2011 SPRINT CUP VIEWERSHIP REPORT

 Jonathan Fjeld
TRE Lead Reporter
@JFjeldTRE on Twitter
12/6/2011

  For many years, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has experienced a ratings drop from year to year. Ever since 2006 (last year of the TV deal with FOX, FX, TNT, and NBC), Cup ratings have been on a decline. In 2006, in all but 5 races, ratings declined from the previous year.  Hope was lingering with the new TV deal. However, 2007 would be almost a duplicate of 2006.
 
Ratings would fall in a majority of races. The following year, however, would have the TV ratings up slightly for the first half of the year with TNT and FOX broadcasting. When the 2nd half came with ESPN and ABC broadcasting, the ratings would fall. It would signal what was to come for the next 2 years (2009 & 2010).

In 2009, ratings would decline for every race broadcast on FOX. TNT’s coverage would see a ratings decline while ESPN’s 6 races saw a slight increase. However, Chase ratings (races broadcasted on ABC) would decline from a 3.8 avg. share in 2008 to a 3.5 avg. share in 2009. With Chase races being moved to ESPN and night races moving to ABC, ABC and ESPN’s ratings were in store to take a hit. Indeed it did.

For ESPN’s coverage of 14 races, only 2 races they broadcasted saw an increase in ratings. The rest of the races would feature declines in ratings. FOX and TNT would experience nothing better as their coverage would see a decline in ratings for their coverage of races.
 
As NASCAR entered the off-season, many wondered if 2011 would bring another decline in ratings. Many people thought changing the announcing team would work. Especially with broadcasting partner, ESPN.

Marty Reid, the lead announcer for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage in 2010 and lead announcer for the IZOD Indycar Series on ABC, was disliked by many fans of NASCAR. Many said Allen Bestwick, veteran lap-by-lap announcer who had previously worked with Turner Sports and NBC, belonged in the booth. No change was made over the off-season.

Ratings would increase for all but 2 races broadcasted on FOX. TNT would experience a ratings increase also. Here comes ESPN/ABC’s coverage.
 
Many thought there would be a decline as fans were annoyed with Reid’s announcing for ESPN/ABC. However a change was made as Marty Reid showed poor performance as the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s Nationwide coverage. A long overdue change, as many NASCAR fans stated, was made as Allen Bestwick was appointed to the booth for the 17 cup races broadcasted by ABC & ESPN. Fans were pleased with the changes.

Ratings would not decline but increase from 2010. For the finale at Homestead, record ratings for ESPN would be posted. The reason? Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were in an intense battle in the closest Chase battle since the Chase’s inception in 2004. The championship ended up in a tie with Stewart winning the tiebreaker with 5 wins compared to Edwards’ 1.
 
Overall for the race, there was an avg. share of 4.6 (6.799 million viewers).
 
With 2012 coming and a ratings climb in 2011, 2012 could be a great year for NASCAR. Stay tuned folks!