It makes no difference to a majority of NASCAR fans if a Cup race is telecast on Fox or its partner, Fox Sports 1, because most cable subscribers can get both. But what if a stock-car fan does not have cable? Well, if a race is on Fox Sports 1, he or she is plum out of luck.
After this piece appeared about fans deserting NASCAR, I heard from a few NASCAR fans whoâ€™d like to watch more races, but they donâ€™t have access to cable or, as one senior said, canâ€™t afford it. So they catch races broadcast by Fox, or NBC later in the year.
â€śGreed took over,â€ť a woman named Kat tweeted me. â€śAs seniors, we cannot afford cable or pay-per-view. So we wait for NASCAR once in a while to come on regular TV.â€ť
Well, this weekend, Kat and her hubby are in for a treat. Fox will broadcast Sundayâ€™s 400-mile Cup race from Michigan, not Fox Sports 1, which carried the race on cable last year. And if enough people tune in, NASCAR can celebrate the end of a long and dismal losing streak.
Each of NASCARâ€™s 14 Cup races so far this season has drawn lower ratings and viewers this season than the same races last season. And the numbers have not just gone down: Ratings and viewership have declined by double-digit percentages in all 14 races.
The race last weekend in Long Pond, Pa., won by Martin Truex Jr., drew a 1.6 rating and 2.67 million viewers, a 27% drop in ratings and a 25% drop in viewership from the same race on Fox Sports 1 a year ago. It was the lowest rating for a June Pocono race since 2000, and the lowest viewership for a June Pocono race since 2001.
Six of those 14 races this year have drawn all-time low ratings, and three of 14 have drawn all-time low viewership. There are many reasons, but fans have made it quite clear that they donâ€™t like what seem like batches of commercials interrupted by little stretches of racing. Stage racing, with its forced caution periods, only have seemed to fans to stretch out a long day.