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( http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/Â ), 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 donâ€™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.
NASCARâ€™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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