TNT is trying out a new idea for this weekends Pepsi 400 called "Wide Open" coverage. This will give race fans more racing and fewer commercial breaks.
What Is "Wide Open" Coverage?
First this is not the standard split screen coverage like ABC has been tinkering with during IndyCar races this season. In traditional split screen the race runs silently on half of the screen while a regular TV commercial runs in the other half.
"Wide Open" coverage still reduces the size of the racing feed in order to make room for additional content. The difference is that the ads themselves are not traditional commercials. Instead these commercials are more relevant and are integrated into the racing experience.
TNT hasn't explained exactly what they have in mind for Saturday night's primetime Pepsi 400 in Daytona. They have only hinted as to just what this will look like to race fans.
You might imagine TNT showing Denny Hamlin's FedEx car while the announcers talk about how fast and reliably FedEx can deliver your packages. Ideas like this are a win-win. Sponsors are getting their message across without getting fast-forwarded or skipped by channel surfers and race fans get to see more of the racing action.
Still Not Perfect
It is important to note that "Wide Open" coverage only applies to their national sponsors. The local commercial breaks will still be full-screen. Still, while this is not perfect it will be a big step up from what race fans have suffered through lately.
Fan Response Will Be Important
If you like what you see on Saturday night let TNT know! Ask Fox why they don't do it and ask ABC/ESPN if they will be doing it for their upcoming races. If Wide Open coverage is successful this will put pressure on other networks to follow suit. Fan response is an important part of how they will measure success.
Congratulations to TNT for trying something new to address race fans' biggest concern about televised NASCAR racing.