Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday May 14, 2009
For the last few days, I have been hearing some “busyness” going on in the BSNews room… which happens to be adjacent to my bedroom. There was a lot of thumping and bumping, the occasional “heated exchange,” and the ever present “pphhhfffsssttt” of a beverage being opened. I just assumed that the crew was working on a big story and decided to leave them alone … while keeping the refrigerator stocked with beverages, of course.
However, as with most “assumptions,” I was wrong. As it turns out, the whole group was simply planning a fishing/camping trip to relieve some of the stress from having the last few weeks off. The thumping and bumping was Stu Padasso looking for his hip waders (a vital tool when working at BSNews!), and the heated exchange was about whose turn it was to get the next round of beverages out of the fridge! Towing their gear, the whole crew flew out the door this morning with a nonchalant wave after borrowing 20 bucks from me for “bait,” leaving me to sort through a mess of empty cans and half eaten cheeseburgers for a bit of copy to meet a deadline.
What I found instead (besides a surprising amount of “unmentionables,” so forget I mentioned it) was a bit of information that is so unbelievable, not even the BSNews crew thought it worthy of copy. This is stuff that not even they could make up — for the simple fact that, as Stu would say, “it’s twue, it’s twue!”
Here’s the headline I found sitting on their desk:
NASCAR is looking into decline in TV ratings.
Oh, boy. Someone in the Daytona Ivory Tower must have woken up! After three years’ worth of declining ratings, they are just now deciding to look into it? Good to see Brian France is on top of things down there!
Apparently, the number that has raised an eyebrow is the fact that through the first 10 races, Nielsen ratings on FOX have suffered a decline of 11.5 percent, with overall viewership down 10.8 percent from 2008. In fact, the last seven races going into Darlington have all seen their rating drop by double digit numbers. NASCAR does seem to have a handle on it, though — breathing a sigh of relief as they’ve discovered it is NOT a “NASCAR” problem.
“As you look at the current snapshot, it’s been a challenging year,” said Paul Brooks, president of NASCAR Media Group. “That being said, we’re still the No. 1 sport on television six of the last nine weeks. The flip side is that we hear great things, that it’s not a NASCAR issue. It’s a broader economy and advertising issue. The biggest impact is with our TV partners and their commercial sales. We’re mindful of that… but our position in the sports and entertainment landscape is strong.”
Now, let me get this straight. It is not a NASCAR issue that the viewership and ratings are down? It is an economic and advertising issue?
Since when did anyone out there tune into a race broadcast to watch the commercials?! Are they trying to tell me that the ratings are down because the economy is tight and there is less for companies to spend on advertising?! What happened to watching the broadcast for the racing?! I just don’t get it. Hold on, maybe this will help set things straight…
“We’ve been challenged in this area by storylines,” Brooks added. “In professional sports, the storylines drive that momentum. Whether it’s coming out of the gate with a rain-shortened Daytona 500 or other challenges, if we can catch a few breaks with storylines and the racing we’re starting to see, it can be a momentum changer and booster.”
Oh, OK. But what is that “storyline,” and whose fault must it be that NASCAR can’t catch a break? According to Michael Smith, a writer for Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, “There’s also the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. factor. Earnhardt, the sport’s greatest selling force and biggest star, has yet to hit his stride at Hendrick Motorsports. With Earnhardt standing 18th in points and owning just one top 5 finish this season, he’s been unable to provide a Tiger Woods-like surge for NASCAR through his performance.”
Well, that clears that one up! It’s all Dale Jr.’s fault, then! It couldn’t have anything to do with the racing itself, now, could it…
Anyways, with so many problems facing NASCAR (none of which were caused by them), what can be done about it? Brooks says that NASCAR and FOX are looking at all the angles.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be breaking away from pit stops, which is the traditional model,” Brooks said. “What we’re hearing from fans is that they want to see that. That’s an important part of the race.”
I’m glad NASCAR is on top of these things!
In closing, here is a snippet headline that I saw posted on Jayski’s yesterday, which was not only concise but left no doubt as to what the story was about…
(C’mon, you gotta be BS’n me! Who’d have thunk it?!)
BSNews! Your first thought is our first name!
Stay off the wall,
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