On Sunday (3/29), FOX Sports televised its first ever regularly scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race on FOX Sports 1, and the audience from Martinsville (VA) Speedway was record-setting. Overcoming intense competition, the race attracted 4,061,000 viewers making it the most-watched motorsports event in network history, the fourth most-watched telecast ever on the network and the only non-MLB postseason event among the network’s top five.
According to Nielsen, the race propelled FOX Sports 1 to its most-watched Sunday from 6:00 AM-3:00 AM since launch, averaging 1,068,000 viewers over that span. Moreover, FOX Sports 1 was the most-watched ad supported cable network from 1:00-5:15 PM ET on Sunday (4,089,000 viewers), posting a +170% advantage over the next closest network (Nickelodeon, 1,511,000 viewers). The audience for the race peaked at 5,450,000 from 5:00-5:11 PM ET as Denny Hamlin held off a final-lap charge from Brad Keselowski to cop his first win of the season.
The audience for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race supplanted the previous FOX Sports 1 motorsports record of 3,526,000 set Feb. 15, 2014 for the SPRINT UNLIMITED. The only other Sprint Cup points event on FOX Sports 1 was last season’s Bristol race on March 16 which was moved from FOX to FOX Sports 1 due to rain. That race averaged 3,227,000 viewers.
Preceding the race, NASCAR RACEDAY posted 1,008,000 viewers, +52% above last year’s edition from Martinsville (661,000). Immediately following the race, a special airing of FOX SPORTS LIVE posted 1,904,000 viewers marking the show’s seventh most-watched edition ever.
03/30/15 FS1 drew a 2.5 overnight rating for the STP 500 yesterday, which was the cable net's first-ever regular-season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series telecast. The same spring race from Martinsville last year aired on Fox. For comparison, the Martinsville race in the fall during the Chase for the Sprint Cup drew a 2.3 overnight, but that race aired up against football.
The FS1 race fared better than the net's UFC programming. FS1 in January drew a 1.7 for "UFC Fight Night," which was a record for any UFC programming on the net. The 2.5 overnight rating is even with TNT's average for six summer Sprint Cup races last season. The race also projects to be among FS1’s top five most-watched telecasts on record. Austin Karp/Sportsbusinessdaily.com