While not maybe at a “make or break” point, NASCAR poured a lot of effort into trying to reverse their long-suffering ratings slide. There’s a brand new points system, races have been fundamentally changed, the series has a new sponsor, and drivers are getting into fights on pit road.
NASCAR has been trying almost everything. And thus far, nothing is working.
It’s still early days in the 2017 season but after the Daytona 500 the sport has seen its poor ratings continuing to slip slide away. While Daytona viewership increased 5% over last year to 11.9 million viewers, each race since has been down versus last year. And the last three races have been down significantly.
Here’s the race by race statistics thanks to numbers from our friend Paulsen at Sports Media Watch. The big picture is that NASCAR is staring at another season of serious declines.
Atlanta – 3.8 rating, 6.6 million viewers, down 7% and 3% versus last year. Lowest rating since 1998 for race after Daytona 500.
Las Vegas – 3.6 rating, 6.0 million viewers, down 18% and 17% versus last year. Lowest ratings for the race since joining the circuit in 1998.
Phoenix – 3.3. rating, 5.4 million viewers, down 18% and 19% versus last year. Fourth lowest rated NASCAR race on Fox ever.
California – 2.9 overnight rating, down 17% versus last year
If these trends continue, NASCAR is looking at losing almost one-fifth of its audience this year after several seasons of sinking ratings. That’s not good!
What is the sport to do at this point? Unfortunately, right now there’s not much they can do and that’s the biggest problem. NASCAR has already made some huge changes to this point and they have to see how fans respond over the long-term. What’s clear in the short-term though is that the new and much-publicized racing format hasn’t exactly jump started interest in the sport. At least not yet.
Sure, maybe you could say that the NCAA Tournament has brought increased competition and things will be better in the summer time. But that’s optimistic at best because there’s always going to be something going up against NASCAR in the ratings like the NBA and NHL Playoffs, MLB coverage, and then the NFL season.
In the grand scheme of things, NASCAR ratings are still very good for every sport not named the NFL for their regular season games. But at some point NASCAR is going to have to find a way to do something to turn this around because right now it’s an uncontrollable slide that is still ongoing.