I was skeptical when the NTT INDYCAR Series was adding a Labor Day weekend event back to the schedule. For some reason, outside of Memorial Day weekend, the series just doesn’t pull strong ratings on a holiday weekend. This year’s Labor Day weekend was a crowded one. Between the US Nationals for the NHRA, the Southern 500 and the opening weekend of College Football, how much attention would be put on a race in the Pacific Northwest?
By the looks of it, a lot.
Last Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.011 million viewers on NBC and Peacock. That’s up 49% vs. last year’s race on NBC and up 6% vs. NBC’s 2021 race average, excluding the Indianapolis 500.
That’s a strong number and one that further proves that ending the season when they do is the right one. There’s no real reason to go deep into the Fall when you know your numbers are going to take a drastic hit.
The NFL is the juggernaut and going to pull the ratings. Going against them isn’t wise, especially when NASCAR does. Between those two, having an INDYCAR race on USA in the Fall isn’t going to move the needle.
So ending in early September is the right call, especially with these numbers. Most races aren’t gaining as much year over year like Portland did. That’s because Portland’s date last year was going head-to-head against the NFL. Hence the 49% increase.
Next year’s race if landing on the same weekend as this year’s, will likely return a similar number. Which further shows that there’s no need to fight it.
I almost now wonder if we should almost end the season on Labor Day weekend. I’m worried the number may drop a bit this weekend with it being Week 1 of NFL season and NASCAR being a direct head-to-head rival on Sunday.
You get the 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET NFL window on CBS and Fox. You get NASCAR’s 2nd playoff race on USA. How many are casual fans are tuning into the season finale?
I know it may not be a popular statement but I’d actually not be opposed to ending the season before all of this kicks off (Labor Day weekend) and going out on a high note.
Per NBC Sports, the 2022 INDYCAR season is the most-watched through 15 races since 2008 with a TAD of 1.357 million viewers (1.738 million viewers; ABC/ESPN/ESPN2). That’s a good thing. By going too deep into September and October, that average will drop. By keeping the average higher, it means more TV money on the next contract and more TV money is a very good thing…