Nascar threw a bash at Kansas Speedway in October to thank Sprint Corp. for being stock-car racing’s top sponsor for 13 years. More than 800 Sprint employees received hot dogs, burgers and seats to a nail-biting race.
One thing was missing: a new sponsor. Despite knowing for two years that Sprint was leaving, Nascar didn’t announce a replacement until December, when it said energy-drink maker Monster Beverage Corp. had won naming rights to the top-tier racing circuit.
Monster paid about $20 million, below Nascar’s asking price of $35 million and nowhere close to the original goal of $100 million, according to television and racing-industry executives familiar with the new contract. A Nascar spokesman wouldn’t comment.
With the first big race of the new season set for Sunday, Nascar’s problems seem to have spun out of control.
About a decade ago, the sport was a cultural icon and inspired the hit car-racing comedy movie “Talladega Nights,” starring Will Ferrell. Since 2005, Nascar’s television viewership is down 45%, according to an analysis of Nielsen ratings by SportsBusiness Daily, a trade publication. That is twice as large as the National Basketball Association’s decline from its peak. National Football League viewership has fallen 8%, Nielsen data show.
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