Monday Night Auto Racing
I’m not really a NASCAR fan. I mean, I love auto racing, but I have fickle tastes and I don’t really watch a lot of television. However, I did try to tune in to the 2012 Daytona 500 this past weekend.
Sunday was when the race was scheduled to run but rain delayed the race and it was pushed to Monday (for the first time in the race’s 54 year history). It was originally scheduled to run at noon on Monday, but rain further delayed the race until the evening. Broadcast live, the 2012 Daytona 500 unintentionally became the first prime time televised motorsports event. How did it do?
Pretty well actually. 36.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the race, about 20% more than watched the race in 2011, but still only the second highest rated broadcast in NASCAR history. Compare this to the 39.3 million viewers who watched this year’s Oscars on Sunday or the 38.6 million people who watched the American Idol season finale last year. For the record, about 17 million people watch Monday Night Football.
NASCAR is a marketer’s dream – fast cars, bright lights, advertising everywhere – what’s not to love? Given the viewership I think it’s likely that racing will be back in prime time again – probably a smaller race scheduled for the 2013 season. Will the audience tune in? Will track attendance suffer? Will advertisers pay more for prime time commercials?
Time will tell, but I predict this will be very good for the television industry, NASCAR, and advertisers.