BAKER: NASCAR Evolving In Search Of Younger Audience

Tom Baker Cup, NASCAR, Tom Baker Blog, Trucks, XFINITY 0 Comments

On-track action from Thursday’s Can-Am Duels at Daytona Int’l Speedway. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — I’ve read articles from Forbes and Wall Street this week that focused on financials and numbers and TV ratings.

While those articles were interesting and informative, I don’t believe they quite tell the story of NASCAR as it is today.

It is not dying. It is evolving.

All of motorsports has been forced into an evolution, because technology has evolved to the point where the future fans of our sport don’t have to or want to sit in front of a TV for hours at a time in order to consume the content, nor do they necessarily want to sit at the track all day.

I watched the Thursday night Duel races on the Fox Sports Go app instead of on TV because we did a live radio show during the TV broadcast.

I won’t count in the TV ratings numbers, but I watched the entire broadcast. I’m sure there were plenty of folks that did the same during Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (won by Kaz Grala, a rising young gun of the sport).

All sports are seeing the same types of changes in human behavior.

The younger demographic likes to watch and hear content on their phones or tablets.  The cars of today lets them sync their phone to the car’s infotainment system, so they can listen to what’s on their phone riding down the road.

Technology now lets us have many ways of watching or listening to content while doing other things at the same time. That’s not a bad thing, but it signals a shift in how you market and promote and make your product available to your audience.

NASCAR’s social media numbers are well into the millions. They do by far the best job of any motorsports sanctioning body of utilizing social media to push out all kinds of content.

Whether my generation of fans likes it or not, NASCAR and all of motorsports has no choice but to evolve and focus on finding their footing with the younger generation.

In fact, in the next five to seven years or so — if not sooner — the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is likely to see the floodgates open as the top stars continue to retire and the Hemrics, Byrons, Cindrics and others step up to take their place.

That will be good for bringing in younger fans, who will all be able to relate to those drivers more closely.

The attention span of anyone under 25 these days is far shorter.  They are constantly picking up their phones to text, look at social media or send a Snapchat to their friends.

If you want them to pay attention to your sport or event, you’d better find as many ways as possible to let them use that phone or device to do it.

They’ll still pack the movie theater for the newest Fast and Furious movie, but if you want them to hang around your racetrack for three or four hours, you’d better have as close to that kind of excitement level as possible.

That’s a tall order, because you’re dealing with real life instead of fiction.

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