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NASCAR on TV: Are the Networks Really Giving 100%?

By admin | January 18, 2014

 Fox’s ‘Digger the Gopher’ isn’t exactly a favorite among many NASCAR fans.

*I originally began this three part ‘NASCAR on TV’ series a couple of weeks ago and intended to run the final piece at that time but a technical glitch with the website prevented that. So, here is that final posting.

 By Richard Allen

In a frequently joked about moment during the 2013 NASCAR season, the sanctioning body “mandated” that its competitors give 100% effort in each race. So if competitors are expected to give their all, isn’t it fair to expect NASCAR’s television partners to be held to those same standards?

Due to the highly opinionated nature of this site, there are typically a number of (much appreciated)comments offered by readers at the end of many of the columns. And easily, one of the leaders of the pack in the complaint department about NASCAR is the television coverage provided for the sport.

And among those complaints regarding NASCAR’s television coverage, the frequency of commercials is often the most targeted aspect of the broadcasts. Fans are usually quick to point out just how much racing is missed due to the amount of advertising sold for the races.

Obviously, TV networks have to make money. They are, after all, for profit corporations whose stock holders demand return on their investments. Commercials are an unavoidable necessity. And without planned timeouts as in other sports, NASCAR has the unfortunate and unique aspect of having ads run during the live action. But how much is too much?

If the networks overpaid to get the content, it should not be the responsibility of the fans to pay the price for that mistake. A reduction in or better plan of the numbers and timing of commercial spots would serve the sport, the fans, and the networks better.

Another complaint that frequently appears in the comments section of this blog and others regards the announcers. Whether those criticisms be against the Fox tandem of Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds, who have said essentially the same things for 12 years now, or against ESPN’s crew of pre-race talking heads, including a former basketball player who is now a car owner, many fans seem to have grown tired of the rhetoric.

Of course, the networks want to put the sport in the best light possible. It would make little business sense to go out and spend millions of dollars to obtain the rights to broadcast NASCAR then point out scores of negatives. However, the extent to which some of those who occupy the booth go to almost force fans to like whatever the latest change NASCAR has decided to make or whatever ruling was implemented has become mind numbing.

Further, NASCAR pre-race shows have proven to be exhaustive efforts that contain some meaningful content lightly sprinkled among cartoons of a gopher and other silly and useless nonsense.

And there are always the complaints of overemphasis on some drivers and personalities and too little on others. Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. received extensive coverage during broadcasts of this past season despite the fact that neither won a race in 2013. Such “favoritism” has often been mentioned here and in social media by fans regarding NASCAR’s TV coverage for some time.

Naturally, it is in the best interest of the networks to feature drivers who have large fan bases. At the same time, it could be argued that other drivers don’t have the opportunity to develop fan bases because they’re so rarely seen on camera or discussed by announcers.

Ultimately, it is my opinion that the TV networks that cover NASCAR do not always present the sport in the best light, especially for those fans who have followed the sport for longer periods of time and who have a good working knowledge of what is going on. Just like NASCAR itself, TV seems too focused on bringing in new clientele and essentially trusting that the more seasoned viewers will continue to hang around out of a love for the sport, even when they are being ignored.

Let’s see how that works out. But that’s not the way to give 100%.

Topics: Articles |

18 Responses to “NASCAR on TV: Are the Networks Really Giving 100%?”

  1. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    January 18th, 2014 at 8:28 am

    NASCAR and the NHL lead the league (no pun intended) in constantly throwing their hardcore/grassroots fans under the bus. They know no matter what we do we’ll still buy diecasts, hats, and watch on TV.

  2. Offkilter Says:
    January 18th, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Junior run top 5 most of the past season. That team deserved coverage. As the year went on, it seemed to me that “Danica updates” dwindled down during the race.
    I think we all agree on how we dislike the biased Waltrips and stale Larry Mac gas milage updates that start on lap10.
    Personally, my pet peeve in racing is Kyle Busch. So, naturally, i think he gets too many mentions and coverage during a broadcast when he is a non factor during a race. The Nationwide races that he’s in have the talking heads driveling non stop about Kyle Busch the caped super hero of auto racing. They should just rename that series after him. Even the races he skips, his name is brought up more than some of the regulars running top 5.

    We all complain. So on the other hand, I must say that I am thankful that we live in a time and country that allows us to be finicky.

  3. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    January 18th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Another thing NASCAR has to get a hold on is the Nationwide “series”.

    It cannot just be batting practice for the Sunday race.

  4. RacingFan Says:
    January 19th, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Quality of TV coverage started downhill when Fox began broadcasting NASCAR by offering a huge amount to NASCAR. To make money, they increased the number of commercials. If I remember correctly, they removed the sponsor from images of cars whose sponsor didn’t also advertise on Fox, and probably didn’t even show those cars on camera much until the companies caved and bought some ads on Fox.

    Is the racing or TV better because of all the extra money that entered NASCAR? Not in my opinion. The golden age of ESPN of the past and even the other networks covering NASCAR back then puts the present coverage to shame. Even NASCAR tape delayed on Wide World of Sports was more exciting.

  5. Russ Says:
    January 19th, 2014 at 9:06 am

    The beauty of a TV is that it has a “on/off” switch as well as a volume control. Between those two and a very comfortable recliner I have solved all my problems with the Nascar broadcast.

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    January 19th, 2014 at 9:44 am

    The networks are in the business of selling advertising, plain and simple. They offer programing only because it draws an audience and the bigger the audience the more they can charge advertisers. Entertainment is a means to an end and not the end itself.

    If they could make more money showing infomercials that’s all that would be on TV.

    Considering the fact the networks have paid more for less ratings either they are flat out stupid or as part of the deal they have gotten more control over how Nascar is run. ex. Change points or we’ll put you on Fox1 or nbc sports network.

  7. Jesse Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    It has always seemed strange that all these announcers are or were involved with Toyota in one form or another over the last few years, but after saying that Darrell and Mikey must be in bed with someone at Fox. They are the total joke in broadcasting and they just won’t shut up. I think Nascar will continue to lose TV viewers as long as they use people that have a contact in the Nascar family, Rusty, Brad, Kenny, Larry, Ray, Phil, Jeff (Burton & Hammond), that’s just a few of the names. You see back in the day Bob and Larry on ESPN did not have all these connections and just loved doing what they did.

  8. Fed Up Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Great column Rich! Pretty much aligns and defines the
    hoopla that the networks are feeding us. I know they have to sell ads to pay for programming but their length and saturation are driving viewers away. The stale presentation by the announcers is painful. Time to bring in some new blood without bias and redundant remarks.

  9. GinaV24 Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 9:37 am

    When Fox and NBC/TNT first started the tv contract back in 2001, they were doing a fair job and broadcast the racing and real information. When the renewal was signed, it went downhill and has gone so far off the rails that it is mostly unwatchable and certainly not as much fun as it once was. DW/Larry and their pandering to NASCAR rather than presenting a professional point of view and of course Fox has the Waltrip Brothers Show as their staple has made me decide over the past few years to find another way to follow the race. ESPN is no better since they cover the chase, chase, chase to the detriment of the actual RACE and also have active owners in their booth. I find Brad D to be so insulting to race fans that I can’t even watch.

    I stopped watching the pre-race shows when the silliness overwhelmed the actual information. Its fine to have fun, but wow, these went over the top but then again, I don’t fit their chosen demographic anyway, so likely they don’t care if I watch or not.

    Considering the new changes that BZF is floating out there for the chase, all of which sound pretty stupid to me, it may be that I will simply become even more of a casual fan than I have been. My family and I have already cut 3 races out this year and IMO, I’d just as soon not bother to go to any.

  10. GinaV24 Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Sue, I agree that the business is selling advertising, but once upon a time, cable was sold to us as a way to have LESS advertising on TV. Of course, we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    I have to laugh at the amount of infomercials that are already on.

    I reduced my cable package because I was annoyed at how much it was costing that means I lost a couple of the ESPN and of course FS2 (small loss IMO) - it may not be much longer before I’ll cut the cord completely.

  11. NASCARJeff Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I agree and have been on record that wee need announcers that do not have adjendas.
    Darrell Waltrip and Larry Mac shill for Quicin Loans & KFC
    DW& Michael are in deep with Toyota plus MWR keeps getting caught cheating.
    Rusty’s son drives in the nationwide and truck series
    Ray Evernham is a Hendrick Motorsports employees

    Putting new faces on NBC will mark a clean slate with new perspectives.

  12. Bill B Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    If they would just synch the MRN feed up with the tv coverage they could save a ton of money on the announcers and just do away with them. I think most fans would prefer that.

  13. joe Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 11:08 am

    like barrett Jackson when they showed the cars instead of all the extra bullshit

  14. duane Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Diffrent network but still nascar family Jeff ,from RCR Steve from Hendricks & Rick from FS1 Wait & See if they cover the race or old teams

  15. Pokey Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    More commercials = less viewers. Less viewers = less money for each commercial. Less commercials = more viewers. More viewers = more money for each commercial. Duh. These TV networks are screwing themselves by running to many commercials. But, NASCAR and TV will never figure it out. Who cares. It is no different than sitting through a 30 minute “Duck Dynasty” to watch less than 20 minutes of programming. TV is way messed up and they can’t even figure this out. Marketing geniuses, eh?

    January 20th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Let us enjoy the coverage we have. If NBC coverage of the Olympics and past attempts at race coverage are what we have to look forward to we are in trouble. They paid the money but that does not assure us better coverage.
    I hope ESPN does not water down coverage in 2015. Look what happened to NASCAR LIVE. 2 AM if at all.
    Prerace shows have gotten to silly and I think FOX would do well to put Windy Venturini on the prerace show and in the HOLLOWOOD HOTEL. She seems to have more knowledge to talk about racing and ask the right questions more so than the other ladies.
    One other thing, cars running 20-43 have fans too.

  17. old nascar Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Nothing will change in 2015 . EVERY THING said and Done has to be appoved by NASCAR. you will NOT see Burton or any one else go agaist NASCAR they will carry the watee like every one else did.
    everyone will have there favorite driver/ team that they will cover,

  18. kb Says:
    January 20th, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I have to say for the sake of sanity in the land of fabricated “reality”..I know Danica doesn’t have a large fan base..everybody can’t stand the be-otch..manufactured excitment, down to telling us who we should like and root for. Disgusting.