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General Discussions => TV Talk => Topic started by: Cheryl on March 21, 2004, 02:57:05 PM

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Cheryl on March 21, 2004, 02:57:05 PM
In an article from the Winston-Salem Journal, some team owners speculate that NASCAR may split into three segments of the year with the "finale" being rotated among three networks.  I'm not crazy about this approach, but maybe that would put an end this stupid playoff thing they came up with for this year.  Another good thing I see in it is the hint that ABC/ESPN might be back in broadcast business.  But to me, this confirms that Brian France plans to turn the whole series into nothing but a made-for-TV joke.

I agree with Old Hot Rodder about something needing to slap some sense into this guy...


PUSHING 40: How many races are too many?

By Mike Mulhern
Winston-Salem Journal

DARLINGTON, S.C. - At first blush, expanding the NASCAR tour from 36 to 40 events shouldn't sound very appealing to stock-car racing crews. But given the forces at play - TV and the NFL's own expanded TV packages - teams are looking at some of the positives. In fact, the past two days the response has been surprisingly optimistic when the pluses are considered:

First, a curb on long-distance testing. While a complete ban on testing at all NASCAR-sanctioned tracks might be difficult to enforce, cutting back practice and qualifying to Saturdays, for two-day shows, and opening Fridays for computer-instrumented testing at the track, could be a significant cost-cutting move, teams say.

Second, Daytona's SpeedWeeks could be shortened.

Third, half a dozen or so mid-week summertime shows could be added to the tour as two-hour primetime TV fare - Wednesday Night Thunder, freeing a few weekends. That could save North Carolina Motor Speedway from the scrap heap, if that track added lights.

One car owner points out NASCAR might be looking at a new three-network TV package, with ABC joining Fox and NBC, and with ESPN back in the mix, too. That could lead NASCAR to create a "three-season" tour - spring, summer and fall, 13 or so races each, with the tour finale a "Super Bowl" of sorts rotating from network to network each season, perhaps at Las Vegas one season, perhaps at Daytona the next.

Such creative thinking could be a major sponsorship boost, which NASCAR sorely needs.

"I'd be OK with it," said Andy Graves, general manager for Chip Ganassi's operation, of a 40-race tour. "I haven't heard the whole plan, but I've heard bits and pieces. If they wanted to knock out the All-Star race and the Shootout.... the way we look at it now we run 38 weekends, so running two more....

"Yes, it would take a toll on everybody, and you would have to get very creative. But if that's the solution, then that's something we'd do."

But Dale Jarrett offers a warning: "The one thing we've always had to be careful of here is overexposure. When we had 30 or 32 races, they had to keep building more stands. When we got to 36, maybe some places weren't selling out. But we'll race wherever they say. If they say race 52 times a year, we will. My dad and them used to race more than 60 times a year. So it's not something that couldn't be done.

"But if you expand that much, you'd have to do away with the Bud Shootout and the All-Star race. There wouldn't be time for anything but the points races. As long as the sponsors and TV people are happy, we'll be there."

Thoughts on testing

Cutting testing? "You would have to be very smart if you banned testing," Graves said. "Because with the simulation tools that are available now, we would actually spend more on computer simulations than we spent track testing now. So just to say, 'No more testing,' that wouldn't work.

"What I'd like to see is cutting the weekends down to two days instead of three, and come in on Fridays with the data systems like at Homestead for testing. Then Saturday we can qualify, and as soon as qualifying is over, we're done till Sunday. If we did that every weekend, we wouldn't be going to Kentucky and Lakeland and Nashville to test. Why would you want to test somewhere else when you could test right at the track you're racing at, in the same time frame.

"But people say, 'Then you've got to bring one or two more engineers.' But bringing one or two guys for a couple of days would be cheap compared to everything else.

'Just saying, 'No testing' wouldn't work. You'd just spend more money on wind tunnels, shaker rigs, and simulation tools. My budget would actually have to go up."

"People are going to test somewhere," Jarrett said. "So I'm sure NAS-CAR would prefer you go where you would gain some benefit. My suggestion is we pretty much do away with testing. Do test at Daytona, and add a few tracks that we would go in a day early for testing, like we did at Homestead. I don't know there is a solution that would satisfy everyone though. But we can't keep going back to our sponsors for more money."

Reasons to expand

Why consider expanding to 40 races? To give teams sponsors more bang for their bucks, to add more markets (a new race in Seattle, and second races in Kansas City, Las Vegas and Dallas-Fort Worth), to help NASCAR and its TV partners market against the NFL and other sports. And any such push would come more from TV than NASCAR.

It is all about money, which is in short supply. Just ask Todd Bodine, who is making one more "last stand" this weekend, though still hoping a full-time ride arrives.

Bodine, whose reputation for not pulling any punches sometimes lands him in hot water with NASCAR executives, said it may be time for a cost-cutting summit: "Maybe we need some sort of organization of crew chiefs or drivers or car owners to try to help figure out the problems and get them under control before it's too late. Not just the race car problems and the rule problems, but how can we make the sport cheaper, what can we do to bring the costs under control?

"There have got to be answers. I don't claim to be a guru and know them ... but if you get 43 crew chiefs together and 43 drivers together and 43 car owners together, there will be a lot of things flying around that might be good ideas.

"There are a lot things they could do differently, and I don't think they're trying to do things wrong.

"What's ruined our racing are these bodies. With the amount of downforce these things are generating, you can't run side by side, you can't run up on somebody, you can't let somebody come up behind you, because it changes everything you're sitting in. Consequently nobody wants to run around people."

And the body costs have skyrocketed. "Four years ago it cost $7,000, $7,500 to $8,000 to put a body on. Now it's $14,000. That's ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. The problem now is they've got so many templates with zero tolerance that it takes a long time for a body hanger to get it that close. And when you add the motor and the wheels, the body flexes and it all changes."

Bodine is worried this season may be an even tougher one for many teams than they expect, because sponsorship contracts are coming up for renewal: "Even before 9-11 companies were tightening up, and then 9-11 came and companies clammed up tight. Now it's almost three years later and all the contracts are up, this is when you need to find a new sponsor because the old one is going away, and you can't find one.

"And at the same time all this is happening, the costs of the sport are being driven way up because of competition. DEI and Hendrick are spending a ton of money on things like straight-line testing, and if you want to survive you have to spend money on that, too.

"And you can't get away with just one engineer anymore; you need two or three or four more guys. Those are the things driving the price up."

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: maxcres on March 21, 2004, 05:28:24 PM
You know, if Todd Bodine was good at racing as he is talking, he wouldn't cause some much wrecks.  I agree with Bodine when he makes mention of its the cars that need to better.  Nascar racing is boring nowadays because the cars all carbon copy of one another. Personally, when I am on the freeway I'm always looking to pass.  While I may not attempt to pass all the time, I love knowing that I at least have a choice to pass or not. In Nascar it seems like you are not afforded that choice, or it's minimal at best.  Racing has to get much better in Nascar.  I would fathom that in addition to their anger concerning the playoff race, alot of fans are terrificfly bored with the races this year.  It shows in the viewership decline.  

I sat up and watched the F1 race last night.  The feelings that I had in watching that race was no different than the feelings I've had in watching Nascar races this year.  My head was in my hand thinking: "wow, this is no different from Nascar in terms of level of excitement".  That's all, that's all I'm asking for.  I just want to have that feeling like when Dale Earnhardt came from  18th with 5 laps to laps to win at 'DEGA in 2000. If not that, then give me Terry Labonte winning at the Bristol night race after being rubbed by Earnhardt and getting the checkers with his car torn up. Better yet, how about Jeremy Mayfield giving Earnhardt a taste of his own medicine at Pocono.

Generating excitement when there is none.  That is what Nascar is trying to do with it's playoff system.  It's what the Networks(particularly the idiots at fox) try to do. While that might work on the new fans of Nascar, afterall, they don't know about the grassroots foundation, it has not worked with me. The bigger picture syndrome has taken over Nascar.  Bigger meaning realignment, or even Helton justifying it with " modernizing tradition".  The most boringest race at Darlington would seem like a photo finish at California.  The Southern 500 not at The Lady in Black, there shouldn't be one if not at Darlington.

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Vivian on March 22, 2004, 09:43:32 PM
I still believe that any die hard football fan is not going to forsake watching football once the season starts to watch Nascar and that Nascar's ratings will go up at that time.  Same is true of Nascar fans - they will not forsake Nascar for football but Nascar is putting us into a position to think about it, especially if you are both a Nascar and Football fan.  I like both and have always taken Nascar over football, but if my 12th place driver can't advance into the top 10 then why watch the rest of the season?  $$$ and #9 in points is so much better than 12th but seems he won't be able to do that now.  So maybe football will come sooner to my tv.  Who knows?  :?

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: sally on March 22, 2004, 10:41:30 PM
Viv, according to my Scene Newsletter today, the ratings for this weekend were down 6%.  That's 4 in a row now.  I don't think it's going to take till football season for ratings to be affected.  I think the "chase" format has alreday killed interest int the racing.  Race fans aren't interested in a phoney "start from scratch" scenario.  But, they think it's too early to "see a trend" here.

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Vivian on March 22, 2004, 11:17:30 PM
Sally, You may be right.  One of my contacts told me that they feel it is so sad to have to watch Nascar self-destruct the way it seems to be hell-bent on doing.  Or maybe the nice weather coming now has something to do with it.  There are so many things that could effect the ratings.  Sometimes I feel so disenchanted with it all and I have never felt that way before.  Also, I sometimes wonder if maybe the loss of Dale has made some of us sort of indifferent?  I love racing and find I am looking to other series for better competition and I find myself anxiously awaiting ASA and looking forward to the Arca and Hooters broadcasts.
Somebody, anybody...help!!! Tell me something positive!

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: John on March 22, 2004, 11:42:24 PM
I used to check out the former Motorsportstv.com website who would keep track of the ratings and each year the ratings would be up over the previous year and the year before well back into the cable network days.

Is it possible that things are starting to level out as far as interest in NASCAR?  It has to happen sometime and maybe now is the time.

Usually the race beats any other sport on TV, although I never noticed how it stacked up against football.  

And as far as the championship goes, I always considered it a side story until the end of the year.  If each driver races each race well, the championship will look after itself.  Just think of it, Matt Kenseth is the 2003 Champ, what difference does that make now?  He still has to race like anyone whether he is the champ or not.  The fans propably remember that Dale, Jr. won the Daytona 500 more than Kenseth winning the championship (I'm a Kenseth/Jarrett fan by the way).  

It's like Vivian said, there could be a number of things affecting the ratings, including my theroy of an extremely boring start to the season that is 5 races in.  The more exciting the Daytona 500 is, the more energy the season has.  If the race is boring in the middle, people will channel surf.  I know because I do it myself.

Something else I thought of was the wave of "Young Guns".  Out of nowhere are these drivers who do not have a huge fan base like Earnhardt, Sr., Elliott, Wallace, Jarrett and some of the other veterans.  Like I mentioned above, I'm a Kenseth fan, but I am a Jarrett fan mainly because I was also a Davey Allison fan.  And it was because of Bill Elliott that I became a fan of NASCAR.  We are going through a stage of a burst of new drivers that we are all getting to know.  Maybe some people do not want to get to know them, because the veterans are being "force out" of the top league.

These are just some thoughts I had and it is hard to pin point just one.  It's not the NASCAR of old anymore.  What is it now, I haven't got a clue!  But give it time and we may find out.

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Vivian on March 22, 2004, 11:56:14 PM
John, you made some good points.  I know I have my favorite new drivers - McMurray, Gaughan & Kahne, in betweeners - Dale Jr, Tony and Kenseth, veterans - Labonte, Labonte, and I will never forget Dale Sr.
So although I know I miss the old ways, I still can get excited over the new ways if only we could have the competion.  I think it is the cookie cutter tracks along with the clean air effect that takes the excitement away.  Even though there is great competition somewhere on the track, we don't get to see it on tv due to who is buying ad time and to quote someone, only the front runners have earned the right to tv time because they can't show everyone since some of them just can't be fast enough or popular enough.  And maybe it is just beginning to level off.  But I feel it would not level off as fast if they just looked at the racing and competition rather than at the sponsors and markets.  Gosh, I miss the old days! :(

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: John on March 23, 2004, 12:07:13 AM
Yeah, exactly.  I thought I was the only one to have favorite in a 3 tier system.  Could you imagine if we had a jacket for each favorite driver?  In Canadian money that's a year's salary for some!

I always said that it's not gas that make the cars go, it's money and I guess it's the same as TV coverage.  It's getting as fair as Figure Skating!!  Not that I watch it, I mean, ah ... never mind.

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Vivian on March 23, 2004, 02:06:41 AM
John, I have to ask - did you watch the European Finals or whatever they were from Hungary?  I did and I love figure skating, although I don't watch as much as I used to.  The scoring is better now.  Just had to ask since you did bring it up..... :)

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: John on March 23, 2004, 02:17:07 AM
No I didn't.  I guess what made me bring it up was back at the last olympics when the French judge gave higher points to the Russians (I Think) instead of the Canadians who were the obvious winners (I guess).  I know it was a big thing at the time, but no I do not watch it.  I'm a Canadian and I do not even watch hockey!

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Cheryl on March 23, 2004, 03:19:56 AM
Quote from: "Vivian"
Sally, You may be right.  One of my contacts told me that they feel it is so sad to have to watch Nascar self-destruct the way it seems to be hell-bent on doing.  

Oh Vivian!  You hit the nail on the head!  I'm really getting depressed myself over NASCAR self-destructing lately.  First Brian France taking over and throwing traditions like the Southern 500 out the window, coming up with this contrived playoff system, and then these ridiculous rules changes every week dealing with that stupid free pass back to the lead lap!   Tonight on IWC, they said 19 drivers were on the lead lap at the end of the race, but then someone pointed out 9 cautions helped this.  That made me realize that only 10 would've been left on the lead lap otherwise.  That still doesn't make me like this kind of "charity."  If you can't race your way back past the leader, you don't deserve to be on the lead lap!

Quote from: "Vivian"
I love racing and find I am looking to other series for better competition and I find myself anxiously awaiting ASA and looking forward to the Arca and Hooters broadcasts.
Somebody, anybody...help!!! Tell me something positive!

Hooters is on Thursday night (tape-delayed from Saturday night) and ASA is live from Lakeland Saturday night!  How's that for positive?


Title: Made for TV?
Post by: sally on March 23, 2004, 04:31:33 AM
OK guys, I DID watch the European Figure Skating Championships!  And I intend to watch the World Championships this weekend, too!  I just consider myself a truly Renaissance Woman, with a plethora of interests!

Meanwhile...I think some of the ratings drop is that interest has peaked.  Face it, when Dale died at Daytona, a lot of people who never heard of NASCAR tuned in to see what it was all about.  I think they've gone back to their golf or whatever now.  No matter what Brian France thinks, you can't keep growing forever.  He may just be stuck with us "hardcore" fans, whether he likes it or not!

Hey, has anyone heard anything about whether the wireless company is seeing gigantic returns on their race sponsorship yet?  Are they selling millions of those annoying walkie-talkie phones with driver logos for $350?

Title: Made for TV
Post by: jw on March 23, 2004, 08:07:39 AM
It's too early to tell if the "chase" is the actual reason for the declining ratings on tv.  
  The NCAA basketball tournament had a wild weekend of upsets that
got a lot of attention in the media this past weekend.  CBS is enjoying
a rating increase because of the upsets & close finishes.
  We need a couple of more races before establishing any trends, but
NASCAR does need to watch the ratings closely.

Title: Made for TV?
Post by: Vivian on March 23, 2004, 09:01:03 PM
I mentioned earlier that I didn't get to watch 100% of the race due to company.  Well, my Granddaughter in law who was visiting is not even a Nascar fan although she is familiar with Nascar due to us being such fans and she stated that she would like to become a fan but does not watch as often as she would like due to the fact that Fox broadcasting is just too discombobulated (her word) for her.  Just wanted to mention that and also mention that I have had several people tell me they only began to watch a few races when Dale was killed because like Sally said, so much was then made of the sport and the impact he had made on it and then the void after he was gone.  So that could be effecting the ratings among other things.  A friend in Las Vegas said after his accident there was a lot of stuff in the papers and on tv and stuff they planned to do at the track was the first time she had ever paid any attention to racing.  I am sure that has happened to other towns and people and now they have gone back to their normal lifestyle since the issue has sort of quieted down.  I have had other people mention it in the same way so if I have had those things happen think of the multiple number of others who have had the same thing happen and I am sure the escalation of the sport really was effected during that time.  And back to skating  :wink:  , look what happened when the Tonya and Nancy drama took place.