An NBC executive slammed the Nielsen ratings service, saying ratings keep going down because it's not counting all of the audience that watches its shows.
"Part of the reason the ratings are seemingly going down -- and they won't be going back up -- is because of the unfortunate inertia and lack of movement by the only one rating system that we have in this country. That's Nielsen," Linda Yaccarino, the NBCUniversalchairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, told the Sports Business Journal.
The issue is especially salient to NASCAR, whose rating are in a free fall. The preliminary 1.3 rating for New Hampshire was down from last year's 1.6. More detailed numbers will be out later this week.
Yaccarino contends that Nielsen doesn't adequately count viewing that doesn't occur via television -- digital devices and streaming services, for example. Since audiences have been migrating to those platforms, NBC and other networks aren't getting the credit they deserve.
"We just want to be sure that they get it right," she said. "We want to make sure that the co-viewing is accounted for properly. We want to make sure that in every sport that we have, in every business that we have, we're not just talking about once-a-week football. We're talking about NBCUniversal. Out-of-home is extremely important to our company, including a brand like CNBC," she said in the SPJ report.
On the NASCAR front, the numbers have been especially bad this season.
The Turtles 400, for example, earned a 1.4 rating and 2.3 million viewers, down from last year's 1.6 and 2.7, respectively.
SportsMediaWatch said that race was the "lowest rated and least-watched Cup Series race at Chicagoland (dates back to 2001) and the lowest rated and least-watched playoff race at any track (dates back to 2004)."
But that's the end of it. Ratings for Chicagoland have declined each year since 2005, and 22 of 26(!) races have posted year-over-year declines in audience and viewership, SMW noted.
It's quite possible the numbers were hurt by competition from other sports -- pro and college football, and baseball has several exciting races as it heads into the final weeks of its season. It's also possible running the races on cable is killing the sport.
But it's a continuation of bad ratings news for NASCAR.
The Southern 500 attracted 3.10 million viewers on NBCSN, and the rest of the numbers were equally as terrible. Ratings were down 36%; viwership down 33% in viewership from last year, and it was even worse from 2015 -- ratings were down 51% and viewership 48%.
Denny Hamlin's win -- which ended up being encumbered -- was the lowest-rated Darlington race since at least 1998 and the least-watched since at least 1999.