Nascar sees 2m viewers tune in for Texas on USA Network

Formula One’s Japanese Grand Prix can only hit 479,000 viewers on ESPN-2.

Nascar’s playoff round in Texas saw over four times as many viewers as Formula One’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Confirmed:

  • Nascar hits two million viewers on Comcast-owned USA Network
  • Near five per cent increase year-over-year (YoY), although last year’s event suffered a mid-race rain delay
  • Japanese Grand Prix viewership falls nearly 13 per cent YoY
  • Only 479,000 viewers tune in compared to 549,000 last year

Context:

Increases in viewership have been few and far between for Nascar this season, with tough results all year, outside of the inaugural Chicago Street Race drawing in Nascar’s largest audience since 2017. So, it will be a welcome relief to see the Texas Motor Speedway trending upwards, even if it’s a slight increase compared to 2022.

Formula One is experiencing contrasting fortunes, as Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s dominance continues to see the US audience bleed away. While the US east coast would have had to stay up until 1am to watch the race, a double-digit percentage decrease is far from promising. 

Coming next:

Despite the most recent diverging audiences, Nascar and Formula One are in strikingly similar positions. The former is edging closer to a new media rights deal, most likely with current rights holders Fox and NBC, but will the stock car racing series be able to command the US$820 million per year in the current agreement? With overall viewership trending downwards, and the second-tier Xfinity Series now carved out in a separate deal, Nascar may need to realign its expectations.

Similarly, ESPN splashed out US$90 million per season for exclusive rights to Formula One, a vast increase on the US$5 million per year it was paying previously, but viewership only appears to be getting lower. Traditional viewership through linear channels will struggle to reach previous heights thanks to changes in consumer habits, but a competitive product is crucial for demonstrating value for money, something Formula One is struggling to offer.

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