"First, we get rid of all the Waltrips"
Posted by Gene Haddock on July 25, 2010
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It's no secret that NASCAR's live attendance and TV ratings have been free falling for the last few years. This after NASCAR has made several adjustments to the cars themselves, and with the actual on-track competition. Double file restarts, bringing back the rear spoiler, and the 'boys have at it' edict were all designed with the fans in mind. These, and other moves, have made the sport more exciting, no doubt.
Yet, the live gate and TV ratings are still in the tank. The reasons are fairly obvious, and maybe easily corrected.
First, the attendance problem. Of course this is primarily due to the economy. Instead of just blaming Bush, I'll throw an actual idea out there. Unlike the 'stick and ball' sports, NASCAR has no built in 'home' audience to watch their events each week. NASCAR fans typically travel hundreds of miles to enjoy their sport. Add to the travel, a night or two of lodging, meals, entertainment, and tickets, and the cost can rise into four figures to attend a race weekend.
The simplistic fix to the attendance problem can be tied to supply and demand. Tracks have an oversupply of tickets, so they should drop the price (drastically) of their tickets. They raised them drastically last decade when the sport, and attendance, was skyrocketing. So, drop the price, as low as it takes to sell them. Ten dollars apiece if need be. What's better business, 50,000 empty seats, or 50,000 full seats at $10 per fanny? This will also lead to new fans, as newbies will buy these cheap tickets out of curiosity.
Now, for the falling TV ratings. The on-track action this year has been better than in the recent past, so why are eyes wandering to MMA and the X-Games? Because, by and large, NASCAR's race analysts suck! Fox, TNT, and ESPN believe they can throw any hack, unprepared, ex-driver in the booth and the fans will accept them. The viewers have finally revolted against tired, trite, 'talent' such as the Waltrips, Larry McReynolds, Rusty Wallace, Tim Brewer, Jeff Hammond, Chris Meyers, etc.
This lack of racing announcer development by the networks shows their contempt for the fans. They think that the bumpkins watching racing will accept bumpkins calling it on TV. Well, the ratings are saying otherwise. Does anyone believe that a Darrell Waltrip clone would last two minutes as an NFL analyst on Fox with his act? No, but they think race fans don't mind having him foisted upon us for several hours each week.
So, there are your two quick fixes, NASCAR. Drop ticket prices, and drop the alleged network talent.
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