Brian France responds to decline in ratings and attendance

Brian France responded to concerns regarding continual declines in ratings and attendance saying they “could always be better,” but NASCAR is “pleased with where we’re at.”

Speaking to the media in the deadline room at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the chairman and CEO of NASCAR was asked, given the decline in ratings for most of the Chase races and few races being sellouts, if he believed this Chase format was resonating with fans.

“Yeah, you’re seeing TV ratings slide all over the place in sports, right? You’re seeing all kinds of things happen in TV ratings,” France said. “The big events, they go one way, the digital audience is consuming things different. We’re no different from that. It’s not a surprise on that.

“Attendance has been fine. We’ve come off weather issues like we did in Phoenix a year ago. We don’t have Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. Needless to say, there’s going to be a little impact there.

“(Indiscernible) huge crowd. It could always be better, but we’re pleased with where we’re at.”

NASCAR television ratings have declined dramatically from their peak in 2005. This season alone, ratings are down six percent from last season (Forbes).

According to Sports Media Watch, 21 of 30 (six races affected by rain weren’t included) races have hit multi-year lows. That includes seven of the nine Chase races run so far (the rain affected races at Charlotte and Texas weren’t included).

Attendance also appears shaky, but it’s hard to measure since NASCAR stopped releasing official attendance figures for races since the conclusion of the 2012 season.

The declines in viewership, be it attendance or television, isn’t exclusively a NASCAR problem. It’s plagued all professional sports in the United States. The NFL most notably, which for the longest time has withstood any damage of the 2008 economic recession, has seen significant declines in television viewership this season.

But it’s one that’s hit NASCAR the hardest of any sport.

Ratings and attendance is important to teams when looking for sponsorship. When Bob Pockrass asked about this, however, France seemed rather annoyed by it and actually interrupted his question.

“Let me stop you,” he said. “Maybe what you don’t realize, or maybe you to realize, we report our attendance, right? We have publicly traded companies. We don’t have publicly financed facilities for the most part. All the other leagues have that benefit, so they can discount tickets, give them away. That’s not reported. So we’re in a little bit of a double standard on that, number one.

“Number two, we are still very pleased with our position in sports. The audience isn’t going away at all. It’s sliding to different places, consuming in different ways.

“I would tell you some other leagues that have 30% drop‑offs, they didn’t lose 30% of their audience from one moment to the next, that audience is just sliding and consuming in some different ways. Our digital consumption is off the charts.

“I want to tell you a little something. I watched the other day, as an example, I’m a sportsfan, so I watched a Duke Blue Devils game, after they had played, in like a six‑ or seven‑minute recap of the game. It was pretty good. Maybe it was a little longer than that. I didn’t watch the game on TV, but I watched it fairly intense with my laptop.

“So things are happening and sliding and moving around. It will all work out. Sports, in the end, us included, will always have a huge, big audience. So whether ratings are sliding over here, spiking at times over here, that will all work out.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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