Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NASCAR Split-Screen commercial break format: First TNT at Daytona, FOX at Dover and now ESPN goes Non-stop for all 2011 Chase races – That’s a good start.

Every since ESPN started going “side-by-side” for the commercial break format in the IRL IZOD IndyCar Series races years ago, NASCAR fans have been repeatedly asking and wanting NASCAR to put the same format in, in all NASCAR broadcasts for at least the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

A few years ago, TNT introduced there “wide-open” coverage at the July Daytona Cup Series “Firecracker 400” race and it was meant with mixed results. The coverage was interesting and while it wasn’t ESPN’s side-by-side break format, TNT still gave fans the race feed including ticker on the bottom for fans to follow several times during the race. The format also included the wide-screen effect.

Personally I found the new format to be a step in the right direction, and at least TNT made that available to viewers, unlike everyone else who just stayed with the traditional commercial break format.

Fast forward to last weekend at Dover (5/15/2011), FOX was televising the FedEx 400 for the Cup Series race and for the final commercial break, FOX did a preview of there own “side-by-side” commercial break format.

A lot of NASCAR fans who watched the race on television and also followed the race on Twitter where asked on @NASCARONFOX, “Your favorite moment of the FedEX 400 @MonsterMile was _____?#NASCAR #DOVER

Most fans responded back by saying it was the split screen.

I have to agree, my favorite moment of the FedEx 400 at Dover was FOX’s Split Screen. I believe that it gives fans hope and a preview of what should come in the near future to all Cup Series race televised on FOX.

I mean that was actually a surprise to me as well and something that I liked. I really didn’t think that FOX would ever bring that side-by-side commercial break format considering NASCAR simply didn’t want it. But now even NASCAR is saying they support it. Well even grumpy old men come around, just takes time.
But the big news today comes from ESPN, ESPN announced that they are “Going “NonStop” With NASCAR Commercial Format.” All Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup Races to Feature Second Half Split-Screen Breaks.

That second piece of headline is the key, all 10 chase races that will be broadcasted on ESPN (and one on ABC) starting Sunday September 18, 2011 at 2 P.M. ET. 

When going to break during NASCAR NonStop, ESPN will utilize a screen wipe tied to an advertiser, with that advertiser occupying the wipe for the rest of the race. NASCAR NonStop will take effect at or near the halfway point of the race, with the first half of the race presented in the traditional commercial break format. – From ESPN press release (video here)
Personally from this NASCAR fans point of view, I like the fact that finally NASCAR, FOX, TNT, and now ESPN are listening to fans and seeing just what the “nonstop” coverage or “side-by-side” commercial break format could do for them including there ratings. I can tell you that I do watch the IndyCar Series on TV and the side-by-side coverage is a welcome treat.

And if you think about it, this is a win-win for fans and advertisers. When a commercial break comes on, I either change the channel, take a walk around the house, go to the fridge or just get up and NOT watch the commercials. Now advertisers actually could have fans stay in front of the TV and see the companies that sponsor and support the race.

Now only time will tell what this new ESPN commercial break format will do for fans/viewers and will TNT and FOX follow ESPN? Good job ESPN, now you need to work on your internet streaming of NASCAR races for fans that don’t have cable television. This could be good for internet viewers too.

Full Disclosure: This article was originally published on Brian Vermette's former blog called BVinsight, however once RaceDriven.com was re-launched and rebrand, BVinsight was renamed BVDaily with 33 of 44 articles being published here on RaceDriven due to subject.