INDIANAPOLIS – Its weird to think about, but we’re in a day and age in professional sports where each respective sports organization really no longer cares if people come to watch their games in person or not. Most teams/sports organizations make their money off TV ratings not gate attendance anymore.
If you want proof of this, look no further than what’s going on in NASCAR right now.
Attendance is slipping across the board at every track. Look at this past Sunday’s Brickyard 400 as a prime example. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway which holds 238,000 people in the grandstands alone, had nearly 200,000 of those seats empty. People began immediately wondering what the future of this race is.
Change the start time?
Move it to another favorable date where its not so hot?
Change the track to aid in better racing?
Well, after the ratings were released on Monday, I don’t think any of those options are going to happen. In fact, don’t look for many changes if any at all for the future.
First off, NASCAR already released the scheduled for 2017 and the Brickyard 400 has the same race weekend as this year’s race. As far as changing the date to a later time on the schedule, that is the best possible option, but if that happens, it won’t happen within the next few years.
What about adding lights?
Not for the $25-million price tag. Why would anyone spend that much, for one weekend a year of use?
Also, don’t expect them to add the apron back or change any part of the track to aid in better racing. In all actuality, the racing yesterday from seventh on back was actually pretty good. There was a bunch of passing through the midpack on back. It just didn’t help that Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota had cars that no one could pass, so the top five or six cars were virtually untouchable.
But, the racing throughout the rest of the field was actually better compared to recent years.
So, change the track to aid in more passing?
Not going to happen.
But, the best point that occurred happened when the ratings were revealed today. Sunday’s race drew a 3.1 rating which is up 3-percent over last year. They also had 5.2-million viewers which too is up from last year from 4.7-million people that tuned in for the 2015 race.
But, take this stat for what its worth – Sunday’s Brickyard 400 was the best viewership/rating since 2013 and that’s over two years of ESPN’s coverage. So, NBCSN outdrew the last two years of ESPN’s coverage of the Brickyard 400.
Now, with NBC paying NASCAR in the billions over the next eight seasons, do you really think this race will get a facelift? The Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes more money off this TV deal to really worry about how many people are in attendance.
Yes, the crowd was embarrassing yesterday, but the ones that did brave the heat and show up was an added benefit to IMS. They already made a profit before any of those brave souls came through the gates on Sunday.
So, if you made a profit before anyone came to their seats and your TV rating/viewership was up this year compared to the last three years, would you make a change?
When TV money pays the bills, the answer is obvious.