Thursday, August 28, 2014

COMMENTARY: Like It Or Not, You Get What You Pay For

I have tried to be compassionate, I really have. I have mustered up every ounce of empathy, pity and solidarity I  can possibly muster. But the next person who complains to me about being unable to watch NASCAR racing on “free TV” is going to be buried alive beneath a gigantic, heaping mound of STFU.

NASCAR announced its 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule earlier this week, and a small (but extremely vocal) minority of NASCAR fans lapsed immediately into a fit of indignant apoplexy. They’re upset that 20 of the 36 point-counting races will be broadcast on either Fox Sports 1 or NBC Sports Network next season; networks that are not available as part of most basic cable or satellite television packages.

They’re equally unhappy with the NASCAR Nationwide Series – where 25 of 32 races will air on FS1 and NBCSN next season – and the Camping World Truck Series, which will contest 22 its 23 races on FS1.

Somehow, these unhappy denizens have come to believe that they're entitled to whatever they want in life, without actually having to pay for it. That’s not the way my Old Man explained it to me half a century ago, but apparently, that’s how it’s supposed to work today.

I’d love to drive a Lamborghini, but my meager wages do not allow for such an extravagance. I drive what I can afford to drive while putting two daughters through college, and sometimes eat hamburgers when what I really want is a nice, juicy steak. That’s the way it works out here in the real world, and yet, I continue to hear from the complainers who want what they want, no matter what.

We should be able to watch NASCAR for free, without having to pay an additional cable or satellite charge,” they scream, ignoring the fact that they already can!

If the “we won’t pay” brigade had spent as much time researching this issue as they've spent complaining about it, they'd know there is a simple way to enjoy prime-time network and sports programming without paying a monthly cable or satellite bill. Most of the television sets sold today include either a built-in or external over-the-air tuner, allowing you to enjoy local news, out-of-town broadcasts and sports programming without ever paying a monthly cable or satellite bill. This “free programming” isn’t entirely free, though. You’ll need to shell out for a rooftop or attic-mounted antenna – just like grandma and grandpa used to own -- which will run you somewhere between $75 and $200.

If you’re unwilling to pay even 75 bucks for a full season of NASCAR racing, there’s probably nothing more that can be done for you. You’ll just have to curl up on your couch and read a book.

There are also those who insist that NASCAR should force the networks to carry races on so-called `free TV’.

Unfortunately, NASCAR does not have the clout to get that particular job done. Networks like ABC, NBC and FOX have no interest in filling the prime time airwaves with sporting events. While they will occasionally televise a NASCAR race, NFL football or Major League Baseball game on Sunday evening, ABC, NBC and FOX reserve the vast majority of their prime time hours for sitcoms, news magazines and reality programming. That’s where the revenue lies, and that’s why most sporting events will continue to be found on networks with the word “sports” in their names, like ESPN, Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN.

No amount of foot stomping and smoke-blowing by NASCAR (or its fans) will ever change that.

The premise that NASCAR is someone alienating its longtime fan base by broadcasting races on cable television is ludicrous, short-sighted and downright incorrect.

Many of those irate over having to pay for their NASCAR speak glowingly of the “good old days” when Bob Jenkins, Larry Nuber and Benny Parsons called the weekly NASCAR action. They conveniently forget that Bob, Larry and “Buffet Benny” worked for ESPN, the same cable network we’re so angry about paying for today. While CBS aired one or two races each season on “free TV,” NASCAR fans were more likely to see commentators Ken Squier, Mike Joy, Buddy Baker and Neil Bonnett on The Nashville Network. Like ESPN, TNN was a cable network, not readily available over-the-air.

How quickly we forget.

The bottom line, as I see it, is this.

NASCAR has the longest season in professional sports; beginning at Daytona in mid-February and concluding -- nine exhausting months later -- in mid-November at Homestead Miami Speedway. The sheer weight of that schedule precludes NASCAR from being telecast on any single network. Add in those Nationwide and Truck Series races, and it becomes even more unworkable.


Just like attending races in person, watching NASCAR on television requires a certain level of financial commitment. If you want to play, you’re going to have to pay, at least until the Bill Of Rights is amended to include the right of watch Dale, Jr. for free.

47 comments:

  1. That is the way of the world now Dave. Everyone is entitled to everything. They bought a TV therefore everything should be free.

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    1. Anonymous2:32 PM

      Well here in Canada (hard enough sell here anyway) specifically western Canada there is NO fxsp 1 or 2 or nbc's sports available. That being said I'm guessing nascar dosn't give a krraapoola about Canadian veiwers or fans (we try for 1-2 a year in person) & they will further errode the fan base here. I this year for the first time in 5 years could not enter the nascar pool I've been in for years(postal codes) & have lost Speed TV as well. The result is less interest/less time veiwing & no plans to attend any this year (going to wine country instead) As usual nascar smart move

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  2. Debbie3:15 PM

    Very well said, yet again Dave !!!

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  3. I agree Dave, I think this speaks more to the instant gratification mentality of our society as a whole. All about the money today. I have spoken out in the past about affordabilty and paying for ten channels to get one, people today generally spend more on smartphones than they do tv, networks would do well to at least offer, on their own, live streaming of shows and events for a fee, without involving the tv providers as is largely the case now. There is no money in a la carte tv simply because most of us would only have a few channels and a lot of these garbage channels would go away.

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  4. Is the issue they aren't willing to pay, or more likely unable to pay for it since Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN aren't available on every cable network? ESPN is pretty much universal (well except for the oddball ESPN3, etc.)

    I'm pretty sure the local cable doesn't have either available.

    I do wish NASCAR would do like MLB.tv and NFL Direct.

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    1. Anonymous4:39 PM

      Then switch to Dish Network. You can get the entire race schedule for about $50 per month. Add another $15 for Its very comparable to rates that a BFE cable provider is charging.

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    2. Bit difficult with a basement or north facing apartment.

      I expect in 10 years all the majors will go the way of MLB / NFL and ESPN, etc. will be the Netflix of sports picking up those leagues that cannot support a stream of their own. I will say MLB has a nicest setup that has allowed my parents to watch more games then they could with ESPN / FoxSports.

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  5. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Excellent column once again Dave!

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  6. Brandon in TN3:36 PM

    One word: entitlement. Everyone today thinks they are entitled to everything and common sense is no longer common. Sadly it's the World we live in today.

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  7. I think it's cool that someone named booger can produce such a well-thought, articulate, and reasonable response. Way to go booger. And congratulations Dave.

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  8. Spot on as always put i am gonna need my Webster's to firgure out "apolexy" lol

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  9. Dave, as you know, I got into a mild diatribe with a blogophile in one of your earlier blogs (those of you interested, see NASCAR Announces 2015 Sprint Cup Schedule) attempting to do your bidding on the current subject, but to no avail. As you state, there are those that believe they have an unalienable right to watch anything and everything on more or less free broadcast television. Unfortunately, you nor I will be able to change their minds. Keep up the good work.

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  10. Anonymous6:36 PM

    FS1 (channel 69-old Speed but with all sports now) ans NBCSN (channel 146) are part of a "sports" package Cablevision sells (NY/NJ/Connecticut) so if you get basic cable or "family" cable you're out of luck. Additionally, by taking these races off the 'antenna', you exclude many casual or possibly new fans who just may stumble across a race on a boring Sunday afternoon pre-football. What makes it even more frustrating is NBC has NO Sunday day football package, which would have been perfect for the network instead of bowling, log cutting or ice skating.

    In spite of what you think, the harder you make it to find the races, the less likely you'll garner new fans. This time it isn't NASCAR's fault for the foot injury.

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    1. Anonymous10:46 AM

      both channels you mention ARE part of Family cable in Cablevision

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  11. Anonymous7:01 PM

    "watching NASCAR on television requires a certain level of financial commitment."

    Which means the viewer is subject to above normal commercial breaks to pay for the "privilege" as you call it. Why should the fan pay Fox and NBC more via premium subscriptions that they get a larger share of? The way you casually brush off those on fixed incomes or otherwise by the assumption that paying a ton of money for a cell phone (broadcast today) should make it easy to pay for cable is flawed logic. In in this day and age if you're still paying hundreds of dollars for cell phone use, you have too much money for your own good.

    One last point, the antenna you show, doesn't work anymore.The days of mega dollar falling off the roof TV antennas are over. A digital antenna (about the size of a paperback) costs $25 and needs to 'see' out a window or be mounted on the side of the house or apartment. Something you should know in the 'digital' age.

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    1. Anonymous2:17 PM

      You should not talk down to people when you have very little idea about what you are talking about.
      A "digital" antenna is the same thing as the old rooftop or rabbit ears (with a little marketing lingo).
      It is up to your TV to receive the signals. That is why old TVs require a converter box.
      Hook up rabbit ears to your HDTV and it works just fine.
      A lot of people still need to use a rooftop if they live more than 30 miles from the towers.
      With your reasoning since my antenna can "see" out the window I should be able to receive Charlotte stations in Raleigh.

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    2. I live in the mountains of NC. I could put up a 50' tower and STILL not receive 'over the air'.

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    3. Anonymous1:34 AM

      I have more than a clue and if my reply to Moody was taking down to people, Moody must be a reacher. You're barking up the wrong tree. A digital antenna is NOT a VHF/UHF/FM/AM antenna,these antennas CANNOT process the signal. So if you think that your way works, use the Google machine and learn about digital and analog signal processing. Digital is LINE OF SIGHT not WAVEFORM as the old "OTA" was . If you had any idea how it worked you wouldn't have replied as you did.

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  12. Anonymous7:31 PM

    I definitely do not feel that I am entitled to anything. I have been able to watch ESPN on a cheaper DISH package, but I like many others are trying to cut back on extra costs. FS1 and NBCSN are on more expensive packages, and I've made the decision that I'm not going to upgrade for that additional cost. Disappointed that I won't be able to watch, yes. Overall it's not that big of a deal, I still have radio and can watch highlights online.

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  13. Anonymous1:53 AM

    I don't know what universe Mr. Moody lives, but the days of the TV stations getting paid were done by the advertisers was correct way to go. Then some genius came up with HBO with 2 channels A and B I believe in the mid-70's the idea was they would loop a couple of movies a month. People bit and the greed industry has not looked back. Well it was all downhill from there. Pay for this and that, fees for this and that. I pay a huge subscriber rate for the most basic of services. It has gotten so bad as they take away stations (gone from analog) who went to digital, you are blackmailed into buying "the box". And the rates monthly keep going up. Yup, it is the way of the world, but it sucks and reeks of greed. Why is I get ESPN but have to pay for the the other EPSN "channels", yup greed again. Nothing else remotely on the horizon to counteract this nonsense. I again keep it simple, but paying for simple is not what it used to be. And I am not old. I never missed "Speed" channel because I didn't have "the box" that supported it. I never felt with the basic cable I was missing much, but given BZF's broadcast deals, fans do miss out more and more.a fact.

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    1. Nobody is blackmailing you, Anon. Either pay your cable bill, or don't. It's voluntary.

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    2. Anonymous2:28 PM

      Wow Dave, I expected a better answer than the one you provided. Lame and same old same old. No kidding its "voluntary"Yes a lot of things in this world are "voluntary" but that isn't the point now isn't it? For example..driving a car is "voluntary", but why does one need to provide fingerprints and marriage certificates to get a license, among other things? Pricing varies greatly across the country and changes monthly, because they can always going up. You make your living on these "paid" services, but bashing the consumers with a broad brush is wrong.. I live in part of the country where the electric rate is the highest in the country. Electricity is "voluntary" too, but I am not will go back to the little house on the prairie either. As I do with my "TV" bill, it's the basic services, and electricity is kept to a low as well, but it still costs a arm and a leg.

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  14. Anonymous3:12 AM

    Totally disagree Dave and readers. Not everyone can afford to purchase a better plan. NASCAR fans comprise people from various economic backgrounds just like most sports. We can watch the NFL for free.. MLB for free..
    After spending the money on additional cable... aren't we inudated with commercials every 6 laps. Get off your soapbox Dave. NASCAR made their choice to compete with the big boys and are losing the battle and the fans at an alarming rate. Just cause they buy your burgers.. try a hot dog and be true to the fans and not NASCAR proproganda

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    1. Oh, I see. Anyone who disagrees with you is bought and paid for. Oh well, at least I'm willing to sign my name to my opinions, rather than insulting people behind the convenience of the "Anonymous" tag.

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  15. Anonymous4:13 AM

    blah, blah, blah. The best way to ruin any spectator sport is to overcharge for the product. Check out the empty seats at most every race, overpriced tickets and overpriced concessions along with overpriced lodging. NFL popularity is a prime example of a successful spectator sport. Games are broadcast on free TV. When and if they do place their product on cable only they will also go the way of Nascar. I find it humorous that after paying excessive fees to watch cable TV they then force you to watch 20 minutes of commercials per hour too. I guess watching so called free TV isn't really free as we are bombarded with product placement and endless commercials. If you want to bring Nascars audience back to the levels of popularity it had in the good old days then indeed put all the races on cable.

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  16. Anonymous7:47 AM

    There is an entire generation coming that has never, and will never pay for tv cable service. And there are millions such as myself that cut the cord and have never looked back. When will nascar wake up and offer a streaming service? You would think a company that wants to find a way to connect to a younger audience would see this coming. I gladly pay for mlb.tv and am able to watch every single game, home or away, every single night. I would gladly pay for a nascar service, but since they don't offer it, Ill continue to use other means to find it online.

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  17. Anonymous8:13 AM

    I got rid of Dish network and no longer watch NA$CAR races. I have been a fan of racing since the seventies but no longer as it's now a "show" not a race and the Chase format is a joke. By the way Fox Sports1 and NBCSN are not available over the air where I live.

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  18. Anonymous8:34 AM

    Obviously, those that call and complain on Sirius Speedway have the Nascar channel 90 on their Sirius/XM radio. This means they have access to every race and pre- and post race interviews. Invest in the portable docking unit (aka boombox) and quit your bellyaching! Ellen, JJ's girlfriend

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  19. Anonymous9:13 AM

    Wow. Holy overstated, Batman. One good freakout deserves another, Dave?
    Moody, indeed.

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  20. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Anything goes as long as it does not cut into the France's profit margin.

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  21. Anonymous9:32 AM

    Good points Dave, but you fail to address the elephant in the room that when we pay for cable or satellite and we continue to get bombarded with enormous amounts of commercials that occur in the same amounts on free TV. The consumer is getting nailed!

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    1. Oh please. Watching a commercial doesn't cost you a dime. You can even leave the room, or change the channel if you like.

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    2. Anonymous2:21 PM

      Dave, these people have a point about paying extra to get these channels and still getting bombarded with commercials.

      And be careful what you wish for Dave, people are already changing the channel. Putting these races on higher tiers that people can't afford or wish not to pay for will certainly have less people watching.

      Your article was actually thought provoking and represented your side well and I was actually starting to warm up to you as I am not really a fan of your work. But when you started bashing people in the comments section for having a different opinion than yours, your true colors came back out.

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  22. Anonymous1:31 PM

    I disagree, Dave. With OTA broadcasts, I will tolerate the commercials as they are essentially paying for my program. However, with cable/satellite, I feel I am paying for the programming, so I should get the programming I paid to watch and not be bombarded with junk (commercials) I do not want to watch. This is why I disconnected years ago and refuse to pay for programming.

    Plus, I would gladly pay for programming were it ala cart. I might even put up with some commercials as a compromise on this. I don't want or neef 200 channels of garbage to get 5 or 6 that I will actually watch. So no, I'm not a deadbeat expecting freebies, as I would be willing to pay to watch NASCAR. However, if they want my money they're going to have to give me what I want WITHOUT all the stuff I don't want. My choice, and their choice too. Hey, it's a free country, right?

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  23. Anonymous2:14 PM

    Dave you missed my point again, I am merely pointing out that things are insanely expensive, but seeing you make your living in the "Paid" realm of things, don't make it out that people are crybabies...blaming the consumer is absurd. I was merely pointing out the insanity and pricing of channels and what you can and cannot get with your money..It never used to be that way. And just because you "pay" for something doesn't mean its worth it or you should to the degree you do.

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    1. The only person to use the word "crybabies" in this conversation is you, my friend. I understand your point of view, but feel that it's a choice you make. If you choose not to pay for cable or satellite TV, that's fine. But it makes no sense to choose that path, then complain about not being able to watch.

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  24. Dave, Is that a Heathkit antennae? I won't tell you what I am going to do but I will tell you what I have done and what I want to do. I moved in 2007 over here in Mint Hill (downsizing) and we were without cable for one month...and I loved it! However, the wife didn't. I want to do it again, with permission of course. Let's face it we are junkies and like junkies we have to get away from our addiction and the only way to do that, for myself, is to go back like I was in 2007 with no cable. I won't get into the reasons why as everyone has their own. It is not just the money, there are other things. I have done it before, I know a friend who has been doing it for a few years but I just need his wife to give me a little help. So when that happens I'll make due. I didn't complain, and still don't, about the cup drivers in the Nationwide series, I just stopped watching them last year. You know what, I don't miss it. I don't miss SpeedTV and I haven't heard of any mass suicides because of its demise. Earlier this year Nascar Race Hub kept switching times and channels (FoxSp1 and FoxSp2) and even days and I was just about to get over my withdrawals when they decided to keep a consistent time and channel. They almost lost me. Eventually they will. If Nascar on Sirius/XM goes away, I think I'll pull through. I wonder what would happen if 30-50% of the cable/satellite subscribers just said no more, not for a month but for a year. I don't believe it will happen because we are junkies. Most junkies die with their habit.

    Thanks for the blog about Tony Stewart. I was in Texas on business that week and I had every channel of Sirius/XM except channel 90 in my rent-a-car. This blog was one that gave a good perspective on it. Also, thanks for mentioning the ratings for Bristol Race compare to the Skins pre-season football on Speedway. I got a good laugh out of it. With regards to the Panthers-Patriots ratings, I think most of those were Patriot fans...well maybe a third of them.

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  25. I "SEE" MORE RACING ON RADIO (MRN/PRN) THAN I DO ON TELEVISION.COMMERCIAL BREAKS ARE 60 SECONDS NATIONAL,A SHORT TURNAROUND, 60 SECONDS LOCAL THEN BACK TO THE SHOW.I USE TV WITH AUDIO POTTED DOWN TO SEE THE THE ACTUAL VISUALS AS PROMPTED BY RADIO.

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  26. Dwayne in Memphis10:53 PM

    Remember back when Daytona on CBS was a big deal? Ahhh yes, the good old days of racing on the The Nashville Network and Bob's Bargain Cable Channel... Negotiated by each track and switching every week. Now it's 2014, people are wondering where their next meal will come from, companies and race teams are closing shop, and yet so manypeople so bent out of shape over FS1.

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  27. Hey, Fatso - and I can call you that, cuz I'm fat, too. I have been a nascar fan since they used to show excerpts of races on ABC's Wide World of Sports in the '70s. I have never been to a REAL nascar race, but I'll tell you one thing. The greedy france family can go f*** themselves if they think I will EVER pay for cable to watch their 15 minutes of racing and 45 minutes of commercials packed into one hour of programming - NOT to mention the "commentators" being forced to mention "goodyear tires" and "sunoco racing fuel" every time there's a pit stop. The GREED of these leeches makes me SICK. So, go on with your bad self, fat boy - I'm sure the france family pays you quite well to peddle your BS.

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    1. Jeez, for a guy that doesn't watch NASCAR on TV and has never been to a race, you sure seem to know a lot about those TV broadcasts! Perhaps you're just another anonymous loudmouth with more balls than brains? Either way, we're happy to have you here. Thanks for supporting the sport and GodfatherMotorsports.com!

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  28. Nascar coming out with there own streaming service would bring in extra money...Who said NASCAR needs to air living racing on the service...

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  29. Anonymous1:28 PM

    I've watched NASCAR since I was a youngin' in the 70's, and with my daughters starting in the 90s. The fact that NASCAR expects me to increase my monthly budget to watch their product has pushed me away this year. My now grown daughters and I started thinking about when and where we'd watch the races together as we have for 20 years, and realized none of us want (or need) to spend the money on an additional channel package to watch half of the season. We also ended up deciding Sundays this spring and summer are wide open for planning!

    I'm not looking for sympathy, just making a comment on the real costs that comes with this decision by NASCAR. No Pocono, Dover, or Richmond for us this year, we're looking at spending that money on the local minor league baseball team instead. So one long time fan and two from the next generation are taking the season off to see if it even matters anymore. It'll be interesting...we didn't watch either race this year and found it's easier than we thought to not bother. Thanks might be in order to NASCAR for freeing up our Sunday afternoons for other activities

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  30. Pat H1:42 PM

    "You get what you pay for" is indeed the rally cry for those who's pockets are lined and money is no object.
    The honest truth is, if you don't like the way that NASCAR does business, don't pay for cable, don't watch it on (free) broadcast TV, and don't support it by not spending your money with the sponsors of the broadcasts and not buying the overpriced NASCAR junk they sell. Instead, support local, live racing...or like someone else said, free up your time for other activities.
    Cable companies and large scale sporting conglomerates are both in the business of making obscene amounts of money...that's what they do.
    But, if you really want this programming on broadcast (free) TV...don't stop talking about it... talk about it to the FCC, talk about it to your representatives, your local TV stations, and anyone else that will listen. Just because a blogger tells you that you to shouldn't, doesn't mean he is right.

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  31. The point is still valid, if enough of us say screw it and dont pay, eventually the networks and providers will be forced to rethink their business model.

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  32. The problem I have with FS1 and NBCSN is that they were added after I agreed to pay for satellite t.v. so I could watch the races I was missing because they were on ESPN or TNT. I accepted the fact that I had to pay to see the races this way. What pissed me off is that now I can't see them unless I dig deeper. Regardless of how much more it costs, I feel cheated and have to wonder, how long will it be before I have to dig deeper again. I don't care if it is .01 cent a year added cost, it's still wrong!

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  33. Most of the television sets sold today include either a built-in or external over-the-air tuner, outdoor hdtv antennas

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