Ratings Roundup: NASCAR Audience Down 24% From 2006

The 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is in the books, and the numbers aren’t good. For the fourth consecutive year, television ratings dropped severely: 26 out of 34 races saw a ratings decline (two Monday races weren’t included). Currently in the midst of a record eight-year, $4.48 billion media deal with Fox, ESPN, and Turner, NASCAR has lost nearly a quarter of its TV viewership base and has seen a serious erosion in the young-male demographic. In 2006, after NASCAR finalized its current media deal, it was averaging 7.855 million viewers per race on Fox, FX, TNT, and NBC. This season, NASCAR races averaged 5.992 million viewers over 34 races across Fox, ESPN, and Turner, meaning NASCAR has lost nearly 2 million viewers in the past four years, or 23.7% of its viewing audience.

Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium generated 1.15 million pay-per-view buys and $64 million in PPV revenue, according to HBO PPV. In March, Pacquiao’s win over Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium generated 700,000 buys and $35.4 million. The event was the second-biggest boxing card of the year behind the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley match (1.4 million buys, $78.3 million in revenue) on May 1.

Last week, NFL Network logged its highest-ever Thanksgiving-game rating as the New York Jets’ 26-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals averaged 7.1 million viewers. That is the best number in the five years NFL Network has televised a game on Thanksgiving and the third-biggest audience for any game on the network. The telecast was up 16.4% from last year’s Denver Broncos-New York Giants faceoff (6.1 million viewers).

Sunday’s showdown between the Chicago Bears and the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles posted an 18.0 overnight rating on Fox, making it the highest-rated NFL game of this season on any network, surpassing the 17.7/28 NBC posted for the Vikings-Saints season opener in September. It is the highest-rated game since the Week 13 national window on Fox last year (Cowboys-Giants, 18.9). When combined with Fox’s early coverage (12.3) on Sunday and Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day NFL action (Saints-Cowboys, at 14.7 the network’s best Thanksgiving Day overnight in 12 years), Fox recorded its most-watched Thanksgiving weekend ever.

Despite the team’s struggles on the court, the Miami Heat continue to draw big ratings. Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic game drew a 2.0 rating and 2.985 million viewers on ESPN, making it the seventh-most-viewed regular-season NBA game on ESPN since the network resumed airing games in 2002.

Versus averaged 78,000 viewers for eight regular-season UFL telecasts in 2010, trailing NFL Network’s regular-season coverage of both the AFL (92,000) and CFL (80,000). The network earned its top audience of the season for the Nov. 13 Nighthawks-Mountain Lions game (203,000) — well above the peak audiences for the AFL (141,000) and UFL (123,000).