NASCAR’s new TV contract is delivering a mixed bag to the sport

This year marks a new TV contract for NASCAR. As Fox and NBC have teamed this year to air the Sprint Cup Series, the ratings for the sport have set records for their cable partners, Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN, but there have been drawbacks. According to Sports Media Watch, all 12 Sprint Cup races on cable this year have either been the lowest-rated of all-time for the race or been the lowest-rated in several years.

Last Sunday, the Michigan 400 on NBCSN drew a viewership of 4.3 million which was off from last year’s 5.2 million on ESPN and that was the smallest audience dating back to 2000. However, it was the second most-watched event in the history of NBCSN which is below last month’s Brickyard 400 which averaged 4.7 million viewers.

During its half of the Sprint Cup season, Fox Sports 1 had some of its highest audiences, but were some of the lowest in race history.

Fox and NBC will argue that with this being the first year of a new contract, viewers are getting used to having races on Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN. And while the ratings and viewership are low now, the networks will say they’re building audiences through live content.

And they’ll say that they’re encouraged by the viewership as it means that there’s still room for improvement next year when fans will be more accustomed to having the races on Fox, Fox Sports 1, NBCSN and NBC.

So as we continue towards the Sprint Cup playoffs, NBCSN will probably continue the trend of setting viewership records for the network while hitting record lows for the races. But NBC Sports Group is also hopeful that NASCAR fans will also sample shoulder programming on NBCSN and stay with the network for various other sports.

As the networks will say, this contract is a marathon and not a sprint. Sports Media Watch

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