As NBC preps to take over the NASCAR schedule, Fox's 2019 ratings end slightly up

Darrell Waltrip's broadcasting career came to an end on Sunday. (Getty Images)
Darrell Waltrip's broadcasting career came to an end on Sunday. (Getty Images)

It’s a clear sign of the times when a slight increase in television ratings is cheer-worthy for NASCAR. But after the free-falling viewership numbers of the last few years, a slight uptick is noteworthy.

Fox’s portion of the Cup Series broadcast schedule is now over and the network did better than it did a year ago. According to Sports Media Watch, Fox’s broadcasts averaged 4.07 million viewers. That’s up from 3.98 million viewers for the same races in 2018. And still down 17 percent from where NASCAR TV ratings were in 2017.

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The 2019 numbers don’t take into account rainouts. Races at Michigan and Dover were pushed to Monday.

Sunday’s race at Sonoma was up slightly over the 2018 broadcast. But as SMW notes, that likely has little or nothing to do with the race being Darrell Waltrip’s last as a broadcaster. There’s no evidence that broadcasters have a significant impact on the television ratings of a sporting event.

NBC will broadcast the final 20 races of the Cup Series schedule starting Sunday at Chicagoland. And the way NBC has distributed the races over its channels should be a good test of the idea that NASCAR television ratings are starting to stabilize. Just seven of those 20 races are on NBC. The other 13 are on NBC Sports Network while nine of Fox’s 16 races were on broadcast TV and the other seven were on Fox Sports 1.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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