With a thrilling, last-lap pass in the first MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES race to feature the new stage format, 2004 NASCAR premier series champion Kurt Busch won Sunday's season-opening DAYTONA 500 on FOX, with 23.3 million viewers tuning in for all or part of the event. An average audience of 12 million watched the race across the FOX broadcast network, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports GO, including 11.92 million on FOX alone.
Key 2017 DAYTONA 500 highlights are below:
• The race averaged 11.922 million viewers on FOX, up +5% over 2016's average audience of 11.357 million, peaking at 14.031 million viewers from 6:15-6:30 PM ET
• The DAYTONA 500 scored a 6.6/15 HH rating, which is flat overall compared to the 2016 edition but delivers positive gains across key male and adult demographics:
• The race projects to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched sports event of the weekend and the highest-rated and most-watched sports event since the Feb. 5 Super Bowl on FOX
• The DAYTONA 500 projects to rank as FOX's highest-rated and most-watched telecast of any kind since Super Bowl Sunday
• The race continues to remain the No. 1 motor sports event in television
• Top-Five Markets: Core NASCAR markets led the way with Greensboro, N.C., finishing first with a 17.5/31, followed by Greenville, S.C. (16.5/28), Indianapolis (14.4/26), Knoxville, Tenn. (12.7/22) and Jacksonville, Fla. (12.4/22). Markets that experienced the largest year-over-year increases include Austin, Texas (+111%), San Diego (+74%), Oklahoma City (+49%) and Norfolk, Va. (+47%). Yesterday's race also saw significant gains in America's biggest markets, including Chicago (+18%), Philadelphia (+32%), Washington, D.C. (+18%) and Atlanta (+20%).
Despite a new format and a later start time, Daytona 500 ratings could only match last year's near-record low.
The NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 delivered a 6.6 rating and 11.9 million viewers on FOX Sunday afternoon, per Nielsen fast-nationals- flat in ratings and up 5% in viewership from last year (6.6, 11.4M) but down 14% and 11% respectively from 2015 (7.7, 13.4M). Those figures could still change when the final nationals are released tomorrow.
Kurt Busch's win, which peaked with 14.0 million viewers from 6:15-6:30 PM ET, tied the second-lowest Daytona 500 rating since the live start-to-finish coverage of the race began in 1979. Only the 2014 race, which was pushed into primetime due to lengthy rain delays and faced the Olympics on NBC, had a lower rating (5.6).
Sunday's race also delivered the third-smallest Daytona 500 audience since 1995 (11.4M), ranking ahead of only last year and 2014 (9.3M) over that span. Figures do not [include] the 40,000 who streamed coverage on Fox Sports GO, a record for NASCAR on the streaming platform, or the Spanish-language audience on Fox Deportes (n/a). Even with those numbers added to the mix, the audience of 12.0 million still ranks as the third-smallest in 22 years.