The checkered flag came down on IndyCar for 2019 with decent TV numbers, considering the head-to-head competition with NFL football, to conclude a year of modest growth in TV audience in the first year of the series’ unified TV package with NBC Sports.
Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series season finale from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca averaged a 0.50 rating and 732,000 viewers on NBC. That falls in the mid-range of its numbers for over-the-air network telecasts in 2019, but was a step up from last year’s championship showdown from Sonoma, which aired on NBCSN and averaged a 0.38/629,000.
Overall, NBC Sports charted a 9 percent viewership rise for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season vs. 2018, according to data from the Nielsen company and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
The 16 races used in these numbers (NBC excluded the weather-impacted races at Iowa this year and at Barber in 2018) averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.105 million viewers across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, up 9% vs. 2018 (1.011 million on ABC, NBCSN, digital). Eight races were broadcast on NBC this season vs. five network-broadcast exposures last year on ABC. NBCSN televised eight races this year as compared to 11 last year.
The first Indianapolis 500 on NBC averaged a TAD of 5.475 million viewers, up 11% vs. the 2018 race (TV-only 4.913 million, ABC). Excluding the Indy 500, the seven remaining races broadcast on NBC averaged a TAD of 929,000 viewers, up 3% vs. ABC’s four non-Indy 500 races last year (906,000).
Other highlights of the season include:
- The season-opening St. Petersburg race in March on NBCSN averaged a TAD of 499,000 viewers, making it the most-watched IndyCar season opener in the network’s history. The TAD of 499,000 viewers was up 93% vs. NBCSN’s first race last season in Phoenix (primetime; 258,000).
- June’s Road America race on NBC posted a TAD of 1.108 million viewers to stand as NBC Sports’ most-watched IndyCar race to date, excluding the Indy 500.
- NBCSN’s most-watched race of the 2019 season was at Pocono in August, which averaged a TAD of 553,000 viewers to stand as the most-watched IndyCar race on cable since last season’s finale from Sonoma on NBCSN (638,000).
- The series finale at Laguna Seca averaged a TAD of 736,000 viewers, up 15% vs. the 2018 series finale at Sonoma, which aired on NBCSN (638,000).
Across NBC Sports streaming platforms, the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season delivered a total of 12.9 million live minutes and an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 6,300 viewers.
Here are the top 10 markets for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season across NBC Sports:
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NASCAR’s playoff round at Richmond was held Saturday night. The NBCSN telecast of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series round averaged a 1.05/1.8m, virtually unchanged from last year’s 1.03/1.8m on the same network.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series from Richmond on Saturday averaged 0.40/631,000 Friday night on NBCSN (2018 numbers were not available).
Formula 1 registered another year-on-year gain in U.S. TV audience, as the Singapore Grand Prix averaged 0.37/574,000 on ESPN2, up from a 0.32/469K in 2018.