NASCAR post race (non) coverage dilemma

By Joe Dunn

    Fans have been complaining for a while about the lack of post race coverage on Fox, but those complaints seemed to fall on def ears till Phoenix.
    Since SB Nation’s Jeff Gluck and AP’s Jenna Fryer didn’t travel to Phoenix for the race and instead relied on TV to do their reporting, they both brought that lack of coverage to light.  Not wanting to let go of a story that drew a lot of interest from fans Fryer pursued to story going to the top of FOX for an answer.  “It’s something we should have been doing all along,” Bill Brown, senior producer for Fox Sports, told Fryer, of The Associated Press. Overdrive on FoxSports.com will begin immediately after the network ends its broadcast coverage of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. The program will use Fox’s entire nine-person broadcasting crew and consist of live interviews and analysis that will be streamed to its Web site.
    Fryer was quick to report the story, showing the fans that her stand for the fans was something that Fox was taking seriously.  Gluck jumped on the bandwagon and the Twitter world was afire with this great new product to fill a void that NASCAR fans were desperate for. Many wondered why this situation was never addressed before, and why fans were forced to sit through so much commercialized pre race programming, and then left in the dark when the checkered flag flew.
    Last year, fans spoke up loud and clear about some of the pitfalls of ESPN’s NASCAR programming. The lead in that charge was John Daly and his NASCAR blog, the Daly Planet.  I too spoke out on some of the issues with ESPN, and to my surprise, I was contacted by Andy Hall of ESPN who thanked me for my comments and promised that they were listening to the fans.  ESPN showed that they were in fact listening as they began the 2010 season of covering the NNS with a whole new stepped up level of coverage.  They did listen and they did improve.  Hats off to the ESPN folks for the effort.
    Now, back to the Fox response to this issue, they promised an online show, not on air TV coverage.  As John Dally pointed out on his Daly Planet, Turner Sports has the exclusive online license for NASCAR, and Fox could not do this without Turner.  Once everyone involved was enlightened to the licensing issue, the blame had somehow transferred to being Turner Sports.  The Blame game became, don’t blame Fox, they tried to fix it but Turner stopped them.
    Wait a minute here folks, Turner Sports is NOT the bad guy here.  Fox Sports threw out an idea that they HAD to know, they had no business discussing.  Fox has a TV CONTRACT with NASCAR, NOT and online contract. Fox owes the fans ‘ON AIR’ coverage of the post race activities. Since Jenna Fryer and Jeff Gluck decided to lead the way in covering the lack of Post race coverage by FoxSports, they need to stand up and call on FoxSports, not Turner Sports to address the situation.  Stop enabling FoxSports in the underhanded efforts to shift THEIR blame to Turner Sports.
    I want to point out that I am in no way endorsing Turner Sports and the way they have handled the Nascar.com site, or any of the other NASCAR online interactive features. The truth is that Turner Sports has done an awful job with NASCAR’s online programming.  But, none of that has anything to do with Fox Sports refusal to give the fans the race coverage they deserve.
Statements from Fox Sports and Turner Sports after this story was originally posted
“Unfortunately, due to contractual limitations that we had hoped to overcome, we’re unable to extend post-race coverage on FOXSports.com. Since this would have been a commercial-free undertaking, our goal was simply to have all parties agree that this would only benefit NASCAR fans, but obviously that didn’t happen.”  Via Twitter feed
In response, Turner Sports noted: “NASCAR.COM continues to provide fans with the most access and comprehensive content and coverage of the sport, including free in-depth coverage every week of all the storylines going into and following each race.
“NASCAR.COM has also consistently partnered with other media companies — including Fox’s sister network SPEED TV — to further enhance the offerings to NASCAR’s loyal fan base. NASCAR.COM has proactively approached FOX over a period of time with a variety of collaborative online media options that unfortunately have been rejected.”
 http://www.nascar.com/2010/news/headlines/official/04/18/turner.proactive.online/index.html