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Monday, July 15, 2024

NASCAR Rolls Across 2023 Finish Line With Viewership Decline

  • All the races that counted for points this season averaged 2.86 million viewers, a 5% decrease from 2022.
  • NASCAR remains firmly ahead of surging Formula 1 in American broadcasts.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney leads driver Kyle Larson during the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

All of the excitement and innovation surrounding NASCAR for its 75th anniversary season didn’t lead to more viewership.

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race in Phoenix, which saw Ryan Blaney take home his first Cup Series title, averaged 2.92 million viewers on NBC — the lowest figure for a season finale since at least 2001 and a 9.1% drop from last year’s finale.

It continues a downward trend for NASCAR viewership: All races that counted for points this season averaged 2.86 million viewers between NBC and Fox — a 5% decrease from 2022, per SBJ’s Austin Karp.

The season did have its high points, though. NASCAR’s experimental Chicago Street Race attracted 4.795 million average viewers on NBC — the most for the racing circuit on the network since 2017, while also being its most-streamed race ever.

NBC also says that when measuring total audience delivery — which accounts for linear and streaming — its season-long coverage increased slightly from last year, with 2.47 million average viewers versus 2.45 million.

And for all the hype that Formula 1 has received following the breakout success of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive,” it still can’t quite compete with NASCAR regarding American viewership. F1 viewership stands at 1.24 million average viewers for the current season, an increase from last season’s 1.21 million.

As it drives into the offseason, NASCAR will have to be contemplating its future on U.S. airwaves — and is already starting to make moves to improve it.

The racing league is reportedly in talks with Netflix about creating its own DTS-style series, and in July, it signed a seven-year, $805 million media rights deal for its Xfinity Series to air on The CW starting in 2025.

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