The Slatest

TV Ratings Continue to Plummet for Sport That Once Epitomized Middle American Values

A patriotic sports fan in Talladega, Alabama on Oct. 15.

Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Well, it’s Sunday again—another Sunday on which we’ll likely see further erosion of audience interest in the sport that once symbolized what it meant to be a blue-collar heartland American.

  • Ratings for last Sunday were down 14 percent over last year.
  • Ratings for the previous Sunday were down 13 percent over last year.
  • And ratings for the Sunday before that were down 18 percent over last year.

I’m talking, of course, about NASCAR, the sport that’s been hemorrhaging viewers from its predominately white audience for years amid the trend toward cord-cutting and complaints about constant commercial breaks.


NASCAR’s ratings decline in recent years has been steeper even than that suffered by the NFL—another sports league that prides itself on its connection to red-state America, whose ratings are off a relatively modest seven percent this season.

Several recent press reports have noted for some reason that no NASCAR drivers or crew members are known to engage in political protests during the playing of the national anthem. Even if the opposite were true, though, it seems unlikely that such activities would explain the type of long-term, industry-wide sports broadcasting ratings trouble that NASCAR is perhaps the most prominent example of.