TV audience for the 2019 NASCAR season finale down over 50 percent from 2015

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, drives during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Speedway on November 17, 2019 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch's second championship had less than half the TV audience of his first championship in 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Will moving the season finale from Homestead to Phoenix result in a TV audience spike for NASCAR in 2020?

The sanctioning body sure hopes so because the TV ratings for Sunday’s race won by Kyle Busch are flat-out ugly. Sunday’s race was the least-watched Homestead race ever, with 3.74 million people tuning in. That’s a number down 12 percent from 2018 and down over 50 percent from NBC’s first Homestead telecast in 2015. Over 7.6 million people watched the finale on NBC in 2015. That was the first season of NBC’s current NASCAR coverage after taking over for ESPN.

After television ratings seemingly cratered in 2018, NASCAR was hoping for a bounce back this season. That bounce really didn’t happen. But on the bright side, the cumulative TV audience didn’t decline further. Per Sports Business Journal, the average Cup Series audience of 3.3 million people per race was flat from 2018 to 2019.

18 races down, 14 races up

Thirty-two races were run as scheduled in 2019. And more races were down from 2018 than were up.

According to Sports Media Watch, 18 races declined from 2018 and 19 posted the lowest ratings or audiences in at least a decade. On the other hand, 14 races saw increases.

The race that increased the most from year-over-year was the spring Texas race. It was on Fox Sports 1 in 2018 and Fox in 2019 so the move from cable to broadcast accounts for part of that increase. The race that spiked the most without a network switch was the fall Kansas race. It was up 20 percent.

The race that dropped the most without a network change was the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix. It was down 22 percent year-over-year. Maybe that spike in 2020 when Phoenix hosts the final race of the season isn’t too realistic.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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