Since the subject of a prospective IndyCar and NASCAR doubleheader first came up, speculation has been rife about how successful it might be at raising the profile of both leagues. While last weekend’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway double couldn’t provide a litmus test in terms of attendance, since the gates were closed to spectators, the TV numbers suggest it provided a audience boost to both.
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at IMS averaged a 2.67 rating and 4.34 million viewers on NBC. That’s up from 2.12/3.29m for the Daytona race run on this date last year on NBC, and a full 41% up over last year’s Cup race at Indy (1.8/2.97m), which ran in September and faced competition from NFL games. Counting streaming numbers, NBC reported a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 4.37m, the most since 2017)
Saturday’s NTT IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis averaged a 0.77 rating and 1.14 million viewers on NBC, the best numbers for the race since its inaugural running in 2014 (0.9, 1.24m on ABC). Last year’s Indy GP, run in May on NBC, had a 0.7/1.07m. NBC reported the TAD for its telecast (including streaming) at 1.145m, down slightly from the 1.256m for last month’s Texas IndyCar opener on NBC.
NASCAR’s Xfinity Series followed IndyCar on NBC Saturday afternoon and its inaugural race on the IMS road course edged the open-wheelers, averaging 1.1/1.68m — a similarly big gain to the Cup Series relative to last year (0.6/995,000) for the race run in the fall on the oval. It was also the most-watched Xfinity Series event since the season opener from Daytona in February.
Formula 1 also got its delayed 2020 season off to a strong start. The Austrian Grand Prix on ESPN averaged 0.48/752,000. That’s up from 0.4/649,000 for last year’s opener in Australia, run in March on ESPN, and also eclipses the 647,000 that watched this race last year on ESPN2.
IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship also returned to action Saturday night at Daytona, with the NBCSN telecast averaging 160,000 viewers (the rating was not available).