What began as a season with a double-digit drop in TV ratings for NASCAR had a rebound, as NBC released its year-end numbers on November 8.
Full season viewership for the NASCAR Cup Series was up for NBC compared to the 2022 season. That includes NBC, USA Network, Peacock and NBC Sports Digital.
The first half of the NASCAR Cup Series Season was on FOX, concluding with the race at Sonoma, California on June 11.
The first race on NBC was at Nashville Superspeedway on June 25.
The NBC broadcast network coverage was up compared to 2022. The highlight of the NBC portion of the schedule was the Inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Chicago Street Race, the second most-watched race of the entire 2023 season.
NBC Sports also posted its best Xfinity Series season since 2017, averaging more than 1 million viewers in 2023.
According to data provided by NBC, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series on NBC, USA Network, Peacock and NBC Sports Digital delivered a Total Audience Delivery of 2.47 million viewers across 20 races, up vs. comparable coverage in 2022 (2.45 million viewers), according to data provided by the Nielsen
Viewership gains were driven by NBC Sports’ coverage of the inaugural Cup Series race on the Streets of Chicago on NBC and Peacock, which delivered a TAD of 4.79 million viewers to rank as NBC Sports’ most-watched NASCAR race in six years and the second-most watched race of the season behind the Daytona 500 on Fox
Overall, NASCAR Cup Series viewership on the NBC broadcast network was up 3 percent vs. 2022, including last Sunday’s championship race won by Ryan Blaney, which averaged a TAD of 3.03 million viewers.
“If you look at digital and social consumption for NASCAR for this year, it’s up,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said. “Television has been a bit of a mixed bag with the Cup being down, low single digits, as well as our Craftsman Truck Series, low single digits, the Xfinity Series is up.
“I wouldn’t say we haven’t had great luck particularly in the first half with weather. Weather wasn’t our friend. But I’m super excited to get us back on a growth pattern from a television perspective next year because we’ll have lower comps than we did this year. Excited about that.
“NBC came back in a powerful way. Those metrics are up. If you consider back in March we were down 15 percent, now we’re down mid-single digits, we’re happy with where that is.”
A strong rebound in television numbers is important because NASCAR is putting the final touches on a new television contract.
It is expected that current broadcast partners FOX and NBC will be part of the new package that will also include a streaming partner for a summer series of races in the middle of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
“Our media rights, the amount of interest in attaining our media rights for ’25 and beyond, exceeded our expectations,” Phelps said. “It is our expectation that not only having a great result with the CW with our Xfinity Series, and what’s going to be an incredible 33-race schedule on broadcast television, we believe that we’re going to have a very strong result with media partners that will look at a combination of broadcast, cable and streaming to some degree.
“What that looks like, I don’t know.
“Are we getting towards the end of this process?
“Did I think we would have a result earlier?
“I did. But we haven’t. It’s an incredibly competitive marketplace.
“With that said, I want to assure all our race fans, anyone who is listening, certainly the media corps here, we have had tremendous interest in our sport from a media rights standpoint.”
Additional Cup Series viewership highlights:
· 16 of 20 Cup Series races averaged a TAD of at least two million viewers, up from 15 of 20 races in 2022;
· Three of USA Network’s Cup Series races (Atlanta, New Hampshire and Richmond) ranked as the most-watched sports programs on television on their respective days, and an additional three USA Network Cup Series races (Pocono, Watkins Glen and Darlington) ranked as the most-watched cable sports programs on their respective days;
· The July 23 race at Pocono averaged a TAD of 2.83 million viewers, making it the most-watched Cup Series race on cable in 2023 and the most-watched Cup Series race on any cable network since 2021.
NBC Sports’ coverage of the second half of the 2023 Xfinity Series delivered a Total Audience Delivery of 1.04 million viewers, up 9 percent vs. 2022 to make it NBC Sports’ most-watched Xfinity Series season since 2017.
Charlotte and Greensboro led all markets for NBC Sports’ 2023 20-race Cup Series coverage.
Below is the full list of Top 10 markets for the season:
Rank, Market, HH Rating
1-Tied – Charlotte 3.9
1 – Tied – Greensboro, North Carolina, 3.9
3 – Greenville, South Carolina, 3.9
4 – Knoxville, Tennessee, 3.5
5 – Birmingham, Alabama, 2.7
6 – Indianapolis, 2.6
7 – Tied – Dayton, Ohio, 2.3
7 – Tied – Buffalo, New York, 2.3
7 – Tied – Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, 2.3
10 – Tied – Norfolk, Virginia, 2.1
10 – Tied – Richmond, Virginia, 2.1