Monday Night Football changed the way the National Football League was watched on television. Is it time for a Wednesday Night NASCAR broadcast?
The NFL is the most successful sports model in America. The television ratings, attendance, and corporate advertising dollars spent make most others sit up and take notice. The Football method is looked upon as a good way of doing business.
Years ago when weekly Monday Night Football was broadcast on network channels it was often the number one rated show for the week. Today the Sunday Night NFL game has taken that honor. While now on cable, MNF still attracts strong viewer numbers. Attendance at host stadiums is never a problem. The game becomes a circled calendar event and a downtown afternoon party.
Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association stage their seven game series over some weeknights with success. The exact amount of success measured can vary depending on the excitement level and what cities are participating.
So would a big weeknight NASCAR Cup race work on the tour?
I say yes.
Or at least it is time to try it.
NASCAR and the presenting speedways have been fighting declining television ratings and attendance for a few years. The actual raw numbers are still enough to make some sports jealous. But compared to the 2005 peak numbers, we are struggling to keep up with the upward growth that has happened since, well… just about the start of NASCAR.
Track operators and the sanctioning body has come up with creative promotional ideas to regain lost customers. But there is room for more outside the box thinking. The right racetrack with the right creativity could work.
The race and the city need to be a destination. The Firecracker 400 for years was held on July 4th whatever day of the week that landed on. The Beach and the summertime holiday made the race part of vacations. Between 75,000 and 100,000 fans used to show up on a sultry, humid Tuesday morning for Cup racing.
The Thursday afternoon Daytona 500 qualifying races play out before a big crowd. The duel events have always been part of a weeklong winter getaway for many a race fan.
A major difference between a Monday Night Football in-person audience and a Cup race is the local support. The hosting NFL city can count on local fans treating the game as a must-see happening. Area fans as well as thousands of tourists support most Cup races. So to make a weeknight NASCAR Cup show work, there would have to be careful planning to pick the right event and make it worth the race fans’ while.
Daytona on a July 4th evening could still work like the old days. Summer vacations near Orlando never go out of style.
Las Vegas in the right weather conditions that avoid the stifling desert heat is a possibility. The city is always a vacation destination.
Chicago to kick off The Chase? A fresh idea worthy of merit.
How about moving the Daytona race to Thanksgiving night, one of the most watched nights of television all year? The championship could be decided in front of millions of new fans sitting around with their families, begging for something exciting to watch while the turkey digests. That is after the NFL games have ended.
These are just thoughts easily typed off a keyboard without any real inside business research or information. But the series could sure use an original shake up idea. That is clear even from the keyboard view.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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