Every week during the NASCAR season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets behind a microphone as host of his popular podcast and asks his guests questions about sports. The Hall of Famer recently turned things around as he was Kenny Wallace’s guest on his YouTube channel.
The two men discussed a wide variety of topics, including the state of NASCAR Today. It was then that both times Daytona 500 The winner talked about the decline in TV ratings and what he thought about it.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. discusses NASCAR TV standings
Dale Earnhardt Jr. concluded the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in Phoenix from a familiar place, working in the NBC broadcast booth for his sixth season. He saw his playoff prediction of Ryan Blaney winner the championship becomes reality.
A few days after the title run, Junior appeared as a guest on Kenny Wallace’s YouTube channel and his Conversation with Kenny. The show’s host asked him what he thought about the current state of the sport.
“I think NASCAR is going in the right direction today,” Earnhardt said. “There are some things I can’t explain that aren’t great. The TV numbers completely confuse me because I was so entertained during the playoffs. I found the championship race itself to be very entertaining. I don’t know where the numbers are. I don’t know why our numbers aren’t better.
Phoenix and overall season numbers decline
The numbers Earnhardt is talking about are not good.
According to Sports media monitoringthe season’s final championship race recorded 2.92 million viewers on NBC (3.03 million when including streaming data measured by Adobe Analytics), which was the least-watched Cup final on record and the race Phoenix’s least-watched fall show since 2019 (2.57 million).
The show peaked at 3.8 million viewers, but its audience overall was down 9% from 2022 (3.21 million).
Unfortunately, the drop in numbers for the final race was indicative of the year as a whole. The 2023 Cup season averaged 2.86 million viewers across FOX, FS1, NBC and USA Network. This is a 5% drop from last season (3.03 million) and the least watched season on record. The previous minimum was 3.00 million for the 2021 season.
Twelve of the last 13 Cup races have been postponed from 2022.
Fox drives down 2023 NASCAR TV audiences
Interestingly, despite the decline in these races during the second half of the schedule, NBC’s portion of the season, which began in Nashville in June, saw a slight increase in viewership. Races on the parent network and USA Network averaged 2.47 million, an increase from 2.45 million a year earlier.
Fox, which hosted the most-watched race of the year, the Daytona 500, with 8.17 million viewers, averaged 3.32 million viewers for the season on Fox and FS1, a decrease of 10 % compared to 2022 and 3.69 million viewers.
This disparity matches how fans viewed the two networks’ overall output. Denny Hamlin discussed this recently on his Harmful actions podcast when we talk about Kevin Harvick’s retirement and its move to the Fox broadcast booth in 2024.
“I just want to say happy retirement,” Hamlin said. “He’s going to give back to the sport again by being part of television. I’m telling you, he could really improve that Fox stand a lot. I think he will push them to be better.
“From what we’ve seen, from NBC to Fox, the wide variation in the output of the two and how much one is really interested in the nuts and bolts and explanations, while the other just talks about some things. There’s a lot to be gained in the Fox booth, and I think Kevin will push everyone to do it and get better. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, that’s for sure.
If Harvick adds to the Fox show the same as Earnhardt has added to NBC’s coverage since 2018, the declining numbers during the first half of the season may well reverse.
Time will tell us.