When it comes to television contracts, TNT’s Summer schedule with NASCAR is a contract in which NASCAR should be paying TNT to cover the most boring stretch of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. The TNT contract gives the network six races to broadcast in the beginning of Summer.
The races include: Pocono, a long flat track that is always tough to watch, with long green flag runs and strung out fields. Michigan, which is more of the same, a long two mile course that is also flat and always a snore fest on a lazy Father’s Day. Infineon Raceway, which does have it’s moments being a road course but the hard core fans in the South aren’t much for road racing. New Hampshire, a track that is a mile long flat track but races like a boring two mile oval. The Fourth of July race at Daytona, actually less exciting than the Daytona 500 because the race is held at night and the cars have more grip. TNT closes their Summer schedule with Chicago, a cookie cutter mile and a half that is on of the least exciting mile and a half courses NASCAR runs.
TNT’s ratings for 2009 dropped from 5.7 million to 5.1 million.
TNT has made changes for the 2010 NASCAR season. They have let go their lead booth play by play man in Bill Weber and brought in Adam Alexander to take over the play by play duties. Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach will remain as the color commentators. Bill Weber was unceremoniously dropped before the New Hampshire race (4th race of 6th he was scheduled) without explanation. This story on Yahoo Sports my clear up what has become of Bill Weber.
On the infield there have also been changes. Larry McReynolds remains as the technical consultant in the pits with Lindsay Czarniak taking over the Countdown to Green pre race show and performing race break updates throughout the show. Czarniak was promoted from the position of pit reporter.
A new sound will be introduced for this years TNT coverage, how does AC/DC sound?
TNT will spice up their introduction music, going with heavy metal head bangers AC/DC to get the audiences blood pumping before the race. The song they will use? TNT of course. The song is one of AC/DC’s strong head banging anthems that will serve to wake up the viewers as they nod off during those long stretched out , green flag runs.
TNT will also bring back the popular Wide Open Coverage for the Daytona night race on Fourth of July. The coverage displays up to the minute live data and is flag to flag coverage with no commercials. The coverage is a hit with fans and although I can’t see it catching on due to the advertising revenue that NASCAR produces, it could be utilized by other networks for a race such as Bristol where there is action from the drop of the green flag to the checkered flag.
TNT has found themselves in NASCAR’s doghouse a few times in recent years.
TNT has had a few snafus in recent years but what can NASCAR say to them. Who else would take this stretch of six races. On one occasion at the Chicagoland Speedway, TNT lost sound and picture for 20 minutes. They missed the invocation and the National Anthem.
On another occasion TNT was inundated with upset viewers when Larry McReynolds performed a magic trick during green flag racing. TNT’s coverage may be a little below FOX and ESPN/ABC but the fact remains, it is an amazing feat to have an audience of five million viewers averaged for these six races.