Daytona 500 is Most-Watched Since 2008; Over 30 Million Caught Some of Race

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Race averages 15.6 million, up 17% from 2010.

via press release:

OVER 30 MILLION TUNE-IN FOR 2011 DAYTONA 500

Dramatic Season-Opening Event Scores Most-Watched NASCAR Race Since 2008

Key Demographics Show Improvement

New York & Daytona – Yesterday’s dramatic 2011 Daytona 500 crowned the event’s youngest champion ever and delivered ratings and audience gains for FOX Sports.

A total audience of just over 30 million Americans watched Sunday’s race, according to fast national ratings issued today by Nielsen Media Research, making 2011 Daytona 500 the most-watched NASCAR race since 2008. The 30.1 million total viewers, a measure of the audience that saw at least a portion of the race, is +1% higher than last year’s total audience of 29.8 million and +15% better than 2009’s 26.2 million.

Sunday’s Great American Race, which featured a record-setting 74 lead changes and 16 caution flags, earned an 8.7/20 rating/share and averaged 15.6 million viewers, marking a +13% ratings gain over last year (7.7/16) and a +17% rise in average viewership, which represents the average audience across the entire race, over last year’s (13.3 million).

Initial tune-in for yesterday’s green flag was up +7% over last year’s start (7.6/19 vs. 7.1/17) and ratings grew throughout. Race ratings peaked at 10.9/23 and 19.8 million viewers from 5:00-5:30 PM ET as the exciting green-white-checkered finish was in progress.

As 20-year-old Trevor Bayne celebrated his against-all-odds win, yesterday’s ratings improved +46% year-over-year in the Men 18-34 demographic (3.8 vs. 2.6). Male teen viewing posted a 3.1 rating, nearly doubling last year’s 1.6 and matching the best Daytona 500 rating in six years among Males 12-17. Other key demographics gains include Men 18-49, up +16% (6.4 vs. 5.5) and Men 25-54 up +14% (8.2 vs. 7.2).

Nine of the top 10 metered markets saw double-digit increases from last year including Chicago (+61%, 5.8 vs. 3.6), New York (+32%, 4.1 vs. 3.1), Los Angeles (+46%, 4.1 vs. 2.8), Philadelphia (+19%, 7.0 vs. 5.9), Dallas (+18%, 7.2 vs. 6.1), San Francisco (+21%, 4.7 vs. 3.9), and Boston (+20%, 4.8 vs. 4.0). Dayton was the country’s No. 1 market for the Daytona 500 at a 20.4/33, up +61% (vs. 12.7), followed by NASCAR hotbed Greensboro, NC (20.1/35). Minneapolis also saw significant year-to-year gains posting a 10.2, up +50% vs. 6.8.

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