France Addresses TV Ratings

Brian France talks to the media during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)
Brian France talks to the media during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)

HARRISBURG, N.C. — NASCAR Chairman Brian France answered questions from the media on NASCAR’s weekly teleconference Wednesday, but refused to take credit or gloat over NASCAR’s resurgence in attendance and television rating’s through three races this season.

Ratings were up significantly for all three Sprint Cup Series races this year.

“I’ve always said ratings are a function of many things: the competition, how you’re viewed at the time by the fan base in a given moment, how the actual race is playing out. There are all kinds of things that go into it.

“No one around here is celebrating. We’re obviously pleased we’re up dramatically in our ratings. But we know that is an ebb-and-flow thing. We’re focused on a lot of things that will give us growth down the road. We’re going to work on those, not get too excited or too down.

“I look at the interest level of the sport, and that’s growing after having peaked and maybe dropped back a little bit for some reasons a couple years ago. The general interest level is going up and that’s what we’re going to be working on, is creating new fans.”

France said he doesn’t believe an off week after just three races will slow the momentum NASCAR has through three races.

“In my view, all things being equal, we’d probably like to be racing this weekend,” France said. “But I don’t believe that to be a significant challenge for us because we happen to have an open week. We have a long season. We’re going to have some open weeks.”

France is most pleased that NASCAR is carrying the younger demographic in the early season television ratings.

“That’s good. I think having a young winner, and Jeff Gordon runs up our young fan base, and then Junior, arguably he’s competitive more than he was a year ago,” France said. “There are probably a lot of reasons. I think the kind of racing we had, just to get off to kind of a good start.

“But the young demo is something we’re going to keep working at. It goes to candidly reaching new young fans. This is not a one-dimensional effort here just to get people to tune in on television. It’s to get young fans really interested for the long run in every aspect of enjoying NASCAR the way we want them to enjoy NASCAR.”

According to France, NASCAR has a broadcast and media strategy moving forward.

“We spend a lot of time looking at obviously traditional broadcast television. Our cable partners are critically important,” he said. “We spent a lot of time recently looking at the other media, which is social and digital media, where that’s all going, where people are getting information, content and everything else.

“We have a plan,” France continued. “We have a robust plan in the long run. We’ll try to capture both. But one of the ratings impact is people are getting their news, updates, their fix, if you will, in lots of different ways today. We’re going to want to, as a sport, make sure that we’re taking advantage of all of them.”