The 60th running of the Daytona 500 has come and gone, and The Great American Race certainly did not disappoint this year. Fiery wrecks, tempers flaring between drivers on and off the track, and a fairy tale win for Joe Gibbs Racing after the loss of the founder’s son and team co-owner, JD Gibbs. But another story emerged during that was very interesting. Dave Portnoy, aka “El Presidente” of Barstool Sports fame, loved the race, and plans to be back for Bristol, and the Talladega fall race.
It was announced earlier this month that NASCAR had struck a media partnership deal with Barstool Sports, a popular sports and satire blog, based out of New York City. This is big news for fans of the beleaguered racing organisation, which over the past several years has seen a steady decline in TV viewership and race attendance. NASCAR is finally making steps to attract the younger millennial/xennial base it so desires.
To understand the dilemma NASCAR is in, we have to look at what the reasons for the decline are. Most attribute it to a few key points, namely, the retiring of big names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, etc. Also the constant changes in rules, and a championship/points format that for a casual fan, can be down right puzzling. Combine that with the young, up and coming drivers not able to get traction with the fans, the growing trend of cable cutting and a host of other issues, NASCAR is in a precarious situation.
This is where Barstool Sports comes in. They have the readership and the demographic that NASCAR needs. It is refreshing to see them embrace new media in this manner. Daytona 500 viewership was up 8% over last year’s race, and up 35% in Boston alone. Looking at those stats, it is definitely something that should be looked at moving forward. Barstool was able to showcase the experience of the event, the tailgating, the access to drivers, driver personalities, etc. NASCAR can use this to prove to young people that it is so much more than cars turning left. As a NASCAR fan, any bit of social media promotion is a good thing. It’s a digital age, and we need to keep up with the times. It’s still very early in the partnership, but things appear to be looking up for the first time in a long time.