NASCAR IMS viewership rebounds, if still on the low side

NASCAR scored a rebound for its annual Cup Series stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the numbers still paled in comparison to what had been the norm.

Last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway averaged a 2.05 rating and 3.37 million viewers on NBC (3.40M including additional streaming data not tracked by Nielsen), up 14% in ratings and 18% in viewership from last year (1.8, 2.85 M) and the second-largest audience for the race in the past five years. That distinction is less impressive than it seems, as two of those races aired in September during the NFL season.

Tyler Reddick’s win, which peaked with 3.9 million viewers from 5:45-6 PM ET, also ranks as the most-watched Cup Series race on the NBC family of networks since Daytona last August.

It bears noting that NASCAR’s annual stop at the Brickyard was a considerably stronger draw not too long ago. Five years ago, the race drew a 3.4 and 5.63 million viewers. To that point, the race had traditionally been run on an oval in the summer. Since then, it has been run either in the fall or on a road course configuration in all-but-one year. (The exception was two years ago, when the race averaged 4.34 million viewers — although the historic sports drought at the time no doubt contributed to that figure.)

NBC and USA Network are now averaging 2.65 million viewers for Cup Series races this season (including additional streaming viewership not tracked by Nielsen), up 6% from last year.

As for the previous day’s NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader on the same network, the Xfinity Series race averaged a 0.9 and 1.52 million and the IndyCar lead-in a 0.7 and 1.05 million, both up considerably from last year on NBCSN. NBC’s IndyCar coverage is averaging 1.47 million viewers this season, the highest average at this point of the season since 2016.

The first edition of the doubleheader two years ago was a stronger draw, with the Xfinity Series race at a 1.1 and 1.68 million and IndyCar at a 0.8 and 1.14 million.

Ratings/viewership for NASCAR Cup Series at IMS, all-time

nascar ims ratings chart
[Nielsen estimates from league and network PR, ShowBuzz Daily 8.2]

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