This is one way to look at it, I suppose.
During a season in which NASCAR has been slammed with awful TV rating news, the International Speedway Corporation doesn’t seem as if it cares.
The ISC is the for-profit company created by Bill France, Sr. that manages NASCAR and IndyCar tracks.
During a conference call to announce third quarter financial results, ISC let this little ditty slip:
“Primarily, our requirement is that we run the race in the year of the race schedule in order to receive broadcast rights; it’s not dependent on ratings.”
Greg Motto, the ISC’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, gave that response after being asked whether NASCAR media rights partners could renegotiate terms. The Sports Business Journal reported the exchange.
That is technically true. No sport guarantees ratings; they just guarantee the product. Still, if those ratings don’t, at the minimum, stabilize, it will make it far harder in the future for NASCAR to secure another lucrative rights deal.
This past Sunday’s Apache 400 suffered a decrease in viewership, early numbers show, and that continues a troubling trend.
And if this one is right, it’s really troubling, because the preliminary numbers show viewership would have dropped to approximately 2 million, down from 2.5 million the year before. The overall rating was down, too.
More detailed numbers will be out later this week.
This comes a week after the New Hampshire numbers were also down — a 1.3 rating was down from last year’s 1.6.
It’s the continuation of bad ratings news for NASCAR. 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.