NASCAR’s Declining Ratings and Attendance Now Affecting Drivers

NASCAR sponsorship dollars are declining due to declining television ratings and race attendance, and as a result teams are opting for development drivers who command lower salaries over proven veterans. At the peak of NASCAR’s popularity, the top teams would spend $30 million to run a car; with the sport’s most popular drivers earning $10 million/year in salaries. Today’s teams run cars for half of what they did just 15 years ago, and those unable to put together lucrative sponsorship packages are passing on high-priced drivers. Matt Kenseth, a former Champion without a team for 2018, recently explained the environment saying, “I think it’s a very tough time for car owners to find the money that they need to field competitive race cars with competitive personnel.”

Howie Long-Short: NASCAR is in trouble and I don’t see a quick fix here. Any solution relies on increasing viewership, but CEO Brian France refuses to even acknowledge the decline; recently touting “22 or 23” events that experienced a YOY rise in attendance. You can compare the cable television figures for yourself, here. All but one Cup Series race had a YOY ratings decline. How to solve a problem the company refuses to acknowledge?

Fan Marino: Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, holding off Kyle Busch to win his first Monster Energy Championship. The race drew a 2.7 overnight rating, down 18% YOY (3.3) and a staggering 39% (4.4) lower than the 2015 finale.


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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

5 thoughts on “NASCAR’s Declining Ratings and Attendance Now Affecting Drivers”

  1. Brian France has single-handedly flown NASCAR into the ground. Want to fix it? First GET RID OF THE PLAYOFFS! This year, the champion was also the driver with the most points across the entire season, but that is seldom the case. The Chase/Playoffs has cheated far too many drivers out of championships, even though they were the top point-earners for the season.
    Second, GET RID OF COOKIE CUTTER BODIES. Make the cars look just like the street cars they are supposed to represent. This really isn’t that hard. Take the stock body, stick on a splitter and rear spoiler, and go racing. Also, START USING COMPOSITE BODIES IN ALL SERIES. They started doing that in trucks and Xfinity cars this year, but it isn’t universal yet. Composite bodies reduce the cost of racing, and will draw in more teams to compete.
    I think the stage racing implemented this year was one of the few good ideas France has implemented. I’d only suggest one change. Turn the first two stages into heats. One half of the field runs the first stage and the other half runs the second stage. Combine the field and line them up for the third (long) stage based on their finishes in the heats. This system has been tried and true at weekly short tracks for decades. Guaranteed crowd pleaser.
    MAKE THE RACES SHORTER. There’s nothing magic about 500 miles. Some of the most entertaining races I’ve seen have been 300 miles or shorter.
    GET RID OF CHARTERS AND GUARANTEED STARTS. Qualify or go home. Period.
    CHARGE LESS FOR TICKETS. I shouldn’t have to get a second mortgage to take my family to the track for a weekend.
    I don’t expect to see any of this happen soon. Brian France lives in a wierd bubble where he only hears what he wants to hear.

    1. You have some good ideas. However I agree that Brian Frances has led NASCA* to the sorry state it is in now. One thing that needs to be addressed is mile and a half tracks. It is not racing when a car can lead over 350 laps in a 500 lap race with a 3 to 10 second lead. That is not Racing but follow the leader. Also why is half of the starters down 3 to 8 laps at the end of the race with out being damaged. They should not even qualify to start. Once in a while I watch old IROC on UTUBE to remember close racing. To bad their not still around for competition to NASCA*

    2. Rick ,
      You got that right ! The stage racing stinks, as well as the playoffs.You can see all of the day light in the seats on race day. The trucks,,& Xfinity races look like a qualifying session when you see the stands.Whole sections are empty.

  2. Long, long time NASCAR fan that really doesn’t care if I tune in or not. I believe the change that would bring people back is to have less regulation….as it was in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s….let every team bring their best ingenuity rather than every part spec’d to death!!! Remember the days when the Wood Brothers were competitive?

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