So this is a trend that should really alarm the people at NASCAR.
While the NASCAR ratings have been in a free fall, the IndyCar this past weekend was essentially flat year-over-year. While essentially flat isn’t a real cause for celebration, NASCAR would pop champagne for that type of performance. The numbers were reported in a tweet by the Sports Business Journal:
But, going back a few weeks, IndyCar’s numbers have been impressive. Sports Media Watch reported that the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen had a dramatic increase in ratings (41 percent) and viewership (37 percent). Even the Formula 1 races on NBCSN are showing an increase, with 10 of 13 races showing year-over-year improvement.
NASCAR had a bad ratings weekend during the Turtles 400. The race earned a 1.4 rating and 2.3 million viewers, down from last year’s 1.6 and 2.7, respectively.
True, NASCAR still has a substantially bigger overall audience, but the trends are alarming.
SportsMediaWatch did a further analysis that shows the race was the “lowest rated and least-watched Cup Series race at Chicagoland (dates back to 2001) and the lowest rated and least-watched playoff race at any track (dates back to 2004).”
But that’s the end of it. Ratings for Chicagoland have declined each year since 2005, and 22 of 26(!) races have posted year-over-year declines in audience and viewership, SMW noted.
It’s quite possible the numbers were hurt by competition from other sports — pro and college football, and baseball has several exciting races as it heads into the final weeks of its season. It’s also possible running the races on cable is killing the sport.
But it’s a continuation of bad ratings news for NASCAR.
The Southern 500 attracted 3.10 million viewers on NBCSN, and the rest of the numbers were equally as terrible. Ratings were down 36%; viwership down 33% in viewership from last year, and it was even worse from 2015 — ratings were down 51% and viewership 48%.
Denny Hamlin’s win — which ended up being encumbered — was the lowest-rated Darlington race since at least 1998 and the least-watched since at least 1999.