Despite seeing nearly half of the field crashing out of the event, and a first time winner in Austin Dillon, the excitement was not good enough to save the Daytona 500 from some of the worst television ratings in the last 10 seasons.
The Daytona 500, which was televised by FOX Sports, earned an overnight rating of 5.1 , which was down from last season by 22% and 6.1% the previous year.
The numbers for the Great American Race were similar to what the broadcast of the 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 earned at Atlanta Motor Speedway last year, the site of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event.
TV ratings for the Daytona 500 broadcast have been declining for some time now and have failed to crack even a decent rating — such as a 7.0 — as of late.
One possible reason for the lower numbers this year may be due in large part to the competition faced by the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. For comparison, the last time the Daytona 500 faced competition with the Winter Olympic Games was in 2014. That particular event earned a rating of 5.6 after enduring a six-hour rain delay, which pushed the race opposite to the closing ceremony. The closing ceremony ended up with a huge audience of 9.5 in 2014; compare that to this past Sunday in which the winter games earned only a 4.1.
One key storyline for the race this year was the final NASCAR start for Danica Patrick, who generated a huge following five years ago when she ran the Daytona 500 for the first time. Her status helped draw a 10.0 overnight, which was the highest since NASCAR’s heyday in 2000. That was the only time Patrick earned a top-10 finish in this prestigious event.
Even with smaller-than-expected ratings, the race is still in a good spot to finish as one of the top FOX Sports programs since the network covered the NFC Championship football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings.