NASCAR viewership by year averaged 5.8 million in 2012 and only 3.7 million in 2022. There has been a significant drop in the past 10 years. 

Although NASCAR still remains one of the most loved and watched sporting events in the US, the watchers and ratings have been in a downward trend in the past decade.

It is still a popular sport in the country but has failed to attract viewers in good numbers. It surely has the potential to do so but has not yet succeeded with many believing that the shift from the 750 horsepower to 550 horsepower engines may have taken away the excitement from the races.

The kind of numbers that NASCAR on TV is producing is not something they would have wanted. The trend does look bad from the past few years but are still hopeful for a much better future.

NASCAR Race Viewership By Year

NASCAR race viewership garnered 3.7 million average viewers in the Cup Series in 2022. The 2023 season has 3.315 million average viewers.

The opening race of the season usually has a good number of viewers but that too saw a decline in the numbers in 2023. 3.647 million average viewers watched the opening race and in 2022, the average observer was 4.283 million.

GEICO 500 had one of the best average spectators of 2023 with 4.554 million viewers
Source : twitter

NASCAR Cup Series on FOX has been down by 8.9% in 2023 with each race contributing more and more towards the downfall. 

NASCAR Xfinity Series may not be as popular as the Cup Series but has been able to draw fans toward their races. The Series has approximately watchers of 1 million average viewers each season.

The Beef. It's What's for Dinner 300 which was the first race in the Xfinity Series had an average audience of 1.686 million viewers. The second-highest average spectator in 2023 was the Cabo Wabo 250 which garnered 1.630 million viewers.

In the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, FOX and FS1 had an average spectators of 627,000 for the 23 races in 2022. It had a 5% leap compared to the 22 races in the 2021 season. Only two races in the Series crossed the 1 million mark and 1.057 million average viewers is the highest. 

NASCAR TV ratings for the Daytona 500 were 4.37 in 2023. It has a slight dip in ratings as compared to 2022 as it had a rating of 4.70.

The Daytona 500 is considered one of the most popular races in the NASCAR calendar and also the most prestigious. It also generates the most number of average viewers in comparison to the other races.

Daytona 500 viewership in 2023 had an average audience of 8.173 million viewers. A slight plunge from 2022, as the average watchers was 8.868 million.

Although it had over 8 million average viewers in the last two races, it still has not lived up to its potential. The numbers should go above the 10 million mark and have been in the past.

How Many People Watch NASCAR?

Noah Gragson's No. 42 at the 2023 Daytona 500
Source : twitter

The Cup Series in 2023 has gone down by 10% with half the season already completed. Although only a slight dip in the numbers for now, the numbers might go up with the season still yet to be completed.

The 2020 season was at an all-time low averaging just 3.06 million average viewers and picked up the pace in 2021 with 3.48 million average viewers.

  • 2019 - 3.73 million
  • 2018 - 3.3. million
  • 2017 - 4.1 million
  • 2016 - 4.6 million
  • 2015 - 5 million
  • 2014 - 5.3 million
  • 2013 - 5.8 million
  • 2012 - 5.8 million

NASCAR Cup Series Races 2023Average TV Viewers
Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum3.647 million
2023 Daytona 5008.173 million
Pala Casino 4004.315 million
Pennzoil 4003.991 million
United Rentals Work United 5003.389 million
Ambetter Health 4003.422 million
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix3.129 million
Toyota Owners 4002.303 million
Food City Dirt Race3.450 million
NOCO 4002.218 million
GEICO 5004.554 million
Wurth 4001.067 million
AdventHealth 4002.352 million
Goodyear 4002.689 million
NASCAR All-Star Race2.203 million
Coca-Cola 6004.06 million
Toyota/Save Mart 3502.912 million
Ally 4003.23 million
Grant Park 2204.63 million
Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart2.56 million 4002.59 million
Cook Out 4002.43 million

Is NASCAR Viewership Down?

Yes, the NASCAR Cup Series viewership decline is at 10% from 2022. The observer has been in decline from over 5 million to a mere 3.7 million over the years.

The graph clearly depicts the slow and steady decline of the NASCAR Cup Series since 2014
Source : statista

NASCAR Cup Series had an average watchers of 5.8 million in both 2012 and 2013 and since then has seen a gradual decline in viewers with each passing year.

It is worth noting that in 2014, the average spectators of the Cup Series was 5.3 million. In 2022, it had a decline of over 1.5 million which is a huge number.

They reached 3.3 million in 2018 and picked up in 2019 as they reached 3.73 million only to stoop to 3.06 million in 2020. Since 2018, the Cup Series has not touched the 4 million mark and showed signs of improvement in 2022.

The numbers are still not looking good in 2023 although there are still plenty of races left in the season with the playoffs and the Championship Race still to be run. This may attract greater numbers as they are more interesting.

It is hard to say when the watchers might increase for good but the race Series are moving forward in the right direction for now. It will hope to get much-needed support from the fans. In the ongoing 2023 Cup Series, not a single race has been able to reach the 5 million mark excluding Daytona 500.

The most popular race in NASCAR to has seen quite a tremendous downfall in spectators. In 2006, Daytona 500 had an average viewership of a whopping 19.355 million. It has now sunk down by over 10 million viewers. 

NASCAR demographics and fans preferring the live action over watching it on cable TV could be the contributors to the downfall in watchers.

It is also not an easy task to watch the entire race as it is a very lengthy race and also the rise of other sports such as the NBA and NFL could be a reason.

Apart from the Cup Series, the Xfinity Series has also seen a decrease in the number of viewers. The Craftsman Truck Series however is almost at par or has increased its spectators even though it might be by the slightest of margins.

Where To Watch NASCAR?

NASCAR fans can watch the 24th race of the season which is the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard race of the Cup Series live on NBC. The race is scheduled for August 13 at the Indianapolis MS Road Course.

All the remaining races of the 2023 season including the playoffs will be now available on NBC, and USA Network
Source : sportslulu

FOX and FS1 were responsible for the broadcasting of the first 16 races of the Cup Series and NBC broadcasted the 17th and 18th. The USA Network took on races 19-23.

There are only three races left before the NASCAR Playoffs start on September 3. All the races starting from August 13 will be available on either NBC or USA Network.

The upcoming Cup Series races:

  • Go Bowling at The Glen (August 20) - USA Network
  • Coke Zero Sugar 400 (August 26) - NBC & Peacock
  • Cook Out Southern 500 (September 3) - USA Network
  • Hollywood Casino 400 Presented by Barstool Sportsbook (September 10) - USA Network
  • Bass Pro Shops Night Race (September 16) - USA Network
  • Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 (September 24) - USA Network
  • YellaWood 500 (October 1) - NBC
  • Bank of America Roval 400 (October 8) - NBC
  • South Point 400 (October 15) - NBC
  • Dixie Vodka (October 22) - NBC
  • Xfinity 500 (October 29) - NBC
  • NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race (November 5) - NBC & Peacock

You will be able to find the USA Network on:

  • AT&T U-verse HD - Channel 1125
  • Comcast XFINITY TV HD - Channel 823
  • DIRECTV HD - Channel 242
  • DISH Network HD - Channel 105
  • Charter Spectrum HD - Channel 101
  • Verizon FiOS - Channel 550
  • Optimum - Channel 38

The networks will also be available on other streaming services such as FuboTV, Sling TV (Blue Package), YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV, as they carry either of the broadcasting networks or all of them.

  • FuboTV "Pro Plan" - $74.99
  • Sling TV - $40.00
  • Hulu + Live TV - $69.99 including a cloud DVR
  • YouTube TV - $72.99 including a cloud DVR

Similarly, the Xfinity races will also be available for viewing on the USA Network, NBC, and Peacock channels.