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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series averaged a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.992 million viewers over 34 races across ABC, ESPN, TNT and Fox, down 10% and 7%, respectively, from a 4.0 rating and 6.440 million viewers last season. Each broadcast partner saw ratings and viewership decline this season compared to '09, as TV ratings were down for 26 of 34 Cup races (two Monday races were not included). Fox' ratings were down 6% year-over-year, TNT down 9% and ABC/ESPN down 14%. Dating back to the '06 season, when NASCAR signed a $4.48B deal with Fox, ABC/ESPN and TNT, the governing body's top series has lost nearly a quarter (23.7%) of its TV viewership base (the Sprint Cup averaged 7.855 million viewers in '06 across Fox, FX, TNT and NBC). Even as the Chase for the Sprint Cup came down to the final race this season, ratings for the Ford 400 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway were down 8% compared to last year. Viewership for the race was flat. NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts have also lost many young male viewers in that time frame. This past season, Fox saw a 29% decline in the 18-34 male demo, while ESPN/ABC saw an 18% decline. Despite the drop, the Sprint Cup remains the No. 2 sport in all key demographic groups, according to The Nielsen Co.NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES U.S. RATING/VIEWERSHIP TRENDSEASONNETWORKSRAT.VIEWERS (000)'10Fox+TNT+ESPN+ABC3.65,992'09Fox+TNT+ESPN+ABC4.06,440'08Fox+TNT+ESPN+ABC4.36,917'07Fox+TNT+ESPN+ABC4.47,116'06Fox+TNT+FX+NBC4.97,855
NOTES: Ratings do not include races rained out on the weekend and run on weekday.
ESPN "MNF" Ratings Now Down 2.2%
From Same Point In '09
ESPN earned a 7.0 U.S. rating and 11.2 million viewers for its 49ers-Cardinals "MNF" telecast, down 45.7% and 47.7%, respectively, from a 12.9 rating and 21.4 million viewers for Patriots-Saints in Week 12 last year. The telecast led ESPN to a No. 1 ranking for the night among viewers, as well as in all key male and adult demos. Through 12 weeks, ESPN is averaging an 8.9 U.S. rating and 14.2 million viewers, down 2.2% and 2.4%, respectively, from a 9.1 rating and 14.6 million viewers at the same point last year. Meanwhile, NBC earned an 11.4 final Nielsen rating and 19.1 million viewers for its Chargers-Colts "SNF" telecast from 8:31-11:33pm ET, down slightly in both metrics compared to Steelers-Ravens in Week 12 last year. Through 12 weeks, NBC is averaging a 12.8 rating and 21.326 million viewers for its NFL game telecasts, up 8.5% and 9.2%, respectively, from an 11.8 rating and 19.521 million viewers through the same point last season (THE DAILY).
RADIO FLYER: Sirius XM Radio and the NFL announced a five-year extension of their satellite broadcasting and marketing agreement through the Super Bowl in '16. Sirius XM will continue to air every NFL preseason, regular season and playoff game, in addition to NFL Radio. Starting in '11, the satellite radio provider also will broadcast NFL play-by-play online for subscribers. Sirius XM retains rights to the league's shield logo and team marks (Sirius XM Radio).
TRYING TO MOVE A MOUNTAIN: In Utah, Scott Pierce writes The Mtn.'s coverage of Saturday's BYU-Utah football game was "sort of a sad metaphor for the past five years," as the net "tried hard, but the telecast was greatly flawed." As the game got interesting "at the end, a piece of equipment overheated and the clock graphic died." Meanwhile, listening to announcers James Bates and Todd Christensen "was almost unbearable." It was "intolerable when Bates had multiple replays and still couldn't describe the action accurately" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 12/1).
JOLLY GREEN JOURNEY: ESPN last week announced that the Celtics "will be featured in a five-part series 'chronicling their season-long journey' with behind-the-scenes footage." The premiere episode of the series, entitled "The Association: Boston Celtics," will air Friday before ESPN's telecast of the Bulls-Celtics game. The series is a "collaboration by ESPN Films and NBA Entertainment" on which ESPN.com's Bill Simmons is a creative consultant. Simmons said of the series, "The problem with ESPN scheduling is that we have so many games on that you don't want stuff to get lost. Having it on Friday nights (before ESPN's NBA pregame show) should help it gain momentum" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/26).