Sunday, July 31, 2011
Are Big Screen, Hi-Definition Televisions Killing NASCAR?
Granted the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn't ideal for stock cars. The lack of steeply banked curves makes passing difficult. The races at the Speedway too often resemble a train of cars, contrary to the bumping and passing that is traditional with NASCAR racing.
NASCAR used to brag that it provided the most popular spectator sport in the world. But NASCAR's attendance is not only down at IMS, it is down throughout the sport. Why? Some may point to the less fan friendly changes made by NASCAR or other changes with the sport. But here's another idea.
Go into many sports-crazed fans' houses and what do you find? You find a high definition, big screen television set, often accompanied by surround sound and a DVR. People have invested major sums in their home entertainment systems. Do those same people want to spend time and money to drive across the country to attend a NASCAR race when they can experience it in high definition in their own homes? Some will, but many won't, especially given the country's economic downturn.
The new NFL contract anticipates revenue rising from $9 billion to $20 billion. Where is that money coming from? Much of it will come from increasing ticket prices, a fact that caused former Indianapolis Star sportswriter Bill Benner to criticize the deal in a recent Indianapolis Business Journal column. (Sorry...subscription is required.) At some point, the cash-strapped Colts' fan is going to give up his trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch his favorite team from the confines of his home.
Other sports can scoff at the declining attendance dilemma NASCAR is facing. But possibly, just possibly, the declining fortunes of NASCAR are simply the precursor for the future of all spectator sports. At some point ticket prices will become so high that people will start staying home. And when a person can watch the game on high definition, surround sound, big screen TV, can you blame him?