NBC has a rich history of broadcasting premier sporting events.
Beginning in the late 1930’s they’ve provided coverage – at one time or another – for every major stick and ball sport, as well as the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
It’s safe to say that if you’re an avid sports fan, the colorful Peacock in the upper right-hand corner of your screen gives you a sense of comfort.
In 1999, they began their foray into NASCAR.
Along with FOX, FX and TNT, they obtained the broadcast rights to the two top National Touring Series in a six-year deal. NBC televised the second half of the season and alternated coverage of the Daytona 500 with FOX. In December 2005, NBC announced that it would not renew its agreement with NASCAR.
Grab that remote and fast-forward.
The network made its return to NASCAR at Daytona’s Coke Zero 400 this July with the promise of bringing fans a new experience – something they’ve been craving for the past several years.
They’ve kept their promise and, in my opinion, have over-delivered.
The key ingredient in their secret sauce: Relevance.
While Burton competed in only four races during 2014 – two for Michael Waltrip Racing and twice for Stewart-Haas – the proclaimed “Mayor” of NASCAR is current. He’s raced successfully against today’s crop of veterans and rising stars.
Burton brings the viewers inside the cockpit and offers them a real perspective of what it’s like behind the wheel. The explanations of a driver changing his line or the components of a good restart are a bonus to the broadcast. His delivery is refreshing.
Steve Letarte is Superman.
He left a championship-caliber pit box, discarded his uniform, put on a suit and flew into the booth like a seasoned broadcaster. His strengths come from applicable experience, being a savvy strategist and paying attention to detail.
During last month’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 fell off the jack causing damage that flared-out the side skirt. Letarte caught it and the camera zoomed-in to show it. He explained that while it was accidental – it’s illegal to purposely alter the body – and slowed the pit stop, it would not serve as an aerodynamic advantage. Kenseth, who had scored the pole and led the most laps that day, went on to win the race. That’s just one example but, moreover, proof that relevance matters.
With precise play-by-play from @RickAllenracing, the polished reporting on pit road and engaging pre and post-race shows, NBC is building a new model for the way NASCAR broadcasting should be. They also understand that they have a responsibility to entertain – but it isn’t necessary to do so by telling old tales and performing slapstick comedy.
They’ve done an exceptional job at crafting a broadcast team of legitimate players. They have also made clear that the show isn’t about who’s sitting in a booth high above the grandstands. It’s about those on the ground – the real stars of the sport.
The newcomer, regardless of the realm, is always faced with high expectations and the pressures to perform – it’s an inherent element. There are always bigger shoes to fill.
And now, NBC is wearing them.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, it’s owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.
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