NASCAR’s Drop in Attendance and TV Viewership

NASCAR doesn’t seem like it would be a very popular sport to many people, but it is. The NFL and MLB have not been lacking in viewership and attendance but recently NASCAR has seen a drop in viewership and attendance. Why is this? What is the cause for people not wanting to see the second most popular sport in America? Is NASCAR really losing fans or are the fans just not caring as much?

I think NASCAR TV viewership has decreased for two main reasons. The first reason is due to the fact that more popular drivers are not racing as well as they did in the past. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon are some of the drivers I grew up watching and who always seemed to win. Although these drivers are still winning, they are not exactly at the top of the list as they were in the past. Drivers such as Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick are beginning to climb the ladder. This change has actually caused me to stop watching the races. The second reason, which I believe is the more important, is due to the economy. The economy is down, people are losing jobs, people are trying to find jobs, and no one wants to spend a lot of money. One would think people would sit down and watch TV since they are not working, but it seems like they are doing the opposite. Even though people may not have a heavy budget, they seem to spend time doing things they didn’t have the time to do when they were working. Instead of watching TV, like a NASCAR race, people are out cleaning up the yard or straightening out the garage. They still may be huge fans, but the significance of watching the race has been overturned by something of greater importance. BW

Is the thrill of NASCAR gone?

After attending my first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, I made an observation about the empty seats at the track. Other sports organizations such as NFL and MLB have been seeing an increase in viewership and attendance. So, why is there a decline in attendance at the race tracks and viewership on TV? I speculate that the recent economical crisis has had a significant impact. In this financial environment, people have been lucky to keep their roof over their heads since money is tight. One thing is for certain: it becomes clear that what one wants and what one can do financially may not be the same. I also speculate that the interest of NASCAR is declining due to the lack of rivalries among the NASCAR drivers and the lack of rear car bumping leading to spinouts and accidents, which really draws attention and gets the adrenaline flowing. How many times this season have you notice feuding among drivers? I’m pretty sure you can count them on one hand.

Another thing that is rarely seen in recent competition is the bickering among drivers and the pushing and shoving while on the track. Maybe having good sportsmanship or not wanting to cause conflict has taken all the action away. Another speculation of why the interest of NASCAR has declined is the fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the “Race for the Chase Sprint Cup Series” for the last four consecutive years. The fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the Chase have some wondering if the Chase is rigged, if he has an advantage over everyone else, or if he’s just that good. People are tired of the same old same old results occurring; they want change, but not too much change. Finally, the alternative ways of tuning into NASCAR is another speculation as to why popularity is declining. NASCAR no longer has to be watched on TV; it can be watched online through computers or other electronic devices, listened to on the satellite radio, recorded on DVR or TIVO, or watched by catching the recap of ESPN Sport Center when it airs. It can be speculated that all of these factors are impacting the declining interest of NASCAR. So, what can be done to get the adrenaline running again in NASCAR? CB

Impact of TV Viewership

The impact of declining TV viewers in NASCAR is being brought to the forefront. The biggest issue is that young males ages 18-34 are losing interest in the sport of racing. Fox has reported that of the 13 races it covers television attendance is down .3 million from 2009. This drop can be argued that the decline is in response to rain delays, competition with other sports and shows, or the economy, but I think we can all agree that these things will happen every year; it is inevitable. You might ask, what does this mean for NASCAR? Decrease in sponsorships, advertising, and revenue all have an effect on NASCAR, the tracks, and potential clients of NASCAR.
Attendance at the tracks has also been on the decline; tracks that had been previously been sold out for years to come are now seeing empty seats in the stands. According to the International Speedway Corporation, admission revenues for the season are at an all time low. This race attendance also affects television, because viewers and sponsors do not want to watch an evening with empty seats–they might ask themselves what is happening to NASCAR. In order to build a brighter future for NASCAR, we need to educate our youth and find ways to bring them to the sport. CH

BARGAINING POWER OF NASCAR ON THE WANE?

Considering declining TV ratings and attendance at most all of the tracks, both of these issues have significant impacts to the business aspect of NASCAR. One impact is that the teams may lose sponsorship value and another is the ability for NASCAR to be able to negotiate better rights deals in the future. The ratings for Sprint Cup races are down 10% and viewership overall is down 8%, which is estimated to be a loss of 500,000 people per race.

Track attendance dropped 10-15 percent last year, which has resulted in a revenue loss of 17.2 percent at ISC tracks alone. Scenedaily.com stated “Consider this: International Speedway Corp., which plays host to 19 of the 36 Cup points races, took in $195.5 million from ticket sales last year. It took in $192.1 million from NASCAR television rights – revenue for which it doesn’t need any advertising or marketing campaigns.” Nevertheless, sponsors don’t like to see empty seats, because in their perception, they may believe that the interest in the sport of NASCAR is vanishing. HB

CHANGES FOR THE 2011 NASCAR AND F1 SCHEDULES–The Impact?

On August 18 Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, announced the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Series schedules. Among the most notable changes are the addition, or “realignment” as Mr. France calls it, of two race events. The first change will be seen at Kansas Speedway on June 5, which will be the second Sprint Cup race of the year at Kansas Speedway. And the other “realignment” of the 2011 schedule will be a new Sprint Cup date at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. This is the first time since 2001 that NASCAR has added a new track to the schedule, those being Chicagoland and the previously mentioned Kansas Speedway.

Under these changes NASCAR seems to want to open its doors to new venues, being the bluegrass state, but also it seems that they are making sure they can fill the seats of these venues. Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway are both 1½ mile tracks, but both have less seating capacity than Richmond International Raceway (RIR), a ¾ mile track. RIR seats roughly 112,000, while Kansas Speedway can fit just over 82,000 and Kentucky Speedway can only seat 66,000. My belief is that NASCAR and the track owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., respectively, want to be sure they can retain the value of their ticket prices.

In other motor sports news the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula One World Championship (F1) have announced the plans to open an FIA sanctioned event in Austin, Texas. The track is scheduled to open for the 2012 season and will be the first time in over five years that F1 will have an event in the United States. The Austin F1 Circuit will be 3.39 miles in length, feature 20 turns, elevation changes of over 130 feet and top speeds reaching 200 mph in a “proper” F1 car. Renowned F1 circuit architect Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Bahrain International Circuit and Yas Marina Circuit, which start and end the F1 season respectively, has designed the track. Included in the final design is seating for 100,000 plus fans, and considering it will be five years since the last F1 race was on United States soil I can only imagine that ever seat will be occupied for the entire race weekend. According to the F1 Times, the circuit and its organizers, Full Throttle Productions, are hoping to make $300 million dollars annually for Elroy, Texas and Austin.

The questions I pose to readers are:

How will the “realignment” of the 2011 NASCAR season schedule affect viewership and attendance numbers?

Will the addition of an FIA sanctioned event in the United States affect the 2012 NASCAR season?

JA

Should NASCAR Change the “Chase”?

Many NASCAR fans are unhappy with the current format of the Chase for a variety of reasons. Some say it favors one driver in particular, Jimmie Johnson, while others argue that there needs to be a road course included in the Chase. Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that there is a large percentage of NASCAR fans who are disgruntled by the way NASCAR crowns its champion, and it is becoming apparent in both the television ratings and race attendance.

It can’t hurt for NASCAR to listen to the outcries of its core fans. There are a number of remedies suggested to curb the angst fans feel toward the Chase, such as adding more drivers, diversifying the final ten races to include a road course, or changing the points system. Since the inception of the current Chase format in 2005, both television ratings and race attendance have plummeted. One has to ask, “Can NASCAR afford not to listen to its fans for much longer?”

And that’s the view from here.

LC

WHY HAS TV VIEWERSHIP DECLINED LATELY?

NASCAR is one of the most famous sports besides the NFL that people like to watch on television whenever they have spare time. Surprisingly, the number of people who watch car racing on television has decreased in the past few years. If the viewership keeps decreasing, car racing may soon cease to be one of the most popular sports.

We are said to be the generation of technology. Younger people can watch sports on their Mac book or little net book while they do other things such as write an essay, play games, or search the web at the same time. There are also too many unnecessary commercials during the race telecast, and this advertising could make some viewers lose interest and change to another channel very quickly. Sometimes the quality of the racing on television is not exciting enough to keep the fans tuned in.

Overall, most people just want to save money since the economy is currently in a slow state; and attending an actual NASCAR race could cost at least $45. If the cost of the tickets is too high, it will be hard for the fans to go to the race track. However, what is the point of wasting time to watch a race on television if you could go to the actual race? Unless ticket costs become more affordable, fans won’t show up for the races and may be turned off to watching on television.

And that’s the view from here.

PL

NASCAR, WWE, Attendance and TV

NASCAR is said to be one of the most viewed professional sports on television. The only sport that beats it is the NFL. NASCAR is broadcast to over 150 countries around the world. It is a multimillion dollar business with millions of fans attending and watching around the world. If all this holds true, then why is NASCAR facing struggles with attendance at events and a drop in TV?
The cause of this drop-off in viewership and attendance is unknown to many. It can be a variety of things. The sport’s best drivers are not competing at the same level and some may think they’re running low on the tank. The new drivers that NASCAR brings in, or will bring in, may not have the same racing vibe as the previous drivers. I can somewhat compare this situation with WWE Wrestling.

At first it grew at a ridiculous rate because it was fairly new and everyone wanted to watch their favorite old school wrestlers duke it out. After a couple years, the attitude of the show, the story lines and the wrestlers themselves were getting old. With new wrestlers coming into the business, fans of the old generation were left hanging and not attracted to something they watched growing up and loved. It just wasn’t the same anymore.

I believe that NASCAR is somewhat going the same way. I may be wrong or I may be right. It is just an idea to provide. Something new may have to be provided in order to remain the big business that NASCAR is. I think something needs to happen to spice things up a bit to give it an edge of entertainment and drama. As some may say, Danica Patrick may be coming to NASCAR. That can tip NASCAR fans good or bad; it all depends on how the fans take it. We may just have to see what the business of NASCAR can provide to its loyal viewers and see if a renewed interest in the sport can begin again.

And that’s the view from here.

AM

IS IT DALE JR.’S FAULT – OR DIGGER’S?

A serious issue in NASCAR is the decline of ticket sales and television viewership. Everyone has their own theory, from the new cars to the economy to Digger. Digger, an animated gopher that pops up on Fox broadcasts, has taken the most flak. Digger only shows up on the turn camera; it pops up and screams when cars go by so it is not featured that often in a race. Still, many people despise it. In fact, in a USA Today article, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill stated that a NASCAR executive sent him an e-mail blaming Digger for the drop in viewers, that every time he shows up, people turn off their television sets. Hill had another reason, stating that “if Dale won, more people would watch”. This statement actually makes a lot of sense.

People go to sporting events to cheer for their driver/team/ horse/player, etc. When their favorite starts doing badly, they gradually start to lose interest. Although there are always die-hard fans (such as Detroit Lions fans), there are those who will just stop watching, period. Dale Jr. has not won a race all season, and in the last race at New Hampshire on Sunday, he was doing very well and was looking at a top three finish when he hit the wall. The lackluster performance he’s had the previous season, while not that bad as he did make the Chase, has really hurt his fan base. People are not going to show up if they know Jr. is going to place 12th and Kyle Busch is going to get another win. They go to see Jr. win and do well, much like how they go to see Tony Stewart be a jerk and Jeff Gordon (hopefully) hit the wall.

How can NASCAR get these viewers back? Really, there is not that much they can do unless Jr. (or whoever the driver is) starts winning or at least starts doing better. I, however, would like to think if they made Ward Burton a commentator, then ratings would skyrocket, but that’s just me.

And that’s the view from here.
AS