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SBD/Issue 19/Leagues & Governing Bodies
Sprint Cup Schedule To Feature Standard Starting Times In '10
Published October 8, 2009
|NASCAR, TV Partners Trying To Halt Ratings
Decline With More Uniform Start Times In '10
HOPING FOR A RATINGS REBOUND: The AP's Jenna Fryer noted Fox "was the biggest proponent of later race starts," and Fox Sports Chair & CEO David Hill "particularly liked starting the Daytona 500 late enough in the afternoon that it ended in the prime-time television viewing block" (AP, 10/8). However, Hill yesterday said, "I think we started to tamper with something we shouldn't have, and I'll put my hand up and say 'guilty.'" Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy added, "If you ignore the fan and you don't do what is very old-fashioned customer service, you do that at your peril. And we just think we're making life simpler for the ardent fan. It's as simple as that" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/8). Hill said that he "expects ratings that have decreased the past few years to drop again next year as fans adjust to the more consistent times," but ESPN.com's David Newton noted Hill and other network execs "believe the long-term benefit will be worth the change that France said was quite challenging with three networks involved." Skipper noted TNT this season "had a couple of races in the middle of the schedule" where ratings were up, while ESPN "had four races up." Skipper: "We do see some signs of growth we'd all like to build on." Meanwhile, France said that "another benefit of earlier start times is more flexibility for rain delays" (ESPN.com, 10/7). In Virginia, Dustin Long notes earlier start times also “should provide a little time for the networks to do some sort of post-race show” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PIOLT, 10/8).
FOR CONSISTENCY'S SAKE: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote if one does not think the start times were "something that needed changing, take a look at this year's schedule," which featured "forty-plus races with something like 25 different starting times." Busbee: "That's a mess. So I'm very pleased with this new uniformity" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/7). ESPN's Ryan McGee said, "The single biggest complaint that I received … from race fans, it's not Car of Tomorrow. It's not Kyle Busch. It's not anything, other than start times" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 10/7). CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Pistone wrote the new standard start times "should make a considerable difference in the sagging ratings problem NASCAR has faced the last couple of seasons," and it also will "go a long way in demonstrating to fans NASCAR's willingness to listen and adapt to what the paying customers are asking for" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/7). FOXSPORTS.com's Larry McReynolds wrote under the header, "It's About Time NASCAR Got Consistent." McReynolds: "We have totally confused the race fans over the past several years. ... I applaud NASCAR for recognizing this problem and addressing it" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/7). In Greensboro, Dustin Long writes NASCAR "showed that it doesn't ignore fans" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 10/8).
Gossage Says Consistent Start Times
Will Be Good For TV Audience