Unfortunately, the most popular NASCAR driver predicted exactly what happened last weekend in Bristol. Now, the sport is in big trouble as it heads to Texas to start the second round of its post-season.
Bottom line: NASCAR has a TV rating issue — and it’s a big one — during its hottest time of the year, and it reared its ugly head last Saturday night.
In simple words, viewership is scary. It wasn’t quite a bit. No, it has collapsed faster than the current housing market.
NASCAR was the most-watched motorsport this past weekend, but the NHRA was only about 100,000 behind when it aired after the NFL game. pic.twitter.com/8f0DvJJMFQ
– Adam Stern (@A_S12) September 20 2022
Chase Elliott warns NASCAR to stop competing with the NFL
Overall, it’s been a relatively positive year for NASCAR when it comes to viewership and ratings.
The numbers held steady for the most part, and while there were no big jumps, they were more green than red.
This is the good news.
Bad news? It’s soccer season now in America, and viewership has slipped during NASCAR’s most pivotal time of the season.
These numbers from Bristol shouldn’t surprise anyone either. They certainly wouldn’t surprise Chase Elliott, the sport’s most popular driver and 2020 champion.
“I don’t see any reason to compete against American football when that starts,” Elliott said before Bristol. “In my opinion, this is not a battle we will ever win. I think we have to be smart about that.”
When Chase Elliott speaks, sports should listen, and he’s 99% right. However, let’s be honest… Take out the “NFL” and leave it in “Football”.
Should NASCAR ramp up its schedule?
NASCAR will never compete with football, and this is not a blow to them.
No sport in this country comes close to competing with college football or the NFL, and honestly, you probably never will.
Outside of die-hard baseball fans, does anyone realize that Aaron Judge is on the verge of breaking the one-season home record? Or that Albert Pujols chasing 700?
College Football Saturdays and an NFL Sunday rule the backend of the calendar each year, yet NASCAR continues to extend its schedule all the way beyond Halloween when it doesn’t have to.
If the sport wants to fit 36 races in one season, that’s fine. You can still do that. But wrap it up on Labor Day guys.
Find a way to finish your regular season by Memorial Day, then take in the empty summer months when sports fans crave content and 10 race highlights.
And don’t tell me it won’t work, or that there aren’t enough days or enough time.
NASCAR somehow completed all 36 races in 2020 despite losing two months due to the COVID shutdown. Sprinkle in two races midweek during the spring. Take a weekend or two and give us a double header.
I don’t care how you do it but it got us to the playoffs by Memorial Day and to the end of the season by Labor Day.
Incidentally, this is the most worrying number from last weekend.
I was shocked to see the NASCAR vs NHRA comparison from last weekend, to be honest.
– NASCAR: 1.776 million (USA), 18-49: 411 thousand
– NHRA: 1.678 million (Fox), 18-49: 578 thousand https://t.co/1NuBpT9Oun
– Austin Koninski September 20 2022
NHRA outperforms NASCAR in key demographics
You absolutely cannot lose to the NHRA in the 18-49 age group. That should set off major alarm bells at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona and Charlotte.
And where exactly, do you think, kids between the ages of 18 and 49 were at 9 p.m. last Saturday? I think they were like me… and watching college football.
Florida was on the verge of upset with the USF, Miami and Texas A&M were kicking off, and Arkansas was trying to avoid embarrassment against Missouri at around the time on Saturday.
By the way, all of these games were on either ESPN or ABC.
Meanwhile, on the USA Network, the trophy race wasn’t halfway.
Does anyone see a problem with that?
The good news is that this was the last Saturday night race of qualifying. Bad news?
Now the Cup Series must compete with the NFL for the remaining seven weeks.
The only saving grace for the last seven races is that after Texas this weekend, they’ve all moved on to NBC. Perhaps that will push ratings in the right direction.
Good luck competing with NFL Redzone
But most of the last seven races start around 2:30 p.m., which means that with NASCAR turning green, most of the early NFL games begin in the second half. When the checkered flag is waving, most of the late games will be in the second half.
Where do you think most eyes will be during those times? How many televisions in sports bars are showing a NASCAR race at 3 p.m. and not seven different NFL games and the Redzone channel?
I’ll save you time… It’s zero. Believe me. As someone who likes to run into a gym every Sunday, the answer is zero.
All of this isn’t meant to squash NASCAR either. I love NASCAR, I grew up in NASCAR, I live 10 minutes from Daytona and write about it every Monday.
This is a call to the people on the street in the large glass building overlooking the highway to stop wasting postseason.
Hear from your most famous driver. Pay attention to the Bristol numbers, because they are scary.
There is nothing you can do about next season. The 2023 schedule has already been signed, stamped and delivered.
But it’s never too early to start making plans for 2024. Hopefully, it looks very different.