National

TV audience for rain-delayed Daytona 500 down significantly from 2020

The TV audience for Monday’s Daytona 500 was sizably smaller than it was in 2020.

An average audience of just under 6 million people tuned in to watch William Byron win the race as a caution flew on the final lap. That number is down from 7.33 million viewers four years ago, the last time the majority of the race was run on the Presidents Day holiday. In 2020, Denny Hamlin won the rain-delayed race after it started as scheduled on Sunday before rain halted the event 20 laps in.

This year, the Daytona 500 was run in its entirety on Monday. Persistent rain on Saturday and Sunday forced NASCAR to run both the Daytona 500 and the season-opening Xfinity Series race on Monday.

The small audience continues a worrisome trend for NASCAR after the 2023 Daytona 500 had just 8.2 million viewers. It was the least-watched regularly scheduled Daytona 500 in years. In 2013, over 16.6 million people watched the race.

The disappointing TV audience for the Daytona 500 comes after the 2023 season finale was the least-watched championship race ever since NASCAR switched to its winner-take-all season finale format in 2014. Just under 3 million viewers tuned in for Ryan Blaney's first title. In 2016, over 6 million watched Jimmie Johnson win his record-tying seventh championship.

This year’s Daytona 500 is the final one in NASCAR’s current television contract. The sanctioning body announced over the offseason that Amazon and TNT were joining Fox and NBC as broadcast partners starting in 2025. Amazon will stream five races a season through 2031 while TNT will also broadcast five races a season.

Fox and NBC currently split the NASCAR Cup Series television schedule as NBC has the Cup Series rights during the NFL season and Fox holds the rights at the start of the season. Fox networks will broadcast the first 16 races of the season in 2024 before NBC picks up the final 20 races.