The return of NFL and college football to the airwaves last week changed the dynamic of U.S. sports TV, with the fight for eyeballs suddenly getting a lot more fierce. Sunday’s five broadcast network NFL game times (featuring various games by region) were all over 7.2 in average ratings, topped by the 13.17 national rating and 26 million viewers average for the late Sunday afternoon games on FOX. While some pundits had speculated that the NFL’s audience could be significantly impacted by its players’ prominent part in social justice demonstrations, these averages are near identical to 2019’s NFL numbers for this weekend, when the late FOX game also was top dog with a 13.19/24m average.
NASCAR steered clear of NFL’s opening Sunday, racing Saturday night at Richmond, with the Cup Series race on NBCSN averaging a 1.05 national rating and 1.7 million household viewers. That’s down from the previous Sunday’s 1.37/2.4m for Darlington. On this weekend last year, Cup was in Las Vegas on Sunday night and had a 1.42/2.4m average on the same network.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series doubled up Friday and Saturday at Richmond, with Saturday afternoon’s race getting a 0.48/766,000 average on NBCSN. That was a slight uptick over last year’s solo race in Las Vegas, run on a Saturday evening on the same network (0.46/742K). The Friday night race averaged a 0.34/579,000 on NBCSN.
The NTT IndyCar Series also staged a doubleheader at Mid-Ohio, going straight up against college and pro football, and held its audience pretty well for both events. Sunday afternoon’s race on NBC averaged 0.44/635,000 viewers, down only fractionally from last year’s 0.47/670K for this race on NBC when it ran without football competition in August. It is down from this August’s Road America race on the broadcast network, though (0.72/1.0m).
The Saturday Mid-Ohio race, which started later in the day and aired on NBCSN, nearly matched Sunday’s audience with an average of 0.38/624K.
Formula 1 posted near identical numbers to IndyCar’s cable audience, with Sunday morning’s inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix averaging 0.38/627,000 on ESPN2. That’s up a tick from the previous week’s Italian GP at Monza on the same network (0.35/602,000).
Taped highlights from the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series at Wheatland, Mo., on CBS averaged 0.29/449,000 on Saturday afternoon.
NASCAR’s Truck Series, racing Thursday night at Richmond, averaged a 0.15/237,000 on FS1.