Although the record Daytona 500 rain delay meant that the race’s climax — in which Dale Earnhardt scored his second Daytona 500 win — played out in prime time, it turned out to have a negative impact on TV ratings.
Broadcaster Fox reports that the race — whose 6h21m rain delay prompted Fox to air the 2013 race in between, prompting some amusing Twitter incidents as some fans became confused about which race they were watching — averaged a 5.6 overnight rating, down 44 percent from last year’s 10.0. The race averaged 9.3 million viewers this year compared to last year’s average of 16.7 million viewers.
By running in the evening, the decisive segment of the race conflicted with NBC’s coverage of the Olympic closing ceremonies — whose ratings also were down considerably over their last appearance in 2010 (9.6 overnight rating this year, down from 14.1 in 2010.
On the positive side of the ledger, the Budweiser Duel averaged 3.122 million viewers, making it the most-watched NASCAR “Duel” event since 2000 when CBS aired it on a Saturday (4.296m). It is now the second most-watched program on Fox Sports 1 since launch behind Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited (3,526,000 viewers).