Double Digit Increase?
arlier this year, I shared with you a three-year comparison
showing the overall decline in households watching the NHRA
POWERade Show on ESPN. NHRA Drag Racing has a long way to
go to gather back the 24 percent slide in household watching
over that three-year period.
Unfortunately, the reduced percentage amounted to a loss
of 11.5 million viewers. There’ll always be live events
from the world of Women’s Softball, Log Rolling, Sheep
Sheering, Goat Roping or the Soap Box Derby to postpone the
start of drag racing, diverting attention from our precious
sport. But remember the ESPN Show is usually tape-delayed.
So far this year’s numbers for the qualifying, final
rounds and repeats of the TV show indicate a small positive
step in the right direction that began with on-camera personnel
changes and gaining a new Director in the off-season.
you’re a drag racing fan, well you wouldn’t be
reading this if you weren’t, this year you couldn’t
help but hear the megaphones blaring, “television ratings
are up double digits from a year ago,” as an Associated
Press Report in June touted.
Was it John Force or Gary Scelzi who spoke in top end TV
interviews of the 38 percent TV ratings growth? Sound familiar?
According to a source who attended Tom Compton’s U.S.
Nationals meeting of professional owners and drivers, once
again that mysterious “double digit increase”
phrase was used by Compton to characterize 2005 TV Ratings.
That’s one of Tom’s jobs to spin the positive
aspects of the NHRA, but when a phrase like “double
digit increase” gets filtered through the ranks its
becomes like the kid’s game Telephone, eventually the
information becomes meaningless, but remembered as positive.
Glowing and optimistic information about our sport is what
every rabid drag fan wants to hear, assuming it was based
upon fact and not some incremental piece of audience demographics.
If it were completely true we’d hear actual numbers
and we in the drag racing media would all be yelling it from
the nearest rooftop.
At this point in the season, through the Seattle event, the
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing TV show is up slightly in the total
Households watching select same events in comparison to the
2004 ESPN season schedule. Keep in mind the number of households
has steadily dropped over the past three seasons, down 24
The Total Households for this season doesn’t look really
bad, yes there are some increases, but the TV show has fallen
so far from the high ratings of the 2002 numbers. Rather than
listening to sanctioning bodies, most national advertisers
and sponsors rely upon data gatherers like Street & Smith’s
Sport Business Journal and Joyce Julius & Associates for
the straight scoop without filters or spin.
None of the ratings drop is the racers fault, it’s
not the sports fault, and the racetracks have done their jobs.
While I feel the actual TV show has matured and is more entertaining
with on-camera additions like pit reporter Gary Gerould, basically
we see a weekly infomercial for NHRA POWERade drag racing
paid for by NHRA.