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NASCAR Ratings Hold Steady For 2019 Season

“NASCAR’S new president, Steve Phelps was satisfied with the sport’s 2019 season, focusing on the quality of the product.”

Brandon Contes

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After years of experiencing a free fall for their television ratings, NASCAR stopped the bleeding in 2019 as status quo could be considered a win for the sport.

Earlier this week, NBC reported its broadcast of the NASCAR Cup championship race from Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida drew an average of 3.759 million viewers. The championship race attracted the network’s biggest audience during their half broadcasting the season. Unfortunately, it still represented a decline for the same race in previous years.

In 2018, NASCAR’S championship race drew 4.154 million viewers, 4.662 million in 2017 and 6.1 million in 2016. Those totals equate to a 10% decline in one year, 19% in two years, 38% in three years, and according to Forbes, a massive 51% drop from 2015.

The good news? Overall, NBC’s NASCAR ratings remained steady from 2018 even with declining championship race coverage. According to NBC, season viewership averages for their 18 races in 2019 (not including weather-affected races at Daytona and Darlington) stayed at 2.57 million, which was equal to last year.

The first half of NASCAR’S season, broadcast on FOX, enjoyed a ratings increase for the 2019 season. FOX broadcasts averaged 4.07 million viewers, a small increase from the 3.98 million in 2018. The 2019 viewership number for those races is still down 17 percent from their TV ratings in 2017. FOX averaged significantly more viewers than NBC, but the first half of the racing schedule is not challenged by football.

NASCAR’S new president, Steve Phelps was satisfied with the sport’s 2019 season, focusing on the quality of the product.

“If you look at the results — I start with the competition always — our competition right now on the intermediate tracks and the superspeedways, I believe, is the best racing we’ve ever seen. I’ll start with myself as a fan,” Phelps said. “I love watching and am super excited when we get to the intermediate tracks and superspeedways, the type of racing we are going to see.”

One recent positive for NASCAR is the vote of confidence they received from Michael Jordan. If sports’ fans want to be like Mike, they’ll start taking an interest in racing. 

“I’m a big race fan. Started off when I was a kid and I grew up watching [Dale Earnhardt], Richard Petty [and] Cale Yarborough was an original 11 that I remember,” Jordan said. “Now I’m good friends with Denny Hamlin and we go way back. He’s a season ticket holder at the Hornets, and I spend a lot of time playing golf with him and obviously I’m a big NASCAR fan, so I came out to support him.

The 2020 NASCAR season begins next February on FOX, where broadcasts will continue through June 14. NBC controls the NASCAR broadcast schedule from June 21 until the championship race Nov. 8. For the first time in nearly two decades, Homestead-Miami Speedway will not serve as the final race of the NASCAR season.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here

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John Skipper ‘Expects’ NBA To Have More Than 2 Partners in New TV Deal

“They’re gonna end up with more partners than they have now…with somewhere between two or three times the money they have now.”

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Former ESPN President and current Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper thinks the NBA will go the NFL route and have more than two broadcast partners for their upcoming media rights deal.

During an episode of the Sporting Class podcast, John Skipper and cohorts David Samson and Pablo Torre discussed the upcoming NBA media rights deal, under the guise of Dallas Mavericks governor Mark Cuban selling the team, and how it could play out for teams moving forward. When it came to the total valuation of the NBA’s upcoming rights deal, Skipper was bullish on the NBA’s future.

“They’re gonna end up with more partners than they have now,” Skipper said, “they’re gonna end up with, in my opinion, with somewhere between two or three times the money they have now,” before host Pablo Torre added some additional color, stating “Because of broadcast partners in television and also the tech companies.”

The NBA has famously featured one or two broadcast partners for most of its lifespan. CBS held NBA broadcasting rights from the mid-70s until the 1989-90 season, then lost the rights to NBC from 1990 until 2002, with interspersing of cable broadcast holders like USA Network, ESPN, and Turner between there.

In 2002, the NBA shifted to a more rigid version of its two-partner system, where ABC and ESPN would split games with Turner Broadcasting. The league extended its agreement with both networks multiple times, which will finally come to a head in 2024.

For the first time, the NBA could look to expand across multiple channels, similar to how the NFL handles business, where multiple broadcast partners will air games on either certain days of the week or certain holidays. While Turner could be planning for life without the NBA, both Amazon and NBC are planning an aggressive pursuit of NBA rights during the next media rights negotiation.

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Kirk Herbstreit: Pat McAfee Has ‘Changed My Experience’ on College GameDay

“You’ve changed the approach, the energy, not just on this set, but like the week. I’m having a blast.”

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Kirk Herbstreit and Pat McAfee

While many detractors say otherwise, Kirk Herbstreit is crediting Pat McAfee for positive changes in the way he and the team approach College GameDay.

During an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, McAfee jokingly discussed leaving College GameDay due to “mean” college football fans ruining his fun and positive life. “I don’t want the negativity in my life, I don’t want the death threats,” McAfee said. Herbstreit, however, had no time for McAfee and threw the gauntlet down. “If you dare even think about leaving College GameDay,” Herbstreit said, “I’m leaving with you.” McAfee then responded with the famous line from Talladega Nights — “don’t you put that on me!”

Within the jest, however, Herbstreit lets us peek back behind the curtain to how he and the rest of the College GameDay team feel about McAfee. “You’ve changed my experience,” Herbstreit said. “You’ve changed the approach, the energy, not just on this set, but like the week. I’m having a blast…It’s like being on a team where you have a great energy. If you dare leave…” Fortunately, by the end of the segment, McAfee was back on board and admitted this would be his life for the foreseeable future.

Some pundits have felt that McAfee’s appearance on GameDay hasn’t helped grow the program, despite them confirming Herbstreit’s remarks on McAfee’s personality. Former ESPNer Dan Le Batard said on his show, “He is effusive, he is such a positive person. He is effusive in his praise for the people on that set. But now the numbers are coming back, and this is something that McAfee couldn’t have expected.”

While the ratings numbers for GameDay are higher than they’ve ever been (something Herbstreit and McAfee made sure to mention in their discussion,) they’re still under attack from FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff, who have scored some major ratings wins over this past season. According to FOX, before the Nov. 25 game between Ohio State and Michigan, Big Noon Kickoff averaged 2.34 million viewers and hit a record 4.36 million viewers from 11 a.m. ET until kickoff. This made Big Noon Kickoff the most-watched college football pregame show on television for the weekend. The recent losses have some feeling like College GameDay has lost its way.

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Al Michaels Questions If Bill Belichick Has TV Future

“Does he go into television? How about this? They put him in the booth with Kevin Burkhardt and Tom Brady next year on FOX.”

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Amidst a dismal season for the New England Patriots, one legendary sports broadcaster thinks Bill Belichick could leave coaching to join him in the world of announcing.

During last night’s Thursday Night Football broadcast between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, Al Michaels made a passing comment about Belichick’s status as Pats head coach moving forward — but it could have massive reverberations throughout two industries.

“Does he go into television?” Michaels said while speculating Belichick’s future with co-host Kirk Herbstreit. “How crazy that sounds, but he won an Emmy [for NFL Network’s NFL 100 All-Time Team series] with Cris Collinsworth and Rich Eisen. How about this? If he goes into television, they put him in the booth with Kevin Burkhardt and Tom Brady next year on FOX.”

Belichick and Brady teaming up once more doesn’t seem too far-fetched, especially considering their past successes together. Former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski also prowl FOX’s airwaves, which could allow the former Patriots to dominate sports media in a way not seen since ’80s and ’90s-era Dallas Cowboys did in years past.

Unlike Brady, who is a relative newcomer to sports broadcasting, Belichick has precedent with sports TV in the past. Outside of the NFL’s Top 100 All-Time Team. Belichick served as a guest analyst for ABC’s Super Bowl XL pre-game show breaking down the action between the Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. Belichick was praised for his work on that broadcast, despite his prior reputation as a bit of a grump. Belichick also featured heavily and was likewise praised for his appearance in ESPN’s The Two Bills, a 30 for 30 starring Belichick and Bill Parcells.

What could the future hold for Belichick? As Herbstreit says during the broadcast, “The only guy who knows is Bill Belichick.”

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