League logos

NASCAR Playoffs Set New Viewership Pace

2022 Postseason Races Collectively Draw 42.1 Million Household Viewers

Anlayses of

No items found.
December 21, 2022
December 21, 2022
 min read

A season that begins on a Florida beach amplifies its intensity on Labor Day weekend in Darlington, South Carolina as the sport’s top drivers begin their sprint toward a climactic finish in Phoenix. For its final 10 weeks, NASCAR’s best jockey for position on the grid, execute heart-stopping maneuvers in traffic, and push their cars to the limit in hopes of lifting the Bill France Cup in November. The NASCAR postseason is an intense, high-speed spectacle spanning two months with ever-increasing stakes and benchmark events after which the field of championship hopefuls is pared until only four remain heading into the year’s final race. This season, the Championship 4 included Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, and Chase Elliott, who all arrived in the Valley of the Sun last month with visions of Victory Lane celebrations. We used MVP’s broadcast platform to examine viewership metrics from the NASCAR Cup Series Championship as well as every other race from the 2022 postseason, while also reviewing figures from playoff races in 2020 and 2021 to highlight historical comparisons by race, network, and designated market area. Our analysis revealed a 12.6% year-over-year increase in total postseason viewership to 42.1 million households, aided by an audience uptick on NBC and a new broadcast partner.

NBC Starts and Finishes Playoffs Strong

NBC televised each of the final six races of the 2022 NASCAR playoffs, bookending its coverage with the two largest audiences of the postseason. The network’s first playoff race of the year was the YellaWood 500 at Talladega on October’s first Sunday, drawing 5.9 million total viewers, a 16.4% year-over-year increase from the same stage last year. It then ended the season by attracting a broadcast audience of 6.05 million fans eager to watch the crowning of a champion at Phoenix Raceway. But it was not only NBC that provided remarkable coverage for the 2022 campaign. USA Network – taking over for NBCSN, which ceased operations at the end of 2021 – became the new cable home of NASCAR this year and drew at least 2 million viewers for each of the four postseason races it broadcast, peaking at 2.69 million for the opener in Darlington on September 4.

Want to stay updated with the latest in sponsorship measurement trends?

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Broadcast Partners Set Three-Year Highs

Sequentially, nine of the 10 playoff legs earned more viewers this year than last year. The postseason’s seventh stage – which took place at Texas Motor Speedway in 2021 and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2022 – was the only exception. As a result, the pair of broadcast partners set three-year highs for total viewers, with NBC drawing more than it had in 2020 or 2021 and USA Network exceeding NBCSN’s totals during both of those campaigns. NBC’s six races this year averaged 5.54 million viewers, pulling its three-year average up to 5.5 million. Meanwhile, USA Network attracted 2.21 million household viewers per race this season — 13% more than NBCSN’s two-year average. Overall, NASCAR postseason races in 2022 averaged 4.21 million viewers, compared to 3.74 million per race in 2021 and 3.7 million two years ago.

NASCAR Proves National Interest

NASCAR’s popularity map is essentially the entire country, with metropolitan areas from coast to coast proving the sport is no longer merely a regional draw. Using MVP’s broadcast platform, we examined viewership figures by DMA for each of the past three NASCAR championship races and found interest throughout the nation. Overall, the season finale has averaged 6.08 million viewers, peaking with 6.32 million in the 2020 season before dipping to 5.85 million last year and rebounding to 2022’s mark of 6.05 million. But despite the slight fluctuations, top DMAs have remained consistent. For three years running, New York City has earned the No. 1 spot in our DMA rankings followed by Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Nevertheless, viewership totals by DMA suggest sprawling interest around the country, as audiences in New York and Philadelphia decreased in 2022. New York’s viewership fell by 11.9% from 298,999 in 2021 to 267,124 this year, while Philadelphia dipped from 213,251 to 210,399.

Despite the annual dip, New York still averaged 298,312 household viewers per NASCAR Cup Series Championship race over the past three seasons. The figure outpaced LA’s average of 236,572 by 26.1%. Philadelphia was the only other DMA to earn more than 200K viewers per championship, averaging 215,393 since 2020. Dallas-Fort Worth and Tampa-St. Petersburg round out the top five with 145,647 and 129,575, respectively. Phoenix, which hosts the season finale, averaged 122,631 championship viewers.

Parking the Cars Until Daytona

With packed stands surrounding Phoenix Raceway and more than 6 million viewers watching the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship on NBC, Team Penske driver Joey Logano earned the checkered flag and, with it, his second career NASCAR title. As Logano and his team continue to celebrate until February when a new season begins, stock cars will be parked in paddocks while 2023 championship hopefuls devise strategies to reach the sport’s pinnacle. Ahead of the 2023 Daytona 500, stay connected with MVP for social analyses from the recently concluded campaign and unique season previews with insights from our omnichannel platform.

Contact Us

What to Expect

Let's have a call to understand your measurement goals.

Take a look at our product and methodology with a demo.

Align our products and services to your needs in a tailored package.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

You May Also Like