A Voice for the Fans ~ Don't Believe Your Lying Eyes
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and that of course includes the reader assigned to these pages by NASCAR in an effort to keep me honest and forthright, which I always am, to a fault. I do hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and remembered to say a prayer for our military and first responders. Your scribe had a delightful day. I went to eat a sumptuous lunch with my kids, then came home and later fixed lobster tails, twice baked potato and asparagus for JoJo and me. Daughter’s pumpkin pie finished off the meal… I’m still not over eating all that!
Now then, scribe must remember that we are a racing site, so let’s get on with the subject that brings me here today. I’ve spent two exhausting hours (so far) poring over the transcript of that fairy tale spun for us the day of the Homestead race by Brian Z. France and Brent Dewar. The best I can come up with is someone is confused and someone else is telling tall tales. I would be the one confused I fear, and the tall tale teller in this case is NASCAR President, Brent Dewar. I’m sure that BZ did his share of that as well, but quite honestly, it’s impossible to read what he says and make sense of it. Here’s a short discourse as an example:
Q. Brian, you
talked about the changes you've made, yet Matt Kenseth, Danica both wanted to
keep racing but they couldn't find a sponsorship that they desired, Bubba is
still looking for sponsorship, and still ratings and attendance haven't risen.
How long do you think it will take for these changes to resonate, and is there
anything on the table that you feel like will resonate more?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, that isn't quite accurate on the ratings and attendance because attendance is up at many, many events, I think it's 20 something events, 22 or 23, and consumption is changing for everybody, so that's not accurate, either.
The reality is, as Brent said a minute ago, Matt has had a long 20‑year plus career. That's unthinkable in most sports, and he's performed at a high level. We'll wish him well, but he may be back, too. He'll have to get the right opportunity for him.
And the rest of it is a performance sport. If it's difficult for anybody‑‑ this is not picking on any one driver, but if you're not performing at a high level, it may be difficult for you to stay in this sport. It will be difficult for you to stay in the sport, for any driver. That's not picking on anybody.
I think for those reasons, that's where we're at.
Huh?? Well, it’s always comforting to know where we’re at, even though barely a word of that stop – start – stop again dialogue is written in the English I work with on a daily basis. Though he seems unnecessarily unkind to Matt and Danica… “That’s not picking on anybody”, he is just patently wrong about ratings. Please check out the latest ratings from Sports Media Watch. There is a link to the entire write-up along with the following excerpt:
Capping off an ugly year for NASCAR ratings, last weekend’s season finale at Homestead hit a record-low.
The NASCAR Cup Series finale from Homestead (Fla.) earned a 2.8 rating and 4.7 million viewers on NBC and NBCSN last Sunday, down 20% in ratings and 23% in viewership from last year (3.5, 6.1M), and down 36% and 39% respectively from 2015 (4.4, 7.6M).
Martin Truex Jr.’s
win, which clinched the Cup Series title, delivered the lowest rating in the
history of the race (dates back to 1999) and the smallest audience since at
least 2001. The previous lows were a 3.0 and 4.8 million on ESPN in 2012.
Sports Media Watch
Yes gentle readers, there seems to be some disagreement in the two statements. Sports Media Watch has no bone to pick with anyone. They report what Nielsen records and don’t make up the numbers as they go.
One other small addition here… the only social media this scribe gives time to is Twitter. Face Book is forced to struggle on without my wit and humor. As late as the Friday before the race at Homestead, tickets for that event were being sold at deep discount prices and several times I saw folks saying that they were being given away. Giving out tickets to folks that never bother to attend is not an increase in attendance, but yet another bit of wool pulled over our eyes in an effort to convince us that all is right and good in the land of NASCAR. It is not, gentle readers.
Let’s move on to Brent Dewar and one gem in particular that just simply cannot be true. Here he follows Brian’s glowing explanation of how wonderfully Monster Energy has meshed with NASCAR (But has delayed until “later” extending its current contract, which I believe only covers 2018.)
BRENT DEWAR: And we're excited with the deliverable on all sides, but we opted for the shorter term because we wanted to be congruent to what their marketing strategy is. The deliverables on all sides were in market. We brought in 12 new Official Partners this year, and the sport is appealing. I think some of the earlier questions of -- because when you talk about 80-million fans and high engagement levels, and so we actually say, if you haven't been around NASCAR the last four or five years, you've got to get to know us.
In fairness, he goes on to say that it has become a global market that includes Canada, Mexico and Europe, but 80-million fans? I can’t speak to Canada or Mexico, but do have friends in Europe and from all reports I get, NASCAR is mostly ignored in the European markets. I have friends in Canada as well, but we haven’t discussed the strength of NASCAR in that market, other than complaints that their races are often delayed and shown at unpopular times. 80-mllion fans? Nope, I wouldn’t buy that on my most gullible day. Look no farther back than Homestead. The best that the “Championship” race could muster was 4.7-Million viewers. Wonder what the other 75.3-Million were doing on that Sunday!
is so much more in the transcript that I just cannot cover in a single article,
but you can access and read it for yourself here:
This article is fast coming to resemble a patchwork quilt, but that happens sometimes. I’ll stand firm on the fact that it makes far more sense than anything uttered by Brian France in that media address. Here’s one more patch. The following are the Sports Media Watch write-ups on the first four races of 2017, and folks, it didn’t get better; it got worse. These appeared originally in another of my articles last March.
Let’s look for a minute at the TV ratings for the first 4 races of 2017.
NASCAR Vegas Ratings Fall to Record-Low
Links are from SportsMediaWatch.com where you can read much more about not only the Cup races to date, but Xfinity and trucks as well. No longer do the fans get even the always inflated attendance figures from a race, but we have eyes, and excepting Daytona, even grandstands greatly reduced in seating capacity are far from full and in some cases almost empty.
If you do even a small amount of reading through that transcript, you’ll find that we have at least one or more new “Buzz Words” that we can no doubt expect to hear repeated over and over ad nauseam throughout all of next year. The most important and most often leaned on was “Transition.” Yes, that’s it! We’re not really failing! We’re just in transition! Transition means undergoing change! Well NASCAR, we out here, the lowly fans, have undergone enough change AKA transition to choke on for years now. Please allow me to remind you that it’s also a transition when something goes from bad to worse… or worse to worst! Chew on that a while!
We’re going to close this one out now with a couple of quotes I’m very fond of. The first was tweeted by Monte Dutton in regard to this same Media Conference. Wise Monte simply said, “I wish I could write fiction as well as Brian France.”
The other comes from the movie, “The Outlaw, Josey Wales” as portrayed by Clint Eastwood:
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and this week I’ve chosen a wonderful old show for your entertainment and listening pleasure. This is the Marty Robbins Spotlight with guest stars, the Statler Brothers. It’s a shame the Lord took Marty so young. He was an unmatched talent… and you have to love the checkered piano. The NASCAR Balladeer!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!