By admin | July 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
Some might have seen the potential for an NFL lockout as a means for NASCAR to gain ratings numbers for their televised races during their fall stretch run of the Chase for the Championship. However, if a bit of thought is applied to the matter, a disaster for the racing organization may have been averted when the players and owners reached a deal to keep the professional football league operating in 2011.
While there may have been a small ratings bump for NASCAR with one of the major sporting competitors off the market, there is also the possibility that there might not have been a bump. In truth, the risk for NASCAR of not having the NFL on television was probably far greater than any slight and temporary reward they might have seen.
Had the main participants not reached an agreement and the players had indeed been locked out, NASCAR officials and television producers would have lost the ability to say things like, “It’s always tough when you have to go against the NFL.”
Now, that tried and true line can continue to roll out of the mouths of those involved.
Likely, NASCAR would not have made any significant gains from a lockout. While ratings for their broadcasts have been up slightly this season, consider that they had sunk so low in previous years that the comparisons were made quite easy. Also, consider that NASCAR does not compete with the NFL from February through August and since 2005 those ratings have been every bit as depressed as those of the fall races.
When ABC decided to move into the NASCAR television market a few years ago it was believed that they would be able to use the Chase for the Championship playoff as a marketing tool that would at least generate some degree of competition against the football behemoth. Instead, ABC was beaten into submission so badly that the national network moved its NASCAR broadcasts to its cable partner, ESPN.
It was argued at the time of the move that ESPN’s prolific and unashamed self-promotion would actually benefit NASCAR. Rather, ratings for the fall races went even lower as fewer households had the availability to receive the cable airings. And more, NASCAR takes on somewhat the feel of a time killer as ESPN fills the void between its NFL pre-game show and it’s post-game highlights special.
In reality, NASCAR was not going to gain anything on a permanent basis from an NFL lockout. Any ratings boost would have been slight and temporary. Now, NASCAR and television officials can relax and always point to the fact that, “It’s always tough when you have to go against the NFL.”
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