After six weeks, TNT’s turn at the helm of the Cup Series broadcasts is over. And if you ask me, it couldn’t have come any sooner.
From missed stories, to commercial overkill, TNT’s races were lackluster at best.
Thanks to the wonders of technology (the DVR) and Speed’s Wednesday re-broadcast, TC and I usually catch every race broadcast. Though it’s not something we often write about here (if you’re looking to talk NASCAR TV check out The Daly Planet) I felt the need to express my disappointment with what I saw of TNT’s coverage.
After dumping Bill Weber in the middle of last season, TNT had a hole to fill at play-by-play. While Ralph Sheheen was given an audition at the end of last season, the network settled on MRN and Speed Channel vet Adam Alexander.
Now I think Adam is a great guy. He’s good on pit road, and really a genuinely nice person. Play-by-play however is not his forte. As ESPN learned with Jerry Punch, adeptness on pit road does not necessarily translate to skills at play-by-play.
Not helping Adam’s transition was the lack of communication between the booth and the control room (or trailer). How many times during their stretch did we hear the guys in the booth talking about a driver, wreck, or on-track action only to continue seeing something completely unrelated? This sort of thing is incredibly frustrating to watch (I found myself yelling at the TV) – yet it happened over and over and over.
Let’s not even get started on the commercial breaks either. SB Nation’s Jeff Gluck fully went through those in a post earlier this week.
So to recap, what TNT gave the fans was basically this: Commercials, commercials, commercials, a few laps of racing, commercials, commercials, commercials. Then the broadcast would come back on, play-by-play man Adam Alexander would say, “While we were away…” and TNT would show us the important moment we missed.
The man knows what he’s talking about – as does anyone who has watched these races.
Add all this on top of the missed stories (this shouldn’t surprise me though, TNT has a history of missed moments) – AJ Allmendinger v. Richard Petty comes to mind – and what we have are broadcasts that were nothing short of a disappointment.
Now I’m not saying the FOX and ESPN broadcasts are flawless. They most certainly are not (no live sports broadcast is). They are however better than TNT. If you can get past the cartoon characters, and the occasional over-the-top personalities Fox technically has a wonderful broadcast. This is thanks in large part to their Emmy award winning director Artie Kempner, and the best play-by-play guy in the business, Mike Joy. And if there is one thing the folks at ESPN know how to do, it’s how to broadcast a sporting event (though I’m not crazy about their golf coverage). I’d prefer Allen Bestwick at play-by-play too.
Is TNT unwatchable? I think that’s probably a little harsh, but they definitely have work to do to make their broadcasts better. As Jeff Gluck and John Daly have pointed out, hopefully NASCAR and their television partners begin to realize maybe it’s not the product, but the dissemination of the product that’s driving people away.
What do you think about the broadcasts? What are your likes and dislikes? Which section of the season is your favorite?