Even with a primetime finish, NASCAR action from Talladega could not overcome a lengthy rain delay last week.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 from Talladega (AL) drew a 4.6 final rating and 7.3 million viewers on FOX last Sunday, down 10% in ratings and 12% in viewership from last year (5.1, 8.3M), and down 12% and 19%, respectively, from 2011 (5.2, 9.0M).
Excluding 2006, when the race was postponed altogether, the 4.6 rating is the lowest for the spring Sprint Cup race at Talladega since at least 1997 (ratings prior to 1998 were not available; the race aired on cable from 1986-97).
A four-hour rain delay pushed the finish of Sunday’s race into primetime on the East Coast. Coverage from 6:54-8:17 PM ET averaged a 4.9 rating and 8.1 million viewers — actually down 14% and 19%, respectively, from the comparable portion of last year’s telecast (5.7, 10.0M).
Despite the lower numbers, Sunday’s race was the top non-Kentucky Derby sporting event of the weekend on broadcast. The network’s rain delay coverage averaged a 3.6 and 5.5 million viewers, exceeded only by ABC’s Pacers/Knicks NBA playoff game and Derby coverage.
In addition, the race ranks as the highest rated Sprint Cup telecast since Phoenix in early March (5.6), and the third-highest rated of the season.
(Weekend numbers from FOX via Jayski)