The NASCAR racing series has a rich history of 75 years, making it a well-established event. It has a strong following among the general public, but its popularity has dwindled over time. This is evident from the decreasing TV viewership ratings. In order to revive the sport, what measures can be taken?
Over time, NASCAR has undergone significant changes, implementing updated rules, safety improvements, and new structures. This includes the introduction of the Playoff format in 2004. However, this format has sparked controversy among fans and experts. As a result, the popularity of the stock car racing series has been inconsistent, with ongoing fluctuations. In an effort to enhance the sport, officials have taken various measures, some of which have received mixed reactions. The most recent measure involves adding new tracks to the schedule.
What is the most recent action that NASCAR has taken to improve its popularity?
Leading up to the 2023 NASCAR Cup season, there were several significant announcements, including the exciting news of the North Wilkesboro Speedway making a comeback after 1996. This was made possible by the dedicated work of Dale Earnhardt Jr to revive the track’s former prestige. In no time, NASCAR officials added this legendary race track to the 2023 calendar as an All-Star race.
Before that, the Busch Light Clash pre-season race will take place at the Los Angeles Coliseum starting in 2022. The series also held its first Chicago Street race at North Wilkesboro. Adding to the 2024 season, the Iowa Speedway will be back on the Cup Series schedule. It was also announced that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval will make a comeback.
What is causing the continuous decline in numbers during each race weekend?
Fans often direct their frustration towards television broadcasts, but it should be acknowledged that broadcasting a NASCAR race is no easy task, especially when the event runs for almost three hours. In the past, announcers had access to more information than the viewers, but with the advancements in technology, fans now have the same information readily available to them.
Surprisingly, fans see watching NASCAR races on TV as an integral part of the entire NASCAR experience. They even consider it to be almost equivalent to actually being present at the race track. However, there has been a decline in TV viewership and the statistics reflect this trend. In fact, the ratings for every race so far this season have been lower than those of the previous year.
Can celebrities like Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather, and Pitbull save NASCAR and bring it back to its former glory?
Is it possible for well-known figures such as Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather, and Pitbull to revive NASCAR and restore it to its previous level of success?
According to Scott Warfield, the Director for NASCAR’s Broadcast and Entertainment Communications, the common belief that ratings for NASCAR races have decreased is not accurate. In fact, the average number of viewers per race has only slightly decreased from 5.9 million in 2010 to 5.8 million last year. The Daytona 500, a highly anticipated annual event, serves as a benchmark for attracting casual fans from all over the country who may only tune in once a year to watch the biggest race of the season. However, it is unclear what Warfield meant by his statement that “that’s not what we’re seeing.”
Based on reports, NASCAR has the highest viewership during the regular season on television from February to July. Although there was a decline in ratings during the 2000s, there has been a gradual increase in recent years. In 2013, it was estimated that around 70 million viewers watched the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In 2013, the average number of viewers increased by one percent from the previous year to 5.8 million viewers. Furthermore, most race weekends had higher TV ratings compared to 2012. The season-opening race, the Daytona 500, faced the most pressure for improvement. However, it experienced an unprecedented delay of nearly six and a half hours due to severe weather conditions, resulting in a loss of 44 percent of the audience. This had a significant impact on NASCAR’s profits.
How can we increase the popularity of NASCAR?
Unfortunately for the stock car racing series, the situation only deteriorated as the average number of viewers significantly decreased. In 2019, the viewership dropped to 2.92 million, representing a nearly 50% decrease. The loss of well-known names, such as Earnhardts, Johnsons, Gordons, Stewarts, and others, has also contributed to the decline in popularity. Additionally, another veteran of the sport, Kevin Harvick, will be retiring at the end of the season.
There are currently rising stars in the racing world, such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Tyler Reddick, among others. However, it will take time for them to gain the same level of popularity as the previous generation. The return of nostalgic tracks like Iowa, North Wilkesboro, and Indianapolis can also attract fans. Many long-time fans have been hoping for the return of older tracks to the Cup schedule. Just imagine the excitement of fans in Newton, Iowa, who have been eagerly waiting to see their favorite drivers zoom past them at speeds of 200 MPH next year.
Brad Keselowski expressed surprise and admiration for the restoration of the North Wilkesboro race track, giving credit to Governor Cooper, Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith, and their team for their hard work. He added that it felt like NASCAR was making a statement by ensuring the track was done properly.
But it begs the question, is the participation of renowned racers necessary for NASCAR to regain success? Without Dale Earnhardt Jr., the North Wilkesboro race would not have been feasible. With his significant influence on the sport, it’s likely he would have a positive impact. However, can NASCAR thrive independently without depending on him and other legendary drivers?
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NASCAR is potentially relying on the comeback of North Wilkesboro and Iowa to increase its popularity.