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Reviewing NBC’s First NASCAR Broadcast of 2023

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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This weekend, NASCAR moved from FOX to NBC for the second half of the season. Fans were excited for what NBC had in store for this weekend’s race at Nashville. So, what is the good, the not so good, and the ehh that can be taken from NASCAR on NBC this weekend based?

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The Good

Generally speaking, NASCAR on NBC received positive reviews on social media. One of the most vocal of which was RealRadman, who spent pretty much the entirety of his race review talking about how much he loved the NASCAR on NBC broadcast. Aside from what RealRadman had to say, what are some of the things that NASCAR on NBC did well?

The Usage of Multiple Viewing Boxes

One of the things that NBC was well was the usage of multi-screen viewing windows during the race. Eric Estepp pointed this out while he was in the media center. It allowed fans to watch three different battles on the race track at the same time.

Of course, the battle for the lead is on this screenshot, but there were a few instances during the race where two or three boxes were used to showcase battles throughout the field. When the leader was pulling away at some point during the race, the focus became battles further into the pack to keep the race engaging. It showcased how Nashville was a good front-to-back race rather than just focusing on how competitive it is up front.

The New Grid Walk

Another interesting thing that NBC debuted for the Xfinity Series race was a new style of grid walk. As opposed to a Michael Waltrip or Martin Brundle style pre-race grid walk, NBC elected to do a grid walk with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Burton walking down the grid just after the engines fired. Fans loved it as soon as it came on the TV.

Now, there were things NBC did with Earnhardt Jr. and Burton related to this that were not as well received later in the broadcast, but I will get to that later. This grid walk specifically was well-received, and it was good experimentation. It’s different type of grid walk that is not used on normal motorsports broadcasts.

Less Commercials

Now, fans were unhappy with FOX’s usage of commercials during their portion of the schedule. How did NBC’s usage of commercials compare to FOX? Jayski kept track of commercial breaks for both FOX’s most recent race, Sonoma, and the Ally 400 at Nashville.

According to Jayski.com, 34 out of 186 minutes of race broadcast were run with full-screen commercials, which works out to 18.3% of the race. Fox, on the other hand, had 43 minutes of full-screen commercials in a 178 minute race broadcast according to Jayski. That means that the last race on the big FOX network had commercials for 24.2% of the race.

NBC had significantly less commercials than FOX did, and there is data to back it up. This is a difference for NBC, and it may be interesting to see if FOX changes how they approach advertising on their broadcasts because of this.

The Not So Good

Fans liked NASCAR on NBC’s coverage this weekend, that is pretty hard to dispute. However, it was far from perfect, and there were things that people did not like about the broadcast this weekend. What are some of the things that NBC did that were not as popular this weekend?

Dale Jr. and Jeff Burton Out of the Booth in the Early Laps

While fans liked the new style of grid walk featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton, they were less than enthusiastic about them being on pit road for the early laps of the race before moving up to the booth. While Burton and Earnhardt Jr. were trying to commentate on pit road, people complained that they were hard to hear. Dale Earnhardt Jr. explained why the noise was of the cars so deafening.

Some fans liked this, but many did not. However, many were not especially hostile, as many fans liked that NBC tried something different.

However, having them out of the booth and off of the broadcast for a little bit did feel a bit weird to me personally. This definitely is a concept that can work with a little bit of tinkering. Maybe using Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett for the grid walk instead of Earnhardt Jr. and Burton, or just tinkering with the two’s mics a bit can solve the problem.

Post-Race Interview NOT in Victory Lane

This is not only an NBC problem, as FOX does this too, but fans are not happy with the post-race on-track interviews. Even IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin chimed in to the conversation on social media. He took a look at both sides, but said that he preferred victory lane interviews.

Nate Ryan of NBC actually went into detail as to why NASCAR does not do victory lane interviews anymore. Primarily because of all of the product placement that had to be put into place for the victory lane interviews.

This did not deter fans on social media from expressing their displeasure about the concept.

I mean, as much as some fans do not like it, I am not so sure that this will change anytime soon. FOX does it too, and it seems that it’s not going to stop.

The Ehh

There were a couple of things on the broadcast that fans were either apathetic towards, or did not particularly like.

The Abbreviated Pre-Race

The lack of pre-race was a disappointment to many, but that was in no way the fault of NBC. This was because the race was moved up by 17 minutes to 7:05 ET due to the threat of rain. This cut out pretty much all of NBC’s pre-race coverage.

Fans were understandably upset about this. However, this is seemingly not going to be a normal thing, so there is no real reason to criticize this too harshly.

Parker Kligerman in Chicago

NBC spent a lot of time during the broadcast promoting the Chicago Street Race for this coming weekend. Parker Kligerman actually had a few live shots on site at the Chicago Street track.

No one was really up in arms about this on social media, but no one was exactly praising this either. It was just promotional content, and, it was during a caution flag. This meant that no one was missing any racing action because of this.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s just there, and it does help promote NASCAR in Chicago. Not a bad thing by any means, but not exactly ultra-creative either.

Conclusion

NBC did a great job this weekend. The race coverage was great with little interruption, and there were no ultra-glaring mistakes. Sure there are some things to clean up, but fans are excited for NASCAR to be back on NBC.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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