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TV Rating for Daytona 500 continues to plummet UPDATE The final TV rating for last Sunday's Daytona 500 on FOX was a 7.7, down 16.4% from last year's 9.2 final rating and down 24.6% from the 10.2 final rating in 2008.  This is bad news for NASCAR which continues to lose fans at an alarming rate.

02/16/10 The 2010 Daytona 500 earned a fast national rating of 7.7/16 (13.3 million viewers) yesterday for a race that was crippled by two lengthy delays for track repair. Yesterday's 7.7/16 is down -16% compared to last year's 9.2/19 and ranks as the lowest-rated Daytona 500 since 1991's 7.6/20 on CBS. The two track delays were excluded from the rating - Nielsen treats them similarly to a baseball rain delay - but the delays obviously had a sizable impact on the rating as the race's momentum was twice stopped cold. The two delays combined averaged a 6.5/14, a -16% decline versus the 7.7/16 for live racing.

More people watched at least some of this year's Daytona 500 than last year's, but because the two delays torpedoed the momentum of the race the average viewer spent less time with the Daytona 500 this year, resulting in the lower average rating and average viewership. Nielsen estimates that 29.8 million Americans watched at least some of this year's Daytona 500, a +14% gain over last year's 26.2 million (Note: that is because it was on TV for over 6 hours and channel surfers just happened to stumble upon it, so do not let this higher number fool you). zzzz

In the 31-year history of flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500, there have been two previous runnings that were delayed and then re-started, and both suffered sizable ratings decreases versus prior years. The 1995 running was delayed over two hours by rain, then re-started, and the result was a -19% decline versus prior year (7.8 vs. 9.6). The 2003 edition on FOX was also delayed by rain, then re-started and not run to the full 500 miles. That race rated -10% lower than the 2002 running on NBC (9.8 vs. 10.9). Yesterday's -16% decline, while substantial, is in-line with past interrupted Daytonas.

There was some good news from some important Southeastern markets. Rating were up +11% in Atlanta (11.0 vs. 9.9) and +8% in Charlotte (16.8 vs. 15.6), arguably the two most important NASCAR markets. Within the core region ratings were also up in Norfolk (+7%, 12.2 vs. 11.4) and Ft. Myers (+12%, 10.0 vs. 8.9). The core markets are particularly important this year as they should be the most aware of this year's changes to the rules and broadcast schedule. FOX PR

[Editor's Note:  The France family's greed (ISC owns DIS, but the France family controls ISC) bit them in the posterior once again.  Instead of plowing the millions it makes each year back into this facility, they let the racing surface get so bad that now pot holes develop.  The track has not been repaved since 1978, imagine that!  DIS has discussed repaving some time in the next two or three years. The process would cost $20 million.  Will the nearly 2½-hour pothole delay during Sunday's Daytona 500 turn away some fans? Or will they forgive and forget after a frantic finish that saw Jamie McMurray narrowly edge Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the checkered flag?  Although those TV ratings reveal how many watched a race that finished more than six hours after it began, the most telling numbers could come later. Will there be a further drop-off in TV viewership for upcoming Sprint Cup races? Will as many fans buy Daytona tickets next time around?  Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw attendance for its Cup race decline an estimated 25 percent in 2009, a year after the tire debacle there.]

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