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Author Topic: More on TNT Coverage of Pepsi 400  (Read 505 times)
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« on: March 08, 2007, 06:00:31 PM »

Claire B. Lang of XM had Jeff Benke the TNT executive producer on her show yesterday afternoon.  He provided a lot of really good information about their limited commercial break coverage at Daytona in July.  He answered several listener calls.  To me, he actually sounded like a really nice guy who is aware of all the things the fans feel. Much different than some of the production people I've heard from Fox or SPEED. 

He said that the director, Mike Wells, will continue doing the broadcast just like they normally would even though the sound would go to the commercial.  Meaning they would continue to switch cameras to cover all the action on the track and not simply show the leader in a single shot like previous commercial-free broadcasts (such as the side-by-side on ABC).  The viewers would still see what they would cover as if they weren't "at" commerical. Also they intend to try to show more drivers. He said that's the 2nd biggest complaint from fans after commercials.

The only actual breaks they would take would be for the "local" commercials required by local affiliates or cable/satellite operators.  He expected these would only be 1-2 minutes each or up to 4 minutes per hour.  The biggest good news for viewers is that he hoped with this format, we would only miss maybe 15-20 total laps of racing.  That is awesome!

When a caller asked why they haven't tried this before on TNT, he explained  they were "tied" to NBC under the last 6-yr contract (so apparently NBC had no interest in trying this type of thing). He pointed aout how their partner station, TBS, had a similar "no breaks" race in late 2000 - I remember how cool that was.

Also when another caller asked if they would do this more, he explained it is all up the advertisers and it depends on if they feel they get a good return on their investment by doing these types of broadcasts.  As we've always heard, it really IS up to the sponsors to agree to it, so they have been the only one to sell them on this (so far) and only for the Pepsi 400.  I think TNT is really hoping they can continue the practice and be an innovator (hopefully Fox and ESPN will take up the challenge and try to do the same thing if it works out for TNT).

Benke also said they would move all "the data" and commercials to bottom 1/3 of the screen. Sounds like they won't have the dreaded ticker at the top either, but I could be wrong.  If so, I think that is really great! 

He said the on-screen commercials would only last a minute or so and there would be some "branded" endorsements by drivers, such as a Pepsi endorsement by Jeff Gordon.  During all on-screen commercials, the audio would switch to the commerical, but you would still hear the "race sound" in the background.  I assume this means the race car sounds. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something important from the show, but this is the best I can remember (and am using some of the stuff I told everyone in the chat last night). 

Great that Claire got this guy on and it was wonderful of him to take over a half hour to explain stuff to the XM audience, including taking listener calls.  I really liked him, mostly because he seemed like he was really in tune with the fans and not just some slick mouthpiece. 

« Last Edit: March 08, 2007, 06:06:49 PM by Cheryl » Logged
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 09:51:59 PM »

Thank you for this report, Cheryl.

I just hope it pans out and we like it
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