The Fox Hole

After negotiations ended this past Monday between NASCAR and FOX TV, the television station may consider ducking for cover as fans are left hanging with many questions. When Fox TV signed contracts on Monday giving it the right to air the Sprint Cup Races through year 2022, it failed to give fans and consumers the lowdown on how it will go about televising the races starting in 2013, with the first races during Speed Weeks at Daytona. Their new network, Fox Sports One, will be the rebranded name of the SPEED network, but will it provide the same satisfaction for fans?

In relation to the benefits for the motor sports industry, this deal with FOX TV will boost NASCAR’s income, as well as the income for tracks and teams. This income, in turn, will help maintain lower ticket prices for fans and increase race winnings for teams, which possibly reduces the level of corporate sponsorship. However, this scenario may be at cost to the fans watching at home. Not only will Fox have rights to air the first 13 Sprint Cup races and the entire Camping World Truck Series, but it also gets the digital rights for online streaming yet it is unclear whether fans will have to pay for online access. With FOX also announcing that the new deal will take some of Sprint Cup races off network television, internet access for fans will be even more crucial than before.

The next big issue for fans is the question of how FOX will go about televising the practices and qualifiers. With no official word on the status of televising these events, it leaves fans with the possibility of not being able to watch at all. Even though Fox could air those events on its subordinate stations like Fuel TV or FX, the fans at home will not be pleased having to watch multiple channels to get their fix, especially when they could previously watch everything on the SPEED network.

The biggest issue comes from the clash between what commercial sponsors want and what the fans want. Considering that Fox TV is such a highly rated network, commercial sponsors will be fighting to place their ads during as many NASCAR events as possible. Unfortunately for fans, this means more interruptions that could prevent viewers from seeing their favorite racer cross the finish line or catching the wreck they’ve been waiting for the whole race to see. With the amount of money spent on ads by sponsors, the proposal for a split screen for commercials will not go over lightly. In the end, Fox has a lot of people to please, and it’s a sure thing that not everyone will walk away happy. JH

Is it fair for drivers to pay back one another in races?

The Kyle Busch and David Reutimann incident at Kansas City was interesting. Should Reutimann be fined for costing Busch points? Should Busch have been punished for wrecking him earlier? They have been dealing with questions like these since 2004. Is it ok to pay back a driver who is racing for a championship? I don’t think you should get special privileges since you are racing for a championship. If a driver intentionally wrecks someone to get ahead and the second party has the potential to pay back, I think it’s fine. I agree with Reutimann that you should have respect for all drivers and you shouldn’t run over the top of them because of who you are. I believe it was rude of Busch to do what he did and then when Reutimann retaliated it was a problem. I always believe in the saying “Do unto others as you want them do unto you.”

David Reutimann’s sportsmanship record is flawless. So I don’t believe he really meant to do all that he did. I think he just wanted to tap him a little and not cause all the controversy. But he said something had to be done. He had come to a point where he couldn’t take any more. I agree but I think it’s unfortunate that Busch dropped from 3rd to 7th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship standings. That is heartbreaking for Busch but I guess all is fair in the world of NASCAR. JC

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