Indy 500 viewership bounces back after low ratings in 2022

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Driver Josef Newgarden celebrates his win in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28, 2023. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

An average of nearly 5 million viewers tuned in Sunday afternoon for the Indianapolis 500 telecast, a number that represents a 2% uptick in audience following a 2022 showing that ranked among the lowest in the race’s history.

This year’s Indianapolis 500 attracted 4.92 million viewers at NBC and the Peacock streaming platform, according to Fast National Data released by Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

The 2022 telecast audience was 4.84 million. The 2023 race joins the 2022, 2020 and 2018 as the only editions to deliver fewer than 5 million viewers.

But encouraging for the NTT IndyCar Series and NBC, Sunday’s race reached 13% of homes where television was being watched. The 13 share is the biggest number since the 2008 race also had a 13 share. And this year’s race stands as the most-watched Sunday afternoon telecast on NBC since the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament on June 19, 2022.

In 2020, during the pandemic lockdown, the race shifted from May to August and generated an all-time low television audience of 3.7 million. In 2019, 4.91 million viewers caught the final Indianapolis 500 telecast by the ABC network

Viewership of this year’s race peaked at 5.8 million viewers from 4 to 4:15 p.m., when Josef Newgarden won the race in a hectic one-lap duel with 2022 Indianapolis 500 champion Marcus Ericsson. The overall viewership number of 4.92 million is the average of 15-minute segments from 12:48 p.m. to 4:19 p.m.

An estimated crowd of more than 300,000 people attended Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Local NBC affiliate WTHR-TV Channel 13 did not broadcast the race live, adhering to long-running blackout protocol in Indianapolis. A delayed telecast aired Sunday night.

For the first time, geo-blocking was implemented to apply a “blackout” to local streaming at Peacock and NBC Sports’ digital platforms.

Streaming of this year’s race averaged 216,000 viewers, a slight decrease from 219,000 in 2022. NBC’s TV-only audience averaged 4.71 million viewers.

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14 thoughts on “Indy 500 viewership bounces back after low ratings in 2022

    1. How exactly do you think they are to make the race available to you on free over-the-air TV?

  1. Streaming was down so not doing well on that front. Viewership is still way down so there’s nothing to get excited about. A 2% uptick is a default number and can’t be considered a success when the numbers are already at record lows.

    1. Technology moves too fast. I don’t think they are going to be able to contain VPN.

  2. I love everything about this race. It gets better every single year and I gotta say, the thrill of this race ending was unmatched. Go to the race and you won’t miss a thing!

  3. I go to the race and watch it again that night on TV. I agree the commercials were problematic this year.

    The NBC commentary was ok but would be SO MUCH BETTER if they used the radio announcers who are positioned all around the track. They are the real pros when it comes to understanding Indpls. racing details and what the fans need and want to know. For years I’ve encouraged friends and relatives in other states to turn down the TV commentary and tune into the radio instead. I do the same thing at the track – using radio headsets rather than listening to track announcers. We all agree that the radio coverage is far superior – more factual, more fun, and more exciting.

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