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NASCAR: Brian France Believes Chase is Popular With Fans

Despite the falling ratings and viewership numbers since the Chase was applied a decade ago, NASCAR officials still believe that the chase is popular with fans.


Brian France, CEO and chairman of the Sprint Cup Series’ governing body, is confident that there will be a rise in the viewership, because the ratings leveled out during the past three years after a steady decline since 2005.


France said: “We're coming off a lot of excitement and momentum. The Chase is overwhelmingly popular with our most important stakeholder: our fans.


“They liked that it tightened up the competition. They liked the drama down the stretch. They like the emphasis on winning.”


Nevertheless, France did not offer specifics to the sport’s improvement. Actually, the fact is that NASCAR has not released official attendance figures since 2012.


Last month, France admitted that attendance and viewership declined slightly each of the past three years. The only good news is that viewership during the championship Chase dropped from 4.5 million in 2013 to 4.4 million in 2014. However, television ratings continue to fall during the 26-race regular season, with races at Martinsville, Darlington, Richmond, Talladega, Dover, Michigan and Loudon having 10-year lows in viewership in 2014. In addition to this, Of the 27 Sprint Cup races that can be compared to last year, 22 declined in ratings, and 21 had lower viewership numbers.


As for attendance, nearly ten years ago, the average attendance at some tracks reaches 135,000, while in 2012, average attendance dropped to 98,000. And NASCAR has not released an average attendance number ever since.


However, France stresses that NASCAR is still the most influential motorsport in the country.


He said: “Even if we're off our highs (television ratings), we're still one or two (in television ratings) almost every weekend coming in and out from February to September. We are the most dominant motorsport in the country by a wide margin.


“Our traditional fans love one thing. They love safe, exciting, real tight racing, and if the packages and the formats give that to them, then they're generally happy. Millennial fans and other new fans, well, they may have different time constraints and they may have different things that excite them.”


Also, France added: “We saw big gains in our research with how our casual and avid fans equally like the Chase format.


“We've got a lot of initiatives and different lanes going that are responsible, smart things that we're doing for our stakeholders who count on us to make a lot of good decision to try to be as forward thinking on these things as we can.


“There's nowhere in the world that has the plethora of sports that this country offers almost every day, 12 months a year. We're very fortunate that NASCAR fits in a prominent way, and we just want to keep that alive and build on that.”


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