SBD/June 1, 2011/Media

Indianapolis 500, Coca-Cola 600 See Ratings, Viewership Up Compared To Last Year

Indianapolis 500 drew 6.5 million viewers on ABC Sunday, up 12% from last year
The Indianapolis 500 earned a 3.9 fast-national Nielsen rating and 6.5 million viewers on Sunday afternoon on ABC, up 8% and 12%, respectively, from a 3.6 rating and 5.8 million viewers last year. Indianapolis' WRTV-ABC, which aired the race on tape delay, led all U.S. markets with a 14.5 local rating. Meanwhile, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, which aired in primetime on Fox, earned a 4.5 final rating and 8.1 million viewers, marking the most-viewed NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway since '06. This year's figures were also up 13% and 24%, respectively, from a 4.0 rating and 6.5 million viewers last year. Listed below are the top 10 U.S. metered markets for each race (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes of the Indy 500 rating, “Don’t get too excited about a possible TV comeback for a once-iconic event whose ratings have dropped over the decades.” Ratings for the race “should” have been up this year, as the event “drew its lowest-ever rating” last year (USA TODAY, 6/1).

TOP 10 U.S. METERED MARKETS FOR '11 COCA-COLA 600 AND INDIANAPOLIS 500
----- COCA-COLA 600 (FOX) -----
----- INDIANAPOLIS 500 (ABC) -----
RK
MARKET (SIZE)
RATING
RK
MARKET (SIZE)
RATING
1
Charlotte (23)
14.8
1
Indianapolis (27)
14.5
2
Greensboro-High Point-
Winston-Salem (47)
12.6
2
Dayton (62)
10.3
3
Knoxville (59)
10.9
3
Ft. Myers-Naples (65)
8.5
4
Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville (36)
10.2
4
Nashville (29)
7.3
5
Dayton (62)
9.8
5
Louisville (50)
7.2
6
Birmingham (40)
9.2
6
Austin (44)
7
7
Norfolk (43)
8.3
7
Orlando-Daytona Beach (19)
6.5
8
Orlando-Daytona Beach (19)
8.0
8
Las Vegas (42)
6.4
9
Richmond (57)
7.9
9t
Columbus (34)
6.2
10
Jacksonville (49)
7.8
9t
Greenville-Spartanburg-
Asheville (36)
6.2
9t
Milwaukee (35)
6.2

FINISHING STRONG: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote ABC's coverage "set the gold standard for the weekend, especially the last half-hour of the race." The net's analysts were "spot-on in deciphering how much fuel each driver had left and which cars had the best chance to win." Also, "like any good production team, ABC seemed to expect the unexpected and was totally prepared when JR Hildebrand's last-turn crash gave the 500 to Dan Wheldon" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/30). In Indianapolis, David Lindquist wrote though the race aired on ABC for "more than three hours" Sunday, "just three minutes of the network's telecast were required for a historic intermingling of agony and ecstasy." That sequence "included the final lap and justified a series of five replays" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/30).

WEATHER OR NOT: In Indiana, Megan Doyle reports WBND-ABC in South Bend "missed the last 14 laps of the race" when it switched to a "severe weather broadcast for a tornado warning." WBND News Dir Aaron Ramey said, "Regrettably the weather turned dangerous at the climax of that race, and public safety is a priority." He added that the station "did receive complaints from viewers who were angry about missing the race's finish." Ramey: "We heard from quite a few people, and we take that into consideration every time" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 6/1). WPTA-ABC in Ft. Wayne, Ind., aired the end of the race, but missed driver Danica Patrick's post-race comments when it went to a weather update (THE DAILY).
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