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NASCAR television coverage must improve in 2011

By admin | February 15, 2011

By Richard Allen

As has been well documented, television ratings for NASCAR racing have been in what amounts to a freefall for quite some time now. While many blame the product being shown for the decreasing number of viewers, there are seemingly almost as many who blame the coverage itself for the decline.

Every time a television coverage based column is placed on this website there are always a number of comments by fans voicing their displeasure with what they are watching, or not watching. And more, sites such as The Daly Planet( ), a website dedicated to the discussion of sports television, receives even more criticism.

There are too many commercials and those commercials come at inappropriate times, the announcers say the same things week after week and year after year, the announcers and the on screen showings are biased toward certain drivers, cameras don’t catch all of the action, there are too many non-racing people and segments, and the announcers misuse the English language. These are among the critical thoughts I have heard and read on multiple occasions.

Whether those things are actually true or not does not really matter. Perception is truth in the mind of the viewer and right now the perception of NASCAR television coverage is not good.

In 2011, the networks need to do whatever they can to change those perceptions. If they continue to offer the same product they most likely will continue get the same results, lower ratings. Obviously, networks want higher ratings so they can receive the highest revenue possible from their advertisers.

NASCAR’s current contracts with Fox/Speed, TNT and ABC/ESPN expire in 2014. The networks have two possible options as to how they can handle the next three years. They can make adjustments in order to change those perceptions listed above, or they can simply ride it out in an attempt to salvage whatever can be salvaged until their deals expire.

The 2010 shift of most Chase for the Championship races from ABC to ESPN, whether intended or not, certainly gave the appearance of a network that is simply trying to ride out their current contract with the least amount of investment as possible. The ABC/ESPN folks may very well have believed the change would benefit either themselves or the sport in some way but the ratings certainly did not bear that out.

However, for all the complaints, NASCAR broadcasts still rate relatively well in comparison to other sports. While ratings may be lower than in the past, there is still something there to work with. What the networks do with the situation at hand is up to them but each broadcaster needs to address the numerous concerns of their viewers, or else, it could be a long season and long next three years.

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12 Responses to “NASCAR television coverage must improve in 2011”

  1. Charles Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Its all about he product Nascar is selling that is really hurting the TV rating in my opinion!

    I can put up with some bad coverage is the races are good, I still think if Nascar would stop some of the hype of prerace and after race show replace some of the personalies and be more sincere to the average viewer instead of giving a “NASCAR FOR DUMMYS” show every week, it would be better!!

    But its all about the product Nascar is selling! Just watching them panic at Daytona about the race and all the changes just before the race they are doing makes me think they are “filming a movie” instead of having a professional race on Sunday !!!!!!!

  2. tyler west Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 7:15 am

    They need to lose all those on camera who have never done anything related to racing. I don’t want comedians, professional TV people, the weekly celebrity who is just there to push whatever crap they are invested in, lose all that junk. I’m sick of them trying too manufacture drama. It is all a little bit much. They need to stick to what is most important to that weeks race. I also think it would really help the coverage if eventually someone could dethroan Johnson. They also need to stop kissing Hendrick Motorsports butt. They are what is wrong with the sport. They get all the calls, all the endorsements, they are the Yankees of stock car racing. If they just cut out some of that mess I think it would be alot better. Too bad they can’t just film the MRN guys covering the race. They rock!

  3. Steve Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I just think the broadcasters need to stop using the word “heighth” to describe how tall something is. It is HEIGHT, as in “what is your height and weight please?”. There is no “th” at the end of height! It frustrates me, lol

  4. tyler west Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    A channel like SPEED should cover the races. ESPN does not do a good job, all they care about is mainstream sports. Most of those are crap. Racing needs to be covered by a channel that cares about racing. Racing needs to be covered by racers, not ESPN and all their mess. NASCAR screwed up trying to please the networks. That in my opion is where they started their downward turn in their ratings. What does it matter if the rest of the country thinks it is a redneck sport. That’s their own stupidity.

  5. Kevin Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Agreed, show the race, don’t waste my time telling me a tire is round and a fuel can dumps fuel into the fuel tank. Thanks genius. Lose the animations & cut the fat. Show me the race on the track and don’t go to commercial during green flag racing. I don’t need 12 colour commentators for the race. Give me a play by play guy, a NASCAR informed person for colour commentary and 4 or 5 pit reporters to gather information. Anything more than that is unnecessary and annoying. I tune in to watch the RACE. Nothing more, but apparently lately, a whole lot LESS!

  6. Bill B Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 10:45 am

    There are three problems that are turning people off. One may not be fixable, the other two are very fixable.

    Too many commercials. No wonder everyone is DVR-ing the races, sometimes the perception is that it’s almost a one-to-one ratio. One minute of commercials for every one minute of racing. That’s just too much. I know that commercials are what pays for the event so maybe this isn’t fixable but don’t blame people for using the DVR to weed out most of those commercials. No one wants to waste that much time of their life watching commercials.

    Inane chatter from the announcers and scripts that are predetermined before the race. Just tell us what’s happening on the track. If nothing interesting is happening at the front, find someone else on the track that is racing hard or having a problem. And throw out the scripts. Too many times it seems the announcers are too fixed on one story that they’ve planned on being a story before the race started. Meanwhile they miss the real stories happening before their eyes. This one is definitely fixable.

    Show us as much green flag racing as is possible. That’s what we care about above all else. If you must go to the Hollywood Hotel, or give us stat about the Top Running Toyotas, or the Home Depot “keys to the race” etc., do it during the cautions. We tune in to see green flag racing not hear talking heads talk or have questionable stats flashed in front of us. I realize that many of these spots are tied to advertising but it has gotten ridiculous. This one should be, at least, partially fixable.

  7. zhills fan Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I totally agree with Kevin’s statement. Just show me the race!!

  8. Joe W. Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I also think they should cut the pre-race talk and all the in race things that we should really already know. I would like to see more driver interviews after the race, but don’t stick a camera in a driver’s face right after a wreck. You don’t interview a QB right after an interception. Give the drivers time to cool off 1st. And most importantly, have FOX stop trying to shove toyota down our throats. Just cover the race. I am a Ford guy and no amount of bias on FOX for toyota is going to change that!! EVER. So just call the darn race!

  9. Darren Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    It would also help if they actually showed the race on the main network channel instead of burying it on a secondary cable/sat only channel. Plus the thought of ever moving the end of the race to another channel before it is over should be forbidden! If they could get rid of the stupid graphics, fake mascots, and video game like replays and just show real racing and real replays it would be an improvement. Last…NO MORE SAPPY SOB STORIES! I HATE the preshow stories of woe to make fake drama before the race. I DON’T CARE! Just show the race please.

  10. mrclause Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I think whats missing are professional announcers. A couple of drivers and crew chiefs have made the transition to announcing very well, Benny, Andy, Dale, Buddy, they became professional. Now there is DW, Larry, Rusty, Brad, even Kenny, that just haven’t transitioned. All are self promoters, show alliances, favorites, cast their opinions based on back in the day, their days. Then instead of following the leadership of the Joy’s, the Byrnes, the Bestwicks, they take over the shows as if they are still the kings they once were. Look at the professionals that are working pit lane interviews, move them into the booth, utilize their talent and current knowledge. Stop putting the Brads and Rusty’s with the Roberts, the Meyers, as their leads, it just turns the broadcasts into a second rate show that fans won’t accept.

    When you get the head of FOX programming saying that DW is their center piece for knowledge for the broadcasts and he is being under utilized, the you know FOX doesn’t think NASCAR fans are worth any real effort. Bob Dilner is uninformed, not capable? Wendy Venturini doesn’t deserve a shot, isn’t informed? Those are just two examples of what the networks are ignoring. Why? Because DW is the be all end all?

    Do away with the BooB factor and fans may come back, ratings may come back. Let any of the networks dump these type of announcers, play by play people on baseball, the NBA, the NFL, and see how long they last. The leagues wouldn’t stand for it and not a single network would present this class of announcing to begin with. Why NASCAR? In actuality, I think this is exactly what NASCAR wants, cheerleaders not professionals.

  11. sarah Says:
    November 20th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    as 40 year old woman, and fairly recent fan of the sport who only started watching the coverages over the last 10 years - i just want to put my 2 cents in…

    I really wish that one network would carry the coverage for a whole season -NOT a few weeks on Fox, a few weeks on TBS/TNT, a few weeks on ABC/ESPN or whatever… i hate having to search…

    -i like FOX coverage the best - i love DW & the crew, they know what they are talking about, but don’t talk too technical so someone like myself can actually understand what they are talking about.
    -i do NOT like watching ESPN coverage - the announcers just don’t seem to have the same chemistry - if i’m watching a race, i dont’ need clips of whatever college football game happened that week - not during the race!!!!! save that for SportsCenter please!
    (i will concede that ESPN is the only channel that does the split screen coverage during commercials; but if something happens, they don’t go back live so we can know what happened & why the yellow flag - PLEASE just stop the commercial, go live, show us what happened, explain the circumstance of the yellow flag - and then show the commercial again while under caution & the cars are just following the pace car instead of letting it run its course…)

  12. sarah Says:
    November 20th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    BTW - i love RaceDay on Speed!!! i usually have Speed channel on from the time i get up on Sunday mornings, until it’s time to find whatever channel the actual race is on that week…
    john roberts, kyle petty, kenny wallace - that is a great combination - those guys definately have great chemistry!