Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NASCAR, DirecTV take race-viewing to another level

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Dec 20, 2006 3:00 AM (8 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 5 of 12,733 articles

BALTIMORE - NASCAR and DirecTV are about to blow your mind with a very cool new offering that launches in 2007.

While the NFL remains DirecTV’s biggest investment, this new NASCAR deal is the satellite provider’s biggest production commitment ever. They are building a state-of-the-art HD production truck and putting together announcing, production and engineering teams to cover every aspect of races from the race team’s perspective.

The new package, which is called “Hot Pass,” is the brainchild of FOX Sports president David Hill, in cooperation with DirecTV.

I spoke to Eric Shanks, the VP of advanced products and new media for DirecTV, and he explained how “Hot Pass” works, starting with the Daytona 500.

“We have been working with NASCAR for a couple of years now,” he said, “and we have noticed that while there is a race going on, there are fans who really follow a driver, or a car or maybe a team and they do it all race long. So, there are as many as 40 races within the race that fans are following.”

Shanks’ goal is “to offer the race fan the chance to watch the race in one screen and follow up to five drivers.” To do this, they will use five dedicated driver channels — each having their own broadcast team dedicated to one NASCAR driver throughout the race and multiple screens on each driver channel. The screens will be devoted to the following:

» Live national broadcast of the race.

» Driver point-of-view camera looking out the front windshield, with select telemetry readings.

» Additional camera angles, including an overhead cam, pit box cam and corner cams.

» Live audio of the two-way communications between the driver, crew chief and spotter.

» Dedicated announcers for each driver channel and real-time stats.

More NASCAR advances in 2007...

SIRIUS will replace XM as the new radio home of NASCAR in 2007. Race fans will have the opportunity not only to hear all the races, but SIRIUS also will take fans into the cars and pits by devoting up to 10 additional “Team Talk” channels that will carry the driver-to-crew communications of up to 10 different race teams during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.

SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will debut on channel 128 in January. The channel will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week of NASCAR talk. The entire NASCAR, Busch and Truck series will air on SIRIUS.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at


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