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My ego isn’t big enough to let me believe what I write here has any serious impact on what the suits in charge of the sport do or don’t do. I know that the NHRA and IHRA bean counters (the guys that really run the sport) are only interested in implementing plans and rules designed to make more profit for the sanctioning body and track operators. Actually, I have no problem with that, since I have resigned myself to the reality that NHRA drag racing at all levels is operated strictly as a “for profit” business.
So I am left scratching my head in wonderment as I try to understand why the television program, that we are told is the engine that actually drives the popularity and profitability of the sport, isn’t better. In most cases sponsorships in the professional classes are sold using the ESPN TV package as the major attraction: “Who cares if there are no people in the grandstands, millions at home will see your corporate signage in the big ESPN broadcast.”
But that isn’t the case when the ratings for the NHRA TV broadcasts have been between .5 and .8 of a Nielsen rating point for the past couple of years. Each tenth of a rating point equals 100,000 household TV sets tuned into NHRA drag racing. That doesn’t compute to millions of viewers of a broadcast does it?
In the real world a TV show with those kinds of ratings would have long ago been canceled! But because the NHRA pays ESPN in the area of $10,000,000 yearly to produce and air the show, it is still on the air.
So here is my question to the bean counters: After two or three years of steadily dropping ratings why are we being subjected to basically the same boring TV shows? Why haven’t you guys insisted on a re-vamped show developed by different directors, producers, and personalities?
I’ll say it again: In the world of commercial TV, shows that have ratings of less than one point have been canceled after one or two shows; I don’t think they’ve ever been allowed to run for years.
So I’m left wondering if the contract that NHRA pres Tom Compton signed with ESPN is an iron-clad long-term deal that gives the NHRA absolutely no real ability to dictate anything about the producers, directors, on-air personalities, content, or time slot?
If that is the case then shame on Mr. Compton for signing that contract.
Are we to believe that ESPN is so powerful and successful that they actually don’t need the millions of dollars that NHRA pays them every year? Shouldn’t that kind of money give NHRA at least some control over content?
DRAG RACING Online will be published on the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
DRAG RACING Online owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em as we see 'em. We strive for truth,integrity, irreverence and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.
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