For the third straight week, competition from the Olympics led to a multi-year low in ratings and viewership for NASCAR on ESPN.
Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen drew a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.473 million viewers on ESPN, down 13% in ratings and 9% in viewership from 2010 (3.2, 4.932M). Last year’s race was postponed due to rain, earning a 1.3 and 1.896 million on a Monday morning.
Excluding rainouts, this marks the lowest rated edition of the race since at least 1999 (ratings prior to 2000 were not available) and the least-viewed since at least 2001 (viewership prior to 2002 was not available).
As recently as 2006, the race earned a 4.6 and 7.025 million viewers on broadcast network NBC.
The race also stands as the lowest rated of the 2012 Sprint Cup season. The previous low was a 2.9 for the Pennsylvania 400 one week earlier.
After TNT had increases for five of its six races, the first three races of the season on ESPN have suffered double-digit declines. All three ESPN races have aired opposite coverage of the Olympics.
(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN)