By admin | September 24, 2012
By Richard Allen
Many believe an ulterior motive for NASCAR’s creating the Chase for the Championship was to compete with the NFL for Sunday television ratings during the fall season. According to this theory, a playoff like system with points being re-set among a limited number of drivers was supposed would garner greater interest with the virtual guarantee that the points race would come down to the final lap of the season.
If that was indeed one of the reasons for creating the Chase, things are not working out too well. The NFL is a behemoth on television and to think that any other sport could take them on is wishful thinking at best.
But if NASCAR really wants to, or wanted to, take them on, it would help for them to not allow certain mistakes to be made during the coverage of their races.
For one thing, races should start earlier than football rather than after the opening kickoffs of the first games of the day. The Chase races in Chicago and New Hampshire have not taken the green flag until after 2:00pm(eastern). NFL games start at 1:00pm(eastern).
By the time those races began, casual fans had been allowed to get entrenched in the NFL for an hour. If the games are close, those fans are not turning away to watch NASCAR.
On Sunday, I saw a number of Twitter posts in which fans proclaimed that the early NFL games were too good and they had no intentions of leaving them at that time. If races started at 12:30 or 12:45 there might be a chance to capture some viewers before they get locked into something else.
Second, it would also help NASCAR to not have their television partners doing stories about the NFL and the drivers love of it during pre-race shows. A feature was aired on Sunday of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discussing his NFL fantasy team and how he gets updates of the games over his team radio during races.
Their have also been features done in the past of other drivers such as Matt Kenseth and his Green Bay Packers fandom.
I am not a businessman but I would assume that one rule of gaining and keeping customers would be to not remind those customers of the competition. I don’t recall seeing very many features on an NFL player’s NASCAR fantasy teams.
But the most important thing to remember about taking on the NFL is that no one can take on the NFL. And using gimmicks like the Chase and the Car of Tomorrow will not cause new fans to come to the sport. Instead, the abandonment of the sport’s roots will only cause old and once reliable fans to become alienated.
The best advice anyone could have given NASCAR would have been to be itself and not try to be something it’s not. But it’s too late for that now.
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