Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday TV/Media Notes

Here are some mid-week TV and media topics that are in the news:

ESPN on Tuesday afternoon released a carefully worded update on the TV ratings from Loudon, NH. Sunday's race went up against the NFL for the first time this season, but also featured ESPN's Nonstop commercials for the second half and RaceBuddy at the website.

Here is ESPN's media release on the ratings:

ESPN's live telecast of the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 25, earned a 3.1 household coverage rating, averaging 4,235,000 viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. The rating was up 19% from last year's New Hampshire race, which also aired on ESPN and earned a 2.6 rating. The telecast also saw double-digit growth in key audience demographics, including a 28% rise in the Male 18-34 demographic and a 20% rise in the Male 18-49 demographic. The audience also saw 33 percent of growth in the Persons 55+ demographic.

Here is the same topic as reported on the Sports Media Watch website:

Ratings and viewership jumped by double-digits for the second race of NASCAR’s Chase For the Cup, but the numbers were still below par.

Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire earned a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.235 million viewers on ESPN, up 17% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.677M), but down 16% in both measures compared to 2009 (3.2, 5.044M, ABC).

Despite the increase, this marks the second-lowest rated, second-least viewed edition of the race over the past ten seasons. As recently as 2008, the race drew a comparably hefty 3.8 rating and 6.098 million viewers on ABC.

While all of this information is technically correct, it certainly is a very good illustration that there are several ways to present the same NASCAR TV information.

As continuing proof of the New World Order inside NASCAR's marketing and media relations arm, the release of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series schedule on Wednesday will be a coordinated online event.

At noon ET the new schedule will be posted at the website. Then, NASCAR VP Steve O'Donnell will take Twitter comments and questions from fans and the media about the new schedule. For Twitter veterans, there is a #2012schedule hashtag being used for the conversation.

Speaking of Twitter, Ricky Craven signed-on this week and can be found at @RickyCravenESPN. Nice to have him in the social media pipeline.

Many fans this week have been asking about the changes to the NASCAR Now series on ESPN2. The network has a new emphasis on talk shows in the afternoon and has created a multi-hour block. That pushed NASCAR Now forward to the 3PM Eastern timeslot.

The network also has changed the late night schedule and that has eliminated the West Coast airing of the show. Despite ESPN downplaying the situation, this is the only "support series" for NASCAR on the TV network carrying the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races.

While the Sunday morning preview show and the Sunday night review show remain, it's a cruel blow for NASCAR fans who watched Allen Bestwick, Craven and others work so hard to make these weekday shows well worth watching. Needless to say, these changes do not bode well for NASCAR Now continuing to be on the schedule in 2012.

This week's double top-secret NASCAR Fan Council survey was focused on the new ESPN Nonstop commercial format. Fans were asked if it made a difference in the way they watched the race. Also on the agenda were questions about the use of social media and online applications while watching the live race telecast.

If you are not a viewer of SPEED Center, you may have missed the Sunday debut of Ray Evernham as SPEED's NASCAR studio analyst. This is a similar role to Craven on ESPN2. Evernham can be seen on the Sunday preview show at 10:30AM and the night time review show at 11PM ET.

It's a very strange time for a TV network to add an analyst, but Evernham brings a unique perspective to the sport and helps to establish another NASCAR perspective outside of the NASCAR Media Group produced RaceDay and Victory Lane shows.

ESPN has a doubleheader this weekend with Marty Reid calling the Saturday afternoon Nationwide Series race and Allen Bestwick handling the Sprint Cup Series action on Sunday from Dover. SPEED has the trucks on Saturday night from Kentucky Speedway on a weekend shared with the IndyCar Series.

Please feel free to post your comments on any of the topics mentioned above. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by.


GinaV24 said...

When I read the first statement about the ratings on Jayski, I was quite honestly shocked that the ratings would be UP. Considering the pitiful presentation from ESPN and 2 races decided by fuel mileage, well, I can't imagine that things will improve.

As you said, there are lots of ways to "spin" the information and present it in what can be a misleading fashion. Lies, damned lies and statistics!

Nice that Craven has joined twitter and darn it, I missed Ray on Speed Report. I've gotten out of the habit of watching Speed for NASCAR news and I quite simply forgot it was on. I'll set the DVR this week.

It's a shame about Nascar Now, but the only day I tuned in regularly was Monday since I liked the round table. This isn't a good decision by ESPN for NASCAR fans, but obviously it works for their demographic which I don't fit into.

bowlalpo said...

I am 51 and I have accepted the fact that, for almost all programming, my demographic has been shoved aside. Maybe it was because I grew up this way, but I pretty much limit myself to watching the GAME or, in this case, the RACE.

That said, if I encounter any program that is so insipid that it insults my intelligence, not only will I NOT watch, I will NOT patronize their sponsors (think of every ESPN2 program that follows Nascar Now).

I think the ratings are up because the economy is so bad, many people have ditched everything else and only kept their big-screen TV's and cable deals for entertainment.

52 yr. fan (sometimes) said...

ESPN and NASCAR continue to blow
smoke while the sport declines.
The side by side viewing was a joke. Who wants to watch a pit stop in lieu of on-track racing,
especially when it was a one-car
frame? Brian and Mike are clueless as to the product being delivered on TV and yet wonder why
we choose to make other sports choices on Sunday afternoon.

AncinetRacer said...

"The audience also saw 33 percent of growth in the Persons 55+ demographic."

That was me, I guess. I do not know who the other two guys were.

Anonymous said...

As proof by the ratings shooting through the roof, I don't see any problems with the broadcasts.

Just like everyone else, ESPN makes decisions which are best for ESPN. Should they put NASCAR Now in a slot where they feel they can do better with another show?

GinaV24 said...

Anon 1:36 pm - Pete, is that you?

sue said...

So is this ratings boost really a surprise? Not one bit. Its not rock science folks. Jr's in the Chase and Jimmies not running away with it. So folks are watching.

I too giggled when I felt that at 53 my age demographic wasn't included but I believe that means were just steady eddies ie. chugging along just fine with no ups or downs. hehe

Anonymous said...

The NASDAQ was over 5000 in March of 2000. Today it closed at over half that value. Thats what we call a bubble. The sooner people realize the high NASCAR ratings that were around a few years ago were the result of a bubble, and will likely never return, the sooner everyone would be better off. Though, some people are just too thick headed to realize this, and will never learn.

There is absolutely nothing to fix that will bring back the bubble ratings.

Roland said...

Note: Im a twitter user.

I thought the move to release the schedule via twitter was cheap. I use twitter during the races all the time but releasing the schedule there was not a very bright idea. It was very hard to read and decipher. There were so many tweets and retweets I just gave up. What was so wrong with releasing a good ol fashioned press release? And then maybe doing your twitter Q and A. Thats just me, hope they dont do that any more. Im all for social integration, but lets not announce major stuff in such a confusing fasion. Kyle Petty would call that a "cluster"

Roland said...

But I should say that I enjoyed Steve Odonnell's Q and A session afterwards. Even though I have never heard of this gentleman. And I should note that I used the 2012 schedule hashtag to follow along and that was the cluster I was alluding too. But the official tweets from Nascar were a cluster as well. Like I said lets go with the tried and true press release next time.

Jonathan said...

Im sorry but no matter how you "spin" this, ratings being up is better and thats the bottom line ratings are up. Fan interest is up. Its always great when the 18-34 demo is up and a 28% rise in one year is damn good! Dont forget next year Danica will be in the mix and the year after that a new car plus maybe Danica full time. I think the NFL lockout got a few upset at how greedy they can be and I for one could care less if I watch another football game!

Heres a good article from Dave Moody about the ratings on a rise and its a good read

Ratings may not be like it was in the early 2000's but with this economy this is pretty good if you ask me. I dont know to each there own, everyone will have a different opinion!

Anonymous said...

That wasn't a race. It also isn't football or similar sports.

If there was a decent movie or - admittedly awful for most people - terrible-show-marathon on other channels, it would've been a non-issue.

Sprint Cup/Nextel/Whatever We're Calling It This Year - I'm A France! Woooo! <- never has been worth watching.

Bunch of magnates playing "Race the Chariot" and hoping to get extra gold from the Emperor at best.

"I have the finest steed!" "No, I do! The crowd will look favorably upon mine for their performance!"

This has kinda been repeated throughout history.

Now, two points, JD - both will likely ensure the deletion of this ball of mess:

1. What racing? You turn on the TV at home, and you may as well have coke-bottle glasses...cuz you can't see anything. Myopic, targeted, utterly insipid advertisements designed to pull you in to a financial system wherein you spend a bunch of money at home and at the track - and get nothing out of it. Jack, and...expletives.

2. I have to ask, and since your apparent departure from ESPN, and as a journalist - I kinda expect some clarity - where are you getting the cash to live; you're not a prolific writer, you've irritated and burned every bridge known to man, and even a couple hundred thousand invested intelligently won't pay dividends to live in a shack.

You demand transparency...I ain't demanding. Short of one heck of a bank account you ought to be living in a shack.

Not to mention, thanks to this pesky site few will touch ya.

It's an honest, unloaded, sincere question from an idiot like me who has done the same.

I'd bet $5 (I'm broke...) that this won't get answered - or approved...but I can't figger out how to anonymously send the cash.

Bill said...

I hate it, but I tend to agree that the ratings surge several years ago was an anomaly rather than an upward trend. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I believe that the sport is too complex for it to draw in the bored, short attention span plagued, immediate gratification seeking, channel surfing TV viewer who can't find anything better to watch.

I have been following the sport off and on since the early 70s, when suddenly, for some unknown reason in the early 1990s, became hopelessly addicted, and have been that way ever since.

Due to this addiction, my patience is tremendously deep when trying to comprehend difficult engineering concepts being explained to me by incredibly talented mechanics and crew chiefs that sadly have no business in front of a microphone, but if "aero-push" or "forward bite" can't be articulated to today's TV viewer in less than thirty seconds, they change the channel.

And therein lies one of the more difficult challenges the sport must overcome if it intends to hold even a tiny footing alongside King Football. Sure, there are plenty of fans who are mechanically apathetic, and simply enjoy watching drivers beat and bang, and hope a fist fight (or hockey game) breaks out in the infield, but dare I say it--they tend to be more of a "casual" fan, or a member of Junior Nation. Whoops! I said it.

But, if a viewer either struggles to comprehend some of auto racing's more fundamental concepts, or just chooses to not work his/her brain that hard on a Sunday afternoon, that viewer will most likely grow weary of cars turning left all day, and change the channel.

I think back just five years ago, as I finally got my sister and brother-in law, both hardcore college football fans, to attend a race with me. I yelled in their ears all afternoon to help them understand all the rules and strategy, then tried to support their enthusiasm in the weeks that followed by watching a few races with them on TV, dutifully answering every question, and explaining every concept in the way it had been explained to me on TV, but in the end, I failed, and they haven't watched a race since, saying that there was just too much to learn to properly appreciate it.

Of course, us longtime fans have had our intelligence insulted on the few occasions when the broadcast “dumbed-down” to explain some of these basic concepts to the rookie viewers, a practice that doesn’t happen in other sports broadcasts, signaling that the race broadcast is the improper forum for Racin’ 101.

So when, then? Well, the viewer has got to have his interest piqued to such a degree that he wants to learn about it on his own, either from a TV show like NASCAR Performance (full of great information, if you can understand what Bootie is saying), or from the zillions of online resources, or to just ask a longtime fan what the hell a track bar is, anyway.

So how, you may ask, is a viewer’s interest piqued? Well, that’s the 64 million dollar question, but the answer may be easier to find than we think. NASCAR needs to look at what got them to where they are—grass roots, hometown short track racing—and go from there.

Forget trying to wrest viewers away from football. I ain't gonna happen. NASCAR needs to develop a system where curiosity is hatched organically, and as some ghost once said, "if you build it, they will come."

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:16PM,

Your perception is far from reality. I work fulltime and have my entire life. Following NASCAR and chatting about TV and media topics is something my friends and I did long before TDP was launched in 2007.

Not too sure what bridges you are talking about. I deal with the TV networks, NASCAR folks and all kinds of media types daily.

Perhaps you are not on Twitter, where we all regularly talk about these topics. That group is extensive and the opinions are always interesting.

Assuming that talking about difficult topics in a frank and open manner with the NASCAR fan base is somehow forbidden or angers those in charge is ridiculous.

This is a big boy sport and if you want to speak with conviction you have to be prepared to get reaction of all kinds on those types of topics.

I enjoy talking about the good, the bad and the ugly of NASCAR TV. It certainly has been an interesting experience.


Lisa Hogan said...

I don't watch Speed Center and have never been a fan of Ray Evernham. I was not pleased to see his name as an addition because it makes me fear that he will be moved into the booth as a replacement for Larry Mac.

I just won't be able to endure DW's reading of driver's minds if Larry Mac isn't there.

danny said...

I don't know how the ratings are determined. If I watch the 1st 9 1/2 laps of a race, which is all they show, and I switch to another tv show at the commercial break,does this count in the ratings? If I switch back to the broadcast of the race and watch another 9 laps ( if lucky) , then switch to another tv show, does this count as 2 "watches" if I am a Neilson ( not sure of proper spelling)? The ratings don't matter anyway since all of the miles or laps are not shown. When ESPN broadcasts a little league baseball game or womens softball game, every single pitch and out of the entire game is shown. Nascar has used the statement "because every lap is important" in their commercials, but does not show every lap. They don't even show every driver. I am 56 yrs old,don't know what facebook and twitter actually are and won't until I have no other choice. Speaking of choice, when watching Nascar there is only one choice in who shows the race so it doesn't matter if it's Fox, TNT, or anyone else. Having Ray E on a Nascar related show, when 5 of the 7 Hendricks cars are in the chase, and Ray is affiliated with RH, wow. It's bad enough on NW races with Rusty in the booth calling a race with 2 cars he owns, his son, 2 brothers, and occasionally his neice, in the race, wow. DW on fox showing his and Mikey's cars for 1/3 of the less than 2/3's of the race shown, wow. Go to truck race on tv and Mikey gets to yap up his sponsors and shake his not so hetrosexual ass when they go to commercial after 9 1/2 laps, wow. Now the Aussie v-8 Supercar Series has made the statement that the American viewers are as stupid as Nascar told them they are, so they will have DW and Mike Joy in the booth to ruin what was once a credible racing entity, wow. If things were more like Nascar - like in the Nascar promos - a college or NFL game would have a commercial break just as the quaterback is dropping back, and return to show the TD or INT 4 minutes later. How would that rate?