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Fans come down hard on TNT’s NASCAR coverage

By admin | July 15, 2012

By Richard Allen


TNT wrapped up its stint of covering NASCAR Sprint Cup events in 2012 with Sunday’s race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And fans who have watched the six races shown by the network were not at all shy about voicing their opinions of the coverage during the mid-summer stretch of the series schedule.

Among the biggest complaints seen in my highly unofficial survey of responses from Twitter followers was that there were too many commercials during the telecasts and that the coverage is too narrow in its focus. These were almost universal responses from multiple fans who took the time to voice an opinion.

When I asked the question, “So what did everybody think? Good race? Bad race? TV coverage?” on Twitter following Sunday’s event, I got hit with a number of answers. Here are a few:

“TV coverage was too poor for me to actually grade the race itself. Very hard to follow,” declared @heylookaturtle.

“Rubbish coverage! We get leader cam, onboard cam during TV breaks in Ireland, don’t know how you guys put up with the breaks,” said @trevormurphy73 from afar.

When I added the question, “Does anyone have a positive comment about TNT’s NASCAR coverage? Other than it’s about to end?” more answers came rolling in.

“Typical race coverage.. more commercials than racing and clueless banter between commentators,” opined @Brandon88_.

“As usual horrible TV coverage from TNT. About to quit on Cup this year and hope new car is better or I’ll stick to dirt!” said DownNDirtyTN.

And @dstuddard placed a final punctuation mark on the TNT coverage with, “Glad it’s over!”

All of that said, I am going to offer up a couple of counter points in TNT’s favor.

First, there did seem to be a lot of commercials. I made my share of quips during the race myself. But one thing to consider is that with the lowered number of caution flags this season, the networks have been forced to show more commercials during green flag segments. In the minds of the viewers that may make it seem as if there are more ads simply because there have not been enough lulls in the action to blend the spots in.

I’ll be honest enough to say that I do not look at the commercial breakdown data for each race but if there had been more cautions, the ads would almost certainly seem less noticeable during the telecast.

Secondly, the six race stretch handed to TNT is not exactly the highlight of the Sprint Cup schedule, with the exception of the race in Daytona. Fans often complain about less than exhilarating races on tracks such as Pocono, Michigan and New Hampshire. There may just not be that much there to work with in terms of the material at hand.

And I will also say that not all the responses were of the negative. While some seem to dislike Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach as commentators, the overall feeling seemed to be that they are worthy of attention.

As @DownNDirtyTN added, “In regards to TNT coverage as a whole I don’t mind listening to Kyle & Wally - for the 26 minutes they actually get to talk.”

Also, the lineup of pit reporters for TNT is very solid and they do an effective job of keeping fans abreast of what is going on from that part of the event. Some Twitter respondents shared that assessment.

All in all, fans did not seem to be pleased with TNT’s NASCAR coverage. However, the same can often be said of the sanctioning body’s other two network partners as well. My contention is that the overall coverage of NASCAR by the television networks is not as good as it needs to be. My biggest complaint is that the coverage is too narrow in its focus, meaning that too few individuals are given too much attention and racing back in the pack often goes unnoticed.

In my opinion, TNT is little better or worse than the other networks. Fans may not share that opinion now but after ESPN/ABC complete their segment of the schedule, they will be receiving much the same criticism as the network that just finished.

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25 Responses to “Fans come down hard on TNT’s NASCAR coverage”

  1. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    July 15th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I like Kyle and Wally. They would do better with more airtime and a smoother facilitator.

  2. DJ Says:
    July 15th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    When Kyle can get a thought out without it taking a lap or more then I’ll listen. He has no business being in the booth.

  3. z'hills fan Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Commercial, commercial, commercial, I finally shut it off and watched the baseball game!

  4. SB Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 4:48 am

    None of the networks do a competent job of covering the entire field in the race. Fans are subjected to ’storylines’ determined before the race ever starts. Closeup shots of single cars running by themselves on the track give no overall sense of how the race is developing, thus making it impossible to ‘get into’ the race itself. Granted that TNT is stuck with some of the least exciting tracks on the schedule, but none of the networks seem capable of covering the race as if the fans were at the track. Nascar keeps insisting that the racing this year is some of the ‘most exciting ever’. Too bad the network coverage can’t seem to figure out how to translate that thru the TV to those who aren’t actually at the track. Isn’t that supposed to be their goal?

  5. Andy Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Let’s remember that the whole show is three to four hours of commercials to start with. Those aren’t names painted on the quarter panel alike in the 70s, they’re huge graphics that take up the entire car with special paint jobs chosen by the sponsor and not the team.

    We shouldn’t have 1/3 of the race devoted to commercials on top of that. Throw in the in-car cameras, which are more about advertising than information, and the numerous promos and logos that appear at the bottom of the screen and on tickers.

    Altogether, there is never a moment when someone is not trying to shove their name down our throats. It’s time we went back to open trailers and ditched the private jets. We’re subjected to all of this junk because NASCAR management and competitors have gotten greedy. Richard Petty did many great things for the sport, but signing with STP was one HUGE black mark on his record.

    Wide World of Sports used to cover the races with three twenty minute highlight reels. They spent more time showing the race than we get today in four hours of continuous coverage. Dump ALL the commercials and stick to the ads on the cars.

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 7:25 am

    When Fox had the broadcasts you heard a lot of people complaining about them and how they couldn’t wait till TNT was doing the races. Now people are saying they can’t wait till ESPN does the races. And I am pretty sure at the end of the season people will be saying they can’t wait till FOX does the broadcasting.

    It’s almost as predictible as the racings been this year.

  7. Steven Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I was very happy to watch a race without one or two Waltrips yapping.

  8. Russ Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Fans were all over Fox, now its TNT that sucks. And I believe that you are correct that the reaction to ESPN wont be much different.
    Maybe its not the coverage thats the problem?

  9. Bill B Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 8:22 am

    They all suck. TNT wins by default because they only torture us for 6 weeks compared to months by the other two networks.

    Just one week I’d like to see a long-time NASCAR fan with basic common sense get a chance to dictate how an envent will be covered even if they still need to get in x minutes of commercials. I think it could only improve any network. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be any common ground between the agenda of the networks and the agenda of a race fan with respect to television broadcasts.

  10. Gary C Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Kyle and Wally are okay,best part of TNT is not having to listen to SUCK UP DW during the race.

  11. John Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I feel TNT coverage was excellant.The combo of Kyle and Wally are ok beats the hillbilly humor on fox.People grip if there are no accidents to many commercials and not enough coverage of their driver.As stated above people wouldn’t notice except for all the green flag laps but we need to remember the bottom line is it is a bussiness and commercials pay the bills.

  12. Jonathan F Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I’m excited for NASCAR on ESPN because at least they put it all on the table and it translates to a good broadcast. Indy will be a great one, as usual. Multiple camera angles, unique angles that adds excitement and brings the race alive, and a crew that can get the job done on a telecast. TNT couldn’t do that to save their network…..

  13. Tyler West Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Kyle and Wally are just fine. The Waltrips garbage sucks! In my opinion the ones who need to hit the bricks are Guys and gals like John Roberts, Rutledge that four eyed moron, the stupid weather girl, that damn social garage crap, and all the pre-fabricated BS stories. But as for coverage, what the hell happened to following cars all over the tracks and not just the leader or the few favorites. And for the love of God all of them need to stop trying to be the first person to blow smoke up Jr.’s rear. Oh yeah, I forgot they need to 86 Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer andSteve Byrnes. All these personalities SUCK!! They treat to the sport like a damn idiotic joke. Trying to blow things out of proportion has gotten stupid. They have turned the sport into a joke, but it doesn’t help that the racing has been so damn bland this year either. Outside of the speedways the rest of the season has been so dull. This season has really sucked!! And it pisses me off to hear Drivers whine about the only tracks worth watching. Nascar has created a total mess!!!! Nascar is pricing themselves out of business and it is really sad to watch.

  14. jo-jr Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    why do they show the leader, lap after lap!? who,wants to see the same car , lap after lap? show all the cars, an let the vewier , see how the race is going!! about to ditch , watching all the commericals an only seeing the same cars!! nascar races are not ,worth the time spent watching ,them, anymore!

  15. Don Smith Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Not much purpose to having a big screen TV and having half of it blocked by scrolling info and some sort of stupid pattern on top and bottom.
    When they go to split screen only about 1/6th of the screen is for viewing the race.

  16. Josh D. Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I always loved TNT’s coverage but am sad to say this year’s coverage was disappointing. Once they fired Bill Webber, the booth combination has been awkward and hope to see some people moved around for next year.

  17. Dennis Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    TNT, Fox, and ESPN all do the same thing. They give you a close up of one or two cars and following them around the track. You can’t see the track. You can’t see the battles around them. You can’t see a car hunt down another car or set up a car for a pass. You mainly get a series of “tight shots” of one or two cars. That is NOT showing the racing. SPEED, when they show the truck races, will keep the cameras panned back quite a bit of the time so you can see what’s happening around the cars.

    The Nationwide and Cup broadcast have become unwatchable.

  18. JudyBTeam24 Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    While I like your attempt to be positive you missed the mark here. A near full 1/3 of the air time was devoted to commercials, it’s not a figment of the fans’ imagination quite a bit of racing was lost. I think their slogan should be TNT Loves NASCommercials!

    The banner along the bottom of the screen took up way too much space with not enuf info to justify it. What is the point of trying to watch a race you can’t see?

    I don’t see how Wally Dallenbach gets any positives, he’s pretty boring & unimaginative. Even tho Kyle Petty can be pretty snarky (especially on Twitter where he replied to a fan’s comment about the large banner by saying “get a bigger tv”) at least he is knowledgeable & passionate about the sport & has a personality.

    While I’m on the subject of announcers, I don’t get the hate directed at the Waltrips. I find them informative, entertaining, passionate & just silly enuf without “jumping the shark.” I enjoy having different perspectives & you certainly get that from 2 guys who cover almost every base (former series champion, Daytona 500 winners, team owner, etc).

    As a side note, TNT has played the “theme song” to death - now when it comes on the radio, I change the station!

  19. Offkilter Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I think kyle and wally are the best. Kyle more often than not tells it like it is. As far as the coverage, tnt is no worse than the others imo.

  20. DJ Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Hey I like the TNT broadcasts much more than Fox and ESPN. I enjoy Wally and Kyle. They are not NASCAR lackeys like the other announcers are.

  21. Allen Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    The TNT coverage gets a better than passing grade from me. I think Kyle and Wally are excellent so is Larry. Adam is not the most dynamic booth guy ever but does the job. The biggest problem I see is the same with all the networks.The prerace is too long.Do we really need an hour and fifteen minute prerace??? NO! Too many spots YES and what seems to be the same 5 commercials until I’m ready to poke my eyes out with a rusty nail but its all money see monkey do in TV anyway. I am a diehard racefan and must remember the coverage is geared toward the casual fan but overall I’ll give TNT a B and thank you for what you do.

  22. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I would like more Network Races and I am saying that because a lot of folks don’t have Cable Net or Satelliate. I would prefer, Rich, to sell the commoners better racing than this Grade F Garbage.

  23. Paul Oliveri Says:
    July 19th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    you can’t win with any of the networks.

    FOX has been the best so far as far as Cup goes. they still have a lot of problems, though: the Waltrips dont know how to be quiet, there is a lot of bias, mostly from those same two Waltrips, and there isn’t a lot of outsanding camera work. the rest of the broadcast team does a phenominal job.

    TNT really set the bar low with their poor coverage this year. they actually started off pretty good with the Pocono race, but they got progressively worse from there, minus Daytona. Adam Alexander couldn’t even make Dale Jr.’s long awaited win exciting. AA is a great reporter in the pits and on SPEED Center, but calling the race isn’t his strong suit. TNT never showed many key moments of races, particuraly at Sonoma, where they missed many spins, as well as a chunk of the final lap. i don’t even want to talk about the commercials.

    and lastly there’s ESPN. ESPN is notorious for openly bashing NASCAR and its fans, and treating it as if it barely exists. to me the only three drivers that have gotten attention during the NNS coverage this year are Danica, Travis Pastrana (though I don’t mind Travis), and Joey Logano. they made a great call last year by putting Allen Bestwick in the play by play position, but I’m still unsure of how ESPN will fare.

  24. J Rij Says:
    August 9th, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I have been a Nascar fan for over 25 years. I’ve been a fan of many drivers, teams and manufacturers: and I’ve followed all the network broadcasters.
    However, the current ESPN team, with Rusty Wallace, is uncomfortable, contrived and frequently overbearing. Not what you want to experience on a Sunday afternoon! You have no team.
    I’m sorry to say for ESPN, but the guys during the earlier part of the season, with FOX, including Darryl Waltrip and Mac, have a smooth. witty and entertaining friendship; and an experienced and intelligent commentary that creates a real team and makes Nascar racing work.
    Please do a better job! Jim

  25. KM Says:
    August 6th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I turn the sound off when watching on TNT. I can’t stand it whey Kyle opens his mouth. There is way too much unnecessary negativity from him.