Indy 500 TV ratings plummet on NBC

NBC earned a 2.3 rating and 3.737 million viewers for Sunday’s Indy 500 at IMS and that includes streaming viewers on NBC Gold – the worse Indy 500 TV rating in history.

That is down 32.3% from last year’s 3.4 rating/5.4 million viewers. In 2016 on ABC the race pulled in 6.0 million viewers, in 2017 5.5 million viewers and in 2018 4.9 million viewers. So the general trend has been down as a result of IndyCar being largely invisible when NBCSN broadcasts the races. The large majority of people just don’t know IndyCar exists after 12 years on NBCSN and its minuscule TV ratings.

It was the first time the race was not run on Memorial Day weekend.

After being up ever so slightly last year, the first year on NBC, the huge plummet this year has to make new series and Speedway owner Roger Penske even more worried.

While Covid-19 should have increased TV ratings (fewer people traveling, more people at home, not as many live sports to compete with) they instead dropped.

On the positive side, about 25% of the households in Indianapolis tuned in because those fans could not attend in person for the first time. As a result local TV ratings spiked up.

The NBC Spin

NBC Sports’ presentation of the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday from Indianapolis Motor Speedway averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 3.737 million viewers, making it NBC Sports’ second-most watched INDYCAR race on record and NBC’s second-most watched sports event since January, according to Fast National Data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

Sunday’s race was the first-ever Indy 500 to take place in August, following 103 runnings in May, and the first “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” to run without spectators. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato won his second Indy 500 under caution following a late-race duel with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.

Following are additional viewership highlights from Sunday’s Indy 500 (2:31-5:45 pm ET), which faced uncommon competition from the NBA, PGA TOUR and NASCAR:

· The TAD of 3.737 million viewers is NBC Sports’ second-most watched INDYCAR race on record behind only last year’s Indy 500 — the first ever on NBC — which averaged a TAD of 5.489 million viewers and was up 11% vs. the 2018 race on ABC (4.913 million TV-only). Last year’s race did not face any significant sports competition.

· TV-only coverage of the race peaked at 4.641 million TV-only viewers towards for the race’s conclusion (5:30-5:45 pm ET).

· Sunday’s race is NBC Sports’ second-most watched sporting event since an NFL Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 11 (Min-SF, 30.2 million).

· The 104th Indianapolis 500 is also the most-watched motorsports race to take place in August in three years, since a NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol (2017, 3.838 million). It delivered a 2.29 household rating.

· Across NBC Sports streaming platforms, the 104th Indianapolis 500 averaged an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 17,800 viewers, making it the second-most streamed INDYCAR race on record, behind only last year’s Indy 500 in May (45,600).

· Indianapolis delivered a local rating of 24.9 to lead all markets.

Following are the Top 10 local markets for Sunday’s Indy 500:

Rank Market HH Rating
1 Indianapolis 24.9
t2 Cincinnati 4.1
t2 Columbus, Ohio 4.1
t2 Las Vegas 4.1
5 Nashville 3.8
6 Hartford-New Haven 3.7
t7 Milwaukee 3.6
t7 West Palm Beach 3.6
t9 Sacramento-Stockton 3.3
t9 Tampa-St. Petersburg 3.3

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR Series continues this weekend with a doubleheader from World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill.

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