TV Ratings Top-50 – NASCAR and IndyCar drop

At the unofficial halfway point of the sports calendar, here is a look at the most-watched sporting events of the year so far and it is a sad story for auto racing in the USA, which no longer has a single event in the top-50. Motorsports in the USA has lost the youth of this generation and it's all downhill from here unless steps are taken to reverse that trend.

The first half of 2014 was a bit atypical thanks to the Winter Olympics and World Cup. Those two events accounted for exactly half of the 50 most-watched sports telecasts this year — eighteen for the Olympics and seven for the World Cup — and 11 of the top 12 non-NFL events. The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics (31.7M) and the Germany/Argentina World Cup final (26.5M) rank as the two most-watched non-NFL sporting events of the year.

There have been other oddities. Horse racing placed higher on this year’s list than the NBA Finals, as The Belmont Stakes drew 20.4 million viewers (#26) and Spurs/Heat topped out at 18.0 million (#33). NASCAR and golf both plummeted out of the top 50 as the Daytona 500 (9.3M) and The Masters (11.0M) suffered sizable declines. The NFL Draft — not even an actual sporting event — managed to crack the list with 12.4 million viewers on ESPN and NFL Network.

Even in an atypical year, the NFL was still dominant. NFL games took up the top eight spots on the list, led by the Seahawks/Broncos Super Bowl — the most-watched program in U.S. television history. Every NFL game played in 2014 had more viewers than the most-watched World Cup match.

Pos Sport Event Network Rating Viewers
1 NFL Seahawks/Broncos FOX 46.7 112.19M
. Super Bowl 48 . . .
2 NFL Seahawks/49ers FOX 28.5 55.91M
. NFC Championship . . .
3 NFL Patriots/Broncos CBS 28.1 51.30M
. AFC Championship . . .
4 NFL 49ers/Packers FOX 25.8 47.10M
. NFC Wild Card . . .
5 NFL Chargers/Broncos CBS 23.1 41.21M
. AFC Divisional . . .
6 NFL Saints/Eagles NBC 19.1 34.36M
. NFC Wild Card . . .
7 NFL 49ers/Panthers FOX 19.9 33.30M
. NFC Divisional . . .
8 NFL Colts/Patriots CBS 17.8 31.69M
. AFC Divisional . . .
9 Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC 17 31.69M
10 NFL Saints/Seahawks FOX 18.1 31.10M
. NFC Divisional . . .
11 NFL Chargers/Bengals CBS 18.9 30.90M
. AFC Wild Card . . .
12 NFL Chiefs/Colts NBC 16 27.58M
. AFC Wild Card . . .
13 World Cup Germany/Argentina ABC, UNI N/A 26.50M
. Final . . .
14 Olympics Primetime (2/9) NBC 14.4 26.32M
15 CFB FSU/Auburn ESPN, ESPN2, ESNWS 14.8 26.06M
. BCS Championship . . .
16 Olympics Primetime (2/8) NBC 13.9 25.12M
17 World Cup USA/Portugal ESPN, UNI N/A 24.76M
. Group stage . . .
18 Olympics Primetime (2/11) NBC 13.7 23.72M
19 Olympics Primetime (2/17) NBC 13.8 23.55M
20 Olympics Primetime (2/13) NBC 13.4 22.94M
21 Olympics Primetime (2/10) NBC 12.8 22.40M
22 World Cup Belgium/USA ESPN, UNI N/A 21.57M
. Round of 16 . . .
23 Olympics Primetime (2/16) NBC 12.1 21.27M
24 CBB UConn/Kentucky CBS 12.4 21.20M
. Final Four . . .
25 Olympics Primetime (2/12) NBC 12.1 20.81M
26 Horse Belmont Stakes NBC 11.9 20.40M
27 Olympics Primetime (2/20) NBC 12.2 20.29M
28 Olympics Primetime (2/19) NBC 12.2 20.19M
29 Olympics Primetime (2/6) NBC 11.3 20.02M
30 Olympics Primetime (2/14) NBC 10.9 19.11M
31 Olympics Primetime (2/18) NBC 11.2 18.93M
32 CFB Mich. St./Stanford ESPN 10.2 18.64M
. Rose Bowl . . .
33 NBA Heat/Spurs ABC 10.3 18.00M
. NBA Finals Game 5 . . .
34 Olympics Primetime (2/15) NBC 9.6 17.10M
35 World Cup Netherlands/Mexico ESPN, UNI N/A 16.96M
. Round of 16 . . .
36 CFB Oklahoma/Alabama ESPN 9.3 16.34M
. Sugar Bowl . . .
37 CBB Kentucky/Wisconsin TBS, TNT, TruTV 9.2 16.25M
. Final Four . . .
38 World Cup USA/Ghana ESPN, UNI N/A 15.94M
. Group stage . . .
39 Horse Kentucky Derby NBC 9.4 15.30M
40 NBA Heat/Spurs ABC 9 15.13M
. NBA Finals Game 2 . . .
41 Olympics Closing Ceremony NBC 8.7 15.12M
42 NBA Spurs/Heat ABC 9.3 14.96M
. NBA Finals Game 4 . . .
43 Olympics Primetime (2/21) NBC 8.8 14.93M
44 NBA Heat/Spurs ABC 9 14.85M
. NBA Finals Game 1 . . .
45 NBA Spurs/Heat ABC 9 14.78M
. NBA Finals Game 3 . . .
46 CBB Kentucky/Michigan CBS 8.9 14.64M
. Elite Eight . . .
47 World Cup Germany/USA ESPN, UNI N/A 14.16M
. Group stage . . .
48 Olympics Primetime (2/22) NBC 7.8 13.28M
49 World Cup Germany/Brazil ESPN, UNI N/A 12.40M
. Semifinal . . .
50 NFL NFL Draft ESPN, NFLN . .
. Round 1 . . .
51 World Cup Argentina/Netherlands ESPN, UNI N/A 12.20M
. Semifinal . . .
52 CBB Kentucky/Wichita St. CBS 7.5 12.09M
. Third round . . .
53 World Cup Brazil/Colombia ESPN, UNI N/A 11.84M
. Quarterfinals . . .
54 CBB UConn/Florida TBS, TNT, TruTV 6.9 11.65M
. Final Four . . .
55 CBB UNC/Iowa St. CBS 7 11.62M
. Third round . . .
56 CFB Clemson/Ohio St. ESPN 6.7 11.40M
. Orange Bowl . . .
57 NFL Pro Bowl NBC 6.6 11.38M
MLB MLB All-Star Game FOX 7 11.34M
58 CFB UCF/Baylor ESPN 6.6 11.24M
. Fiesta Bowl . . .
59 World Cup Brazil/Mexico ESPN, UNI N/A 11.00M
. Group stage . . .
60 Golf The Masters CBS 6.8 10.97M
. Final round . . .
61 World Cup Netherlands/Costa Rica ESPN, UNI N/A 10.92M
. Quarterfinal . . .
62 World Cup Costa Rica/Greece ESPN, UNI N/A 10.78M
. Round of 16 . . .
63 World Cup Brazil/Chile ABC, UNI N/A 10.71M
. Round of 16 . . .
64 CBB Kentucky/Louisville CBS 5.9 10.09M
. Sweet Sixteen . . .
65 CBB Wisconsin/Arizona TBS 5.8 9.97M
. Elite Eight . . .
66 CBS UConn/Michigan St. CBS 6.1 9.80M
. Elite Eight . . .
63 Horse Preakness Stakes NBC 6 9.60M
64 CFB So. Carolina/Wisconsin ABC 5.6 9.59M
. Capital One Bowl . . .
65 NASCAR Daytona 500 FOX 5.6 9.30M
66 NASCAR Profit on CNBC 500 FOX 5.3 8.80M
. Phoenix . . .
67 CBB Tennessee/Michigan CBS 5 8.32M
. Sweet Sixteen . . .
68 NBA Spurs/Thunder TNT 4.9 8.15M
. West Finals Game 6 . . .
69 NBA Heat/Pacers ABC 4.9 7.82M
. East Finals Game 1 . . .
70 NBA NBA All-Star Game TNT 4.3 7.51M
71 CBB Dayton/Florida TBS 4.3 7.20M
. Elite Eight . . .
72 NHL Rangers/Kings NBC 3.7 6.41M
. Stanley Cup Final Game 2 . . .
73 IndyCar Indianapolis 500 ABC 3.9 6.20M
74 Golf The Masters CBS 3.9 5.85M
. Third round . . .
75 NBA NBA All-Star Sat. Night TNT 3.1 5.69M
76 MLB Home Run Derby ESPN 3.4 5.40M
77 Olympics Canada/United States NBC N/A 4.90M
. Women’s hockey final . . .
78 Soccer United States/Mexico ESPN, UMás N/A 4.90M
. Friendly . . .
79 Golf U.S. Open NBC 3 4.60M
. Final round . . .
80 WCBB UConn/Notre Dame ESPN 2.8 4.27M
. Final Four . . .
81 NHL Kings/Blackhawks NBCSN 2.3 4.14M
. West Final Game 7 . . .
82 Olympics United States/Russia NBCSN 2.6 4.10M
. Men’s hockey pool play . . .
83 Olympics Canada/United States NBCSN 2.7 3.90M
. Men’s hockey semifinal . . .
84 Olympics Canada/Sweden NBC 2.5 3.61M
. Men’s hockey final . . .
85 NASCAR Sprint Unlimited FS1 2 3.53M
. FS1 record-high . . .
86 NBA NBA Draft ESPN 2.3 3.45M
87 UEFA Real Madrid/Atletico Madrid FOX, Fox Dep. N/A 3.10M
. Champions League final . . .
88 MLB Rangers/Angels ESPN 1.8 2.89M
. Season-high . . .
89 Tennis Djokovic/Federer ESPN 1.9 2.82M
. Wimbledon men’s final . . .
90 Special Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest ESPN2 1.6 2.78M
. Post-World Cup encore . . .
91 NASCAR Drive4COPD 300 ESPN 1.8 2.74M
. Nationwide Series . . .
92 CWS Vanderbilt/Virginia ESPN 1.6 2.39M
. CWS final Game 3 . . .
93 Golf U.S. Women’s Open NBC 1.4 2.00M
. Final round . . .
94 Tennis Kvitova/Bouchard ESPN 0.9 1.33M
. Wimbledon women’s final . . .

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