Over the weekend, a live NASCAR event on Fox made a fast start — and realized sharply higher viewing results, driven by pent-up demand for live TV sports.
“The Real Heroes 400” race from Darlington Raceway posted a big 6.32 million preliminary Nielsen-measured viewers. Fox says it was the most-watched non-Daytona 500 race in three years.
Last year, the NASCAR Cup Series races averaged 2.9 million Nielsen-measured viewers, down from 3.3 million viewers in 2018.
Early this year, the biggest race of the NASCAR season -- the Daytona 500 -- pulled in 7.3 million viewers on Feb. 16 in a rain-delayed race -- down from 9.2 million viewers the year before.
The “Heroes” race aired with no fans in the stands -- in keeping with COVID-19 promised restrictions of live sports leagues/programmers for the return of sports to TV.
The last two NASCAR Cup Series races, before major sports leagues/programming was shut down in mid-March, saw Fox pulling in 4.8 million for the “Auto Club 400” (March 1) and 4.6 million viewers for “Fan Shield 500” (March 8).
Other Fox channels aired some live European soccer matches over the weekend -- also with no fans in the stadiums.