Ratings Roundup: Fox’s Daytona 500 Way Up Over Delayed 2014 Race, But Still Second-Lowest Since 1991

After suffering through a daylong weather delay in 2014, the DAYTONA 500 began working its way back last weekend, scoring 13.4 million viewers on FOX, a +44% increase over last year’s 9.3 million. A total of 23.5 million viewers watched all or part of Sunday’s telecast. However, despite the year-over-year gains, the race is tied with 2010 as the second-lowest rated Daytona 500 since 1991 (7.6) and the fifth-lowest since 1979 (when live start to finish coverage began) — ahead of only last year, 1991, 1990 (7.3) and 1988 (7.4). NASCAR shoulder programming surrounding the DAYTONA 500 was strong overall on Sunday, Feb. 22, as NASCAR RACEDAY averaged 973,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a 31% increase over last year’s 742,000 for a one-hour edition of the show.  NASCAR VICTORY LANE posted 464,000 viewers, up 21% over the last post-Daytona run in 2013 (383,000). The week leading up to the Daytona 500 was the third most-watched in FOX Sports 1 history and the highest since last season’s National League Championship Series.

The 11 days of Speedweeks programming on FOX Sports 1 enjoyed a 14% increase in average viewership (293,000 vs. 257,000).

The first 2015 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race under the new television deal on FOX Sports 1 delivered 2,944,000 viewers on Saturday, Feb. 21, an 8% increase over last year’s race on ESPN and good for the most-watched sports event on ad-supported cable on the weekend. The race, with 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick serving as an analyst for the first time, was the 13th most-watched telecast in FOX Sports 1 history. Following the race, FOX SPORTS LIVE averaged 2,485,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched edition of FOX SPORTS LIVE ever and most-watched with a duration greater than 30 minutes.

On Friday, Feb. 20, the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RACE from Daytona garnered 1,550,000 viewers, a 3% increase from last year’s 1,502,000 viewers.  Earlier in the day, NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES QUALIFYING posted a 15% gain over 2013 (472,000 vs. 409,000).

The 2015 BUDWEISER DUEL AT DAYTONA scored 3,018,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a slight dip from last year’s 3,122,000 prime time debut, but strong enough to be No. 1 in ad-supported cable from 7:00-10:30 PM ET in total viewers and Adults 18-49 on Thursday, Feb. 19. Earlier in the day, a slate of Daytona practices (Sprint Cup Final, NCWTS and NCWTS Final) averaged 244,000 viewers, a 16% increase in viewership (vs. 210,000) compared to the same three Thursday practice sessions last year.

DAYTONA POLE DAY QUALIFYING, airing Sunday, Feb. 15 on FOX, averaged 3.4 million viewers, up 17% from 2014. The first ever “group qualifying” format at Daytona is the highest rated and most watched session since 2009, with Jeff Gordon scoring the pole for his final race at Daytona International Speedway. The four-time champion announced he will be retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

FOX kicked off the 2015 NASCAR SPRINT CUP season Saturday, Feb. 14 with the SPRINT UNLIMITED averaging 5.6 million viewers, a 60% increase over 2014 (3.5 million) when it aired on FOX Sports 1. The race powered FOX to a first-place finish in prime time among broadcast networks across all key male and adult demos including A18-49 and A18-34. A variety of sports programming led FOX Sports 1 to its eighth most-watched Saturday since launch, averaging 490,000 viewers on Saturday, Feb. 14. Motor sports programming started at 10:30 AM ET with a NASCAR SPRINT CUP PRACTICE from Daytona drawing 698,000 viewers, up 27% from the equivalent practice last year (551,000).  Saturday afternoon’s ARCA RACING SERIES race from Daytona was the most-watched program of the day on FOX Sports 1 with 919,000 viewers.

This year’s Daytona 500 was the most-watched NASCAR event ever on FOX SPORTS GO, posting a 220% increase in unique visitors over last year’s race.  In addition, mobile consumption of NASCAR content on FOXSPORTS.COM was up 63% year-to-year. According to Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the Daytona 500 accounted for 297,300 Total Tweets from 10:00 AM ET to 8:00 PM ET, with 113,600 Unique Authors, a Unique Audience of 5.8 million and 50.6 million Impressions (Historical numbers from Sports Media Watch)….

…The NFL Combine’s move to a Friday-Monday format paid off, as Saturday, Feb. 21, proved to be the NFL Network’s single largest day ever at the NFL Scouting Combine in terms of rating and viewership .35 US HH & 529k viewers. The Combine’s Day 2 was up 83% in rating and 91% in viewership over last year’s Day 1 rating (.19 HH and 277k viewers). In addition, there were 8.8 million minutes watched across all of NFL Media’s digital platforms, with video views more than doubling year-over-year…

…NBC’s Boston Bruins vs Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Day in America matchup last Sunday ranked as the most-watched indoor game of the season, earning 1.625 million viewers and ranking as the most watched game since Blackhawks-Red Wings on March 3, 2013 (1.9 million)…

In other Peacock hockey news, the L.A. Kings – San Jose Sharks NHL Stadium Series game on NBCSN on Saturdya night averaged 748,000 viewers, up 20% from Ducks-Kings last year (622,000)…

FOX Sports 1 ranked as the top ad-supported cable sports network on Sunday night, according to Nielsen. FOX reports viewership was driven by UFC Fight Night, which delivered 1,212,000 viewers, averaging 35% better than UFC Fight Night’s to-date average on the network. Prelims drew an average of 813,000 viewers for a 51% markup.

One week prior, the Valentine’s Day broadcast of UFC Fight Night pushed FOX Sports 1 to an average of 836,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, to lift the channel as the most-watched ad-supported cable sports net in prime time on that evening. The prelims alone drew 775,000 viewers, up 44% from the average for prelims on the channel to date while the main event averaged 913,000 viewers…

CBS drew a 3.0 overnight for the final round of the Northern Trust Open yesterday, which saw James Hahn get his first PGA Tour win in a playoff against Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey, up 58% from last year’s 1.9 (opposite the Olympics). (SBD)…

…The 2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS was a record-breaker for TSN, with the network attracting an average audience of 566,000 viewers throughout the tournament, making the 2015 SCOTTIES the most-watched ever according to overnight data from Numeris. The Scotties Final attracted an average audience of 1.05 million viewers to TSN on Sunday night, up against THE OSCARS on CTV. Audiences for the gold medal game were up 15% compared to last year’s final. Overall, 7 million unique Canadian viewers watched some part of the 2015 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS on TSN.

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