The first race of NASCAR’s Chase For The Cup put up extremely low numbers on ESPN.
Sunday’s Sylvania 300 drew a 2.3 U.S. rating and 3.677 million viewers on ESPN, down 28% in ratings and 27% in viewership from last year (3.2, 5.044 mil) and down 39% and 40%, respectively, from 2008 (3.8, 6.098 mil).
In each of the previous three years, the race aired on broadcast network ABC.
This marks the lowest rated edition of the Sylvania 300 since at least 1999 (ratings prior to 2000 were not available) and the least viewed since at least 2000 (viewership prior to 2001 was not available).
The 2.3 rating is easily the lowest ever for a Chase For The Cup race. The previous low was a 2.8 for the 2004 Sylvania 300 on TNT — coincidentally, the first ever Chase For The Cup race.
This is also the lowest rating for any NASCAR race — Chase or otherwise — over at least the past four seasons (dating back to 2007).
Excluding races that were postponed due to rain, Sunday’s race is the third of the season to draw less than a 3.0 rating. Only one race last year held that dubious distinction.
Additionally, this is the seventh race of the season to draw less than five million viewers, compared to just two such races all of last year.
Overall, of the 22 NASCAR races that can be compared to last year, 17 have had a decline in ratings and 16 have had a decline in viewership.