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Social Media and NASCAR, Maybe the World is Ending

February 26, 2012

Can Social Media Turbocharge NASCAR on TV?

Well with football gone that means Sundays will once again be dominated by bowling and stock-car racing.  In an attempt to boost TV ratings, NASCAR is expanding its presence on social media to encourage fan involvement on race day.  Speed TV, the network that will head the social media experiment, will be providing a stream of updates, moderating fan conversation and possibly forwarding fan questions to commentators.  I hate NASCAR, there I said it.  Now that it’s out in the open let me explain why this won’t have much of an impact on their TV ratings.

First, the majority of NASCAR fans don’t strike me as the demographic that cares about social media.  I don’t think I’m the only person who feels  that way as the lead for the article says the same thing.  “When most people think of tech-savvy social media users, they probably don’t picture fans of NASCAR.”  So I have a feeling that the efforts of the folks at Speed TV might go to waste if the bulk of their audience has no interest or knowledge of social media.

Second, how excited do people really get to incorporate their social media experience with sports?  Depending on how serious a fan we are talking about, everything outside of the announcers and the competition itself are just distractions.  People who attend NASCAR races usually do so in groups with family and friends so would they really trade immediate social interaction for electronic interaction?  Then again there is an incredible amount of down time during those races so I could see people browsing what others are tweeting about or viewing online photo galleries of the race if nothing exciting is happening.

Third, what are the producers expecting people to talk about that will increase the value of race day?  Especially for the Daytona 500, the biggest race of the season aside from maybe the Indy 500, because anyone who cares is at the race or has made plans to watch it, and those who don’t are most likely unaware of when the race is.  I’m assuming there will be numerous tweets declaring that Tony Stewart is a jerk, and that some girl wants Dale Earnhardt Jr. to marry her.  Outside of that there will be the same discussion that accompanies every sporting event, my favorite team or player is better than yours.  Internet arguments; compelling.

I can’t say I blame NASCAR or Speed TV for trying this. Who knows it might be successful, but I always cringe when I hear someone say that social media needs to be included in a sporting event.  Sports in America are already a social experience I fail to see how the Internet adds any value to them during a contest.  If someone loves sports, they are at the event or near a TV with people they want to watch it with, and probably could care less what random people think, unless they enjoy arguing in which case they are probably getting drunk at the game and starting a fight.  The only way I could see this experiment working is if NASCAR can convince the drivers to participate and answer fan questions or something after the race, but that’s probably something they already do on their personal Facebooks and Twitter accounts.

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One Comment
  1. I agree. I think social media and sports work best together when it’s not forced. Let the fans decide how much they want to use it. The players (drivers) and teams can follow suit.

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