Sunday, October 28, 2012

NASCAR In The Red Zone

The Chase for the Championship was the response of NASCAR to the competition on Sunday afternoons with the National Football League. At the time, the focus was on trying to draw attention away from the regional NFL games with a national playoff format.

The picture above is from the NFL's response to local TV stations locking viewers into two pre-selected games in their market. The NFL Red Zone is offered on both satellite and cable TV for a small monthly fee. It runs on football Sundays throughout the early and late afternoon games.

Simply put, the folks at the Red Zone watch all the games in all the markets and swing the coverage to every key moment of every single game. At first glance it's a bit overwhelming, but then reality hits. The NFL has the ultimate remote control and you are watching them use it.

When two moments are unfolding, they simply use two video boxes. When there is a need for more, as with the picture above, they simply add another. Basically, the picture-in-picture function is controlled for the viewer. During the entire time a Sunday afternoon Sprint Cup Series Chase race is running, the Red Zone is working to keep NFL fans entertained by providing out-of-market game content.

Meanwhile, NASCAR is offering a single TV telecast with some isolated cameras and in-car feeds available online. The single channel produced for viewers is interrupted by commercials roughly one-third of the entire program time while the event is in progress. By simply paying a small fee for service, the NFL solved that problem. The Red Zone has no commercial interruptions.

In a recent TDP post titled "The Art of the Spectacle," the comparison was made between the era of the non-Chase format and today's made-for-TV NASCAR playoff. When the Chase was created, it mirrored some other pro sports like PGA Golf that also tried to create an internal playoff structure in response to the NFL season.

A short time ago, NASCAR reached a new TV deal with FOX Sports. By negotiating inside an exclusive "window" of time available only to existing TV partners, both NASCAR and FOX got what they wanted. FOX landed 13 Sprint Cup Series races filling a time in the network schedule without other pro sports. NASCAR set a solid financial foundation for the future of the tracks and the sanctioning body.

What is left dangling in the wind is the Chase. ESPN has decided not to negotiate inside the exclusive period and instead wait until 2013. That network televises the final 17 Sprint Cup Series races, including the entire Chase. The current TV contract ends after the 2014 season.

With the FOX deal now in hand, it might be a very good time to address the reality of the Chase. A time period now exists where NASCAR could again ponder the season points and championship structure. Just like when the original changes happened, the entire idea would be to better serve the sport and the fans.

In today's fickle and high-tech world, there are few TV viewers who are willing to devote over three hours to a single event. Even the regional NFL games reflect the network's awareness of this with the heavy amount of cut-ins for highlights of other games. The effort to keep the attention of the sports TV viewer has never been greater.

During the Chase races, despite the reality of a full field of cars running at speed, the perception on TV is that only twelve cars really matter. It isn't a failure on the part of the TV network showing the race, it is a function of the made-for-TV format originally created to battle pro football.

Just as the NFL has innovated with the Red Zone channel to serve viewers, NASCAR needs to innovate with the part of the Sprint Cup Series season that competes with football. Perhaps the place to start is to return the individual racing weekends to prominence. Allow the races to become the star and the season points to be allocated in whatever fashion after the Victory Lane and pit road interviews.

This puts the promotion, the hype and the rivalries back in the spotlight without the horse collar of the Chase choking-off the tension and stories built up during the season with an arbitrary cut-off for contention. It lets the simmering pot of the NASCAR year continue to heat up as all the drivers now have a chance to be a star after September.

It also dismantles the star system within the multi-car teams as the best resources and manpower can now remain intact instead of being pointed toward the Chase contender or contenders within the company. The emphasis on making all the teams relevant also returns the ability of the media corps to feature them all once again.

Finally, the fans of the drivers and teams outside of the Chase are formally handed an invitation by NASCAR to depart until next February and watch the NFL for the final ten weeks of the season. TV will not and seemingly cannot find a way to update, report or feature non-Chasers even when in contention for a race win. With 12 cars in and 30 cars out, the Chase math is not hard to follow.

2013 offers NASCAR a unique window to do some research and development. It's essentially the beginning of a two-season lame duck period of the existing TV contract. With the FOX deal now done, NASCAR knows the remaining sports TV players will come calling when the time is right. The financial risk is long gone.

What's the harm in taking the temperature of the teams, networks and fans where the Chase is concerned and making some changes? This window of opportunity will not come again and certainly ESPN would like to see higher ratings in the two remaining seasons for the final ten races. An experiment that works would yield significant benefits for everyone concerned.

One thing is for sure, the NFL will be working hard again next season to sharpen its technology and delivery of live content to fans. Maybe NASCAR can seize this opportunity to use the strength of its drivers, tracks and rivalries to bring back those fans who walked away despite the best intentions of the Chase.

We invite your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

52 comments:

RPM said...

DirecTv has Hot Pass that gives you a choice of 4 driver cams, stats, some telemetry and their team radio. Best part is it's free, but you must have an HD receiver.

MRM4 said...

I fully expect NASCAR to move all Chase races to Saturday nights when the new TV deal is signed for that portion of the schedule. I'm sure they feel better about challenging college football instead of the NFL.

Anonymous said...

An offshoot of the chase is the media trained personalities that the drivers have been turned into.Brad K used to have a spark,some sass,he had a pair,had!He has surpassed JJ in the world of vanilla,carbon copy retorts.He is almost invisible.I am watching less,only short track and road course.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
"NASCAR set a solid financial foundation for the future of the tracks and the sanctioning body." - The Daly Planet
Granted the tracks and the sanctioning body must exist, but at this time, NASCAR has no apparent plans to serve the fans. You do address that point in your comments, so perhaps NASCAR will, too.
Walter

Anonymous said...

DirecTV is not anywhere the Red Zone

Hands down NFL network produces the best Sunday football coverage.

JD has hit on something

Man....Nascar could really benefit from the this programming.

Maverick24 said...

I can't believe nobody in NASCAR has seen the problem with trying to "challenge" the NFL, yet they won't start their Chase races until after 2PM when the early NFL games are well underway.

Good luck trying to pull people away after they've settled in to their football.

Brainless France never should have tried to "challenge" the NFL. NASCAR never worried about football and did just fine in the 90s and early 2000s without a Chase.

Then again, the racing was better then too.

Anonymous said...

Fewer races, more track variety, finish the season by the end of September. As for the chase format, the most engaging part is the build up to see who makes the chase. Everything after seems anticlimactic.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a golden opportunity to move Racebuddy onto t.v. And expand hotpass from four to eight drivers. These drivers should be selected at random. No having junior on every week. There should be a predetermined rotation. Rotate camera views and have uncensored in race audio. It should work the same durring the chase. As a mark Martin fan I could care less about where Johnson kessolowski and Hamlin are every lap. Like you said there are 30 other cars out there. Durring the chase it should be like a 5 to 3 ratio of chasers and non chasers. That's my dream system. And I'd actually pay good money for it. But for now it's just a dream
Just my thoughts
-AveryNH

Matt TSB said...

I'm inclined to agree with MRM. NASCAR has to wither be willing to accept low ratings or just get off of Sunday afternoons post Labor Day. It's just smart business.

You can't beat the NFL, just look at your local listings and see what the other broadcast channels put on - they really don't even try to compete.

17972 B. C. said...

I think, as any good business should( well,debate about NASCAR being a good business), a review and possible adjustments should be looked at, but I'm not sure what is the reality about possible change.

1. Eliminate Chase, make each week count. If you eliminate chase, does it lower the bidding value of the back half of the TV deal? We are less than 1 year away from what was a chase that went to the final lap, and just had a leader swap with 3 races left.

2. Red zone/goal line.I love them. I pay $8.00 a month for a sports tier to watch them. Not sure how that flies with some fans.And those channels are on the cable system all year, so i assume NFL/ESPN have some sort of deal for carriage,how would NASCAR do that.

3 Saturday Chase racing, it is a myth that Sat. is the answer.Looked at Jayski and Saturday fall races do no better, and sometimes worse, than Sunday races.NFL has good numbers because they do not dilute viewership, college football has tonnage, with 8 games on at night the average on Sat.some weeks 10. Add baseball playoffs every Sat. nighy in Oct.,3 chase tracks with no lights, Sat. would end up a wash at best i'm afraid.

4 Making each race count. I've been a fan of that for decades.Hell I used to tell people I wanted no points, each race stands on it's own by status and purse. Golf was that way before their playoff, and still is kind of, as golfers choose which events they play, show up at courses they like, the stature of the tournament,Major,ect. NASCAR has their majors, drivers teams have their best tracks, tracks that can't survive this system get replaced by tracks that want 'em. But alas that is my pipedream, and I'm afraid we can't put the toothpaste back in the tube as far as making each week unique.

Sorry for the long ramble but Sandy leaves few other things to do here in Pa. Enjoy the racing.

Roadgeek Adam said...

MRM4: Wanna pay Martinsville/Dover/New Hampshire/Talladega/etc to get lights? Going to require that.

Dot said...

It's funny that brian france created the chase to compete with the nfl. And yet, we only get split screen commls after half way. BTW, did someone mess up yesterday? Split screen happened at lap 231.

So far, I think the chase is a bust. If your driver isn't in it, he's just a field filler. Unless you are an HMS driver, or a team connected with them, can you win the chase. Maybe Kez can get back on top and prove me wrong.

I got DTV a few months ago. Sadly, I am an SD viewer so I don't get Hot Pass, unless I buy a new TV and upgrade my dish to HD. Unfortunately, I don't have money to upgrade the TV and $200 for the new dish.

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter when this sport is turning into a joke, gather around the tv people watch Jimmie drive around in circle's and bore the hell out of us, dont anyone bump into each other because its the chase, God-bless DVR!

Joj said...

Very well said JD

Racing has 80% lost me & lost my husband completely.
Sunday I DVR'd the race & watched NFL Redzone as I've done since Brighthouse got it. I "watch" the race in fast forward. I watched the race in under 30 mins. Hopefully some one at NASCAR gets their head right & fixes the mess that is "racing"

Anonymous said...

Not ony has the Chase changed how the last 10 races are covered, but in my opinion combined with the revised points system, it has changed how everyone races for the first 26 races, and not for the better. If you consider the downward slide of the sport in terms of overall long term fan appeal with the introduction of the COT, the chase, the new point system, a relatively unpopular Johnson's dominance of the championship and Junior's failure to do so,the very changes that were designed to attract new fans from other sports have not only failed to do that over the long term, they have also driven long time fans like me away. I haven't watched a single race this year from start to finish and haven't attended one. I like the changes for next year with cars that actually look different based on the manufacturer and the elimination of the top 35 in points guaranteed to qualify. But until the racing itself gets less dependent on pit strategy and more back to standing on the gas, the stands are going to be half full and the TV ratings aren't going to improve. If you don't think strategy plays a more vital role than balls out driving just think about how many races have been fuel mileage races this year and how many have been single file parades until 50 or less to go , and then everbody is wrecking each other to try to get to the front. How many green-white checkers have we watched because of that type of racing. It is almost predictable at certain tracks. I've been a fan for a long time and IMHO Mr France needs to get people like me back if he expects his sport to be viable in the long term. Don't be fooled by what Fox paid for NASCAR. That is simply economics of supply and demand at work. There are too many sports networks trying to be ESPN and chasing too little quality content in order to sell air time.And oh by the way, when they pay that kind of money for broadcast rights they need to sell 33% of the race or more as commercial air time to pay for it. NASCAR will never be the NFL and as soon as there a racers running NASCAR again and not millionaires with big egos who think they are marketing geniuses, we just might get back to the kind of product that put butts back in the seats and people in front of the tube on Sunday. Sooner or later the economy will get better and then NASCAR will have no excuse for why viewership and attendance is continuing its downward spiral.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if there is 1 or 4 screens. Unless the networks show and talk about all drivers rather than just the top few or just the chase drivers, it is a LOST CAUSE. I have been a fan since 1959 and have reached the point that I don't care to watch so I switch back and forth between the race and football with football getting the biggest share of my time. Since they don't show what the fans want why waste the time? The announcers have favorites and want to shove them down out throats and that is very agitating. Unless they improve the tv product, then fans will depart.

Thank you.
GA Red

Colorado said...

I have Hot Pass, and the problem I have with it is this: I PAY for that coverage, yet, the volume is down and split with actual telecast from the network. Then when the network goes to commercial, so does Hot Pass. The radio communication is muted, and especially under caution, I get to see Denny Hamlin for the 9 millionth time on how he hates losing. All the while, the pit strategy is out the window, because I can't hear it! As I have stated before, NOTHING will ever compete with the NFL! EVER!

matriarch said...

It isn't just the last 10 races that we are flooded with talk about the Chase. It started a few races after the season started and has continued ad nauseum. A constant flow of the Chase, the Chase, the Chase and a select few drivers. Eventually they cull it down to only those drivers vieing for the llth and 12th position, and then it's down to about 2 or 3 for the championship. The same broadcasters talking it to death all season. It kills the desire to tune in to any weekday or pre-race programming. This year has been the worst. Even ESPN has been caught up into this mess with the "fork". It has become nauseating. If NASCAR doesn't stop this soon, they'll have very few fans to broadcast to.

Charlie Spencer said...

Somehow I'm missing the relevance of the comparison to Red Zone. The NFL had several games going at once, with different ones televised in each TV market. NASCAR has only one race at a time, all televised nationally.

I also don't get the value of increasing the number of in-car cameras for Race Buddy. We scream here when the broadcast partner chooses too many in-car shots. Why would you want a variety of them? I'd much rather have a selection of feeds from the cameras mounted around the track. I'd pay for that, especially if synch'ed to MRN.

Yes, the broadcasts need work. I'm missing how either of these would be improvements.

GinaV24 said...

After whatever race was before Martinsville - you see how much attention I'm paying at this point - I had tweeted to Bestwick that I was disappointed that during the end of race recap, he had skipped over Gordon's 10th place finish to talk about Hamlin finishing 13th. His response was "I would guess you are a 24 fan but only the 2, 11 and 48 are "important" now".

Guess that tells me everything I needed to know about tuning in for any more races. I tweeted back that if my driver wasn't important, then I had no interest in watching any more races, which was your point about NASCAR pushing all the fans who aren't fans of the drivers in the chase away. Well, Gordon is in the chase, yeah, he isn't going to be 1st but still. It made me angry and 2 weeks later, I'm still angry.

We were supposed to be at Martinsville this past weekend but the hurricane made us change our plans. I saw no reason why I should fly into the storm and then not be able to get home again for goodness knows how many days.

I figured since ESPN disrespects me as a fan, I wouldn't watch much of the race and I didn't. I followed via radio and trackpass - Gordon had a good run - at least until he had to restart on the outside the last 2 times. I have no idea whether the coverage was good or bad. If ESPN doesn't care about me as a fan, well, heck, I don't need them either.

The coverage by ESPN for the races I did watch in the chase has annoyed me anyway. Having to listen to Rusty and Brad D spout nonsense is pathetic.

I watched football in between various preparations for weathering the storm.

I agree with matriarch. They talk about the chase from the first race of the season and yet the racing is not really worth watching since the competition is all equal and boring.

GinaV24 said...

MRM4, sorry the whole night race thing is overrated. It was damn cold in Charlotte and as Adam pointed out, there are tracks that don't have lights.

NASCAR has watered down the product and oversaturated their market. The drivers ride around for 3/4 of the race. I used to love going to a race, now I don't.

I have NO interest in sitting in the stands freezing so NASCAR can jump up and down about night races.

Kevin said...

If folks want to do something similar to the Red Zone Channel, ask NASCAR execs & TV partners to create a PASSING CHANNEL.

On the PASSING CHANNEL, the camera only shows battles through the field. If the only battle is a car in 14th place lapping a car in 31st place, show it.

This solves two problems. First, the folks on this blog who are dissatisfied with the coverage can turn on the PASSING CHANNEL and see battles through the field. Second, it allows the TV networks to offer their pre-scripted stories at will, because if the viewer doesn't like the stories, they can turn to the PASSING CHANNEL.

This wouldn't be different than the NFL forcing you to watch Oakland / Kansas City, with the option to watch cut-ins to other games with the Red Zone Channel.

The PASSING CHANNEL.

Think about it.

Chadderbox said...

Regarding NFL Red Zone Channel:

There are zero commercials! Hardly any kick offs or punts. It's all action. I have been watching it for 2 years now. I watched it yesterday for 7 hours and I saw every important part of every game practically when it happened. It's exciting. It's addicting too. When is the last time you watched LIVE TV for 7 Hours and never saw a commercial?

Anonymous said...

As always, great article. It would be so easy to present na$car in a much more up-to-date, nfl-ish fashion. It would just take one person to bring this to reality. As I see it: declining turnout at the races, declining viewers of tv coverage, economy not going to return to pre-recession days for a long time, 33% more money for fox tv coverage rights, tv media controls how race is shown. Recent history says we get status-quo. Too bad. MC

JakeL42 said...

Colorado:Completely agree with all you said there.

Although i don't love the action on the field oftentimes,i must also agree with JD that NOBODY matches the NFL when it comes to coverage options,Nascar remains way behind the curve when it comes to this kind of stuff.

The post pretty much says everything that needs to be said,but sadly as Maverick pointed out as long as BZF is in charge we likely won't see any of these needed changes,we can only hope that's not the case.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, NASCAR should wave the green flag BEFORE the NFL kick off. Just like in the "old days". The races were mostly on the east coast and all started noon est , 11am cst. You can't beat the NFL so start sooner and hope to gain interest. Everyone involved at the track, i.e., FANS, drivers, officals, crews. media and track employees would prefer to start early and leave early! A day at the track for a Cup race is a LONG DAY!

MortonGroveDon said...

Going to all Saturday nights would be worse than Sundays...With Sundays you have fewer games up against you., with the NFL running games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. TV has BCS quality games on Saturday night.Fox and ABC/ESPN have games on Saturday night.This is stupid move.....Im sure the Daytona Beach Mafia will be announcing a move to all Sat. night Chase racing.Why??? because Brian cant do anything else right.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Charlie,

The point is that when NASCAR went to the Chase format it was to try and lure NFL viewers away from the two regional games being shown on the over-the-air TV networks in each market.

The NFL responded to that challenge with the Red Zone, a cable channel that lures the hardcore fans by showing every key moment of every game for seven hours on NFL Sundays.

NASCAR needs to respond to this new challenge by taking a moment to rethink what could get TV viewers back to the sport.

It is very clear the Chase has resulted in a zero increase in TV ratings. When we look at this, we see that what has become lost in this new mix is the individual personalities of the races.

Back in the day, each race was a mini-Woodstock with its own specific character. Restoring this while rewarding drivers for racing for the win would perhaps be a positive step in rebuilding the sport.

We know all the other agendas, such as marketing and the new car. This was just my suggestion that perhaps this lame duck period could serve to host a review of the Chase.

Thanks,

JD

Sally said...

Along with all the missteps Nascar has made, the 'chase' has been the worst. Instead of each race being it's own entity with it's own importance, the first 2/3 of the season is buried beneath theis stupid 'chase'. Narrowing the focus of the final 10 races to basically 12 drivers is a total turnoff. If all TV is going to cover is those drivers, why should the 'other' 31 cars spend their time and money to go to the races? I have several drivers that I loke to 'follow' thru a race, but am denied that opportunity be the way races are covered. Putting so much emphasis on the season 'champeen' has taken too much away from each race to make it compelling to watch. Someone finally realized how far they have gotten off track (pun intended), and has started backtracking to some of the 'old ways'...testing again at track where they race, no more 'top 35' rule. Now, if they would get away from the phoney 'chase', the COT and the innovation killing rules, maybe Nascar would be fun to watch again.

Anonymous said...

JD has a great idea here. I wonder if he'll get a monthly royalty check from NASCAR if they use his idea? I know, I know. :)

I remember having this thought back in the early 1990's right after NASCAR grew rapidly after "Days of Thunder" and people were talking about NASCAR going up against the NFL and MLB: And that was why not let the racing season begin in mid December, keep the Daytona 500 when it currently is/was, and let the season end in late August before MLB has their playoffs and before the NFL season gets rolling?

You would already have people tied in to the points race near the end of the season and you wouldn't be competing near as much with MLB and the NFL for viewers. NASCAR has already proven they hate the traditional tracks that made NASCAR so why not change the start/finish months of the season?

GinaV24 said...

Anon 6:44 pm - Amen and you are so right. Start the races earlier, not later and let everyone have a life. Starting the chase races after 2 just wastes so much time from the day. If you're going to the race, you still have to get there early. I don't mind arriving early but I sure don't want to be there half the night, too. I'd like to get home at a decent hr after having fun at the track - that seems to be more and more a lost cause.

I wish that the owners in NASCAR would stage a palace coup and do what Indy car just did since its obvious that the emperor has NO clue.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

JD

Do you think that NASCAR cares? They are one of the most corrupt sports organizations in the us, probably the most.

BZF is on an intense power trip, so much so that he just dusts off fan complaints.

The people who try to stand up to him are reprimanded very seriosly either through driver fines and/or job termination.

NASCAR has shown they are not willing to change.

You said in a column years ago that there comes a time when it is impossible to give second chances to people who refuse to change.

Gina has pretty much given up hope, so have I and every longtime fan who has supported NASCAR for generations.


Oh The chase just has to be trashed.


saltsburgtrojanfan

E-Ticket said...

World Series... Anyone watch that? Who knows who was in it.. NFL and now College Football are Changing the Landscape. The NHL is shooting itself in the foot right now as well.. NASCAR has to get in the ZONE or they too will be like Baseball.. Does anyone watch anymore??

The Loose Wheel said...

Is it any coincidence that NASCAR's biggest point of growth was when they weren't deliberately trying to "steal" viewers from the NFL. The mid-to-late 90's was by far and away the boom era for NASCAR. Then the new television package for 2001 happened and slowly but surely NASCAR tried more and more to rival and surpass the NFL. However, in my eyes, that was a mistake. NASCAR will never rival the NFL. It will never rival football period. Saturday isn't the answer because college fans are probably even more die-hard than NFL fans. With more games to watch on Saturdays that would further dilute your potential viewership. I fell in love with NASCAR before I even cared for football. However, I have found myself more and more gravitating to football since NASCAR hasn't left me much to be desired in recent years. The Chase format has its place in this day and age but still creates a rift between those that like it and those that don't. I do not like the Chase. The races seemed to have more action when you had a season long points battle, but without the Chase the value of the sport would decrease. Sadly, NASCAR would never stand for that.

MRM4 said...

Roadgeek Adam, point taken. If NASCAR does decide to put Chase races on Saturday nights, those tracks without lights will be moved outside the Chase.

If they're going to keep the Chase, a shuffling of the schedule is needed anyway whether they move to Saturday nights or stick with Sundays. I'm tired of the same 10 tracks deciding the championship.

Sally said...

Being a Nascar fan used to make me feel as I had the inside line on a great sport that those 'stick and ball' fans would never understand. The traditions, the personalities, the rivalries, all those things made Nascar special and different to me. It was it's own little world, with fans who knew and appreciated what it took to be a Nascar driver/team. Then, all of a sudden, Nascar decided it wasn't enough to have their own special world, and it's been going downhill ever since. With leadership that looks only at the bottom line and not the health of the sport, it's not going to get better any time soon.

GinaV24 said...

E-ticket -ha, I had the same thought, I was watching the NFL on Fox and they said that game 4 of the world series was being played that night and I realized that I hadn't even thought about it. I'm sure baseball fans did, but I don't normall follow baseball so it wasn't even in my head.

Hockey? Sheesh, I used to be a big hockey fan but then they caught the same disease as baseball and even NASCAR, too many games, too many teams, diluted the product so that it wasn't worth following the sport until the playoffs and they go too long. Hockey is a winter sport - the playoffs should be finished before warm weather comes - as in by the end of MARCH. Baseball IMO is the same way - it's a summer sport, finish it up by the end of September.

I don't think that I'd start NASCAR's season in December because the weather is pretty funky most places - even in the west and southwest, but I do think the idea of having one race at each track instead of multiples AND finish the season by the end of September has meritm but NASCAR would never do that.

The loose wheel - I'm not sure how losing the chase would devalue the sport? Based on the sponsors pulling out, the TV coverage being lackluster at best, many fans losing interest - even though Jr - was running well this year, it doesn't seem that the value could fall much further.

Salt, yeah, I hate feeling like that, but I don't enjoy wasting my money & vacation time to do something that I don't enjoy any more because of someone else's poor decisions.

glenc1 said...

I guess I'm in the minority that doesn't care for the Red Zone. I have DISH & watched some of the previews. I thought it was made for the MTV generation that has no attention span. I've been a football fan since I was a child, when there was no cable, no 3 hours of repetitive pregame. When I watch a game, I like to invest myself in the game, learn the players (when it's not my team), the strategy, the type of plays that have been working...decisions made by the coaches early in a drive...who's been injured...sometimes it's not about those last few scoring plays. It's for the people who can't stay on one channel for more than 5 minutes. Not for me at all. I get that it's popular, people actually *pay* for it, which amazes me, but like they say, different strokes.... I don't think it's designed for hard core fans...to me, it's geared toward two things that until recently, I hadn't realized were so important to the league...fantasy football and gambling, neither of which I care about.

But in terms of racing, there are a lot of opportunities NASCAR could take to improve coverage with camera angles & technology...but as GA Red & matriarch & others have said, unless they fix the other problems, it might be useless. I have been a diehard, watching every race start to finish even while I was cursing my screen and turning on MRN. But after Martinsville, which used to be a favorite, I have thought to myself...do I really care that much about this? I'm not one to threaten and say 'I'll never watch this again if 'x' happens...' But it's wearing on me, it really is. I think some of the suggestions here might help, some might not. But as long as NASCAR is content and making $$$, they seem completely indifferent to what the fans have asked for.

Joe Bob said...

I just do not see NASCAR faring any better against NCAA football on Saturday nights or high school football on Friday nights than NASCAR does against the NFL on Sunday afternoons and nights. The only way for NASCAR to do well on Sundays is to drop the green flag and hour before the early NFL game and that runs the risk of losing viewership in the Western US. I know once the ball is kicked off and I am watching, the channel doesn't get changed until halftime at least and if it is a competitive game, not at all. NASCAR's brain trust cannot and will not ever admit the error of their ways concerning the Chase. Had the manufacturers not forced NASCAR's hand on the Car of Tomorrow's one size fits all problem, we would have never seen any movement on that issue. And until someone outside of Daytona forces their hand on the Chase, NASCAR will not ever budge on that issue. NASCAR historically has never been proactive, only reactive, and I do not see that miraculously changing anytime soon. NASCAR cannot and will not reorder the schedule because of traditions and commitments to communities that host the events. The logistics of such moves are greater than NASCAR's drive to succeed. Inertia. NASCAR's Achilles heel.

Chadderbox said...

One of the key factors in the Red Zone Channel coverage is the host. If you have watched the channel you know what I am talking about. The host operates with no agenda whatsoever and lets the action dictate the direction. He just rolls with it and provides the action.
A nascar channel for diehards similar to Red Zone would have to operate without an agenda and that is very different from what we get with ESPN.

Chadderbox said...

Monday night races in the spring, early in the season would be interesting? Maybe 1 or 2 before the baseball season heats up. One in March and one in April?
Wouldn't that allow for the event to be highlighted?

Overall though, the poor network coverage has to be corrected for the good of the sport. It's not all about what day the races are being run on.

GinaV24 said...

Perfect, Sally, ITA.
"The traditions, the personalities, the rivalries, all those things made Nascar special and different to me. It was it's own little world, with fans who knew and appreciated what it took to be a Nascar driver/team. Then, all of a sudden, Nascar decided it wasn't enough to have their own special world, and it's been going downhill ever since."

Chadderbox said...

I agree with those who say the chase needs tweaked some more or just done away with all together. But there is another side of the story too?

The way the drivers and teams are strategically approaching the chase each year, and how that has affected the nascar product throughout the season overall would have been hard to predict by those who came up with the chase. I know it sounds like I am going to bat for "Brain" France, but I am not. But the fact is now we see how the chase affects the racing throughout the season and something should be done to shake it up some more. Last year produced a tie after changes were made to reward winning and smoke won, and won and won some more in the chase after having a mediocre season up to the point of the chase. Winning broke the tie. So that change was effective wasn't it?

Charlie Spencer said...

Chadderbox, Monday night races would play to empty stands. Stick and ball sports in large cities can mostly fill the stands with locals; they don't rely on out-of-towners to fill the majority of the seats; and sell a large minority of their seats to corporations. Many NASCAR tracks are in the sticks, don't have as large a percentage of corporate seats, and fans won't be as willing to travel into the week as much as on a weekend.

Darcie said...

I'm sorry, but I don't care what tricks TV does to broadcast the races, it's NOT going to work. Nascar is dying, and we've all written ad nauseum what the problems are: terrible racing, no competition beyond maybe 7 teams, boring races, boring tracks, sanitized/robotic/boring drivers who are out of touch with the fans, Etch-A-Sketch rules book, too long season, and the stupid Chase. Hey, maybe if Nascar divided up their series by city, or even region, assigning teams to certain cities and then having them compete against other city's teams? Nascar Nation is born, with Nascar Pittburgh Teams going up against Nascar Chicago teams. But all kidding aside, as long as Nascar is boring, and the same teams win nearly every year, and TV insists on producing crappy shows, Nascar can just sit and decline while I watch NFL and NCAA.

Dannyboy said...

Just learned that this World Series was the lowest rated EVER. Guess they better drop the "Chase
format" too ;-P

I never have been one to watch entire NASCAR races, even in person. A few here & there, like Daytona, Talladega, Darlington (can you believe they DROPPED one race per year at this most exciting track?) etc, but mostly I don't watch full races anymore. I would rather watch an average football game, which works better as entertainment. Don't get me wrong - some of the racing we've had has been awesome, but there's simply too much follow-the-leader and fuel mileage strategy. Something HAS to change.

Alex Jordan said...

Nascar created the Chase to create excitement during the final part of the season after Matt Kenseth won the championship in 2003 by winning only one race early in the season. Once the CHase began only the Chasers mattered as ESPN basically ignored the drivers that weren't in the Chase. One surprise here lately is that ESPN has stopped ignoring drivers that aren't in the chase. They are now interviewing Kyle Busch who didn't make the chase and Aric Amirola who isnt in the chase. The fact that ESPN has interviewed non chasers is good and is a sign that ESPN might be chaning how they cover the chase. However when ESPN does up to speed, they do it for the chase drivers only. It would be nice if they did up to speed for the top 15 or 20 and not just the chase drivers.

Brian Z France said...

JD,we here at Nascar appreciate your opinion and concern about our sport,but last time i checked my onw mind this sport was in the best shape it's ever been.

Chadderbox said...

Regarding Charlie Spencer,

I agree about the travel issues for a Monday night race. I travel to 3 races a year myself. Good point.

Regarding the comment about "the last time I checked this sport was in the best shape it's ever been."

Is that true?

I know the sport is not going anywhere anytime soon but...attendance, sponsorship issues, and start and parks??

Not sure if I agree with the statement the sport has never been better.

GinaV24 said...

chadderbox, I have to say that I agree with Charlie. I wouldn't attend a Monday night race since the distance/time ratio doesn't work for me. I can justify taking either a Friday or a Monday off for vacation to attend a race, but I'm not interested in taking multiple days - especially based on the current lack of satisfaction/excitement when i attend a race.

The guy pretending to be Brian France is pulling our leg. LOL

BZF believes what he says, but I don't think very many others, unless he pays them, agree with him. they are just afraid to say anything other than the party line.

GinaV24 said...

Ratings info for Martinsville:

"The 500-lap event earned just a 2.4 Nielsen U.S. rating, with 3.617 million viewers to make it the least-watched Chase race in the track's history. The event registered just a 2.8 household coverage rating, down a startling 22 percent from a year ago although that number matched 2010 viewership totals."

So maybe Allen Bestwick's comment that only the 2, 48 and 11 were important affected more fans interest than just mine - I retweeted it to anyone who follows me and asked the question - if that is the case, why should I watch?

Guess I wasn't the only one who tuned out! Just saw that the next 3 races will start at 3 p.m. Yeah that will make me watch -- Not!

Anonymous said...

The next two races are Texas (central time) and Phoenix (I think DST is over this weekend so it would be 3 hrs.) Getting people in the stands at 11 or 12 is not easy by the time you figure in parking & traffic. Spectators should come first.

No idea why Homestead is starting that late, though. They do have lights.