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NASCAR VIEW: Moving races to cable will be disastrous to ratings, future of NASCAR Featured

Posted On Monday, 08 June 2015 20:00 Written by
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Here's a news flash for NASCAR fans, and it's one they won't like.

15 of the remaining 22 Cup series races -- yes, the main attraction -- will be on cable; the next two on Fox Sports 1, and 13 of the final 20 on NBC Sports Network.

You'll get seven races on regular NBC, but five of those come in the Chase. Only two races in the NBC portion of the year prior to the Chase will be on the mothership network; the remaining 8 are on NBCSN -- so essentially you'll miss the whole summer of racing if you don't have NBCSN.

I don't think there are sufficient words I can string together to explain what a horrible decision this march toward primarily cable showings is by NASCAR and the networks that televise its racing.

As the sport aims to increase its ratings, it's doing the one thing that is absolutely guaranteed to do the opposite, and this decision shows they are clearly out of step with what is happening in the world right now.

People are not, as NASCAR may imagine, going to add to the cable/satellite packages they have so they can get access to all the races.
In previous years, the cable races were primarily on ESPN and TNT, networks anyone with basic cable or satellite service generally has. Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network tend to be on higher tiers, so fans will have to pay more to their cable/satellite provider to see NASCAR on a regular basis from now on.

The reality of the world is that people are getting away from cable and satellite and paying for a million channels. Just as the American public has gone away from landline phones and rely on our cell phones instead, people are also now more likely to watch TV over the Internet (streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc.) than we are to watch something regular TV.
And those who keep the now fading tradition of watching shows on regular TV are trimming down their channel lineups. Many of us have realized that our cable/satellite bills are out of control, and we are not willing (or able, in some cases) to pay the price for the hundreds of channels these companies want us to get. Fewer channels is just fine with most people when they see the savings in their wallet.

So here is NASCAR, going completely in the face of reality and adding more races to cable. In the past maybe a few races were put on these cable channels; now the push is on to make cable the norm and not the exception. Eventually, they'll probably all be on cable outside of the Daytona 500 and the season finale, and I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility for NASCAR to try to get people to buy races on Pay Per View in the long-term future.

Only one thing will come of this: NASCAR will lose viewers. No matter how exciting the racing is, if people can not see it they won't watch it. That's simple logic. And you can't assume everyone has these cable channels in their package.

By the time those five Chase races are shown on NBC at the end of the year, no one will care because they won't have been following the rest of the season.

I'm trying to figure out a logical explanation for why NASCAR would do something like this -- and I honestly can not. I can usually see someone's logic even when I disagree with it -- but that's not the case here.

I wish NASCAR luck, and hope that whatever strategy they have behind moving these races to cable works out for them -- but the future I see if this trend holds is that fewer and fewer people will watch the sport; which will lead to fewer fans at the track and the sport growing more irrelevant over time with only the hardcore fans hanging on.

That's not a strategy I would wish on any sport -- especially one I follow and love as much as NASCAR.

Matt Myftiu can be reached on Twitter @MattMyftiu. Let him know what you think on this topic and whether you'll be able to watch the racing this year.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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