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SBJ/June 9-15, 2014/Media
Weathering a storm: Rain dampens NASCAR ratings
Published June 9, 2014, Page 6
Fox averaged a 4.3 Nielsen rating and 7 million viewers through the first 13 Sprint Cup races of the season compared to a 4.8 rating and 7.8 million viewers last year.
Rain delayed the start of the Daytona 500 in February, one of several rain delays this year.
Subsequent rain delays at Bristol Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway (delayed until Monday) and Kansas Speedway made it difficult to build the type of momentum that typically drives viewership. But even with the 10 percent drop, NASCAR still ranked as the most-watched sports event of the day for nine of its 12 weekend races.
“Between the rain and having to face the Olympics, [it] made it very difficult for us to get our traction,” said Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports senior vice president of programming and research. “We didn’t have a point at any time this season where we had more than three consecutive races run without a rain postponement or significant rain delay.”
Ad buyers said that NASCAR offers enough inventory over the course of its season to make up for any ratings declines advertisers experienced and said that this year’s ratings results shouldn’t affect advertising interest in the sport next year.
Even through the overall viewership drop, NASCAR saw increases in key demographics. Hispanic viewership rose 12 percent, building on last year’s increase of 40 percent in that demographic. Plus, viewership in the 18- to 24-year-old male demo rose 6 percent.
NASCAR also changed the way it determines the field for its postseason Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, as well. After determining the Chase field based on points for the last 10 years, it now will be made up of the drivers with the most wins. The field then will be narrowed from 16 drivers to four drivers over the final 10 races of the season.
“We like our chances for a really good late first half into second half of the season,” said Steve Herbst, NASCAR vice president of broadcasting and production. “As we get into the summer months and there are guys out there looking for wins and the Chase approaches, [viewership and ratings] will rise.”