Despite plenty of compelling storylines in NASCAR’s championship-deciding race – including Martin Truex’s Furniture Row Racing team overcoming significant adversity, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final ride and the end of Danica Patrick and Matt Kenseth’s full-time careers – this year’s ratings didn’t come close to those from a year ago.
NBC’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage drew a 2.83 rating and averaged 4.66 million viewers, while Saturday’s Xfinity Series championship race on NBCSN drew a 0.76 rating and averaged 1.2 million viewers. In 2016, the final race scored a 3.41 rating and averaged 5.9 million viewers, while the Xfinity race earned a 0.84/1.35 million viewers.
NBC Sports PR notes that this year’s race ended at 6:44 p.m., about 30 minutes before last year’s at 7:15 p.m. – the significance being an end time further from the start of the prime-time viewing window.
In total, NBC presented more than 22 hours of trackside coverage. In addition to live coverage on NBC, NBCSN’s Hot Pass telecast offered simultaneous live coverage of the Championship 4 drivers, as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
This coming weekend will see NBC Sports head into its final weekend of its five-year run as F1’s U.S. media rights holder, and it’s on track to have its most-watched F1 season since the deal started in 2014. Live viewership has grown by 65 percent with a total audience delivery of 558,000 average viewers compared to the 2012 FOX/SPEED average 339,000 viewers. Viewership has grown in each consecutive season of coverage.
“We’re incredibly proud that the programming, production, and marketing plans that we instituted five years ago have grown live F1 viewership nearly 70 percent,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group, in a statement. “We committed to super-serving the dedicated Formula One fan base with comprehensive practice, qualifying, and grand prix coverage each week. We brought the iconic Monaco Grand Prix live to network television for the first time ever, and provided live studio coverage from respected voices in the sport. We surrounded Formula 1 with extensive promotion across our NBCUniversal platforms, and produced more than 100 hours of shoulder and original programming each year.
“All of these factors have elevated Formula 1 to a level of exposure it has never experienced in the United States. The fact that we’re on pace for our most-watched Formula 1 season ever is another testament to the consistent hard work and dedication of our entire team at NBC Sports over the past five years.”