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TNT hopes to build on modest NASCAR ratings gain
First the good news: Fox and, now, TNT have both recorded viewership gains for their portions of the NASCAR season.

And the bad? After five years spent losing a quarter of its audience, NASCAR and its TV partners really had nowhere to go but up. Still, networks must be breathing a sigh of relief and hoping the modest gains signal 2010 as a bottoming-out year with more growth ahead in the next several years.

TNT’s six-race portion of the Sprint Cup schedule generated gains of 3 percent for total viewers, household ratings and the number of households. Total viewers grew to 5.13 million in 2011, compared with 4.99 million a year ago.

“Several things stood out,” says Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports executive producer. “The fact that our rating, our viewership and our households [were] all up. Any time we can end a package that we do with a positive story, that’s very good.”

Fox carried the first 13 races of the season and enjoyed a 9 percent increase over 2010, attracting 8.6 million viewers, on average.

Neither Fox nor TNT enjoyed rebounds strong enough to offset declining viewership of several years ago, but the uptick was encouraging. ESPN has the rest of the schedule, starting with this weekend’s Brickyard 400. Scenedaily.com

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