NASCAR ratings get a boost after Confederate flag is banned from races

first_imgThe overnight ratings were up 104 percent “over the comparable race last season,” per Fox Sports executive vice president Michael Mulvihill — a rating of 1.14 compared to 0.56 for the 11th race of the season last year, an event at Dover International Speedway presented on the same channel (FS1).The ratings for Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville also were up 16 percent over the last weeknight race on FS1, the rain-delayed event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. The Wednesday night race at Darlington on May 20, the first mid-week Cup Series event since 1984, drew a rating of 1.22 on FS1.MORE: Reactions to NASCAR’s Confederate flag banThrough 11 races NASCAR Cup overnight ratings are up +1% on FOX/FS1.This despite a rain-impacted Daytona, a ten-week interruption and an extra race on broadcast through last year’s first 11 races.— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) June 11, 2020NASCAR’s decision to ban Confederate flags at races was met with predictable anger from a portion of its fan base. The comment section below NASCAR’s tweet, for example, was flooded with comments like “NASCAR has gone too far” … “This is the last straw” … “You have lost a customer.”But the move also seemed to open the floodgates for people who previously had shunned NASCAR over perceptions of racism that were reinforced by the presence of the Confederate flag at races. Saints running back Alvin Kamara, for example, quote tweeted NASCAR’s statement and asked, “when (is) the next race?” Driver Bubba Wallace responded, “tonight,” and Kamara proceeded to tweet about the race all night.Wallace, of course, ran a special “Black Lives Matter” car Wednesday night at Martinsville, a paint scheme that drew public praise from LeBron James among other prominent stars outside of NASCAR. Wallace finished the race 11th. Based on the overnight TV ratings for Wednesday’s Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR’s decision to prohibit the display of the Confederate flag at its events and properties did not negatively impact viewership despite pushback from some of its fans. Quite the contrary.Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville, which started just a couple hours after NASCAR released a statement on its banishment of the flag, delivered massive numbers relative to comparable past Cup Series races. BIG S/O @BubbaWallace!! 🤜🏻🤛🏾👑 https://t.co/0zIlidbQOi— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 10, 2020Kamara clearly was not alone in his pivot. The ratings suggest those who claimed on social media they were suddenly interested in watching a NASCAR race in the wake of the announcement did just that Wednesday night.I’m 20 minutes into my first NASCAR race 🏁🇺🇸 #blm #teambubba @BubbaWallace https://t.co/6nGBJlPlf2— Violeta Yas (@YasT62) June 11, 2020How long is a @NASCAR race? Where does one watch it? I’ll tune in 🙋🏼‍♀️ https://t.co/FbnXnz5e7K— cara e. sprunk (@carasprunk) June 11, 2020There were other notable factors at play when it comes to the ratings increase. Wednesday night’s event was the highly anticipated first NASCAR Cup Series night race at Martinsville, a historic track where lights were installed a few years ago. NASCAR also was fortunate to get the race started on time and run all 500 laps despite the threat of rain in southwest Virginia.But it’s clear NASCAR’s audience Wednesday night was supplemented by new viewers, and given the context of the timing, the reason for their arrival is obvious.last_img

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