We have all witnessed NASCAR's declining fan base over the last few years. NASCAR tries to blame it on the economy, but why are their TV ratings free falling also? I believe we can all agree that the racing in 2010 particularly in the Chase, was terrific, but fans still tuned out in droves. So, where, and when, is our sport's summer of recovery?
NASCAR missed the whole internet thing when it blew by them about fifteen years ago. The NFL recognized the net as a valuable commodity from which to gather potential fans. The best part? It required zero effort from the NFL.
How did they gain millions of new fans, and TV viewers? By just sitting back and watching the fans compete against themselves, that's how. Fantasy football has gained more fans for the NFL than its on-field product ever did. Twenty million viewers per game is an almost weekly happening for the NFL thanks to the fantasy geeks. And the NFL has nothing invested in it.
How can NASCAR pop TV ratings through fantasy team play, you ask? Unlike the NFL, NASCAR should start its own fantasy league. Control the players, the stats, and the payouts. That's right, payouts. How does $100,000 to the winning player each week sound? That might even get Aunt Sarah to watch a little NASCAR.
Okay, $100,000 per week to the winner. Another $25,000 split up between 2nd through 20th place players. 20th through 500th would receive sponsor's gift certificates, coupons, souvenirs, memorabilia, etc.
This would all lead to the fantasy season championship worth $1,000,000 to the winner! With another million doled out for the 2nd through 50th place finishers. Additional prizes similar to the weekly ones would go out to the next 500 players.
I see this scenario costing NASCAR around ten million bucks, but a lot less when they get sponsors to foot the bill. Make your TV partners hype this, and give updates, and publicize the winners weekly. Build excitement among non-fans through web ads, and TV spots.
Oh, did I mention.... it's free.