Starting this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ESPN will resume broadcasting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
And as they did last year for the first time, ESPN will incorporate what they refer to as "NASCAR NonStop" into its coverage. This feature allows fans to watch the action unfold at the same time commercials are airing on the left side of the screen.
However, as was the case a year ago, viewers will continue to get side-by-side coverage only during the Chase and then, only in the second half of those races. In the first seven races they broadcast, along with the first half of the Chase races, ESPN will continue to utilize a traditional commercial break format.
"We need to offer variety for our sponsors," said Rich Feinberg, ESPN Vice President, Motorsports Production, during a media teleconference held Tuesday. "While we have been very successful at getting a lot of support in the Madison Avenue advertising community, not everybody is on board. So, by offering the package the way we do pre-Chase and during the Chase, and then during the Chase the first half and second half, we're able to work with all our sponsors and make sure we're delivering what they're looking for.
"Hopefully, some day we can expand the breadth of NASCAR NonStop. But right now, after doing it for the first year ever last year, we're tracking in the same direction and we continue to get a lot of positive feedback - both from the advertising community, as well as our fans."
Another new element ESPN will incorporate during its slate of 17 Cup races is an "Ultra Slo Mo" camera. According to Feinberg, this handheld camera will better allow the broadcast team to analyze pit stops.
"We've seen a lot of ultra-mo's find their way into the sports broadcasting landscape in many, many forms," Feinberg said. "I believe this is the first time an RF hand-held ultra-mo will be placed in pit road in NASCAR.
"Our goal is to offer unique looks, whether it's for our audience or for Andy (Petree) and D.J. (Dale Jarrett) to breakdown what they see. So many times we say ‘Races are won or lost in the pits,' and if we can take certain moments in time of what happens on pit road and really break them down and analyze them for viewers... Hopefully this is an enhancement that our fans will like."
Once again, for the duration of ESPN's coverage, Allen Bestwick will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined in the broadcast booth by 1999 Cup champion Dale Jarrett and former championship-winning crew chief, Andy Petree.