Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Darlington TV Ratings Down Double Digits


This TV ratings item from Jayski:

NASCAR on Fox delivered a 3.6/7 Saturday night for Primetime racing from Darlington Raceway. Saturday's 3.6/7 is down -16% compared to last year's 4.3/8 for the same race. That -16% skid nearly matches FOX's overall -15% decline for the NASCAR season (4.6/10 vs. 5.4/11). All eleven of FOX's Sprint Cup points races have been down double digits compared to last year in the metered markets. It's too early to call a definitive winner in the Saturday night Primetime battle. FOX's race averaged a 3.5/7 from 8-11pm, which ranked third among major broadcasters behind ABC's 3.9/8 and CBS's 3.8/7.

This has been a rough season for the NASCAR on Fox gang. Theories as to why the ratings are down range from the COT to the economy. Darlington was one of the best race broadcasts of the season for the Fox team, so it is a shame that this spring has seen a deep slide in ratings.

Feel free to add your opinion on this topic. Keep it TV-related please and remember this is a family-friendly website. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hardcore fans on here liked the broadcast saying it was one of the best of the season so far. Many talked about changes made to braodcast...well with a bigger drop in ratings and losing to 2 other networks in primetime, is this the type of broadcast the general public wants?
Not sure what the answer is, but do know that ratings rule most of what is done and shown on broadcast TV.

Anonymous said...

hell i guess we need more digger

glenc1 said...

Anon 4:17--I think people who didn't watch didn't *know* the quality of the broadcast was improved (ie, they're people who've already given up.)

We've debated the possible reasons for it all season (and last), but David Hill says everything is fine so no need to worry, right?...
;p

I just don't buy the COT argument. I went to races in person before the COT (since 98) and after. For the most part, I haven't noticed the difference (there are probably a few tracks, but not overall.) And when I pay $90 a ticket, you can bet I'm paying attention. From what we did see on TV, the actual racing at Richmond and Darlington was great, but a big difference in coverage.

I do think a lot of this is leveling off (despite what Mr. Hill says.) People who got caught up with a particular driver or situation (like Dodge or Toyota coming onboard) for a while may simply have moved on. I know that is the case with people I've spoken to...just other things in their life.

Cartoon gophers are not the way to lure them back (and I'm not saying it's all TV, either.) Rivalries would be the best thing in the world...but I think the success of certain drivers has turned people off, fair or not.

Sophia said...

the reason the ratings were DOWN IMO, is we thought the broadcast was going to STINK again.

WHO KNEW it was going to be such a good broadcast with better camera work?

AND guys in the booth REALLY paying attention!PLUS it was mother's day weekend and nice weather here to get out and do things.

Dot said...

I have some opinions on why the ratings are down. We've pretty much beat them to death here at TDP.

NASCARs pursuit of the casual fan. Maybe they were padding the numbers.

Joey Logano hype at the start of the season.

SDDD love fest before, during and after the race. Quit counting all his wins in NASCAR unless all drivers' wins are counted like that.

JR not winning and running badly. Yeah, I hate to use him as a reason but, if he were mixing it up out front, who knows.

The same drivers getting all the coverage. Focus on some Odd Wads.

The race coverage itself. Leader all by himself. Camera changes while two Odd Wads going at it. GF interruptions. Why not have the viewer go to something.com and get more information on tight, loose, part failure, etc.

I did hear DW say on Sat night for Artie to keep his eye on turn 1 because that's where the action is. That seemed to work. Also, it seemed that the booth guys were looking at the track instead of the monitors. I think that's why Darlington was a better race.

I will continue to watch all the races as I am a true fan. It also helps hanging out at TDP.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, but I think part of the reason the ratings keep falling is for some people, watching NASCAR was a fad. I personally know two types of fad-watchers. One group is those who watched for a while out of curiousity after Dale Earnhardt passed away. Because there was such an outpouring of emotion for someone many of them had never heard of, they tuned in, liked what they saw, and stayed for a while.

But there are a lot of little things about NASCAR that bug people who are used to other sports. I won't go into a list here, but there are many reasons they don't watch NASCAR anymore. The lack of a "home team" aspect for NASCAR hurts as well.

The other major type of fan I saw was the "young gun" fan - the young girls and guys who started watching with the rise of a few younger drivers, specifically and most importantly Kasey Kahne. Along with Kasey there was Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and a couple of others who had a very loyal, specific, and young fanbase who went to many races, watched the rest on TV, spent a lot of money on merchandise, and followed them in the news (on and off the track) religiously.

However with lack of success for these drivers, especially for Kasey Kahne, this group of fans have completely dropped off the map. They're in college or jobs now, they're into other things, and NASCAR is pretty much "over" for them except as a passing interest - similar to what glenc1 is saying.

If I were NASCAR, I'd be worried most about the young people who have lost interest. I don't think Joey Logano will bring them in like Kasey Kahne did (for three or four years, anyway). Dale Earnhardt Jr seems to appeal to a slightly older crowd, in my experience.

haus20 said...

Well since David Hill doesn't care that the ratings are down, neither should we. ;)


In all seriousness, I believe it is Fox's poor performance this year that has led to this situation. If they continue to produce race broadcasts like they did at Darlington, the ratings will go back up.

Someone get out the .22 and shoot digger!

PPistone said...

I think that some of what has been pointed out here is part of why total ratings numbers are down when compared against last year. But I still contend a year by year comparison is not completely fair for any televised sport or overall program for that matter. All ratings are down across the board whether it be in sports or general programming. "American Idol" is still a monster hit and the number one show on television but viewership is off nearly 6 million from last year. Are there headlines screaming "American Idol Losing Fans?" No. Because FOX is thrilled despite those numbers being off. People get television and information and media consumption in a lot of different ways these days. So I think a fairer view of NASCAR is to see what the race does in comparison to 1) other sports events of the weekend (and despite the lower overall ratings, Cup races have regularly been the highest rated TV sporting events of most weekends) and 2) what the numbers were compared to the programming the race was up against. It's not spin but I think networks and more importantly advertisers are looking at that criteria in this fragmented media world these days and not just the overall final ratings number. Unfortunately a lot of the media covering NASCAR like to cry in a sensational manner with headlines like "NASCAR's TV Ratings Continue Fall" when I don't think that's the complete story. JD you are the expert in this field far more than I am so would appreciate your wisdom and opinion of what I've laid out and thanks for letting me share my thoughts with your readers.

Pete Pistone

Charlie said...

I have heard people say the Economy is what is causing less people at the track. Two weekends ago I was in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Brewers were playing at home to a sellout crowd. No Economy problem there.
If the Economy is causing less people at the track would not these same people still watch these races on television? I believe the Nascar bubble has burst and thus the lower attendance at races and less watching it on Tv. Nascar had tremendous growth for about 20 years but now it is on the decline. You don’t hear much about all 43 drivers anymore. The rivalry of Chevy, Ford, etc is not as pronounce at it was before the COT. I can drive down the road and see kids walking home from school and you don’t see the Nascar logos on jackets or hats like you use to. The excitement of Nascar is not what it use to be. People have moved on and have found other things to do. Ones that do come back and see if they want to get back into Nascar turn on the Tv and see races that lack the excitement and professionalism that they remember.
I am not sure what Nascar has to do to get fans back but they should start by talking and listening to fans to find the answers. Digger and more commercials aren’t the answer.

Richard in N.C. said...

What fascinates me in the ratings discussion is that I do not recall ever seeing any reference to the ratings trend for Nationwide or Truck races. The lack of reference in the media to the Nationwide and Truck ratings leads me to suspect that they are down also. As I recall it, the one recent reference I did see to Nationwide ratings was that their average audience is a little over 1 million viewers - or about 1/6 of that for Cup races, which did strike me as very strange.

bevo said...

The ratings for Fox are down double digits? "Tough". Building good will with customers (the audience) takes time but destroying it happens quickly. You can be edgy, out of the box, a paradigm destroyer but in the end it's very simple - give the customer what they want.

TV executives should always be mindful that the audience is pretty knowledgeable about how ratings are generated

Anonymous said...

I think the drop in ratings can be attributed to the overall homogenization of Nascar. Moretracks that look/race the same, drivers that tend to be interchangable, and the COT that has removed virtually any manufacturer identity. There is little room left for anything unique these days...even a 'playoff' to make racing seem more like the 'other' sorts. I know it was the fact that racing was unlike any other sport that first piqued my interest, and as I bacame better acquainted with the sport and it's stars, I was hooked. I find I'm less likely to watch a race flag to flag these days, and my interest overall is fading after 25 years of being a fan. I think Nascar has 'jumped the shark'.

darbar said...

The reason for the drop in ratings is plain and simple: Everyone knows that Nascar's broadcasts are nothing more than one long commercial with a few laps of racing thrown in every once in a while. While everyone knows they have to pay the bills, the perception among viewers is that commercials have taken over the race coverage and it's just not a good viewing experience. I don't watch many races live anymore, and I Tivo them and speed through the silliness and commercials.

Ken-Michigan said...

Many NASCAR fans have evidently grown tired of the NASCAR on FOX production of these races. They have become very inconsistent from week to week and all the "horse-in" around has made fans NOT watch. From Digger to boogity-boogity to the hollywood hotel, it's all ran its course and FOX refuses to realize it.

Personally, I have made choice not to even watch anymore, because I'm tired of the FOX announce crew. Way too many voices and some are heard WAY too much. Mike Joy has always been top notch, but he needs a fresher supporting cast. For the life of me, I don't know why or who told Larry & Darrell to "take over" the play by play in the closing laps of a race. Leave it to Mike Joy to call the race..... PLEASE !

Not all the FOX races have been terrible, but in their defense, I'll say that they (FOX) need a decent race to have a decent broadcast... and that falls on the C.O.T. in my mind.
Talladega = great race and broadcast.
(except for the fan injuries and NON coverage of that)
Darlington = exciting race & FOX was also on target.

I firmly feel that fans have turned off the NASCAR TV because they can no longer root for the same car that sits in their driveway. No chevys - fords - dodges - toyotas.

NASCAR expects fans to root for "decals", not the actual car off the showroom floor.

C.O.T = Loss of viewers AND ticket sales AND competition.

glenc1 said...

Pete--not that it was headlines, but AI's ratings fall has been a topic on occasion....one of the reason why they've made changes the last couple years, so they do notice. But when you're still number 1, you'd be laughed at for whining. NASCAR's never had that luxury, & with the TV contracts it's going to be noticed more.

Ordinarily, I'd have thought that a bad boy like Kyle would have brought people in, but he's disliked in a way that he's not even the guy you love to hate. When Jeff was hated, he had as many fans than haters--not sure that's true with Kyle.

I was watching Indy the other day, and I agree with...heck, was it Robin Miller or someone who said this?...anyways, what they need is Graham, Marco, Danica, any other Americans to step up and generate excitement the way Helio does. Our guys are mostly natives and they still aren't that interesting (not their *fault*, necessarily, you can't help who you are.) I see hope in Speed, Allmendinger, Carmichael...more of an 'X Games' image. I also think we need more sponsors (like Home Depot) who can live with a little controversy & not have a cow..

glenc1 said...

Ken, I don't disagree with the make issue making the cars look alike, but I personally never cared about it, so when it went away I didn't care. So there are different kinds of fans to whom that matters...I never cared. Oddly enough, I'm not a big car person...but I believe you're right that a certain segment of fans does care, and all the issues we've talked about, if each issue loses a 'segment' of fans, well...it adds up, it's not just one thing.

John Lee, Hollywood winner said...

WWFCAR, er, NASCAR Cup racin is BORING, period. And fake, since NASCAR decides who's immune to tech (#3), and its a spec car series. Are NASCAR fans so stupid they don't know that 4-door cars with front-wheel-drive aren't "stock" cars? Driving factories away with spec cars and putting Detroit out of business is not good for business in USA. Fake is fake.

Focus on drivers while ignoring teams and city locations is insane and insulting. Cup racin is one of the slowest NASCAR categories, due to weight handicap. 50 cars per driver is nuts too.

Fox coverage does seem geared to 10-year-olds. Young and dumb is their demographic. Every Cup race sounds the same to me, and I've been involved in racin for 20 years. "Support" races aren't run on the same day and its the same Cup drivers hogging the track. Boring.

Hint: Racin is about ENGINEERING, not chocolate candy and tampons.

KoHoSo said...

I think that almost everybody who has commented so far has touched on the multitude of reasons that the ratings have dipped so low. I would like to add/stress the following:

1. Arrogance of the sanctioning body and its broadcasting partners.

2. Too many Saturday night races.

3. Lack of coverage/time on shows where people get their general sports information such as SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, Mike & Mike, etc.

4. Lack of respect and downright disdain for NASCAR during many of those same programs.

These and everything else are all small parts of the bigger picture that are blending together in people's minds and having them find out that they would rather watch/do something else.

Anonymous said...

Detroit put Detroit out of business by being arrogant & making crappy cars in too many classes. Racing is a victim, not a cause.

Anonymous said...

The changes that the current leadership of nascar have made over the last 7-8 yrs have hurt.

We still have a Hendrick domination and a lot of fans aren't into it.

Dale isn't running like so many thought he would so that hurts.

Digger plus the seemingly constant ads/graphics on the screen hurt. Just show the race. Keep the focus on the race. It's not a hard concept.

West coast start times hurt.

A little bit of everything is why it all adds up to a drop in ratings.

Nascar just needs a HUGE shakeup.

Richard in N.C. said...

I still love auto racing and NASCAR and really enjoy watching, but the current economy has been a brutal reminder that there are other, more important things - so I don't feel the same sense of loss I used to if I miss a race.

Anonymous said...

scenedaily.com and SportsBusiness Journal also had good articles about declining NASCAR ratings published today.

Sounds like NASCAR TV was hoping replaying the Talledega crash everywhere would bring in more people, but it didn't.

Anonymous said...

So I think a fairer view of NASCAR is to see what the race does in comparison to 1) other sports events of the weekend (and despite the lower overall ratings, Cup races have regularly been the highest rated TV sporting events of most weekends).// But NASCAR Cup only has one race a week. Only one place for eyeballs to go to. Contrast that with NBA basketball playoff games going on right now (the NBA has had a resurgence in ratings in contrast to NASCAR). You can't compare one NBA game's ratings to one NASCAR race's ratings when there are eight playoff games that weekend. If you add all of those NBA game ratings up in that example, there are many more eyeballs watching the NBA each weekend than NASCAR - even if NASCAR has the higher single rating.

The same applies to baseball. The Game of the Week on Fox or Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN might have an individual lower rating than the Cup race, but all the regional cable, MLB network, and network baseball games aired combined have a much larger audience than the Cup race each week.

Anonymous said...

Long time NASCAR viewer...I agree with 2 of these points, first to quote "I think people who didn't watch didn't *know* the quality of the broadcast was improved (ie, they're people who've already given up.)"....I knew in the first 15 minutes this was a better "racing" broadcast and probably watched more of a race than any time this year.
I also agree for some watching it was a "fad". It was new. Those people are dropping away.
JD, you may know about this. Somewhere I read that there was a tussle in radio ratings over how Arbitron ratings were compiled. Some stations wanted "estimates" because they came out better, and others wanted some new technology because they did. Do I also recall changes in how Nielsen ratings are gathered-people meters versus a log book. Has that been a factor?

Anonymous said...

COT, Kyle Busch shoved down our throat, Bad coverage on Fox, Digger, Inconsistent Race Start Times, Way too long pre race show, Jr. going south, Bad Racing, Leadership of NASCAR

Mike said...

I believe part of the problem is NASCAR has lost the fringe fan, or as some have called "fad" fans. They've either went on to watch something else, or have tuned their TVs out totally. It just seems to me NASCAR has slipped in terms of the "buzz" meter....you don't see celebrities hanging out at the races like you saw just a few years ago.

Also, a lot of people have not fallen in love with this new car. It's taken on an identity of being IROC, as the cars are almost all spec, and the makes have lost their individuality.

Also catering to the West coast with start times may be costing them the East coast. I mean even if they are gaining West coast viewers and the ratings are down, what's that say for the amount of East coast viewers that have been lost? If you notice with some of the other sports there's a trend toward what was old is new again. Many of them are going in the direction of earlier starting times.

I just think it's been a combination of all sorts of things that have led to lower ratings. For them to be off this much, I don't think a person can lay the blame on just one thing.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous poster @ 5:40 from yesterday mentioning Kasey Kahne and casual fans:

While Junior fans are said to affect the ratings depending on how he's doing, I truly believe the same can be said for Kasey Kahne - to a lesser degree, of course!

If you go back to late 2005 probably through 2007, Kasey Kahne was the MAN. He was in every major publication as "the new Jeff Gordon", he was in People's Most Beautiful, etc. I believe he finished third in Most Popular Driver two years in a row, behind Junior and Gordon. He was in a bunch of commercials. The guys on Raceday started noting that a lot of the "sea of red" in the stands in 2006 was from Kasey's Dodge Dealers Dodge, not just Junior's Bud car.

A lot of people, especially casual fans, jumped on the Kasey bandwagon. It was supposed to be just a matter of time before he won a championship.

However from 2007 on, Kasey's car and team/ownership has been incredibly inconsistent. The people who jumped on the bandwagon aren't going to turn on the TV to see him finish mid-pack every week. IMO he's similar to Junior except Junior's fanbase is so much larger it can absorb some people leaving because he's not winning. Kasey's fanbase can't.

And also re: joey Logano not attracting Kasey's fanbase - good point. I don't know who will pick it up. For whatever reason - drivers like KyBusch, Hamlin, Bowyer, Vickers, even Carl Edwards aren't picking up the fans that Kasey attracted. Just IMO!

Andrew S. said...

Y'all are missing the very, very obvious reason. Which driver hasn't been seen in ANY Cup races yet this year? Hmmm.... can you say Ken Schrader? It's so obvious even a blind squirrel has found his nut. Ken Schrader isn't in the race so people don't watch!!! ;) *ROFLOL*

Anonymous said...

I think it's because 16% of the fans don't like the drivers that are winning most of the races. Mark Martin is of course an exception. The new generation of drivers is just not doing it. Dale Jr, we need you.

Bobby said...

Keep in mind that VNU (parent of Nielsen) changes the sample of the homes frequently, and VNU is in the middle of a push to add more Nielsen homes in the most prestigious markets.

That's one of the important things that should be known as VNU keeps changing the ratings system.

Anonymous said...

THE RACE IS SIMPLY TOO LONG, NOTHING WRONG WITH A SOUTHERN 400