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NASCAR Ratings Are Up Following Return From COVID-19 Pandemic – Is NASCAR Back?

Could NASCAR be making a comeback? I guess that all depends on who we ask.

The headline of plenty of articles asking this question has noted that the sport has seen a rating surge recently. With nothing else to do, it seems like more people are watching races. This was capped by a 46% rating spike in this year’s Brickyard 400 over last year’s event.

As the first major form of sports competition to return from a COVID hiatus, the attention has been at an all-time high. Throw in the massive racial controversy surrounding a garage door handle and NASCAR had the spotlight, for better or for worse. In fact, I don’t think I can remember the last time that NASCAR has gotten this much national attention.

The real challenge will be retaining this viewership when the competition comes back but let’s just take one step at a time.

How is all this translating to viewership?

That “46%” figure that we mentioned earlier is awfully shiny. It shows the difference in viewership from last year’s Brickyard 400. However, another race might make for a better comparison.

Last year, on the first weekend in July, NASCAR would be racing at Daytona. This year’s Brickyard 400 (also the first race in July) would raise 26 percent higher in ratings than the Daytona race last year. It’s also notable that Daytona was originally a Saturday night race that was postponed until Sunday afternoon. Could that create a rating drop? Definitely. Did it? It’s hard to tell.

It seems as if an article by Sporting News seems to insist that these numbers aren’t as they seem, though.

One of the comparisons that they wanted to draw was between this past weekend’s Brickyard and the last Brickyard 400 run in July. This year’s race was down 21% in ratings and 23% in viewership as compared to the July 2017 race. In fact, they continue that this year’s Brickyard is the second-lowest watched and rated Brickyard 400 ever, excluding rainouts.

So what does this all amount to?

If you ask us, any positivity in the ratings movement is a good sign for NASCAR. It’s no secret that there has been a need to get more eyeballs on the sport as they’ve struggled to fill the stands and get viewers to tune in. While it is noteworthy that this past weekend’s Brickyard race was the second-lowest rated ever, we would argue that maintaining a steady viewership is positive news. If they’ve managed to stop losing attention, NASCAR is moving in the right direction.

Stopping the bleeding and bringing in any new fans is a positive move. In other words, we wouldn’t panic just yet. The long story made even longer here is that statistics can spell out any story that we want them to. At the end of the day, it would take a much bigger analysis to tell if the sport is truly making a positive vertical move. I think that the wise man would likely just wait to see how things pan out when other sports start to come back.

As for this small window into what’s happening, though, it doesn’t seem conclusive. We think NASCAR fans should embrace any positivity from the situation and consider it a win.