Ratings and viewership increased for the recent NASCAR Food City 500, but remained low compared to previous years.
The March 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 from Bristol drew a 4.4 final rating and 7.307 million viewers on FOX, up a tick in ratings and 1% in viewership from last year (4.3, 7.240M), and flat in ratings and down 1% in viewership compared to 2010 (4.4, 7,357M).
The 4.4 rating is tied as the second-lowest for the race since 2000 (3.7, ESPN).
The race has aired opposite the NCAA Tournament in each of the past four seasons. The last time the race did not face NCAA Tournament competition (2008), it drew a 5.5 rating and 8.851 million viewers.
Of course, the NCAA Tournament cannot be solely blamed for the downturn in ratings. In 2006, when the race aired opposite the NCAA Tournament ‘Elite Eight,’ it drew a 6.2 and 9.902 million viewers.
Despite the relatively low numbers, the Food City 500 was the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season to have an increase in ratings and viewership compared to last year.
(March 17-18 numbers from Media Life Magazine)