News NBC looks to kick NASCAR ratings into higher gear

00:05  01 july  2017
00:05  01 july  2017 Source:   Associated Press

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Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) NBC picks up its half of the NASCAR schedule with Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway. Its task: Stop the ratings slide. Fox Sports wrapped up its portion of the season last week with the least-watched race at Sonoma Raceway since 2002.

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Video by NASCAR.com

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Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) NBC picks up its half of the NASCAR schedule with Saturday night's race at Daytona International Speedway. Its task: Stop the ratings slide.

Fox Sports wrapped up its portion of the season last week with the least-watched race at Sonoma Raceway since 2002. Not counting rainouts, all 15 Cup Series races this season have set or tied a multiyear ratings low.

Still, last Sunday's Fox Sports finale ranked second among all sports events watched on a single network, trailing only the final round of the PGA's Hartford Open. Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip.

''I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air,'' said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC's NASCAR telecasts.

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Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

''We also make sure we market and get the word out as well as we possibly can that this is must-see TV. And we've got a good history and a good track record at NBC of making events bigger.''

Flood pointed to NBC's coverage of the Kentucky Derby and the NFL on Sunday nights. The network is entering its third year of its return to NASCAR.

''We know how to do this,'' he said. ''We just need to work hard, and it's going to take some digging, but we're going to get there because we believe in the sport and we believe in these people and we believe that it is a great product on television.

''We want more people in the stands. We want people to enjoy it and be as passionate about the sport the way they were in `01 when we came in the first time. We think that's all possible. We wouldn't be sitting here and working as hard as we are and planning as hard as we are if we didn't believe that was going to happen.''

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Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

NBC will use a ''bat-cam'' that will be rigged to zoom along Daytona's backstretch above the racing. The camera is expected to debut in Friday night's Xfinity Series race. Mike Wells, the NBC director for NASCAR, plans to use the camera to show cars exiting Turn 2 or turn the camera around and have it head toward the cars.

''It goes 0-60 mph in about a second,'' Wells said.

NBC also will introduce a ''visor cam'' similar to the one Danica Patrick wore last week at Sonoma.

''We've got nice toys there that we think will help amplify the speed, the drama and the excitement on the racetrack,'' Flood said.

The booth will again consist of play-by-play announcer Rick Allen and analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.

Letarte, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s former crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports, will launch a segment that features traveling crew members. NBC also brought former Olympic sprinter Ato Boldon, the network's lead track and field analyst, to Daytona to anchor features as a newcomer to the sport.

NBC will also be able to cover Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final season from a unique vantage. Letarte is Earnhardt's former crew chief and a confidant while Burton is a former competitor and friend. It gives NBC the ability to offer insider's insight as NASCAR's most popular driver winds down his career.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Retire With More Than $400 Million In Career Earnings

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Retire With More Than $400 Million In Career Earnings Racing icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire at the end of the 2017 season after 18 years on the track. His career earnings of $410 million are second most in Nascar history behind Jeff Gordon.Earnhardt made his Cup debut in May 1999 and won his first Nascar Cup Series race less than a year later at the Texas Motor Speedway. It was just his twelfth start in Nascar’s top series. Earnhardt entered the sport armed with a huge following and sponsor interest thanks to the massive fan base of his father, Dale Sr., who won seven Nascar championships. Many of those Dale Sr. fans put their full-time allegiance behind Dale Jr., when his father was killed in a wreck at the 2001 Daytona 500.

Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. "I think we can control what we can control, and that's putting the best possible product on the air," said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC 's NASCAR telecasts.

''I'm feeling he's 100 percent engaged,'' Letarte said. ''The sport is difficult. What we've seen Dale Jr. battle this year is exactly why we all tune in every Sunday because there are no gimmies, there are no guarantees. Joe Gibbs Racing is winless. Chase Elliott is winless. No one, I think, could have predicted that. And Jimmie Johnson has three wins, but he's the only Hendrick driver to get to victory lane this year.

''I think Dale Jr.'s retirement announcement is a good way for people to have a conversation about his focus. But what I've seen on the racetrack, seems to me from a driver and a team that want to go to victory lane, I don't see a lack of determination or desire at all.''

Related slideshow: 2017 NASCAR race winners (Provided by USA Today Sports)

Weekly race winners from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 2017 NASCAR Cup Series race winners


NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson ready to race after cancer scare .
NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson says he feels good and is ready to race after having skin cancer removed this week from his right shoulder. Johnson tweeted on Monday that he was on a table having basal-cell carcinoma cut out of his shoulder. Basal-cell carcinoma is a common, slow-growing form of skin cancer.In his first public comments about it, Johnson tells The Associated Press he found out in January that he had skin cancer and was told he could wait until after the season to have the cancer removed. But the morning after Johnson won in Dover he was in New York for the procedure. He says it had not spread.

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