The 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Cup is in the rear view mirror (no pun intended), and while the Chase was down, NASCAR is comfortable with their overall numbers for 2013.
The 2013 Chase averaged a 2.8 rating and 4.5 million viewers on ESPN, slightly up from 2012 (2.7, 4.2 million) and slightly down from 2011 (3.1, 4.8 million). Despite those disappointing numbers, this was only the third Chase to show a year to year increase, along with 2005 and the aforementioned 2011. Also, seven of the nine Chase races that had a comparable race increased over 2012 in both ratings and viewership. And think – only one race (Charlotte) in the Chase was aired on broadcast TV.
As for the season as a whole? 2013's schedule averaged a 3.6 overall and 5.796 million viewers, nearly identical to the numbers posted in 2010 and 2012 and slightly down from 2011.
NASCAR is expecting more of the same for their 2014 schedule, due to the broadcast partners staying consistent. But in 2015, with the elimination of ESPN and Turner and the introduction of NBC into the rights package, officials will need hope to stay stable thanks to 20 races moving from ESPN and Turner to Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN. In the new deals with Fox and NBC, 16 races will remain on broadcast TV – the same amount as 2013 between Fox and ABC.
While NASCAR's ratings have fallen like a rock since their peak in 2005 (when they averaged nearly 8.5 million viewers per race), something has to be said about the consistency as of late. MLB has lost over 20% of their national audience since 2005, and while NASCAR's losses are more severe over the same time period, they've at least stabilized. Before slightly rebounding this year, MLB was stuck in a freefall on national TV.