By admin | October 24, 2013
By Richard Allen
Colin Cowherd is one of the best sports talk radio personalities in the business. This is so because he has an amazing ability to stir his listeners with what initially seem to be outlandish statements but then back those comments with(at least his perception of) the facts.
On Thursday morning, the ESPN Radio host went on a bit of a rant regarding the pecking order of the various sports leagues on television. In the process of pointing out that the NFL basically gets whatever it wants from the TV networks, Cowherd made a sidebar remark that included NASCAR.
”We(meaning ESPN) didn’t re-sign NASCAR because we hope to re-sign the NBA,” Cowherd declared while claiming that the NFL intentionally schedules its off-season events to take attention away from the NBA Finals.
As far as this NASCAR-centered blog is concerned, the real question is whether or not ESPN chose the NBA over NASCAR. If the network did indeed have to choose where to allocate its dollars, as Cowherd’s statement suggests, the professional basketball league apparently proved more appealing to the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader” in sports programming.
While some NASCAR fans may take offence to such a notion, the numbers suggest that ESPN made the right decision.
Last year’s NBA Finals drew some pretty lofty ratings compared to NASCAR’s version of a ”playoff”. According to the story linked in the previous sentence, an average of 17.7 million ABC viewers took in the basketball playoffs between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. That included 26.3 million viewers for Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
ABC is the parent network of ESPN. The two often interchange sports programming, including NASCAR.
The NASCAR focused Jayski.com website’s TV ratings page reveals that the most watched Chase for the Sprint Cup race of 2013 was the Saturday night event held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That race captured the attention of 5.56 million viewers. That’s over 20 million viewers shy of the NBA’s deciding game.
Chase races are primarily shown by ESPN, but the Charlotte race was broadcast on ABC.
Even NASCAR’s “Super Bowl”, the Daytona 500, fell short of posting numbers to rival the NBA’s final contest. A total of 16.65 million fans watched that race on the Fox Network in February.
Reports surfaced a few weeks ago that ABC/ESPN, along with Turner’s TNT Network, had made an attempt to get out of their current NASCAR contract a year early. This, it was said, would clear the way for new NASCAR television partner NBC to start covering races earlier than originally planned.
That alleged effort has fallen through.
Apparently, the all sports network was hoping to allocate more resources for a bid to re-sign the NBA. The current contract between the NBA and partners ESPN and Turner runs through the 2015-16 season, which means bidding for an extension is likely already underway.
Fox and NBC doled out some big dollars to land the broadcast rights for NASCAR over the next several years. If Colin Cowherd’s statement is correct, ESPN apparently wanted no part of that bidding as it was saving its money to go after the NBA.
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