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Voices from the Heartland: Is Brian France Stupid or Does He Not Understand the Word Contract?

con•tract – kuh n-trakt – verb
to become drawn together or reduced in compass; become smaller; shrink

In February, NASCAR CEO Brian France, on the subject of lower television ratings, said:

“My view on television ratings, I mean, we look at them a little bit longer cycle or window than maybe you would think we would. TV ratings, depending on storylines, other competing things that are going around, are going to go down and up a little bit. We don’t get too hung up on it. We went down a little bit. My expectation is we’ll be up in TV ratings in ’07 for the all the reasons I mentioned in my opening remarks, all the momentum we have that we didn’t have last year.”

OK, Brian; let’s see how your expectations panned out compared to 2006. (And remember, 2006 ratings were down overall from 2005.) Percentages were provided if available.

Daytona (FOX): down. California (FOX): down 9.5%. Las Vegas (FOX): up 2%. Atlanta (FOX): no comparison available because the ’06 race was run on a Monday due to rain and broadcast on FX. Bristol (FOX): down 17%. Martinsville (FOX): down 14.5%. Texas (FOX): up 3.7%. Phoenix (FOX): down 8.3%. Talladega (FOX): no comparison available because the ’06 race was run on a Monday due to rain and broadcast on FX. Richmond (FOX): down (rain delay). Darlington (FOX): down 12.5%. Charlotte (FOX): down 11.8%. Dover (FOX): down, but the race was rain-delayed to a Monday. Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma, Loudon, Daytona and Chicago (all TNT): All were down from ’06, which were aired on FOX; and they say (whoever “they” is) that cable ratings are measured slightly different than network ratings. Indy, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol and California (all ESPN): Again, all down, cable vs. network. Richmond, Loudon and Dover (all ABC): Richmond and Loudon were up while Dover was down, but again, it is a case of network vs. cable as these races were aired on TNT in ’06. Kansas (ABC): down. Talladega (ABC): down. Charlotte (ABC): down. Martinsville (ABC): down. Atlanta (ABC): down. Texas (ABC): down 14%. Phoenix (ABC): While I have yet to see the final ratings, the overnight ratings were down 17.1% compared to ’06.

As of right now, the overall ratings for the season are down 9% compared to ’06 and are down a whopping 21% from 2005. Surely, there must be a plausible reason; or maybe, they are not falling at all! Let’s ask Brian France.

“Television ratings for almost everything are down – primetime, daytime, sports, whatever else,” France said at a business meeting last week in Phoenix. “We’re probably a victim of that to some level. You have to remember we’re still posting big audiences, and our TV partners are very satisfied. We’d love to be growing at better rates, but we’re not contracting at all. We’re pretty satisfied that story lines in the future and things go on that we’ll be fine.”

Not contracting at all huh? Must be a different definition of contract than those that I am aware of.

When Brian France actually goes in public and says something like that, it reminds of a question that one of my high school English teachers used to ask some of us students; “Are you stupid, or are you stoned!?”

Hard to tell with Brian.

Stay off the wall, (and off the dope!)

Jeff Meyer.

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