Monday, August 29, 2005

The new national pastime, part deux - NASCAR: America’s fastest growing sport: “TV ratings are soaring. Corporate money is flowing. And the crowds just keep getting bigger. NASCAR is racing ahead. The second-most-watched sport on television behind pro football, NASCAR has seen its ratings increase by more than 50% since it inked a six-year, $2.4 billion network deal five years ago; licensed retail sales of NASCAR-branded products have increased 250% over the past decade, totaling $2.1 billion last year alone; and is one of the most highly trafficked sports websites.” (Extended story here along with “NASCAR for neophytes”)


Des said...

Was Whitesnake's "Here We Go Again" one of your high school graduation songs?

$2.1 billion in overall merchandise sales, eh? It's great to see NASCAR reach the level of major league baseball merchandise totals... in 1991. At which point they'd increased 500% in half a decade... growth twice as fast, in half the time, for a league that was 115 years old.

For 2005, gross retail sales for baseball merchandise are up by almost 100 percent over 2004's record numbers. For apparel alone, the sales total is over $3 billion.

The "second-most watched sport on television" brag was just made by Sirius Radio in announcing a deal with NASCAR. Sirius Radio is trying to out-razzle-dazzle XM. The same Sirius press release claims that NASCAR has "75 million fans." If you choose to believe that more than 1 in 4 Americans are watching NASCAR telecasts or know who Bobby Labonte is, you may be standing too close to the exhaust fumes.

ESPN's own commissioned polls say that NASCAR support is behind that of many sports, including figure skating. Humorously enough, a slew of online links make the identically vague claim that female skating is America's "second-most watched sport." Gee, it's almost as if numbers can be massaged to fit a desired premise. NASCAR itself makes the less flamboyant claim that they're the #2 televised sport... in the 7-to-12-year-old demographic.

Of course, it makes a ton of sense to equate weekend-only national ratings numbers from a sport that runs 10 months with those of regular-season, regionally-broadcast baseball. Baseball schedules more games in three days than NASCAR has races in a year.

NASCAR's attendance is about 6 million a year; baseball's is more than 40 million. Oops, small correction: MINOR LEAGUE baseball's attendance is more than 40 million. The major leagues is about twice that.

"NASCAR has seen its ratings increase by more than 50%," you giddily repeat. In other exciting "New National Pastime" news, the WNBA's network ratings are up 43 percent. Statistical bumps like that are much easier when you're starting from nothing. I hear the X-Games and televised poker are way, way up in the last decade's Nielsen books, too.

Be sure to let the public know when the highest-rated NASCAR broadcast ever approaches the lowest-rated MLB All-Star Game ever. Let alone a baseball game of significance.

But it's just precious how you keep banging this drum, in unyielding opposition to every relevant statistic. And just to amuse me! Don't think I don't appreciate your narrowcasting, either. Still, you'd think you'd have learned something from your old "the NBA will bury baseball" misadventure. I see the same media stories you do. Incredulity, my friend. Incredulity. Give it a try sometime.

I'm hoping to get back my retirement money at age 65, and your blog updates worry me. But if your assessment of Social Security's charts and figures is as dead-on accurate as your reading of TV ratings and crowds and warmup jackets has been, we're all in the pink!

Patriot Fan said...

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