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How much would you be willing to pay to watch NASCAR on television?

By admin | June 2, 2009

By Richard Allen

On Wednesday night race fans will have the opportunity to purchase a pay-per-view event and watch their favorite NASCAR stars race on the dirt of Eldora Speedway. The cost for the ‘Prelude to the Dream’ is $24.95 and the proceeds go to charitable causes. In my opinion, it is money well spent but in difficult economic times each fan has to decide for that themselves.

Now, with the above unsolicited promo out of the way, here is a bigger question. How much would you be willing to pay to watch NASCAR events on television or listen to those events on the radio? Or for that matter, are you willing to pay to watch or listen to NASCAR at all?

NASCAR is in the process of laying groundwork for that very thing. The current media contracts for television, radio and internet media rights run out in the year 2014. The sanctioning body is putting the pieces in place so that they will be ready in that year to fully capitalize on any and all media opportunities.

According to a published report in Sports Business Journal, NASCAR is about to open a new $45 million state-of-the-art media center in downtown Charlotte adjacent to the soon to be completed NASCAR Hall of Fame.

They are not going to all this expense and trouble to create more two minute video and audio clips for NASCAR.com. Obviously, there is a plan and even the biggest of NASCAR critics has to admit that no one is more skilled at laying the groundwork to make more money than this organization.

When those contracts expire in 2014, NASCAR will be able to go to any and all interested media partners with what they believe will be a strong hand to play. “Either give us what we want or we will go out on our own” will be the message delivered to such companies as Fox, ABC/ESPN and Sirius.

No doubt, NASCAR has looked around at the changing landscape of sports media. In recent years the powerful National Football League has taken a similar step.

The NFL Network has begun broadcasting live events as well as replays of games and other special programming. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and even the Big 10 Conference have taken similar steps, just not with the same clout as the NFL.

A NASCAR network would probably start out slowly, like the NFL Network, then build over time. Broadcasting such live events as qualifying and practice as well as producing on location programming as a support vehicle for the races themselves would be the type thing the new network would likely offer in the beginning.

Fox’s SpeedTV does much of that type programming already. If NASCAR is determined to go in this direction they may consider buying SpeedTV to open a door into the approximately 75 million households that network already reaches. Or, they could attempt the same type of strong arm tactics the NFL has tried with the various cable and satellite providers.

If NASCAR starts its own television network they would have to broadcast some actual live race events for said network to gain full credibility. Perhaps this summer stretch of races currently about to be aired on TNT would be the place to start.

It would be hard to imagine big races such as the Daytona 500 and a few select others being broadcast on a start up cable only network. However, races at Pocono or Sonoma might work just as well on that type of medium. As a matter of fact, the major networks might rather work out a deal that would not saddle them with the less prestigious events.

Before NASCAR moves much further along on any media plans, they should take time to consider one very important thing. That is, the product they offer is quickly losing its value. The strong hand they think they have to play may not be so strong after all.

Thus far in 2009, television ratings have been down by as much as 15% as compared to last year. Those numbers make for a particularly poor showing when it is considered that last year was not such a great year.

Granted, on most weekends NASCAR broadcasts are still the top rated sports events, which is a powerful bargaining chip with advertisers. However, continued declines in ratings will eventually hurt, no matter what the overall ranking may be.

NASCAR should consider improving their product before they look at ways to better broadcast their product. There are fewer lead changes, more laps run under caution and less side by side racing than there ever has been in the sport.

The most polished broadcast in the world is not worth much when the product on the screen or coming from the speakers is sub-standard.

If NASCAR wants to go in the direction of forming its own television and radio networks, and they obviously do, they had better consider something far more important than latest HDTV cameras and new office buildings. They better improve the quality of that which they intend to broadcast or no one will be watching or listening.

One thing is almost certain, the days of a full schedule of NASCAR racing being broadcast on free network television and free radio are numbered. Either on a pay-per-view basis or additional cost on cable and satellite bills, watching and listening to NASCAR is going to cost more in the future.

Now, with all that said, check out the ‘Prelude to the Dream’ on Wednesday night and consider how much watching NASCAR on a weekly basis is worth to you.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

29 Responses to “How much would you be willing to pay to watch NASCAR on television?”

  1. The Old Guy Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Prelude to the Dream will draw a “PPV” crowd. NASCAR races will not.

    NASCAR tried selling some of its races on PPV in the early 90s and the program was a complete flop.

    Granted, NASCAR is more popular today than in , say, 1991. But, the TV viewer numbers are declining along with the number of tickets sold to the actual events.

    For me, I’m certainly not willing to pay to see any NASCAR race on TV and only willing to pay to go to an actual event 2 - 3 times a year.

    Should NASCAR choose to go that route, I can’t help but believe that it would be a real mistake.

  2. Phyllis Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 5:42 am

    NASCAR TV for a fee would precipitate the demise of any waning interest in racing that lingers in my bored psyche.

    2009 appears to be “The Year the Sport Stands Still”….

    Too many troubles and uncertainties have ruined what was once one of the most exciting enterprises on earth.

    “All good things must come to an end…..”

    Sometimes things end in a bad way.

    NASCAR is a lost dinosaur…..with a terminal illness and no future.

  3. Ken Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Why would people pay to watch NA$CAR when they won’t watch it for free now. They would make some money from the die hard racing crowd but lose much more in ad revenues. Sponsorship money would drop a great deal because they buy exposure and paid TV will not give them enough exposure.

  4. James Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I would not pay to watch NASCAR races on TV. If i wanted to pay to watch them i would go to the track and watch them.

  5. yankeegranny Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:36 am

    If it is more of the same with biased announcers and wall-to-wall commercials, I will pass on the whole thing.

  6. Charles Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Look I give to charity! And such things as Victory Junction Camp is a good cause, and this Prelude to the Dream is a good cause!

    But when I give to a Charity I will not let it go through a Nascar based deal, I will give it straight to causes I like and not front loaded with Nascar!

    Nascar should and its competitors should be giving more!
    A study was done about the Nascar Hall of Fame, and the Motel Tax and etc is paying over half of the building, that means us fans! Then we probably will be charged to go in!
    Our National Guard and Army are putting millions in Nascar at Tax Payer cost!

    Now there are enough of million aires in this sport that could be giving more!

  7. Mike Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I wouldn’t pay one red cent to watch a NASCAR network. It’s bad enough right now that the networks have to cover only what they’re told to. Do they really think I’d want to watch what NASCAR deems worthy? We don’t get to see the whole field as it is. I’m not going to sit and wtach only the favorites that NASCAR would present.

    Besides, didn’t some of the pro sports have some major subscription and rating problems? Does NASCAR really want to limit themselves to a pay-only audience? After all, they’ve spent years touting the fan access and interests in the sport and this would limit it even more.

    And what would they fill in the time with when the limited amount of practice and qualifying sessions are over with? A collection of Brian France’s speeches?

    Thanks.

  8. Dick Rogers Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I have followed NASCAR since 1949 and I still love the sport. The NASCAR management is the BIG problem at present. The 3rd generation almost always makes bad mistakes. I will NOT pay to see any race on TV. I can listen to it on the radio as I did years ago.

  9. jerry panasci Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Been a fan since the 70’s, I don’t like the direction NASCAR is going, its becoming so phony, the broadcasters sugar coat so much of the action on the track, like phony debries cautions, certian drivers can do no wrong, mega teams, I could go on, ok I will, IROC, hated IROC, thats what we have now, a Chevys a Ford with a switch of a decal, my pay is going down, cost of living going up, and I don’t see this trend changing, ever. After what just happend to Long and Mayfield, I’ve just about had it with NASCAR, if they try to get money out of me to watch a race I’mdone. Actually by 2014, they will probably run me out of the sport over something, I’m close now. I’ve seen some races on the touring series over in Europe, please, someone, bring that series here, put them on your tracks, I bet alot of teams and drivers will jump to you and that series. Thanks, I feel better

  10. missouriracefan Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 9:01 am

    My husband and I attend eight or nine races a year. We live in Missouri and only a few tracks are nearby so a lot of traveling and expense is required. We would gladly pay to watch NASCAR races on television IF we could actually see the race with very limited interruptions, great announcers and no rodents. No scripts of which drivers to cover, no technical garage stuff, no driver-sponsored commercials during the race (ie. Home Depot’s Joey Logano update, Ask.com moment, etc.). Just cover the racing! There is almost always some action on the track, it is just not presently being shown on today’s networks. If the whole race and all 43 drivers are covered, we would pay. By the way, Jimmie Johnson is my driver so he is covered a lot but I want to see how Sorenson, McMurray, Allmendinger . . . are also doing.

  11. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 9:10 am

    There was a time I was one of those loyal “NASCAR brand consumers”. If it had the logo on it,I was swayed to buy it to support NASCAR. Now if I see a product with their logo on it,I make sure I DONT buy it. My point? Well,since Na$car has become just that with the dollar sign,what makes them think I would give them any more money to watch their crappy product. I personally hope they go to PPV. They think their ratings have dropped now? LOL. By the way,all great comments from others here and I agree with almost all of them.

  12. jerry kelly Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Nothing! I already pay for Direct TV and had to buy a upgraded package to have Speed, now I have to put up with Digger. I already spend three thousand a year to go to the track three times a year and the price goes up every year with no additonal services or benefits. I can afford no more and not willing to increase the size of the France family. NASCAR has a great package but as in everything there is a point of diminishing return. I think they have just about reached that point.

  13. cupfan6 Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 10:07 am

    As a long time fan, I agree with most of what is up here. The sport at this point has taken a drastic turn downward. Who ever gets in front gets a huge lead, especially at the cookie cutter tracks. The attraction to non race fans is nil. Stop alienating the few of us that are still here. Go back to hwat ESPN did to exploit the popularity, cover the race, and just the race. Lose the gopher, lose the driver/crew chief banter in the booth.
    BP must be rolling over……..

  14. grumpyoldman Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I’d pay 5$ a week to watch NA$CAR races without commercials…

  15. Kimbav Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    PAY to watch NA$CAR?? Are they nuts? With the Sprint cars all the same, a la IROC, and the lack of good racing, innovation and way too much micro managing by the NA$CAR Gods, in a word NO! I’ve been a NA$CAR fan since the late ’50’s and have never seen such poor racing as the last few years, especially with the COT. I rarely watch it for free any more.

  16. dj 88 Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I would not pay to watch NASCAR racing on tv. I would donate to Carl Longs cause. NASCAR should be ashamed

  17. boobie Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Not one cent. My hope is that someone somewhere starts a new series to compete with and eventually eliminate NA$CRAP altogether. Here is a really radical idea: the new series could race actual stock cars! where a young gear head could think of ways to tweak the engine and chassis to get the most out of it and perhaps we would see an actual driver turn a wrench and horror of horrors get some grease under his/her nails.Oh well I can dream.

  18. Andy Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    It’s plain to see what NASCAR is going to do.

    1. Get rid of small owner driver teams.

    2. Set up francished teams

    3. Start PPV races on their own network.

    4. Watch my butt go to the home track to watch the
    late models, sprint cars and super mods.

  19. Gina Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    A few years back when the racing was actually exciting, I might have done it but considering how bad the racing is in 2009 with the IROC car, the chase and all the other garbage, well, I already have a cable bill to pay, so NASCAR would be out of luck getting my money for their network by 2014, I won’t have any interest in the sport left.

    Between having to pay for cable to get Speed, ESPN, TNT and Fox, having to use MRN to actually follow what’s going on during the race because the announcers are biased or only telling me about 1 or 2 “special” drivers and using my computer to follow MY driver, that’s plenty of money that I already pay right now to follow the sport.

    I plan to watch the prelude because I enjoy it and because the $ goes to a good cause, not into NASCAR’s pockets. They get enough of my money.

  20. John Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I’m already paying for Nascar.. It’s called a cable subscrition with proceeds going to Nascar for the coverage of each and every race.. And no, if Nascar went PayPerView, I’d find another sport to get interested in.. Just that much more football in the fall.. And no, I’ll wait for the replay to watch the race at Endora, charity or not.. Money is tight.. John

  21. John Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Oh, shoot, I forgot… Anyone remember when the Olympics went PPV in the 1980’s.. I do, what a flop and they stopped it after failure, basically, no one signed up for it.. I’ve not watched the olympics since the 80’s because of the bad taste they put in my mouth, I watched everyone before that joke.. Before that money grab.. Go ahead Na$car, pull the trigger..

  22. maerlyn Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Not one penny! I’m on a fixed income, being forced to sell my house (which has been paid for since 1985) because I’m running out of cash. I’m already paying for Dish TV - I certainly can’t afford to pay any more. And as it is, i don’t watch most of the races now; they’ve gotten boring.

  23. Reggie Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I hope Nascar drives the final nail! As far as I’m concerned, it’s over anyway.

  24. Jim Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I was more than ready to pay to watch the Prelude to the Dream, especially since the proceeds will help my brothers in arms and I have at times (either now or in the past) have paid for NASCAR races, whether it be a Serius subscription (not just for NASCAR though), or the raceview. We used to have the NASCAR in car when it was on Time Warner but when it went to satellite T.V. I just let it go. I refuse to change to satellite T.V. just because NASCAR moved the in car to it. If NASCAR does go to a PPV format that might be just what Indycar or F1 needs for a resurgence in the US. I suppose we will see in 2014.

  25. george Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    But when I give to a Charity I will not let it go through a Nascar based deal, I will give it straight to causes I like and not front loaded with Nascar!

  26. Big18fan Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    NONE ZIP NADA When NASCAR goes PPV I go BYE BYE My satellite subscription is too much all ready.

  27. ken Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Carl, Jeremy and I will pool our money and……….get an SEC football PPV subscription.

  28. boobie Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Those clowns should be paying me. I will never buy a ticket to another NA$CRAP “event”They have gotten their last dollar from me and I suspect that is the case with a lot of fans of the real NASCAR of old (old being when it was run by qualified people not the drunken Brian).

  29. jimbo D Says:
    June 21st, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    i want to know if nascar would consider staying with fox since i dont have to pay outragious cable charges to watch you televised 16 races and i watched them all now with the digital switch there are plenty of available air spaces i cant afford cable cost and spent money on the digital box and antennas why cant nascar televise races on this mode of delivery for those people who arent able to pay 70 dollars a month we could watch all the races on fox why cant i sit in my house and watch racing like i did with fox please help me i am the biggest fan in the world and now i have to listen to it on the radio help me please