It’s just business… and a few other thoughts

IT IS A BUSINESS CALLED ABC/ESPN… The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst News are the parents of ESPN. My motivation for writing this is the considerable concern shown by DRO readers who take time to post on ‘We got Mail’.  Please consider that most of the suggestions and criticisms you have directed toward NHRA and other organizations too, are mainly the result of their huge television contracts!  Consider this, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “Advertising on ESPN is sold out for months in advance. Major advertisers such as Apple, FedEx, and United Parcel Service are continually buying advertisements to reach the 15-35 year old male audience. ESPN's ad revenue averages $441.8 million with an ad rate of $9,446 per 30 second slot.”

Here are John Force and Ron Capps at the Winternationals. Just count how many 30-second commercials, aired on the ESPN broadcast, are represented here.  (Ron Lewis photo)

The largest poker event in the country is the World Series of Poker (WSOP), owned and operated by Harrah’s Entertainment.  After acquiring the WSOP brand in 2003, they too sought TV exposure and were welcomed by ESPN.

In 2006, the best players asked for and were granted a so-called ‘players’ Championship.  It has five different games and is called HORSE.  In poker tournaments, the players (racers) pay an entry fee, which creates the prize fund for the winners.  The entry fee for HORSE was $50,000 per player! The Main Event is No Limit Holdem with an entry fee of $10,000 per person. 

While drag racing struggles to fill 16-car fields in our present economy, the 2009 WSOP attracted 6,494 entries at $10K per and turned away several hundred would be players.  How much did the winner receive?  Can you believe, $8.5 million! After three years, ESPN made an edict for 2009 that they would no longer televise the HORSE tournament, due to Nielsen ratings.  This resulted in a low turnout for the 2009 HORSE.  In 2010 it no longer exists thanks 100% to the business decision of ESPN.

Drag racing is far better off having the National events televised.  Tom Compton does a heroic job in keeping 15-18 major races going year after year.  When your class or the new Pro Comp category does not receive the TV coverage you wish it did, remember the statement above about the ESPN advertising dollar! And if you tire of watching the crew lift John Force’s body off the car after a run, just consider how many of the ESPN’s sponsors are brilliantly listed in color on that body.  IT’S JUST BUSINESS!