NASCAR Needs to Fix TNT Coverage

by Ryan Isley

After watching the first part of the NASCAR season on Fox, I could not wait for the coverage to switch to someone else. I guess I should have been careful what I asked for because no matter how bad Fox might have been, they are leaps and bounds ahead of the garbage that TNT has called coverage for the past two weeks.

When TNT took over at the Party in the Poconos on June 9th, the first thing that everyone noticed was the new ad banner that was running across the top of the screen. Add that banner to the running scroll of the race order, and it took up a good portion of the screen. This cut down considerably on the amount of racing viewers could actually see because there were plenty of times that only one car was visible on the screen. And just like at the Poconos, TNT used the ad header on the top of the screen for the race at Michigan this past weekend as well {thanks to Lori Gurka (@followthatband) for confirming this}.

As if that wasn’t annoying enough, TNT has a bad habit of going to commercial just as anything is about to happen. Of course this only happens because TNT is ALWAYS going to commercial. In the race at the Poconos, TNT was at commercial when the first caution of the race came out. Instead of coming back immediately, they waited until the commercial block was finished, came back and said they were at caution and then went to commercial again. No explanation of what the caution was for or when it happened. Just a simple statement that there was a caution.

Just to add to the terrible coverage, TNT also didn’t let people know via Twitter what the caution was about. Their tweet:

Fox Tweet

Then at Michigan this past weekend, more people saw just how bad the coverage on TNT had become. I was not able to watch the race, so I kept up with it on Twitter which is where I saw the tweets from Jeff Gluck of USA Today. Gluck covers NASCAR but was trying to watch the race on television. He finally saw just what the tweets sent his way the week before by fans were all about.

Jeff Gluck Tweets

I understand that NASCAR coverage for a live event is a different animal than MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL games and that the station must sometimes go to a commercial break while there is action still ongoing. But why are Fox and ESPN able to do it while TNT has yet to grasp how to go about it? And why are CBS and NBC able to figure out their commercial breaks during PGA Tour events without missing much of the action?

If TNT needs to continuously go to commercials after a few laps, they need to implement the side-by-side coverage that other channels have been able to use. ABC/ESPN used this for the Indianapolis 500 a few weeks ago and it works great for fans and sponsors. The commercials get shown, but so does the racing. And if something happens, the station can go full screen with the race until things are cleared up before going back to commercials. Of course, you wouldn’t need the side-by-side for every commercial break – you would just need it for the breaks while the race is under a green flag. If the race is under caution, the station can go full screen with commercials.

Someone at NASCAR needs to be made aware of how fed up the fans are with this abysmal coverage provided by TNT. There have been some fans threatening to not watch another race on TNT and while those may just be empty threats, anything that might take away viewership needs to be addressed with haste.

If NASCAR really wants to show their fans that they care about them, now would be a good time to step up and do so.

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