SBD/Issue 20/Sports Media

NASCAR's Ratings Drop During Chase A "Very Disturbing Pattern"

Ratings For First Three Chase
Races Down More Than 20%

NASCAR during the first three races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup on ESPN "has lost an average of a fourth of its viewing audience from one year ago at the start of the Chase" on ABC, and the ratings drop is "developing into a very disturbing pattern," according to Jim Utter of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Ratings for the Oct. 3 Price Chopper 400 were down 28%, while the Sept. 26 AAA 400 was down 23% and the Sept. 19 Sylvania 300 was down 28%. Utter wonders, "What's going on with NASCAR's TV audience?" There is something "going on here when such a precipitous drop coincides with what is supposed to be the biggest part of your season." Utter: "I can tell you this: Everyone in NASCAR -- not just executives -- but everyone who has a stake in stock car racing had best hope someone can find out why this is going on and attempt to fix it fast" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/8). In Las Vegas, Jeff Wolf offers solutions to the declining ratings, including ending the Cup season "in mid-October by eliminating six races so the series doesn't have to contend with the NFL juggernaut." Also, beginning in October, NASCAR should "move races from Sundays to Saturday nights" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/8). However, driver Greg Biffle believes the Nielsen ratings system "is out of date and does not accurately reflect the popularity of the sport." Biffle: "We're going to continue to fight with this TV rating until we have a way to measure another way of finding out how people keep up with the race. You can get it on your computer, you can get it on your phone, and everybody is tweeting lap-by-lap. So today you don't have to sit in front of the TV, you don't have to watch it to still be an avid NASCAR fan" (Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL, 10/7).

GOING DOWN TO SOUTH PARK: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes he was "naive enough" to believe the season premiere Wednesday night of Comedy Central's "South Park" "would do a smart job of roasting NASCAR and its followers." But having "South Park" character Eric Cartman "somehow realize his dream of driving a rig in two races, then crashing his way to the finish, left our needle on empty" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/8). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann notes though viewership figures "weren't readily available Thursday, given the history of 'South Park' and NASCAR on ESPN, it's likely that nearly as many people saw cartoon racing on Comedy Central as watched the real thing Sunday" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/8).

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