TV ratings good for broadcasters, not for NASCAR

The first season of NASCAR's new television deal was good for its television partners, if not quite for the sport. The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season averaged 5.1 million viewers across FOX, Fox Sports 1, NBC and NBCSN, according to Sports Business Daily – down 4% from last year on FOX, TNT, ESPN and ABC (5.3M) and down 12% from 2013 across the same four networks (5.8M).

The Chase For the Cup in particular averaged 4.1 million viewers on NBC and NBCSN, down 6% from last year on ESPN and ABC (4.4M). Keep in mind that excludes races from Charlotte and Phoenix, both of which moved from NBC to NBCSN due to rain.

The season both started and ended well, with increases for the opening three races from Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas as well as for the finale from Homestead. In between, however, 24 of the 28 races that could be compared to last year had declines in ratings and/or viewership. Despite the downward trend, NASCAR coverage benefited new broadcast partners Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN.

This year's Sprint Cup slate accounted for six of the 15 largest audiences on FS1 since it rebranded from Speed Channel in 2013, with Martinsville (4.1M) and Dover (3.9M) ranking among the top ten. For NBCSN, NASCAR races delivered the four largest audiences in the history of the network (previously VERSUS and OLN) and five of the top ten, with the caveat that some highly viewed Olympic events were not counted as distinct programs. Since it began airing NASCAR coverage in July, NBCSN has averaged 183,000 total-day viewers – up 120% increase over last year, the highest year-over-year increase for any cable network over that span. Sports Media Watch

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