NEW YORK – The anticipation and buzz leading up to Sunday’s Daytona 500, coupled with the dramatic action on the track, fueled this year’s race to become the highest-rated and most watched in five years.
Sunday’s Great American Race, which featured Danica Patrick’s historic pole position start, the official coming out of the Gen 6 car and Jimmie Johnson’s second Daytona 500 win earned a 9.9/22 rating/share, averaging 16.7 million viewers according to fast national figures released today by Nielsen Media Research.
It ranks as the highest-rated and most-watched Daytona 500 since 2008 (10.2/20, 17.8 million viewers) and marks a huge +24% ratings gain over last year (8.0/14), and a +22% rise in average viewership (13.7 million). An estimated 31.6 million Americans watched at least part of Sunday’s Great American Race, the best for a regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon Daytona 500 since 2008’s 33.5 million viewers.
This year’s rating and viewership increases mark the best year-to-year rise for the Daytona 500 ever.
Sunday’s rating reaffirmed the Daytona 500 as one of the biggest events in sports. The 2013 race ranked as the top-rated sports event on any network since the Super Bowl and garnered more viewers than last week’s NBA All-Star Game (+108%, 8.0 million), the 2012 Kentucky Derby (+53%, vs. 10.9 million), the Final Round of the 2012 US Open (+74%, vs. 9.6 million) and the Final Round of the 2012 Masters (+24%, vs. 13.5 million).
As strong evidence that this year’s compelling stars and storylines transcended the traditional NASCAR fan base, Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener was bolstered by a +42% ratings increase in the country’s top 10 markets, with the top five markets notching jumps of 25% or more.
Tune-in for Sunday’s green flag was a strong 8.6/20, with 14.3 million viewers and peaked from 4:30 – 4:45 PM ET when 21.4 million viewers (12.7/26) watched as Johnson held off Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s charge in the exciting final laps to take home the 2013 prize.
Sunday’s race witnessed viewership increases in female demographic categories including +16% among Women 18-34 (2.2 vs. 1.9), +3% among Women 18-49 (3.2 vs. 3.1) and up +8% among Women 25-54 (4.2 vs. 3.9). Across key male and adult demographics, the year-to-year increases were also impressive as Sunday’s race was up +14% among Men 18-34 (4.0 vs. 3.5), +8% among Men 18-49 (6.4 vs. 5.9), +11% among Men 25-54 (8.2 vs. 7.4), and +7% among Adults 18-49 (4.8 vs. 4.5).