SBD/February 29, 2012/Media

Daytona 500 Viewership Down 12%, But Delivers Fox Primetime Win

Fox finished with an 8.0 fast-national Nielsen rating and 13.7 million viewers for Monday night’s Daytona 500 telecast, a figure that excludes the nearly two-hour delay following Juan Pablo Montoya's crash into a safety truck/track-drying engine. Those figures are down 8% and 12%, respectively, from an 8.7 rating and 15.6 million viewers last year, when the race aired on a Sunday afternoon. This year’s figures also mark Fox’ second-lowest rating/viewership since it first aired the Daytona 500 in '01, behind only a 7.7 rating and 13.3 million viewers for the '10 race, which also suffered a lengthy delay due to potholes on the track. Monday night’s telecast gave Fox a win in primetime among viewers and among adults 18-49. The net also saw its most-viewed Monday night in 16 months, dating back to the MLB Giants’ clinching World Series Game Five win over the Rangers in '10 (THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan notes it “might not have been precisely the season kickoff NASCAR was seeking.” Still, the early returns “might not have blunted the sport’s momentum" (USA TODAY, 2/29).
DAYTONA 500 TV TREND
YEAR
NET
RAT.
VIEWERS (000)
WINNER
'12*
Fox
8.0
13,700
Matt Kenseth
'11
Fox
8.7
15,597
Trevor Bayne
'10**
Fox
7.7
13,294
Jamie McMurray
'09
Fox
9.2
15,958
Matt Kenseth
'08
Fox
10.2
17,800
Ryan Newman
'07
Fox
10.1
17,530
Kevin Harvick
'06
NBC
11.3
19,355
Jimmie Johnson
'05
Fox
10.9
18,685
Jeff Gordon
'04
NBC
10.6
17,796
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
'03
Fox
9.8
16,835
Michael Waltrip
'02
NBC
10.9
18,780
Ward Burton
'01
Fox
10.0
17,081
Michael Waltrip
 

CHART NOTES: * = Rainout on Sunday; Monday night race had two-hour delay due to exploding track dryer. ** = Race had two-hour delay due to potholes in track.

MONDAY NIGHT DRAW: In N.Y., Bill Carter noted Fox’ coverage of the race “pushed the network to the top of the ratings against the most formidable lineup of shows on CBS, NBC and ABC.” The Daytona 500 “attracted 14.1 million viewers for the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. and a 4.6 rating among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers most prized by advertisers.” One “clear result of the insertion” into Monday’s lineup of the race was a “drop-off for some of the established Monday hits” (NYTIMES.com, 2/28). Also in N.Y., Viv Bernstein asks, “Will the Sprint Cup go prime time again?” NASCAR President Mike Helton said that he was “unsure if NASCAR would pursue more prime-time events” (N. Y. TIMES, 2/29). YAHOO SPORTS’ Geoffrey Miller noted the numbers are “important for NASCAR because they show that the marquee events can still remain marquee events even away from the traditional Saturday night or Sunday slots” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/28).

HAVING THE STAGE TO THEMSELVES: ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said the Daytona 500 "stumbled upon something" with the Monday primetime start. Le Batard: "Rainout on Sunday, you get Monday to yourself in sports after the basketball All-Star Game. You throw in some explosions, you get monster ratings and the next day we’re all talking about your race. We wouldn’t have been if you didn’t have Monday to yourself" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 2/28). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, "Everybody was talking about it last night. Social media was blowing up talking about what was going on, especially when that fire happened." If the race was held Sunday, it would have been against the NBA All-Star Game and the Academy Awards, “which always crushes everything.” ESPN's J.A. Adande said it was “good to have a night to yourself on the sporting calendar” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/28).

ACTING FAST: San Diego-area KSWB-Fox' Ross Shimabuku has been “suspended without pay for one week for making a derogatory comment about race car driver Danica Patrick.” Shimabuku “drew criticism for a broadcast last week in which he stopped just short of calling” Patrick a "b----" on the air (UTSANDIEGO.com, 2/28).

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