NBC says IndyCar viewership climbed 9% in first year of media deal

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IndyCar got a boost in viewership in the first year of its exclusive media partnership with NBC Sports.

The racing series, which for several years had split its schedule between NBC Sports and ABC, saw viewership increase 9% over last year across all its platforms, according to data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.

“We could not be more pleased with the results of our first year as the exclusive partner of IndyCar,”  Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, said in written statement. “The combination of more broadcast exposures, best-in-class production, unprecedented promotion, and the best open-wheel racing in the world produced a significant viewership increase at a time when flat is the new up.”

Across all platforms—NBC, NBC Sports Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app—the average per-race viewership was about 1.1 million people. The figure does not include this year’s Iowa race, which was delayed by severe weather.

The 9% increase in viewership contrasts with 2018 figures that factored in ABC’s TV-only viewership, NBC Sports Network and NBC’s digital platforms.

Most of the races on this year’s IndyCar schedule saw improvements over last year’s viewership.

The perennially top-performing Indianapolis 500 had an audience of nearly 5.5 million people for its first year on NBC, up 11% over the TV-only viewership for last year’s race on ABC. The second-best viewership was the Road America Race on June 23 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. That race, which also was also on NBC, drew an audience of 1.108 million people.

The eight broadcasts on NBC had an average of 929,000 viewers—up 3% over the four non-Indy 500 races on ABC last year. NBCSN broadcast the other eight races on the schedule this year. That compares to 11 in 2018.

March’s season-opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, which attracted nearly 500,000 viewers, was the most-watched IndyCar season opener in NBC Sports history. The finale in Monterey, California, on Sunday drew 736,000 viewers, up 15% over last year’s concluding race.

Across the NBC Sports streaming platforms, IndyCar followers watched 12.9 million live minutes of coverage, with an average of 6,300 viewers per minute.

Indianapolis remained the U.S. city most attuned to the IndyCar, delivering an average rating of 3.78—accounting for about 37,800 households.

The city was followed by Milwaukee (1.62), Dayton, Ohio (1.59), West Palm Beach, Florida (1.57), and Fort Myers, Florida (1.55).

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