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Author Topic: Article on Race Ratings  (Read 810 times)
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« on: March 25, 2004, 02:46:33 PM »

Here's an article from Mike Mulhern at the Winston-Salem Journal.  To me, this sounds like the Fox executives who have no clue about racing are running scared about the drop in ratings.  What I find hilarious is that this person is surprised that there is a decline in the "big-city markets."  I guess he hasn't figured out that every "big" market happens to host the most boring races on the circuit.  

He also states that the "casual" fans lose interest when there is a week off.  Imagine that!  Does he understand that the market they are targeting are the short attention span crowd?  Also, more mixing sports terms in calling an off-week a "bye."  Give me a break!

The last thing in this article that bothers me, but I suspected, is that Fox told the drivers they have to wait outside their cars until the invocation and anthem are done.  I'd noticed this and figured it was another call made by TV.  So we can get more "personal" with them.  Fox executives obviously don't understand the drivers need some time to get settled in their cars and a little peace and quiet before they start the race.  


Fox Says Lower Ratings for Races No Cause for Worry

By Mike Mulhern

NASCAR's TV ratings have been down sharply the past few races, and that's a worrisome trend, particularly given the tough sponsorship market.

But Fox's Lou D'Ermilio said his network can see the trend-line changing for the better, and it's not time to panic.

We think the bye week after Rockingham hurt continuity," D'Ermilio said of the Leap Year off weekend. "The reason we think that is, the falloff we've seen has been in initial tune-ins. The ratings growth we normally see throughout a race is normal.

"And what we're also seeing is that with each successive race the falloff has declined. We're getting closer to what we normally see. So we're not sending up any alarms. We think the next three to four weeks that trend will continue, and we'll get things back to normal."

At the moment, NASCAR's ratings are down nine percent for the year.

For the Fox half of last season, ratings averaged 5.8, which was the same as for 2002.

"Right now we're averaging a 6.1, but compared to a 6.7 for the first three races last year," D'Ermilio said.

This week's national ratings from Sunday's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington weren't available yesterday morning, D'Ermilio said.

Next week's stop in Dallas-Fort Worth is usually a major TV event for NASCAR. Last year it did a 6.3, above average for Fox. D'Ermilio said that Fox wants to do much better than that this time: "Hopefully that would be on the short end of the window where we hope to see things equalize. But Texas is only two weeks away, and we might need a little more time than that."

The Auto Club 500 at California Speedway on May 2 is another high-profile TV race. But last year it drew only a 5.3, well below average.

What is perhaps most worrisome about the decline in NASCAR's TV ratings is the decline in big-city markets.

"Some of the areas we've been hit hardest have been in more non-traditional areas, where you'd have more casual viewers," D'Ermilio said. "We think casual viewers would be more affected by the bye-week than ardent viewers."

Over saturation, D'Ermilio said, isn't a problem for NASCAR.

"NASCAR is unique - how can you get oversaturated when you only have one race a week?" he said. "The NFL has three windows every Sunday plus Sunday night and Monday night. That's five opportunities to watch a football game. But there is only one shot at a NASCAR race.

"And compared to everything else that is on this time of year, these ratings are superb. The Nextel Cup races our first three weeks were by far the highest-rated event on network TV all three weeks."

There has been some question about Fox's promotion of its NASCAR packages, but D'Ermilio said, "We're at the same level of promotions as last year, with promos on Speed and Fox Sports Net and Totally NASCAR and NASCAR This Morning and FX. We haven't cut back.

"Creatively we've got the same team in place, Neil (Goldberg) and Artie (Kempner) are the best. We've made some moves in the pre-race show to personalize the drivers, by shooting the drivers outside their cars during the anthem and invocation. We think that's better for fans at home to see their faces. We started that at Rockingham."

NASCAR isn't the only sport with declining TV ratings.

"There has been some falloff in other sports as well this year," D'Ermilio said. "PGA golf is off about nine percent. Regular-season NCAA basketball on CBS was down about 10 percent. And the NBA on ABC is down about 14 percent."

D'Ermilio said that it apparently doesn't matter how boring or less-than-thrilling the races are, or how long the shows go on, that the number of viewers actually increases as the races continue.

Mike Mulhern can be reached at mmulhern
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2004, 11:10:45 PM »

Of course the networks aren't worried about their's just the way it is for everyone, right?  Nothing about how Nascar was the ONLY sport not losing ratings...till this year.  Big city markets don't care about Nascar.  Did they miss that Jeff Gordon moved there becuse he can walk around and no one knows who he is?  They think a closeup of a driver standing outside his car during the Anthem is personal, eh?  They don't have a clue.  They think all it takes is putting a track in someone's back yard is enough to make them $$$.  If the racing is boring, so what?  The new, desirable fans won't know the difference.  HEY!  Maybe that's why thy are in such a hurry to get rid of the old tracks with exciting races...then the parades can't be compared to a race at a GOOD track!
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