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Nascar’s Most Valuable teams 2018

Feb 2018

Fonte: Forbes #sportsmoney
Autore: Chris Smith

On Sunday, Nascar fans were treated to a thrilling opening day at Daytona. Austin Dillon took a narrow overtime victory to close out a drama-filled race, securing a win in the famed No. 3 car on the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 win. It’s hard to ask for a better start to the 2018 race season, and yet it turns out that not many sports fans tuned in to watch it.

In fact, with a 5.1 overnight rating, Sunday’s race likely marked the lowest TV ratings that the Daytona 500 has ever pulled. It’s worth noting that the race was up against the Olympics, which may explain some of the viewership dip, but this year’s race continued the declining viewership trend that’s been going on for a decade.

It’s not necessarily a sign of the sky falling for America’s top race series, but that increasingly worrying lack of TV viewership coupled with a general investment pullback from sponsors and team owners has put Nascar in a tight spot. The top eight Nascar teams are now worth an average $158 million, down 2% from last year.

Perhaps the most worrying indicator is that some of Nascar’s biggest sponsors, the very lifeblood of the sport, have been scaling back their investments. Miller Lite, which has been a partner of Team Penske for nearly three decades, recently renewed its sponsorship agreement but dropped its seasonal commitment from 24 races to just 11 races.

And a significant number of sponsors have even walked away from the sport entirely: Target, Subway, Dollar General and Cheerios have all jumped ship in the last two years. Things aren’t any better at the league level. Last year the series saw a significant drop in revenue from its title sponsorship after Monster took over for Sprint, and a few months ago Coors Light ended its partnership as Nascar’s official beer; that deal has yet to be replaced.

It’s a worrying signal, especially since sponsorship income typically accounts for nearly three-quarters of a team’s annual revenues (the series-level deals aren’t as much of an immediate concern, since the teams’ share of Nascar revenues are locked in under the new charter system, which guarantees entry into every race). And that sponsor money leaving the sport could explain why some top owners have also started scaling back their operations.

Last year Roush Fenway Racing leased one of its three charters, and this year the team sold that charter off, permanently scaling down to two cars. Once the most valuable team in Nascar, Roush now ranks sixth with a value of $140 million, down 55% from $313 million a decade ago. Richard Childress Racing is also running just two cars this year, Richard Petty Motorsports is down to one and even Furniture Row Racing, which won last year’s championship, has ditched one of its charters and returned to being a one-car outfit.

The good news is that the trio of Hendrick, Gibbs and Stewart-Haas, Nascar’s three most valuable teams, continue to fund robust four-car garages, though with slightly leaner bottom lines (the three had combined operating income of $17 million last year, down from $36 million the year before). Team Penske has also expanded operations this year, buying a third charter before the season. The new No. 12 car is being driven by Ryan Blaney, who appears destined for success after dominating much of Sunday’s Daytona 500. The team is now worth $142 million, up 5% over last year.

One of the newer concerns for Nascar is the sudden loss of many of the sport’s top stars. The likes of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all retired, costing the sport some of its most recognizable faces, but drivers are actually an area where Nascar may soon get some good news. The series’ youth development program is enjoying plenty of early success.

Kyle Larson is already among the sport’s most competitive and top-paid drivers, Chase Elliott moves more merchandise than just about anyone and the likes of Bubba Wallace and Blaney just demonstrated their abilities at Daytona. Obviously none of those names are yet on the level of a Gordon or Earnhardt, but Nascar president Brent Dewar sees Nascar’s youth movement as a major reason to be optimistic for the future.

And there are plenty of other indicators that suggest Nascar isn’t headed for the scrap heap anytime soon. International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports, the two publicly traded companies that own the majority of Nascar’s tracks, are both enjoying continual revenue growth and strong stock performance; in fact, shares of both are currently trading at or near their post-recession highs.

Digital fan engagement numbers are up as well. Last season social engagements increased 12% year-over-year, while video views saw a 44% increase. Stage racing was strongly supported, with around four out of five Nascar fans preferring it to the prior format. And while TV viewership is down, Nascar’s broadcast deals remain incredibly valuable – worth an average $820 million per year – and have plenty of runway left, since they don’t expire until after the 2024 season.


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