Nascar continues to lead the way in US viewership as F1 and IndyCar plateau

Stock car racing series records fifth-straight viewership increase, compared to slight falls for open-wheel series.
IndyCar / Getty Images
  • Nascar’s COTA race averages 3.31m viewers, a 6% YoY increase
  • F1 (3%) and IndyCar (2%) suffer marginal viewership decreases
  • Average F1 viewership down 24% through first three races of year

Early season viewership in the US continues to look promising for Nascar, but Formula One and IndyCar are showing signs of stagnation.

Last weekend’s Nascar race at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) posted an average viewership of 3.31 million, a six per cent increase on last year’s race. This is the fifth-straight Nascar race to record a year-over-year (YoY) percentage increase.

While comparative viewership to last year is promising, it is interesting to note that Nascar’s audience is declining race-by-race. So far, from the audience of 5.96 million that watched the season-opening Daytona 500, each race has recorded fewer viewers than the prior weekend.

With Nascar's stint on the main Fox Sports channel about to come to an end after this weekend's race at Richmond, the series' average viewership is bound to decline further with seven of the next ten races on FS1.

In contrast, Formula One and IndyCar viewership appears to have stagnated at the start of their respective seasons.

The Australian Grand Prix reached an average viewership of 541,000 on ESPN-2, a three per cent decrease compared to last year even though the 2023 race was run on the main ESPN channel.

While only a small decrease, it means all three of the Formula One's races this season have recorded viewership falls compared to 2023.

Similarly, IndyCar's experiment at The Thermal Club failed to generate much excitement, recording an average audience of 816,000 on NBC.

There's no true point of comparison from last season for this non-points exhibition event, but Texas – the second round of the 2023 season – recorded 830,000 viewers, which would represent a two per cent decrease YoY.

BlackBook says...

A fifth-straight YoY viewership increase highlights that Nascar is doing something right, especially having aired its Full Speed docuseries on Netflix prior to the start of this season.

Declining viewers from race-to-race is less promising, though, and the move to FS1 for the majority of the remaining races will only continue to damage the viewership.

Despite this, Nascar clearly leads the way in the US, with both Formula One and IndyCar struggling to even average one million viewers for their respective seasons.

What's more, Formula One's average viewership through the first three races of the season is down 24 per cent YoY. Series executives will hope Ferrari can continue to challenge the Red Bull of Max Verstappen moving forward, otherwise this downward trends looks set to continue.

BlackBook Motorsport Forum is back for its 10th anniversary edition. Join us in London this April to navigate the transformation of motorsport and the trends driving the industry forward into the next decade.