Indianapolis 500 Hits Three-Year Viewership High

Posted by | June 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM

After record-low numbers last year, the Indianapolis 500 bounced back to a three-year high in viewership.

The 2011 Indianapolis 500 earned a 4.0 final rating and 6.711 million viewers on ABC Sunday, up 11% in ratings and 16% in viewership from last year (3.6, 5.793M), and flat and up 6%, respectively, from 2009 (4.0, 6.338M).

This marks the most-viewed Indianapolis 500 since 2008 (7.245M). That said, the 4.0 rating is tied as the second-lowest for the race since at least 1972 (ratings prior to 1973 were not available).

As recently as 2005, the race drew a 6.5 rating and 9.743 million viewers. That year’s race was fueled by media attention surrounding the Indy 500 debut of Danica Patrick.

The Indianapolis 500 drew a lower rating and fewer viewers than NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later in the day (4.5, 8.132M). The past nine times the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 have aired on the same day (2002-08, 2010, 2011), the NASCAR race has had a higher rating eight times and more viewers all nine times.

In 2009, the Coca-Cola 600 was pushed to Monday due to rain.

Ratings/Viewership For Indianapolis 500 Compared to Coca-Cola 600 (Dating Back to 2002)
** The 2009 Coca-Cola 600 was postponed to Monday due to rain.

Year
Date
Indianapolis 500
Coca-Cola 600
Net
Rating
Viewers
Net
Rating
Viewers
2011
Sun., 5/29/11
ABC
4.0
6,711
FOX
4.5
8,132
2010
Sun., 5/30/10
ABC
3.6
5,793
FOX
4.0
6,547
2009**
Sun., 5/24/09
ABC
4.0
6,338
FOX
3.3
5,318
2008
Sun., 5/25/08
ABC
4.6
7,245
FOX
4.7
7,584
2007
Sun., 5/27/07
ABC
4.3
6,402
FOX
4.5
7,496
2006
Sun., 5/28/06
ABC
5.0
7,623
FOX
5.1
8,365
2005
Sun., 5/29/05
ABC
6.5
9,743
FOX
6.1
10,235
2004
Sun., 5/30/04
ABC
4.1
6,078
FOX
5.0
8,322
2003
Sun., 5/25/03
ABC
4.6
6,723
FOX
4.7
8,042
2002
Sun., 5/26/02
ABC
4.8
7,157
FOX
5.1
8,416

(This year’s numbers courtesy Robert Seidman, TV By the Numbers; Some past data from Media Life Magazine, Sports Business Daily)