCKS with NW series or heck, even IRL so the TRUCKS can get a following. It's the best darned racing there is and we have to get second tier digital to get it!!

But we don't go out for dinner, rent or go to movies, get free stuff from the library...so justify digital tv...FOR NOW. But what many forget is some people do not have cable and as I was wisely reminded, those in rural areas do not have ACCESS and satellite is expensive to set up.

so i think NBC should get half the gig back. HECK I LOVED TNT this season and they had the best camera work I had seen since races on ESPN CLASSIC. They shared the season with NBC before, give NBC back half the year.

I do believe this must be payback for the divorce from ESPN and NASCAR years ago. What else explains ESPN trying to push nascar "off the cliff".

Thanks for the article David.

p.s. I would love a non chaser to win the last race. some huge underdog figure that surprises everybody.:)

Anonymous said...

West coast, west coast, west coast. NASCAR is so hung up on racing in that market that many of the races start at 3 or 4pm est. causing a race with any sort of delay to back up into "normal" tv programming. Again just like every other issue in this country forgetting the history of what worked well and changing it for the worst.

Monkeesfan said...

mike -

1 - Yes. Go back to the old body, with larger rear spoiler and roof wicker.

2 - The fiction of "drivers with enough guts" is for fools. It's not his crash to worry about, it's also the spectactors' crash to worry about.

3 - No. The restrictor plates are what kept NASCAR from being shuttered by the insurance companies in 1988 becaus they're what kept cars out of the grandstands after your foolish "anything goes" mindset led to Bobby Allison's near-fatal flight in 1987 followig a six-season period of near-hits into the stands and garage areas. Plus, the racing got better than it had been the previous few seasons because passing came back and it stopped being a one-sided fight; instead of a slingshot pass, now the driver under attack could fight back by sidedrafting the slingshotter and thus stoping him from clearing - the leader could now stop the slingshot and it became a sidedraft fight, much more competitive than the slingshot.
By any objective measure, the restrictor plate is permanent and better. Racing is not about speed; it is about lead changes.

4 - There's an easier solution - throw yellows in the final 100 miles.

5 - 1 PM area time is the required starting time. Period. Here you're correct.

6 - No comment.

7 - Here's the solution - use the Latford System, but add 125 bonus points for winning the race and 10 points for most laps led.

8 - Though NASCAR needs to rescind some rules that give control of the racing to the officiating tower and inpection squad, ultimately that isn't the big problem - the problem is a rules package that doesn't increase the ferocity of the racing.

9 - Rockingham is a dead demographic. Let it rest. NASCAR is about superspeedways in any event. WE need more 2.5-milers, not Rockingham.

10 - There is a strong NASCAR demographic in central California; build a 2.66-mile superoval in the Hanford area. Yes, most races should be on the East Cast but West Coast races aren't that bad if there's something worth racing on and there's a demographic that wants it.

11 - Yes to Goodyear-Hoosier competition. No more of these exclusive ontracts and spare me the BS about the harm of tire wars.

12 - One network never works. Bring back CBS and make it a four-way split among FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC.

13 - Finally, get Allen Bestwick back into the main booth with Joe Moore on MRN; Bestwick works better on radio than on TV.

Anonymous said...

There are so many problems NASCAR needs to fix. Once the sport get even better.
First thing is more Saturday Night races during the chase. Competing with the NFL on Sunday is dumb. Most people channel flip. Football has been America's pasttime for the past so many years. Nascar should realize they would have better ratings not going against Football.
Let's cut down on the boring tracks and only give them one race. We know this means Michigan, Pocono, NH, Dover. Lets bring racing back to N. Wilkesboro, and give the other 3 races to the tracks that deserve more than one race.
These are just a few ideas. I have many more!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most that FOX has best NASCAR coverage, TNT forget about it, ESPN ok.Saying that they used up all the ads for NASCAR is just stupid! Look at the difference in ratings, I'm sure that most advertizers work be happy to have their ads run at end of chase race for the rate of "funnest home movies. Nuff said!

Bobby said...

One thing I warned a few years ago when ABC gave up the NFL was that the Mouse was placing a "franchise tag" on "Desperate Housewives."

Once again, the raunchy women of Wisteria Lane were able to bump out a Chase race with less than 100 miles remaining.

I believe ESPN's attitude is they do not believe in the idea broadcast networks should show the finish of any event, but instead believes they should just cut off the event in order to appease a certain demographic more important than the NASCAR fan -- young women. But there is reason for that, as we saw in the Presidential Election.

In last week's election, we learned men's votes no longer matter. In 1996 (Clinton) and 2008 (Obama), the winning Democrat lost the men's vote, but easily made up for it by carrying women, thereby making men irrelevant. Once again, we saw men being irrelevant by having a Sprint Cup playoff race moved to cable in order to protect one popular show among women -- and that is "Desperate Housewives".

In order to protect that show and let it start exactly at 9 PM ET, the Sprint Cup race was left off. ABC does not want it to be delayed by a Sprint Cup race the way CBS delays "60 Minutes" and whatever follows it for NFL games.

Protecting Desperate Housewives has become Priority #1 at ABC. We learned NASCAR has to be punished to protect it again. That's not the way to treat anyone.

Anonymous said...

Not only that DP but did you notice on CBS Sun night? Of course not you were covering the race. But CBS had an NFL game that finished (I don't remember which one) but instead of cutting to "60 Minutes" (the #1 rated TV show this week) they ran the end of a nothing game (KC v SD) that didn't mean diddly squat. I was mad, I wanted to get on with 60 minutes (I know I know, left wing liberal as I am). But they made their top-rated audience wait until all the clocks had run out on their unimportant NFL games they were doing...If that doesn't tell you where NA$CAR ranks nothing will. ABC leaves to go to Funniest Home Videos?! I was watching that Heidi-Jets-Oakland game that year and it was an incredible game with Joe Namouth I think throwing 5 touchdown passes in that game. The trouble with the ABC-NASCAR thing is that there was enough mad fans on the Heidi deal that the networks learned their lesson quickly. Fans lit up the switchboard (those were the old days) in NY. I think NASCAR fans have grown acustomed to bad TV in many ways and just tune out.

Anonymous said...

It’s amazing how every blog eventually deteriorates into the same old issue… Brian France sucks, the new car sucks, the Chase sucks and that’s all why ABC decided to switch to a kids show in favor of a NASCAR playoff race, that, despite what some have written, was far from ‘over’. The 48 could have won the championship, or had it wrecked or blown an engine, ended up much closer in points. What ABC did was disrespectful to the sport and the fans.

The reality is, with the economy the way it is, sponsorship money will dry up, and ABC did it no favors by moving the race Sunday. Why would any corporation pay millions to have their car NOT on the major networks?

David, what are your thoughts on revenue sharing from the TV packages? At least as a temporary measure… it seems to have helped keep the NFL financially stable. Also, what about going back to the system of allocating penalty fines back to the teams as opposed to charity? Again, at least until the economy improves. If NASCAR wants to keep itself viable through the next few years, this may be a way to start.

Anonymous said...


What Kool Aid are you sipping this morning?

How does cutting for Americas Crappiest Home Videos at 7 have anything to do with a 9pm show? And how does a kids show translate into females and the outcomes of the 96 & 08 elections?


Anonymous said...

Interesting clips from Wikipedia on the Heidi Bowl:

"In American football, the Heidi Game (often also called "The Heidi Bowl"), refers to a famous American Football League (AFL) game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, played on November 17, 1968 in Oakland, California. This game is memorable largely as the result of a decision by the NBC television network to terminate the broadcast with 65 seconds left to play in the game in favor of broadcasting a pre-scheduled airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children's story.

"With the Jets leading 32-29 with only 65 seconds left in the game, NBC programmers, eager to maintain their evening schedule, switched off the ostensibly-decided game. However, the Raiders came back and scored 14 points, winning 43-32. Because of NBC's decision, fans outside of the Pacific Time Zone were unable to see Oakland's comeback live. The complaints to the network indicated a new height of popularity for the game in the United States.

"Because NBC was contractually obligated to the movie's sponsor, Timex, to broadcast Heidi from 7 pm to 9 pm that evening, the network had instructed Dick Cline, NBC's Broadcast Operations Supervisor, to cut to Heidi at exactly 7:00 pm, whether the football game was over or not.[1] As the game approached its exciting ending, however, NBC's executives changed their minds and decided to air the game to its conclusion and make Heidi wait. However, because so many football viewers were calling the network requesting the network not cut away from the game (and others asking if Heidi would air on-time) the NBC executives could not get through. NBC tried to contact the mobile unit in Oakland to call Broadcasting Operations, but Broadcasting Operations countered that they needed direct orders in order to rearrange scheduled programming.

"With the game fed on telephone lines instead of satellites, Cline could not see what happened in the final minute. In an NBC Burbank studio where the TV feed was being controlled, Cline received no late instructions otherwise, and when the network came back from commercials, Heidi started on schedule at 7:00 pm.

"Cline later said that he was called directly by the president of NBC after the network ended its coverage, demanding that the game be put back on the air. However, the video link to the stadium had already been disconnected; reestablishing it would have required action by a multitude of telephone switching stations across the country. AT&T, which handled NBC's remote feeds, was unable to reach all of the necessary offices before the game ended.

"At 7:20 pm, a crawl across the bottom of the screen announced the ending to the game (during a dramatic point in the movie when Heidi's paralyzed cousin Clara fell from her wheelchair and had to summon enough courage to try to walk). So many fans called NBC to complain about missing the fantastic ending (and to make various and sundry threats) that the switchboard ceased to function, blowing at least 25 circuits in the process. Many irate viewers also called NBC affiliates, radio stations, newspapers such as The New York Times, the telephone company and the NYPD. This resulted in NBC making a public apology at 8:30pm.

"The next morning the incident was covered on the front page of The New York Times..."

Now those were the days; when fans had an impact and were passionate. And it changed the way TV produces NFL games ever since. NA$CAR should be so lucky that it's fans are so passionate...Wait we used to be before greed got in NA$CAR's way.

Anonymous said...

monkeesfan -

No race team or driver with any sense is going to race with a flat spoiler at Daytona. My point is that the drivers, cars and teams are so smothered by rules and regulations that it stiffles the real racing spirit of run as fast as you can, but not so fast that you can't finish. Reinforce the fences and move the crowds back up a few rows but let 'em race! I remember seeing Bobby Allison go airborn, it was scary and impressive, but stupid. What good is it to go faster than your car can handle, you don't win the race unless you finish it. The teams and the drivers will regulate themselves, on their own they will learn ways to go fast safely. And you can ditto this paragraph when it comes to restrictor plates.

You said "racing is not about speed, it's about passing" ... please tell me that was a typo. You made good arguments everywhere else but to think it's not about speed is mind blowing. Walking through a crowded mall is about passing ... NASCAR is about speed, or at least it used to be. Now it seems to be more about ratings, fairness, equality and whatever else is in vogue at the moment. I actually like seeing a good pass, and it's usually done because one car is faster than the other ... now THAT'S RACING!

I did not make my point properly about points. Somehow points need to be given for actually RUNNING in the top 20, not just FINISHING in the top 20. You should get more points for battling for the lead all race than just charging forward in the last 25 laps.

Rockingham is a dead demographic? Here sadly you are simply wrong. Rockingham is as close to the birthplace of racing as you can get, it's not a shrine but it's close to it. The only reason we don't race there is that the race date was needed so another larger track could sit half empty on a Sunday. BRING BACK ROCKINGHAM. It was a good enough track when the sport was being born, it's a good enough track to support a mature sport.

Don't tell me that the future is in superspeedways. I happen to be a huge fan of Talledega and Atlanta but have you ever sat in the stands freezing at North Wilkesboro or sweating in Richmond? I have and it is some incredible racing ... hmmm, maybe there it is about passing after all!

Anonymous said...

Nothing but "Wrasslin" on asphalt. The sport has peaked! They have forgot the roots of the sport and the Hall of Fame will suffer. The HOF should have been built around 1985. The COT is a diaster.

Anonymous said...

Mike you are correct. Don't waste your time on "monkeesfan." He is to the far right of James Dobson. He is what many people see now as the bedrock of the GOP -- he is an Angry White Man. Anyone says that the Carter-era recession is worse than today's is just kooky. This recession has yet to take hold yet, eight years of Tax and Spend Republicans (man that is just amazing to say) has got us to the doorstep of irrelevance.

GM, Tiffanys Circuit City DHL the #2 Mall operator in the US Chrysler thousands of small businesses AMX BoA Wachovia Lehman, Morgan Stanley, Wahington Mutual Indy Mac Freddy Mac Fannie Mae the Pettys Wooods and DEI Chip Ganassi US airlines Ford all the major nationwide home builders Goldman Sachs Cisco Macys Best Buy Las Vegas casinos AIG stae and local governments banks in Texas and California and Florida and Michigan and how about Michigan Disney Delphi...The list goes on and on and is longer than anyone could imagine. Note to monkeesfan: THIS IS A GLOBAL CRISIS NOT SEEN SINCE THE 1920s. YOU CAN PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND ALL YOU WANT TO but that's not going to make this go away anytime soon. Now the country (at Republicans' insistence) is moving closer to socialism faster than at anytime in our history. We are about to nationalize everything that isn't nailed down (mabye not Wal Mart and Microsoft) because everything else is at disaster levels or near disaster. Banks weren't on the precipice of failing during the Carter years. Geezuz man, where is your sanity? Carter wasn't the best president we ever had, but is GWB? You must be smokin some dynamite monkeesGrass my man, cause you are stuck wearing those ugly psycho outfits...

Anonymous said...

I don't blame ABC. The problem is that the races are far too long. NASCAR desperately needs shorter races and time limits. By the time 7:30 approached this broadcast had been on forever. A Grand Prix pre-race, race, and post race is over in 2 1/2 hours. Let NASCAR trim their impossibly boring show to that time frame.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is a "sport"?

Anonymous said...

"rusty off the nationwide races he doesnt know chit about racing except for his son"

Rusty doesn't know racing!!! How did Rusty win that championship? Who won at least one race for 16 years (?) if it was not Rusty? Who raced door to door with Earnhardt lap after lap (and both drivers avoided hitting each other!)? I thought it was Rusty in the #2. I must have been dreaming. By the way, can you handle a race car for 500 laps at Bristol and win 9 races there? Doubt if you could make it 10 laps.

You may not like Rusty in the booth and that's fine. There's guys in the booth that I don't care to listen to. I won't say a championship driver doesn't know racing. Rusty does know racing. He has a lot of knowledge about the sport that he's been successfully a part of for so many years. I'm not a fan of Dale Jarrett in the booth but I respect him for what he has done in his sport. I won't get on message boards and put him down by making comments that he knows nothing about racing. You don't want to watch Rusty on the telecasts (or anyone else for that matter) then change the channel.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is not a MAJOR SPORT! It is not even a sport, rather an activity. Drivers are not atheletes either. They are just regular guys who have resources for many and have been able to afford the training. It is a skill that can be taught and learned. Nothing natural about driving. We all do everyday.
Driving in a circel making left turns all day is not a sport!!!!!

It should not even be broadcast on regular TV. Should be only on PPV.

Anonymous said...

I think at the heart of it, Brian France isn't a car guy. He should relinquish the reins to someone who knows and LIKES RACING /RACE CARS and let them run NASCAR. He can then take some of his money and buy an NBA team and everyone will be happier.

I agree about the start times. For gosh sakes, every race is not worthy of the superbowl like buildup and waste of time. Start the broadcast at 1 p.m. and drop the green flag at 1:15.

COT: This series (what's it called this year?) now looks more like an over-hyped version of IROC and we all know how successful that has been.

The season is way too long. It's like the election, I just want it to be over.

I still go to Darlington and I would go to Rockingham. I don't even watch Las Vegas, Texas, California, etc. on television. Too boring.

I've been a fan since I was a kid in the late-sixties but Brian is headed in the wrong direction in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I've had an idea for points since seeing the Performance Ranking on Nascar.com.

On each lap, give the cars points based on their current position.
43 for 1st......1 for last.

That will definitely encourage racing to the front all race long.

The ones winning championships is doing so not because of lucky fuel-mileage gambles, or 15th to the win on the last lap.
They run consistently at the front, like Carl, Kyle, or Jimmie, and get consistent top-5s.

Anonymous said...

Poole is right in the basic premise of the article -- that Disney/ABC de facto put NASCAR in its place as a (at present) second-level TV sport. The network TV guys in New York care not a fig about NASCAR's image or its fans. NASCAR is a commodity. Right now the product stinks. When the racing and storylines are better and translate into compelling viewing, network TV will stay with the races to conclusion. I long for the day...NASCAR is a huge bore right now. Boring is worse than death to the TV networks.

Monkeesfan said...

nh nascarfan - was there ever any realistic chance that Johnson would blow up or crash? That the conversation delves into the fundamental failings of Brian France and his philosophies on running the sacntioning body is inevitable because at heart his ineptitude is why issues such as ABC's cut-off of the broadcast are happening. What ABC did was disrespectful, but NASCAR deserved it because the competitive product is terrible.

It's not the economy, it's the sport's spendaholic mentality; we need to stop using the economy as an excuse, because it allows the sport to duck away from confronting the need to reign in team spending permanently.

Revenue sharing is a good idea; but to make it work best it needs to be between teams.

joe-s. buffalo, Saturday Night does not belong to Winston Cup - it competed with the NFL pretty well when the racing was good.
Pocono is lightyears better than North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, etc. This sport is about those kind of tracks - superspeedways. The smaller tracks have never made for the best racing nor did they ever grow the sport; it was the superspeedways that did both.

mike - your point misses the point. The rules that keep the speeds in check, make the racers fight harder up front, and make the cars faster in dirty air than clean (so they are more prone to go to the front instead of get stopped from doing so by dirty air) are what rules packages are supposed to do. In that context they're manifestly not smothered in rules. Racing is not about "run what you brought, run as fast as you can," it's about taking the lead and holding it no matter what lap/retaking it if someone else gets it.
You cannot reinforce the fences because no fence can stop a 200-plus MPH car from killing spectators or drivers; we saw that numerous times the last 20 or so years. The fence argument is just a dodge to avoid facing the reality that excessive speed does kill - the sport does not need the speeds it presently has; 185 at Talladega is enough; cutting speeds by several seconds a lap elsewhere is better than anything goes. You can't "let 'em race" because that's what killed drivers and spectators numerous times in both NASCAR and Indycars over the last two decades. No, they don't regulate themselves - they never have.
Get over it - restrict the speeds permanently; the sport is not about speed, it is about lead changes. So you're 100% wrong here - restrictor plates are the answer, period.

No, it's not a typo - racing is not about speed, it is about lead changes. 185 at Talladega is fast enough; having 50 or more lead changes in a race is far more important than anything else, because lead changes are what competition is about. 50 lead changes is a better race than a race where the speeds are blazing but no one is fighting anyone else for position.

Racing where one car is faster than the others has no competitive value because it proves nothing about the racer; all it is is boring. So no, it isn't racing - lead changes is racing.

As far as points go, making winning and most laps led count for basically everything guarantees that people will run in the top 20 all day.

Yes, Rockingham is a dead demographic. When it reopened in great weather with racing, almost no one showed up. Even with half the grandstands taken down virtually no one was there. It blew away the "they never scheduled Rockingham in good weather" argument. It showed that demographic is dead. It is an outdated racetrack now - too small by 1.5 miles, a garbage surface, too narrow, and located in a demographic that won't come out for its races. Let it rest, mike.

There is no incredible racing at North Wilkesboro or Richmond; it has always been found on the superspeedways. It is the superspeedways where the 40-lead-change barrier has been broken. So yes, the future is on superspeedways. Drop the short tracks from the Winston Cup tour and replace them with superovals.

Then you'll get racing that ABC won't dare preempt.

Anonymous said...

It never was a "major sport" barely a sport at all.

gg said...

Interesting. As a former NASCAR fan that fines the current racing pretty boring I hope that somehow NASCAR can fix what is wrong.

Personally, I think the biggest problem with NASCAR is that lack of personalities. I don't find these guys interesting. Compare the current crop of top drivers to those that were driving in the mid 90's when racing really exploded. NASCAR is suffering through what the NBA went through after Michael Jordan retired.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR needs to go back to the days where racing was racing and the cars that were on the track were ones you could buy at the dealership, strip it down, build an engine and go. All the races we have today are boring and if it weren't for the beer and fellowship... would be a good way to fall asleep. Some one start a league that would bring real racing back!!

Monkeesfan said...

ed - NASCAR is choking on personalities nowadays, between Flipper Edwards, Tony The Tiger Stewart, the nitwits on Inside NASCAR and SPEED's prerace and postrace shows, Juan Montoya, the Busch Bash Brothers - ironically, one of the more restrained guys now is Junior, who used to be as known for being a rock & roll drummer - Micky Dolenz-Earnhardt - as for his racing.

Anonymous said...

I was a RABID NASCAR fan. I spend thousands on race tickets, Merch, etc. For me it dies when Brian France came on and tried to make it a sport of mass appear instead of accepting that is a niche sport unbelieveably loyal fans. It ended when they tried to stifel the true personalities of the sport (Jimmie spencer, Tony Steward, etc.), told the drivers not to use vulgar language on the radios (which was the best part of going to a race) and tried to distance themselves from their southern roots in terms of geography and culture. It'll never be as big as it was right after #3 died.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is no different than "RASSLIN'"
Who cares/
Bring F1 to broadcast TV.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a problem with three networks. It's easier to keep up with than years ago when the network carrying the race changed every week. Like someone else said, at least they gave us plenty of warning before they changed. I'm glad I was home recording it myself; the DVR wouldn't have caught it and I would be scrounging for a copy. Again, not a new problem.

I'd love to see pre-race coverage limited to 30 minutes, personally.

mythril57 said...

Folks, face it. NASCAR is not going to change. All of your ideas given here are a waste of time. Because the higher ups at NASCAR aren't listening. The COT is a disaster. I've been watching races for years and this product now in most cases is very boring and borin will kill you every time. I will continue to watch, but it isn't as high a priority to watch as it used to be. Can you point to any changes NASCAR has made based on all of your ideas that have been posted here or on other boards. If it helps you to belly ache, that's great, but face it no changes are coming.

Anonymous said...

sadly enough I have to agree with what mythril57 has written.

- Goodnight NA$CAR .... wherever you are.

Monkeesfan said...

mythrill57 certainly is correct in noting NASCAR's blind eye and tin ear to this point, but with costs out of control, sponsorships disappearing or all but gone, and everything else going wrong - it is never a good sign when teams like DEI and Ganassi/SABCO have to merge into one outfit because the sport's economics won't allow them to function autonomously - reality at some point is bound to catch up to Brian France and company; the concern is whether it will catch up to them the way it caught up to MLB and the NHL to the tune of losing significant portions or entire seasons because of economic-atomic war.

I wonder where this DEI-Ganassi merger leaves teams like Gillett and Petty - will it become Petty-Gillett-Boston ventures or some other such merger? We're bound to see more mergers sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

The H with NASCAR. What ABC did was to disrespect the fans - the people who pay and pay to see ESPN through ever-incresing ESPN carry charges passed through to cable subscribers in higher monthly charges. One reason ABC figured it could get away with crapping on NASCAR fans is because it knew the vast majority of the media would cover for ABC/ESPN.

But what do I know, I'm only a NASCAR fan and David's buddy up the road (Lenox Rawlings in Winston-Salem) has written and stated publicly that NASCAR fans are "ignorant and gullible."

Anonymous said...

Lost in the DEI/Ganassi merger is the loss of 2 teams for next year.

Furniture Row racing is at a part time schedule.

I dont think we have seen the last of the mergers and cutbacks.

Be it the economy or competition issues on the track or mismanagement by NASCAR brass, this is going to be a difficult couple of years for NASCAR.

GinaV24 said...

Wow, interesting comments. IMO, ESPN showed how they really feel about NASCAR fans with their decision and no one can really do much about it because the people who are running NASCAR didn't write the contract correctly.

No, I don't want to see any more big speedways. I find most of the 2 mile or larger tracks boring as hell to watch a race at. I've been to Daytona twice and about halfway through the first time, I wondered when it would be over. Yeah, the last 30 laps were exciting and scary, but I want to see cars passing cars ON the track, not high speed parades. So build another Richmond or Bristol and add seats if that's what it takes to get a big crowd, but it has to be good racing to get that big crowd, not just a big track.

NASCAR's bad management, the IROC cart, stupid start times (when does the race actually start?, boring racing and now the economy all come into play here. ABC took the money and ran!

Brenda said...

You are right when you say that the decision to change channels for the final minutes shows where NASCAR stands in the eyes of ABC. And it isn't good.

I was at our cabin out of reach of cable and had to miss the final minutes because I didn't receive ESPN 1 or 2. . I had to drive 2 miles to get cell phone coverage to phone my daughter and confirm if Jimmie did win as I expected. i'm a more devoted fan than ABC is.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with ABC's decision to move the race, but I understand their decision.

November is sweeps month. The month where ratings prevail and dictates the price advertisers will pay for ads in 2009 and beyond.

If Desperate Horny Women had started at an unusual time, say 9:37PM, ratings would have been down, thus ad revenue for next year would have been down.

And you can bet if there is a red flag or a rain delay that will push the shows back again.... have your remote ready to change channels.

Monkeesfan said...

Hee is all you need to know -

ABC preempted Phoenix; if it were Talladega they'd stay to the final lap.

BTW, with all the talk about Desperate Housewives, can they do a Desperate Housewives video to the song "Pleasant Valley Sunday" instead of that SheDaisy song they cut a video with?

Anonymous said...

I have seen better more exciting races at Richmond than at Pocono. We have enough superspeedways, a few more short tracks and Nascar is back where it started when the racing was good.Monkeys uncle fan or whatever u make some good points but u know as well as many others NASCAR needs to wake up and addressn these issues before they get really out of hand/control.

Anonymous said...

"The organization will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates."...

Really? Trying to placate everyone's ego is making these team names sound like law firms. Not a big deal, but starting to sound a little ridiculous.

Monkeesfan said...

Joe S. Buffalo - no you haven't. Richmond does not offer exciting racing. No short track does. Pocono is not as competitive as it needs to be but is superior in every facet to Richmond.

Short tracks are outdated for this level of racing and had nothing to do with its growth. It was superspeedways first and foremost. With all the talk about what dates should be given up, it is amazing that anyone can continue to defend short tracks when of all the ovals (road courses are in a class of failure all by themselves) they offer the fewest lead changes, the lowest incidence of positional passing, and the worst degree of thuggery in racing. They don't belong at the Winston Cup level.

Where NASCAR has to address issues leads to looking at where the best racing is - the restrictor plate tracks.
Where it has to address issues leads to figuring out that unstable racecars never make good racing - we need to strike the cliche "I wanna know who can drive a loose racecar" from the conversation because it's irrelevent; we need to strike the mindset that lower downforce = less aeropush from the conversation because that very mindset is what ruined the racing.
Where NASCAR has to address issues leads to figuring out what makes good point battles - making the racers fight for the lead every week; making the most wins and most laps led the criteria for a champion; making competitive performance, not mediocrity the gauge of a champion.
Where NASCAR has to address issues leads to stopping organizations like Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush outspend everyone else; stopping them from raising the cost of racing on everyone; stopping them from buying success; stopping the bottomless pit of spending the sport has become.

Then we won't have ABC putting Desperate Housewives above racing.

Anonymous said...

- monkeesfan

I still disagree with you on almost every point you failed to make ... however there are two items we do agree on.

1) Get the mega-teams and their blood money out of the sport. Why does any team need to run more than 2 cars? It's kind of like buying all of the raffle tickets so you can be sure to win. It leaves out a lot of good teams that could be competetive week end and week out.

2) Give me a points race that rewards drivers that battle for the lead EVERY lap EVERY race. I despise the "safe" drivers that just try to stay out of trouble.

Now back to my daily mantra ... speed is good, restrictor plates were designed by the devil, and COT's suck, LET 'EM RACE!

mythril1957 said...

Oh Great, NASCAR gives a crappy car in the COT. Now to compound the stupidity, now they stop testing for the car. You think we've had lousy racing now, just wait, it's gonna get worse! Wish SPEED would just telivise Sat. night short track racing like Anderson Speedway, Bring on the Figure 8's!!!

Anonymous said...

If Bruton Smith cared about anything other than himself he would make NASCAR an offer it could not refuse to make Lowe's MS available for open testing every Monday or Tuesday. Do it in such a way that everyone benefits, not just SMI. The biggest problem with the COT seems to be the 1 1/2 mile tracks and what better than testing at a 1 1/2 mile track in your backyard.

Anonymous said...

I have expanded digital cable, including 250 channels, HBO, Max and a whole lot more. But ESPN2 and ESPN Classic ONLY come with a special "sports" package. So not only was I inconvenienced by the move, but I lost out on the rest of the race!! For what? AFV??? ABC and ESPN are dumb dumb dumb. NASCAR is even dumber for letting it happen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I find it very curious that the media based in NC found a way to blame NASCAR for the switch - while the media in NY, PA, and CT came right out and placed the blame right where it belongs - on ABC for disrespecting NASCAR fans.