Fixing NASCAR’s TV Ratings and New Fuel For 2011

by on October 16, 2010

in Entertainment

NASCAR Logo - National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing

Next year NASCAR is headed to using E15 fuel in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.  E15 fuel is a corn based fuel and it has reportedly generated more horsepower for teams that have tested it.

In the same article there was chat on what they can do to improve TV ratings of the sport.  Of note, NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that the racing is great and that over time, that will take care of itself.  When questioned on other factors like changes to the Chase, he declined to answer that.

Bruton Smith chimed in on fixing TV ratings and said he doesn’t believe that ratings are down 25%, but then added that he doesn’t feel that running at 1 p.m. is doing the sport any favors.  With that, he meant being up against the biggest ratings catcher on weekend TV, football.  Football is the dominant TV sport.  He thinks starting at 2 p.m. might be the answer as people get tired of watching football after an hour of the sport is on TV.

NASCAR Bits & Pieces Column Opinion

When Bruton addresses the idea that people might get tired of football after an hour, I have to wonder if anyone within NASCAR has taken note that the 4-hour race events might also be an issue with their ratings?  Personally, I love the length of Nationwide race telecasts.  There’s no sleeper middle.  There’s a beginning, a very short middle race where everyone is settled in for a bit, then the end-race when everyone starts pulling out their cards and give it what they have been holding back.

I get that the Sprint Cup Series is, amongst other things, about the endurance of team, machine and driver.  But seriously, I’ve been reading for years that ratings show that people “doze” off in mid-race.  They get their fill of pretty colored cars racing in the front end of the show but then they get tired of seeing, what to them, seems like driving around in circles.  They tune out because they don’t understand.  They don’t get the complications and technicalities that go into making a race car competitive.  And if any NASCAR fan has queried their friends that are non-NASCAR fans, you know it’s true.  The past history of the sport still colors the opinions of those who have no clue that most of the athletes have their own multi-million dollar personal aircraft to go from race to race in.  That some teams have their own airports.  Nielsen ratings follow the general population’s TV viewing interests.  They’re not all NASCAR fans. That in itself is the gotch’ya of this TV ratings quandary.

To address the idea of better ratings, they have to, sadly, address capturing the interest of non-fans to keep them locked into the race.  And Nielsen families are notorious for not wanting to get to attached for too long to any one process.  In-depth plotted television series get crap ratings while the mindless, fun stuff like reality TV gets all the huge ratings.

Reality TV never lasts more than 2 hours at a pop, and football, the biggest ratings getter on the weekends this time of year, does not last 4 hours.  Or it does not have the semi-common potential of lasting four hours.  And they have repeated “green flag” starts every series of downs… they don’t run and run and run around the field.  Would you watch football if a scrimmage included running around the field for several minutes at a time until the QB found someone to throw to?

You can’t blame someone for wanting to have a nice, mindlessly fun experience watching TV after a long week of work.  And not having to commit to it for a very long period of time in someone’s busy life.  I get that.  It’s this mentality that I believe is behind the extremely popular social networking tool, Twitter.  Short bursts of blogging that takes little to put out there and takes even less attention to focus on while still learning something.  Plain and simple.  And NASCAR needs to be something quick and easy to digest.   If you dwell on it, how many services and products out there have parts of their pitch be about how quick, easy and simple it is?

But there are some processes in place that can get awareness of NASCAR in the general public’s eye.

For one, I know a few people that have bought diecasts from Target because the driver has the same last name as they do.  Silly as that seems, it’s a selling point and there have to plenty of other selling points.

One great way to get some general interest is for some awesome product placement moments.  Like, for instance, getting some Cup cars to show up in an upcoming blockbuster movie!!!  Namely, the third upcoming Transformers 3 movie from Michael Bay, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon.  Check these pics out:

Transformers 3 Detroit Set - Juan Pablo Montoya's NASCAR Sprint Cup Bot

Transformers 3 Detroit Set - Juan Pablo Montoya's NASCAR Sprint Cup Bot

Transformers 3 Detroit set NASCAR Earnhardt Jr and Johnson NASCAR Sprint Cup Bots

Transformers 3 Detroit set NASCAR Earnhardt Jr and Johnson NASCAR Sprint Cup Bots

Jimmie Johnsons No 48 NASCAR Chevy in Transformers 3

NASCAR teams in Transformers 3

I’ve sent emails to all the shops of the cars in these images, but no one has replied, so I have nothing more to add than the obvious coolness there.  I can’t wait to see how these guys play into the battle between Autobots and Decepticons!  Usually the Decepticons have the really cool cars, but man, that would suck if NASCAR Transformers were bad guys, but hey, any press is good press!

About those Chase Inquiries:

France not addressing questions about potential Chase changes seems to indicate there is something to say and that they’re tinkering with ideas… as if the present process has issues.  If they do tinker with the Chase, all they’re going to do is create new scenarios that will need tinkering.  The sport survived for years and slowly grew with the same points systems for quite a few years…  but this constant tinkering is a band-aid.  A band-aid that will fall off after a set amount of time, regardless.

[An article by Dustin Long on Hampton Roads fired up this tirade!]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ELIZABETH CASPER- LEE November 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

Dear Sir/ Madam, Since my retirement last summer- I have tuned to the TV more and discovered that the programs during the day are eaither about money or some comedies that are too sad to mention,The only programs of any value are late at night.
There are a lot people who would appreciate a better vewing during the day -for example the retired and unemployed -who could be stimulated rather than deprest,
I have recently renewed my licence and I wonder if not to cancell it.
Television like the radio has a huge role to play and has a responsibility for the quality of public’s life.It is a recognised body that is trusted with high standards and quality of entertaiment and education,
There are far too many programs about cookery, expensive properties and absolute rubish-that is demoralising .Yours Faithfully Elizabeth Casper-Lee

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