SBD/March 21, 2014/Media

Rain-Delayed Bristol Sprint Cup Race Helps FS1 To Second-Most Viewed Program

Two NASCAR races including the Daytona 500 have had long rain delays
FS1 averaged 3.2 million viewers for its coverage of last Sunday's rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the second-most watched event in the net’s short history. Those figures trail only this year’s NASCAR Sprint Unlimited, which averaged 3.5 million viewers. The Food City 500 ran on Fox from 3:00-3:45pm ET, but was moved to FS1 from 7:05-9:30pm following the delay. Fox averaged a 4.5 rating and 7.3 million viewers for its coverage of the race from 3:00-3:45, making it the highest-rated and most-watched sports event of the weekend. Fox also averaged a 3.7 rating and 6.1 million viewers for its rain-delay coverage from 3:51-6:00pm (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer).

LOSING SPEED: In Jacksonville, Don Coble reports NASCAR is trying to figure out why television ratings for the first four Sprint Cup races this year "have fallen at a record pace." Ratings are down in "all four races this year compared to numbers of a year ago," and it comes "without any competition from football, new rules that make winning important at all costs and the best start" in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s career. Both the Food City 500 and the season-opening Daytona 500 have had "long delays for rain," but that "doesn't explain why ratings dropped" by 5% at Phoenix and 11% at Las Vegas. Earnhardt won the Daytona 500, but that "didn’t create any headway for the next two races at Phoenix and Las Vegas." Rain delayed last Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but when drivers were on the track, the competition "was incredible with three- and four-wide racing on the half-mile track." The "problem with that is it came several hours too late -- and after Fox network moved the finish" to FS1. Much like Tiger Woods in golf, Earnhardt "understands he helps drive interest in his sport." While he "sometimes struggles with that pressure, he accepts the additional challenges." Earnhardt said, "I’m comfortable with the popularity and things like that because I feel like that we do a lot and we have a great fan base and we do a lot to engage with them. But carrying the sport is a whole other conversation or being the face of the sport is a whole other conversation. It’s a very uncomfortable position to be put in" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/21).
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