Daytona 500 Ratings: Race Hits Five-Year High, But Far From Record

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Danica Patrick boosted the Daytona 500 to a five-year high, but the numbers fell well short of the all-time record.

The 2013 Daytona 500, won by Jimmie Johnson, earned a 9.9 rating and 16.7 million viewers on FOX Sunday afternoon, according to Nielsen fast-nationals — up 24% in ratings and 22% in viewership from last year’s Monday night race (8.0, 13.7M), and up 14% and 7%, respectively, from 2011 (8.7, 15.6M).

With Patrick in contention late in the race, ratings and viewership peaked at a 12.7 and 21.4 million, respectively, from 4:30-4:45 PM ET.

The race ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed Daytona 500 since 2008 (10.2, 17.8M). However, the race also ranks as the fifth-least viewed since the current television arrangement began in 2001 (13 telecasts on FOX/NBC).

Every Daytona 500 from 2001-08 drew more viewers than this year’s race. The 2006 Daytona 500, the highest rated and most-viewed ever, earned an 11.3 final rating and 19.4 million viewers on NBC.

Overall, Sunday’s race ranks as the ninth-most viewed Daytona 500 since start-to-finish coverage began in 1979.

Assuming the 9.9 fast-national rating holds (fast-nationals can still be adjusted when the final ratings are released), this marks the fifth-straight year the Daytona 500 has earned a single-digit rating, and the first time in recent memory that the race has had a decline from the overnight to the final rating.

Compared to other sporting events, the Daytona 500 earned a higher rating and more viewers than every game of the 2012 World Series, and topped other marquee events such as the Kentucky Derby (9.0, 14.8M) and the final round of The Masters (8.0, 13.5M). Excluding the NFL and the Olympic Games, the race is tied as the sixth-most viewed sporting event of the past year (Feb. 24, 2012-Feb. 24-2013).

Among adults 18-49, Sunday’s race earned a 4.8 rating — up 7% from last year (4.5). Ratings increased by double-digits in both the women 18-34 (+16) and men 18-34 (+14%).

10 Most-Viewed Sporting Events (Excluding the NFL and Olympics)

Past year (2/24/12-2/24/13)
# Date Sport/Event Game/Race Net Rating Viewers
1 Mon., 1/7/13 NCAAF: BCS Champ. Alabama/Notre Dame ESPN
15.1
26.4M
2 Mon., 4/3/12 NCAAB: Final Four Kentucky/Kansas CBS
12.3
20.9M
3 Thu., 6/21/12 NBA: NBA Finals Thunder/Heat G5 ABC
10.9
18.4M
5 Tue., 6/19/12 NBA: NBA Finals Thunder/Heat G4 ABC
10.5
17.5M
4 Tue., 1/1/13 NCAAF: Rose Bowl Stanford/Wisconsin ESPN
9.4
17.0M
T6 Thu., 6/14/12 NBA: NBA Finals Heat/Thunder G2 ABC
10.4
16.7M
T6 Sun., 2/24/13 NASCAR: Sprint Cup Daytona 500 FOX
9.9
16.7M
8 Sat., 3/31/12 NCAAB: Final Four Kansas/Ohio State CBS
9.6
16.6M
T9 Tue., 6/12/12 NBA: NBA Finals Heat/Thunder G1 ABC
9.9
16.2M
T9 Sat., 12/1/12 NCAAF: Reg. Season Alabama/Georgia CBS
9.8
16.2M

(Sunday’s numbers from Fox Sports Media Group [.pdf])

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  • Tim

    How does this list not include the super bowl?

    • Paulsen

      Apologies, I forgot to note that the list excludes the NFL and Olympics.