The cable channel had 468,000 viewers and a 0.32 national rating for Sunday's race at Long Beach. That's up from 323,000 viewers and the 0.22 rating from the same race in 2011.
"After growing our IZOD IndyCar viewership by double digits each of the last two seasons, we are very pleased to be attracting more viewers again this year through two races," said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports Network.
"We are grateful that the hard work and commitment by our production, marketing and promotional staffs continues to pay dividends. IndyCar fans are the true beneficiaries."
IndyCar, meanwhile, was proud of the 0.46 coverage area rating that NBC Sports scored from Long Beach. The network does not use coverage ratings, which measure viewership in homes that have the cable channel, and instead focuses on the true national rating and actual number of viewers.
In comparison, cable channel Speed uses the coverage ratings and announced Tuesday it had scored a 0.88 for Sunday's broadcast of the NASCAR Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway. Fox News/AP
04/16/12 IndyCar wanted attention in this season of high expectations but failed to get very much for its first two races of the year.
A new car, a manufacturer battle and the best competition in 15 years was supposed to re-energize a dwindling fan base. Instead, sagging television ratings showed no immediate impact on IndyCar's quest to move the dial.
That changed Sunday with some drama in Long Beach. And maybe, just maybe, that might be the trick to attracting the eyeballs the series desperately needs.
The third race of the season was a doozy, reflected by the improved overnight rating for cable channel NBC Sports Network. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach scored a 0.35, up 21 percent from last year's race, prompting a sigh of relief after the 0.25 scored two weeks ago in the network's season debut.
The number likely was boosted by NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup Series having the day off, but promotion on NBC's main network and a controversy leading into the race clearly didn't hurt. Yahoo Sports/AP