During that time, television ratings, audiences, and Fortune 500 companies were drawn to motorsports. From Dale Earnhardt to Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR has maintained its presence at the forefront of American motorsport, culminating in the mid-2000s with an audience that rivals any sport outside of the NFL.
Recently, though, the gap was closed with the emergence of an unexpected competitor. While NASCAR is still ahead in total TV viewership, Formula 1 is gaining momentum in the United States. Last season’s US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas attracted nearly 400,000 fans for the weekend, and recently, the Formula 1 racing rankings improved dramatically at last weekend’s Miami F1 race in the United States, which was played head-to-head against NASCAR in Darlington Raceway, has produced a larger audience in the 18-49 demographic and nearly outperforms NASCAR in overall viewership.
– Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 11 2022
What does the future hold for each series in America? Michael Finley and Lucken Glover debate whether Formula 1 is about to overtake NASCAR as America’s favorite motorsport.
F1 is coming
So some cautions are needed about the idea that F1 could potentially be the king of motorsports in America. Really, it would be more like the Government of Canada in that the Queen of England is still the Queen of the country – she doesn’t visit very often. Only two F1 races in the schedule (less than 10 percent) are run within the United States.
I think NASCAR will continue to be the everyday industry leader in America at least for the next few years. Traditions are still important, passed down from generation to generation, and the sport maintains a core fan base. They are still waiting for a significant increase in TV rights starting in 2025 due to how strong their numbers are in most other sports, especially other TV shows in general. NASCAR was stagnant, but today’s slump with thousands of people cutting the rope on cable every month is a net profit.
However, F1 has certainly overshadowed the older brand in a few areas.
The biggest was easily how loyal the 18-49 crowd was to F1. I can promise you that if NASCAR can’t pull it off in this demo at 3:30 PM ET, you’ll soon struggle to beat it at 9 AM ET. Imola’s F1 rating two weeks ago attracted 503k in the demo at 9am ET. That’s a crazy number out there, only about 30,000 of what NASCAR achieved at its Sunday afternoon demo in Darlington (May 8). As of Saturday, the Formula One qualifiers are second only to the day’s National Hockey League playoff via cable.
When was the last time they did something like this outside of the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500? Times are a change, and the younger generation has hung themselves on Formula One.
In fact, the truth is that no cable show, except for news at a major event, the NFL and possibly an NBA playoff, could get half a million people under 50 to watch them on a Sunday morning in 2022, except for F1. Each week, as cable is categorized by demo, F1 is live with prime time programming like WWE, AEW, 90 days fiance Although these races start early in the morning on the West Coast.
F1 is also ahead when it comes to Affordable, Affordable, Affordable Technique. F1 TV Pro, for $80 a season, you get Sky broadcasts, other indoor English broadcasts, data channel and live on boards for all 20 drivers. All live sessions are included in this package.
$80 a season for NASCAR going to pay off a month’s cable bill so you can watch NASCAR on Fox hanging out around hot dogs or something? There is no longer a RaceView for NASCAR, which is a virtual way for you to view the action. Either get your own local cable package, find a streaming service that includes FOX Sports 1 / USA Network or… you haven’t had many good weekends all year.
Meanwhile, the F1 train continues to roll forward. I don’t personally subscribe to the idea that it’s all because of Netflix campaign to surviveFor the record, the F1 reality show that is very popular in America. DtS is a great starting point for new fans, but that alone can’t get people to follow the action as they were. The truth is that they have a good product, with a good presentation, and they manage to attract viewers from DtS because of it. That’s why the Bubba Wallace documentary hit Netflix and everyone forgot about it the following week; These things alone will not attract people to it.
The frustrating part about that, really, is that this racing rivalry shouldn’t be a fight. F1 fans don’t really see NASCAR fans as enemies to be defeated, the series is an obstacle to overcome. And I’m sure F1’s ownership group, Liberty Media, thinks the same way. NASCAR fans can enjoy a vastly better quality of life by looking at what Liberty has done and advocating specifically for the way the series has been ranked.
Instead, it’s excuse after excuse as NASCAR’s marketing continues to stay on the track, which has left them stagnant and unable to grow their fan base while F1 continues to explode.
This is a mistake. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others, ordinary people learn from their own mistakes, and stupid people never learn. Let’s hope I don’t win that argument in the long run and two healthy races can coexist in America. – Michael Finley
NASCAR is not going anywhere
There are two aspects that I would like to discuss in this segment: the advantage of NASCAR that is currently on F1 and what needs to be fixed in order to stay there.
For starters, Formula One’s popularity is at its peak as NASCAR recovers from a “slack” in popularity. Every sport you encounter at one time or another, and this isn’t the last time you’ll hear about it. As times change, sport must be on their toes to make the right adjustments while still maintaining the traditions that made them what they are. NASCAR hasn’t done an excellent job at it over the past decade, and arguably they’ve made major changes that either didn’t reflect what their fan base wanted or came at a very fast pace.
However, NASCAR’s decision-making process began to turn around. The hype and shine that NASCAR carried in the 2000s, when it became the second most popular sport in the country, is slowly making a comeback in some ways. While many of the tracks cut seats during the economic downturn, they are starting to host their largest crowds in several years. Viewership has stabilized and improved in some races.
Think about this – the F1 race had about 2.58 million viewers for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. While these are big numbers, they are average for NASCAR. In 2021, NASCAR averaged 2.93 million viewers during the season. This includes rains, races on cable channels such as FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, and many events that are held head to head with major competition: Olympics, NCAA Championships, NBA Finals, etc.
One of the things that also helps with Formula One is the fact that they only have two races in America per year, so that expands to three in 2022. NASCAR has 38 weeks a year, so fans don’t have to worry about missing out on races here and there.
Another thing that helps NASCAR is its American roots. F1 should reach the global market. NASCAR is local, so while they want global eyes, Americans are the primary target because all the races within the USA are like the quarter races near your seat. As expressed before in NASCAR, tracks that feature gritty races with little passing tend to get poor ratings. In Formula 1 racing, you usually know who stands out as the main contenders after the first few laps. The same cannot be said of NASCAR. There was parity this year, and even when parity was not prevalent, several drivers could still win the race.
Being related helps NASCAR in this place as well. The only thing that hurts Formula 1 is the fact that they don’t have any American drivers. And the last couple of Americans they have? None of them succeeded and he continued to challenge for the season championship. Fans in America can relate to drivers in many ways, be it by state, domicile, character, or brand recognition, which leads to my next point.
NASCAR has arguably more brand loyalty than any other sport. Manufacturers don’t have the same stock they had before, considering there are only three of them, and cars are no longer “in stock” that much. But sponsor products still carry a lot of weight. If the driver is supported by a company like Coca-Cola, then fans of the driver are more likely to buy Coca-Cola. F1 has a more global market, so NASCAR’s home market helps them a lot.
The chance for fans to see a NASCAR driver is more likely than seeing an F1 driver in part because F1 is coming to America only twice.
Not only do fans see their favorite driver in a NASCAR race, either. They can also find it on local short tracks, which is another area where NASCAR has an advantage over F1. The grassroots industry is critical to the continued success of American motorsport, a connection they have refocused on in recent years. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Tyler Riddick, Chase Briscoe and many more racers race on local short tracks several times a year, giving fans more opportunities to see and perhaps even meet them. This driver-fan relationship can only help NASCAR as long as it promotes it properly.
NASCAR already has an established fan base, and now they are just beginning to reach new markets. Nashville, Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, and St. Louis are recent examples of new places on the NASCAR schedule. New teams with owners such as Michael Jordan and Pitbull have brought new eyes to the sport. The Trackhouse Racing team has done an excellent job not only excelling on the track but also reaching fans outside of it.
This does not mean that NASCAR is without problems. F1 broadcasts tend to be cleaner as coverage from Fox and NBC can often be somewhat choppy. In NASCAR-land, the starting times have been controversial, the playoffs have gotten mixed opinions and they have no clear faces for the sport. Compare that to F1 where Sky Sports delivers great analysis, moments appropriate to overstate, and stick to the topic.
While F1 has established faces such as Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Charles Lee Clerc, NASCAR is still searching for its next move from Earnhardt against Gordon. Series points leader, Chase Elliott, is NASCAR’s most famous driver, yet not much is credited to him because the regular season just doesn’t matter anymore.
F1 has the current momentum and theirs campaign to survive The series has worked wonders. Recently NASCAR documentaries and series have been filmed as left-handed turns only and don’t show all the behind-the-scenes action that helps create their own quality competition. The sport needs to find a way to compete against F1 in that space.
However, as we look to 2023 and beyond, NASCAR has a steady base in America with renewed interest. The challenge posed by F1 is one that can easily be overcome with a few small tweaks – tweaks I expect the sport to make. – Luken Glover
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