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Brad Keselowski likes where he's at in the chase...but what to make of these slumping TV ratings?

Brad Keselowski likes where he's at in the chase...but what to make of these slumping TV ratings?

Brad Keselowski, with his signature 'fist' in victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


  By Mike Mulhern

   This might not be the cowboy capital of the world, but then again it just might be.
   The land of stockyards and steaks, boots and bulls and rodeo, a twice-daily cattle drive, and a downtown that really works, and sparkles.
   The place where the real West begins.  Catch the old Chisholm trail and head into the sunset.
   And for Denny Hamlin, it's good town for a little sightseeing...now that his NASCAR championship run is over, three races shy of the finish line.
   The tide turned at Martinsville four days ago for Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb, a broken switch apparently the electrical culprit.
   Now it's a two-man race for the Sprint Cup title, Jimmie Johnson versus Brad Keselowski.

   But there are two stories here:
   The NASCAR championship playoffs....and the TV ratings for the NASCAR championship playoffs.
   And over the first seven playoff races, which all played to great weather, the TV ratings are down. Way down.
  Viewers are down too. In fact NASCAR's chase has lost from one million to 1.5 million viewers each Sunday, versus the period when ABC-network carried the playoffs in 2009.
   ESPN reports its broadcast of Sunday's Martinsville 500 earned a 2.8 household rating, with 3.6 million viewers. That compares to last fall's 3.6 rating.
   Of course NASCAR ratings have been going down for several years now. But the drop in ratings for the fall playoffs, with the sport's well-hyped championship chase, seems curious, and worth debating.
    Looking back to NBC's last two seasons covering NASCAR in the fall, 2006 and 2005, and the drop seems striking.
    Kansas this fall pulled a 3.0; in 2006, a 4.0, and in 2005, a 4.5.
    Talladega this fall pulled a 3.7; in 2006, a 4.8, and in 2005, a 5.3.
    Charlotte this fall pulled a 3.2; in 2006, a 4.7, and in 2005, a 5.1.
    Martinsville this fall pulled a 2.8; in 2006, a 4.1, in 2005, a 4.7.
    What's going on here?
    It doesn't seem logical to blame the economy for a drop in TV viewership....

  Danica Patrick: what does she do for NASCAR demographics? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Meanwhile, Keselowski, looking bulletproof in the chase, is doing his part to add drama to the playoffs.
   He appeared dead in the water Sunday morning at Martinsville, after spotting Johnson 31 positions in qualifying. But Sunday afternoon Keselowski, clearly relieved at dodging the bullet, was feeling much better about his chances of waylaying the five-time champ in the tour's final three events, here in Sunday's Texas 500, next weekend in the Phoenix 312, and the Nov. 18th Homestead-Miami 400.
   "When you have a team like we have, it's easy to stay calm in the face of adversity," Keselowski says coolly. "We all have each other's back."
    So instead of Keselowski's team biting the dust, it was Hamlin's.
    Thus it's a two-man title duel, and Chevy versus Dodge.
    Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne do have outside shots at the title, but either man would have to finish about 10 spots ahead of both Johnson and Keselowski in the final three races, not likely.
   Johnson now has the points lead, and he's got momentum, and Texas Motor Speedway is a good track for him...and not such a good track for Keselowski.
    Keselowski has run eight races here in his short career, and he's never finished on the lead lap, never finished in the top-10. His best run was a 14th two years ago. In five of those eight races he didn't even finish top-20.
    And if Keselowski follows form here, he won't qualifying very well either.
    But write him off?
    If he's a cat with nine lives, he's still got plenty of life. This year is the best he's ever had; and at 15 tracks he's either matched or bettered his previous best.
    "We like our role is in this chase," Keselowski says. "There are many who think we are still too young a team to seriously challenge Jimmie Johnson. We like it that way.
    "We are a very good race team, primed to take this fight right down to the last lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    "I'm very confident in our abilities at Texas this weekend. The 1-1/2-mile tracks have been really good to us this year. We had an awesome car in April at Texas, probably the best car I've ever had there, but fuel issues kept us from challenging for the win.
    "This weekend I'm expecting to challenge for the win."

  Is this the guy to stop Mr. FIve-time? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

TV Ratings

We could just be going through an adjustment period as racing becomes the purview of real race fans again and drifts away from being the fad of the moment. I have to agree that some races do become boring (drivers cruise for awhile instead of racing) and keeping one TV tuned to the race and one to a pro football game is commonplace. I think Tony Stewart said, tongue in cheek I assume, that the final race in the chase should be on the Daytona road course under the lights. The more I think about that the better it sounds.

tv ratings

I had to laugh today nascar.com said that rpm and richard petty should quit being a car owner and his teams were virtually junk. Pettys team over the last 2 yrs has more wins then rcr and earnhardt/ganassi, who have big name sponsors.

Now every 2 days nascar.com has a jr article. What does that say about junebug when he has one win in 6 yrs and the 2 before that were gas mileage wins.If Petty's record as a owner is that bad by their standards, then I guess jr should just stay home.

That leads me to the drop in ratings.How long can nascar push jr as the man when he has virtually done nothing in 6 yrs and has a chase birth this yr by not having much bad luck. When new viewers tune in the only thing they see is earnhardt running anywhere from 8th to 20th over the last 8 yrs. Now we hear about danica, who has 1 win in her career in indy car, and that was by luck when the leader thought she was lapped traffic and slowed down. She is in way over her head and not remotely ready for nascar's cup series, but is hyped by nascar. but when new people tune in the only thing they see is her getting lapped every 30 laps or wrecking herself again and again.

People are not stupid. When you advertise the same people week in and out, who rarely win, what does nascar expect? Nascar refuses to show anyone besides the 88 and 7. When nascar realizes that not everyone wants to watch jr run 15th and danica try to be a racer, then maybe attendance and ratings will pick up!

Tv racing?

The best thing that can be done about the ratings that NASCAR pulls is to ignore them. We ain't watching to improve the Bozo's popularity. Sports writers should discuss sports, not watching sports. Bi'chin' about coverage is one thing, but fretting over TV ratings is not in the realm of sports. Ya might as rate the proper beers to drink during the race, which reminds me...Where'd I put my beer?

TV Ratings

I may be wrong but it's not just TV ratings, and attendance at the tracks. It appears that the comments to blog article re Nascar racing have declined as well.
Surely you track that, and not trying to pick on you but if I'm correct isnt that indicative of a general lack of interest?

Hmmm. Let's see. What's the big difference

Hmmm. Let's see. What's the big difference between now and then? The chase', perhaps? Could it be that fans aren't impressed with a system that resets the point artificially to create a 'close' race? Could this be why JJ doesn't seem to 'get the respect' he supposedly deserves? are fans not as impressed with a 10-race 'champ' as they were with one who had to maintain excellence all season long? Worth thinking about.

The reason for the ratings decline is as simple

The reason for the ratings decline is as simple as it is complex. First of all it's the racing has become fuel mileage, drivers holding back until the end, it's the spec cars, it's the no brand identity. In simplistic terms, it just ain't racin!

The second reason is the announce teams. You've got non-professionals just sitting there yapping about themselves, you've got the NASCAR can do no wrong shills in DW and Mikey, there's rusty, and why is brad there at all? They add nothing, absolutely nothing. Add Vince Welch, Jamie little, Chris Meyers, John Roberts, and you have a slew of people running their mouths and degrading the fans as if we don't know what we want to see in our racing. There are those like Mike Joy, Allan Bestwick that are capable of controlling the broadcast without a script from the booth. you have Andy, DJ, Ricky Craven, Ray Evernham, Randy LaJoie, that will pretty much call it as it is and not as BZF wants it. Neither of those would ever degrade the fans and their knowledge of the sport.

It's easy to lay the blame on the networks but until Brian France becomes interested enough in this sport to see that it's his product that sucks and steps in with just a grain of commonsense to right his ship, one day in the not too far distant future he won't have any races to not go to.

For Brian, Rusty, Brad, DW, Mikey, and a few others, I've been in and around this sport since 1964 and it's been my dollars, my passion that built NASCAR, mine and several million others like me. Don't for a minute sit there and think all this was built by the Ivory Tower in Daytona; that's a fantasy that needs correcting. Don't any of those I named dare to talk down to me or think you are capable of speaking for me. Don't let your wallet overload your mouth. Your wallet is only full because the fans were there.

nascar's ratings

it couldn't be that the fans don't LIKE the chase, could it? According to Brian France, that's just not possible. Or it could be the really boring racing or the poor TV coverage?
yep, it could be those things, and since TV coverage is limited to the chase drivers, now down to 2, if you aren't a fan of either of them, why bother to watch?

ratings down

Despite all nascar's hype, real fans hate the chase, and always have. They are voting with their money and their remotes. What's so hard to understand?

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