By admin | October 15, 2012
By Richard Allen
For those of us who have become disheartened by the direction NASCAR has taken over the past several years, the news that came out on Monday morning does not offer hope for any sort of meaningful change. With its television contracts set to expire at the end of the 2014 season, the sanctioning body has signed an extension with one of its partners that will assure the sport a place in American households through the year 2022.
Fox, which has aired the sport since 2001, has agreed to an eight year extension that will pay NASCAR $2.4 billion over the course of that time. That equates to a sum of $300 million per year. The current deal between the two entities pays NASCAR $220 million per year.
Fox airs the first 13 events of the season on its stations. That will continue to be the case throughout the new agreement.
According to Jeff Gluck of SBNation.com, viewership of Sprint Cup races has declined by 1.4 million viewers per race since 2007. And more, attendance at many tracks has dropped off by a significant amount. Vast empty spaces in the grandstands ringing most tracks has become the norm of late. That was evidenced this past Saturday night in Charlotte at “The only night race in the Chase” in the very heart of NASCAR country.
Many, including myself, thought it stood to reason that with lowering attendance and ratings NASCAR would receive less money in its upcoming television deals which would get the attention of the powers that be. In turn, many, including myself, hoped that changes might be made for the betterment of the sport. Instead, there is little reason to believe anything of substance will occur as long as the top brass continue to have their pockets lined by TV networks.
The Car of Tomorrow, which has improved safety, has proven to be an abyssmal failure at providing good on track racing as drivers constantly complain of ill handling machines that all run the same speed and rarely pass each other. But apparently that doesn’t bother the personality driven networks who push certain individuals rather than the actual racing.
So, expect nothing more than the type of cosmetic changes to the car that will be instituted next season. The poor quality of racing won’t change just because of a tweak to the grill and headlight areas.
The Chase for the Championship has turned a sport where each individual race once mattered into a series of points collections where drivers and teams are afraid to take any risks for fear of losing positions within the standings. Running a safe 10th is valued far more than attempting a charge to the front that might result in spinning on the last lap and dropping to 20th place int eh final rundown.
If you don’t like the type of racing that now takes place in modern day NASCAR, don’t expect any changes. Fox apparently thinks it’s great.
It used to be that when my non race fan friends would ask how I could sit for hours at a time just watching cars drive around in circles, I would attempt to point out the nuances of racing that provided intrigue for the enthusiast. Now, I just simply concede that the sport is little more than a bunch of cars riding around in a circle for hours waiting for the inevitable fuel mileage stretch to the end.
It’s a shame that so many fans have been pushed away from a sport they once loved and planned their weekends around. But in the corporate world we live in, that doesn’t have to matter to those who make the decisions. They have enough cash in their pockets to help them overlook the empty seats on lowered ratings.
Sorry malcontents(like myself), but the Fox TV deal tells NASCAR that all is well with the sport.
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