Sunday, November 2, 2008
Are Fans Burned-Out On NASCAR TV?
There has been a theme emerging during The Chase this season that we really did not see last year. Remember, 2007 was the first year of the current NASCAR TV contract and lots of the Sprint Cup Series television coverage was brand new.
Now, as this season draws to a close, the ESPN and ABC portion of the Cup coverage has basically been a ratings disaster. Instead of building on the first year, fans have been heading other places and the ratings have been flat or declining.
This kind of flies in the face of what is happening in the sport. Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are three very popular drivers. The stories of Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. continue to be interesting almost every racing weekend.
Despite the issue of fans not attending the races, the ABC coverage is specifically on free over-the-air TV for the entire Chase. The ABC announcers are all experienced and well-known NASCAR personalities. The HD pictures are great and the sound is fantastic. So, why are TV viewers staying away?
In this discussion, forget the normal NASCAR complaints. Let's put the COT, Brian France, and Goodyear on the shelf. Forget the vanilla drivers, the super-teams and the endless mergers. Our topic today is just one little fan-related question.
Are you burnt-out on NASCAR TV?
The Budweiser Shootout kicked-off the season way back on February 9th. If you have been watching only the Sprint Cup Series coverage, you have seen over 100 hours of live racing on TV already this season.
Fans who watch all three national touring series and the other NASCAR TV programming like NASCAR Now and the weekend SPEED coverage might need to sit down before reading further. If you have been hanging tough with the sport since February, you have watched over 400 hours of NASCAR TV in 2009.
In a world where we often ask just how much is too much, this might be a very good topic for discussion. Could it be that fans are just burned-out on NASCAR TV and have opted for NFL football and other TV sports?
NASCAR finally has a daily show on ESPN2, a duo of one hour review shows on Monday and a slew of programming from the SPEED Stage each racing weekend. The races are in HD right down to the in-car cameras. All three Sprint Cup Series TV networks are experienced with sports and have been involved in NASCAR prior to this season. What could be wrong?
This weekend the action shifts to the Texas Motor Speedway. Another high-speed 1.5 mile oval with a dogleg on the frontstretch. A track with a mixed history and a whole lot of hype.
The 334 laps will take several hours and the event will not even take the green flag until 3:47PM Eastern Time. By that time, viewers will have seen four hours of pre-race shows from ESPN2, SPEED and ABC.
Once again, NASCAR will be running a race that will probably stretch well beyond dinner time on the East Coast. With a rain delay or red flag, it could go well beyond 8PM.
When the race is over, there will be three hours of NASCAR-related programming on SPEED and a one hour wrap-up show on ESPN2. Sunday alone will have 12 hours of NASCAR TV headed in your direction.
When you take a step back and look at this year of watching NASCAR on TV, are you happy that the season is almost over or have your viewing habits already changed? Even for the biggest fan, is it possible to actually be burnt-out on NASCAR TV?
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