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Did ABC/ESPN choose the NBA over NASCAR?

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.

ESPN Radio personality Colin Cowherd says his network opted for the NBA over NASCAR.

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 season’s NBA Finals drew more viewers than any 2013 NASCAR race.

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 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 with the Sprint Cup trophy on the line in Charlotte, NASCAR ratings can’t match the NBA Finals.

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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4 Responses to “Did ABC/ESPN choose the NBA over NASCAR?”

  1. Robert Green Says:
    October 24th, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    The rest of the story… Yes, you’re right, money talks in the business world but politics comes in a close second and I’d wager it played in here to an extent… Disney/ABC/ESPN is a left leaning organization and the NBA appeals to the folks who live in the left leaning big cities while little ole NASCAR appeals to the right leaning good old boys who live outside the cities… I admit I may be wrong, but there’s a lot of truth in these words…

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 6:59 am

    My brother has had a saying that figures don’t lie but liars can figure.

    The biggest game of the NBA year is the final game whether it be #’s 4,5,6 or 7. The biggest event in Nascar is the Daytona 500. My bet is if you compare the numbers for the NBA’s big game and the Daytona 500 over the past 5 years you get either a wash or Nascar wins by a nose.

    The reason may lie in the demographics of the sports. The NBA draws a more favorable demographic and TV marketers have conned companies into paying double for the 18-34 demographic. The reason I say conned is that the reality is the older demographics actually spend more money on products. They just aren’t as gullible as the 18-34’s.’

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Rich, I think Cowherd is a giant dummy. To me, I want to see Sports Broadcasters who telecast their races or games the same as College Gameday to a raving circus of Frat Boys.

  4. Annie Says:
    October 27th, 2013 at 12:20 am

    And no proof whatsoever, but maybe the networks are just plain tired of dealing with the France family greed? Cause they sure don’t give a lick about the one’s that brought them to the dance. Just my observation with no basis in fact…