Last week NASCAR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ESPN did a great job of pointing out the history and the pomp and circumstance of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They did a very good job of pointing out how prestigious the Brickyard 400 is. It begged the question, if this race is so historic and so prestigious why is it not on National TV?
Much has been made by the media and the press about the declining attendance at NASCAR races throughout the United States. This week anyone who has been a fan of NASCAR couldn’t help but notice the reduced attendance at Indianapolis. Don’t get me wrong there was still a huge fan base there but in a setting that seats 250,000 fans, putting 90,000 in the seats looks bad.
This past week, it was reported that NBC signed a contract to cover the second half of the season beginning in 2015. It also came out today that TNT and ESPN did not bid on that contract because of declining ratings of NASCAR.
Could the declining ratings of the TV viewership of NASCAR be the same as the declining attendance at the races? In other words are the same economic problems that keep people from going to the races be keeping people from being able to watch the race when it is on cable TV or satellite TV?
In a month or so the SPEED Channel changes to Fox Sports 1. It has been reported that the price of Fox Sports 1, as paid by the cable TV provider or the satellite provider, will be three times as much as Speed. I can tell you in my household if my provider drops Fox Sports 1 because of the increase in price, I will not and more importantly I cannot move up to the more expensive package that would include that channel. That means, bye bye, Camping World Truck Series .
In 2015 NBC will be taking over coverage of the last half of the Sprint Cup season and the last half of the Nationwide Series season. Unfortunately, it’s reported that those races or most of them will be going on NBC Sports Net. In my household I don’t get NBC Sports Net. Unless my provider adds it to my package, bye bye to the Nationwide series and Sprint Cup Series during the second half of the season.
I can tell you that there are a lot of NASCAR fans who cannot watch on TV because of pay TV. This is big to me because when I was in that demographic so dear to NASCAR, cable TV was not available no matter what the cost. I can only imagine the fan (or writer) I would be had it been so.
Although the NBC contract looks good the reported details show most everything will be on NBC Sports Net, a channel not many get. NASCAR doesn’t need to get buried on cable. No one watches Indy car because they can’t. This is not good.
If you think I am being unrealistic or am not in touch with reality think of this; there is a reason the NFL has every home team game simulcast on free TV in their local market. If the fans can’t watch they will stop going to the races, it is that simple. NASCAR needs to be on free TV.