In what has to be considered a discouraging sign for America's most popular racing series, NASCAR again saw a dip in viewership for this year's Chase for the Cup. The 10 week series averaged a 2.7 rating and 4.2 million viewers nationwide in 2012, which is a double digit decline from last year. As reported by SBJ's Austin Karp on Twitter…
Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup across ESPN/ABC avgs 2.7 rating (4.2M viewers), down 13% from '11 (excludes last year rainout at Chicagoland)
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) November 20, 2012
What's worse? This year's decline continues a downward trend for the sport. Jayski has a detailed log of NASCAR ratings for the past four years here if you're interested and Sports Media Watch has Chase ratings since its inception in 2004. The bottom line is that NASCAR's viewership has almost been cut in half since 2006 when the sport averaged 7.8 million viewers in 2006. Chase ratings have dropped two full ratings points since a high of 4.7 in 2005 with this year tying the record low of 2010. This year, 0 out of 10 Chase races saw an increase in ratings from 2011. Zero. And that was with the drama at Phoenix and the championship coming down to the final race with Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski.
Although there were some races up this year, especially during the summer, NASCAR has got to find an answer to stop the bleeding. Whether it's a continuation of "boys have at it", new stars like Brad Keselowski emerging, or the presence of more drivers with more unique personalities, the sport is in despearte need of something to reverse the trend.