A move from broadcast to cable boosted the ratings for Saturday’s IndyCar race from Texas, but the numbers were quite low for primetime.
The IndyCar Series Firestone 550 from Texas earned a 1.0 final rating and 1.4 million viewers on ABC Saturday night, up 233% in ratings and 263% in viewership from last year’s race on NBC Sports Network (0.3, 384K).
Excluding the Indy 500, the 1.0 rating for this year’s race is tied as the highest for an IndyCar Series race on ABC* since the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March 2011 (1.2).
The only other race in that span to draw a 1.0 rating was last year’s Milwaukee telecast, which aired for just an hour on ABC due to rain.
Even with the two-year high, Saturday’s race ranks among the lowest rated primetime programs ever on “Big 3″ broadcast networks CBS, ABC and NBC. Concrete numbers are not available, but even Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals — which at the time tied the lowest primetime rating in NBC history — earned a 1.1 final rating.
Saturday’s race faced competition from the NHL playoffs on NBC, Major League Baseball on FOX, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series on ESPN. The Nationwide Series race from Iowa was rained out, but ESPN’s coverage still earned a 0.7 U.S. rating and 808,000 viewers.
* Excludes the 2011 season finale, which ended after 11 laps due to the death of Dan Wheldon.
(Saturday’s numbers from ESPN)