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NASCAR/ESPN could see higher television ratings this week, but how long will it last?

By admin | November 10, 2010

By Richard Allen

NASCAR’s television ratings have been pretty bad this year and that may be putting it mildly. In most races run this season the ratings have gone down in year to year comparisons and it’s not as if 2009 was a particularly strong season for NASCAR’s network partners.

However, coming into this weekend’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix virtually every possible scenario to create a buzz around the sport has fallen into place.

For starters, what American sports fan has not seen a clip of the dust up between Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton? Nothing like the controversy of a physical confrontation can stir interest in an upcoming event. Many folks may have missed seeing the Gordon vs. Burton bout live(and judging from the ratings of the Texas race many, many people missed seeing it live). But, they may tune in this Sunday as NASCAR races in Phoenix to see if there will be a round two.

Another factor that could cause more viewers than have been watching so far to tune in is the fact that the Chase for the Championship points battle is one of the closest since the system was adopted back in 2004. Additionally, there are three drivers with a chance of winning the Cup which can add to the possible scenarios and intrigue.

Also, it could be worth watching to witness the next Kyle Busch meltdown. Who will feel the wrath of his scorn in the Arizona desert?

And perhaps best of all for NASCAR, four time consecutive champion Jimmie Johnson and his team have shown signs of weakness and could possibly lose this year’s Chase. As awe inspiring as watching a dynasty being built may be, it does not compare with watching it fall in the eyes of many onlookers.

However, even though the things to have happened last weekend almost certainly will create a bit more interest, the factors that have served to drive fans away in the first place are still there. That close points battle is as such because it is contrived. The Chase for the Championship has been seen by many fans for what it is, a way of artificially creating excitement rather than allowing a season long champion to be crowned.

The Car of Tomorrow will still be the vehicle in use in Phoenix whether Gordon and Burton fought last week or not. The car is a generic beast with no reason for anyone to feel any sense of loyalty to it. Brand identity used to be one of the great drawing factors for NASCAR.

So, it is certainly a possibility that the events of last week could cause enough of a buzz that the Phoenix race might actually see and ratings bump for ESPN. For that matter, it would be difficult to imagine how ratings could not increase this week. However, unless NASCAR can find a way to get all of that same stuff to happen week after week, it is likely any bump will only be short-lived.

If this weekend’s ratings are still below those of previous years, it will be the strongest indictment yet against the factors that have hurt this sport.

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Here are other columns you may find interesting:

Races like that will cause people to start watching NASCAR again

Should NASCAR suspend Kyle Busch from Sprint Cup race in Texas?

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “NASCAR/ESPN could see higher television ratings this week, but how long will it last?”

  1. gary Says:
    November 11th, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Can you say the 3 C’s and a B? Chase, COT, Cable T.V. and Boring, the combination for poor ratings and poorer attendance.

  2. jerseygirl Says:
    November 11th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    My guy is out of contention and ESPN’s broadcast will be focused on Johnson & Hamlin, points if the race ended now and other nonsense instead of the race.

    All the “excitement” at Texas had little to do with the actual racing. Did I enjoy Hamlin winning the race to take the points lead, yes, but not enough to make me care about the last 2 races. I hope that someone beats Johnson for the 10 race trophy this year. I’d prefer Harvick to Hamlin, but again, not enough to make me care about the last 2 races.

    I have no reason to watch and probably won’t bother.

  3. midasmicah Says:
    November 11th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Bottom line. Give the fans what they want and they’ll return. Last week was a good race. Let’s hope it continues this week-end.

  4. C6Racer Says:
    November 11th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    But what happens to NASCAR/ESPN when we don’t come back this week? Will Brian finally realize that the wheels have fallen off this thing called NASCAR and that the damage is deep and wide and in some cases beyond repair. I hate the Chase, the COT and the Top 35 rule. It used to be that I said if they could fix just one of these three problems, I would be back but now . . .With the grossly inconsistent penalties for seemingly minor violations and the secret fines for drivers who spoke out added to the mix, nothing short of Brian France being ridden out of town on a rail would ever get me back to watch a Chase race on what is predicted to be a spectacular weather weekend here in the Midwest.