The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and its partner FOX have scored with another impressive rating on network television.
Following an audience of 1.1 million viewers who watched the re-broadcast of the penultimate round at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, September 21 on FOX, the re-air from the season finale at Petit Le Mans saw a slight increase to 1.159 million viewers on Sunday, October 5. The TUDOR Championship was placed on network TV at the conclusion of FOX’s National Football League programming for the second consecutive race, delivering a peak audience measured at 1.923 million viewers.
The move by FOX to pare down its live TUDOR Championship endurance racing broadcast from its Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 cable channels into a two-hour package for mainstream distribution after an NFL game has been transformational. With teams, sponsors and manufacturers heading into a short off-season, a combined figure of more than two million viewers on FOX can only help secure more funding with January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona race right around the corner.
“It was great to see the audience grow race to race in our FOX Sunday slot,” said Patrick Crakes, FOX Sports SVP of Programming, Scheduling and Content Strategy. “Seeing that pattern for a racing series in its inaugural season is a real positive as we look at 2015 and beyond.”
The experiment of placing one of FOX’s lesser-known sports properties after a ratings giant like the NFL has obviously been met with continued enthusiasm from the TUDOR Championship.
“It was absolutely by design with negotiations, and the legwork done by our partners at FOX made it happen,” IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton (LEFT) told RACER. “We felt it was as incredibly important, with the exposure these final races could bring, to have hours of TUDOR Championship racing on a network platform. True credit to FOX for making that happen. By having the last two events broadcast on big FOX, along with the live races on FOX Sports 1 and 2 and the live stream, I believe we truly maximized the broadcast footprint on all forms in these last events.
“The entertainment value offered from these two races left nothing on the table. Leaving Circuit of The Americas with a big number, and leaving Petit Le Mans with a bigger number—it’s a scenario that’s as good as we could have hoped for.”
The TUDOR Championship will hold the last two races of its 2015 season while the NFL season is under way, and based on the massive spike offered by an NFL lead-in on FOX, Atherton hopes the Saturday-on-cable/Sunday-on-network opportunity continues.
“Would we like to continue doing next year what we did this year? Absolutely. There’s no guarantee, of course, and there are no final decisions made, but the results generated from these final races put us in a good light and gave us impressive numbers. It makes everyone look smart for going forward with this plan,” he said.
“And the demographic is similar (between racing and football fans), which makes the crossover appeal easier to sell and easier to attract, we believe. As we look to next year and ask if there’s a chance to be on the FOX network channel more, this was a special occasion and I think it’s important to manage expectations. I certainly hope it becomes the new normal for us, and time will tell.”