Four years into its TV deal with FOX, Turner, and ESPN, NASCAR has lost nearly a quarter of its television viewers.In 2006, after completing an eight-year, $4.48 billion deal with the three networks, NASCAR races averaged 7.8 million viewers per race. This year, average viewership fell to under 6 million.
The core problem is the loss of the young male audience. In 2010, FOX reportedly lost 29% of its 18 to 34-year-old male viewers for NASCAR races and ESPN saw an 18% drop during the same period.
NASCAR executives say they don’t have plans to make major changes despite the decrease in audience. They believe that the recent introductions of newer cars and more wide-open racing will recapture the sport’s popularity:
“‘With the racing where it is now, I have no doubt it’s going to take hold, and the excitement we’ve built coming out of this season will build into next season,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer.”
Many NASCAR races will continue to coincide with NFL games in 2011, a time slot that almost certainly guarantees the loss of a significant chunk of the younger audience.
None of the four major sports leagues has experienced a significant drop-off during the last four years.
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