This Sunday, Fox will carry its seventh Super Bowl since it acquired the rights to the Daytona 500. Consider this fascinating statistic: Fox has seen its Daytona 500 viewership go up from the previous year five of the first six times it carried the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 in the same year. Could this be a replay?
2002: 18.78 million from 17.08 million in 2001.
2005: 18.69 million from 17.8 million in 2004.
2008: 17.75 million from 17.53 million in 2007.
2011: 15.6 million from 13.29 million in 2010.
2017: 11.96 million from 11.32 million in 2016.
The exception was 2014, when the race was held (1) during the Winter Olympics on NBC and (2) was red-flagged for more than six hours because of a tornado warning, then a parade of rain showers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won that race nearly 10 hours after it started.
So we will give that race an asterisk. But the other five, you could say, likely benefited from being promoted on Fox during the Super Bowl. It is a huge pool of potential viewers: the Super Bowl drew 111.3 million viewers on Fox in 2017, compared with the 11.9 million who watched the Daytona 500.
Not all football fans love stock cars, but lots of stock-car fans love football, so Fox is planning to use the overlap to its advantage this week. Fox Sports 1 will telecast its âNASCAR Race Hubâ show from Foxâs Super Bowl âexpansive compound on South Beach.â
The show will premiere Monday at 6 p.m. with a preseason special, then will continue with four telecasts this week from Foxâs football stage, miles from the game. Shannon Spake and Adam Alexander return as hosts, with new lead analyst Jeff Gordon among those featured.Â
Such cross-promotion is nothing new. The Fox networks will carry more than 100 hours of Super Bowl programming from the set and inside and outside Hard Rock Stadium, the site of the game. That is a lot of time to fill, and they wonât just be talking about football.
Fox will also air a Daytona 500 promotional ad during the Super Bowl. (See if you can catch Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough swapping punches!)
The 2019 Daytona 500 drew 9.17 million viewers, a low for Fox â poorer than the 9.3 million who watched in 2018 and 2014, the year the race ended at almost midnight because of the rain. As recently as 2013, the Daytona 500 drew 16.65 million viewers.
A drop of 44% over six years is precipitous, and most people agree that stock-car racing will never be as popular on television, let alone at the box office, as it was at the start of the 2000s. (The 2006 Daytona 500, won by Jimmie Johnson, drew 19.36 million viewers.)
Holding viewers, and perhaps drawing a few more, is the goal now. A good step: Fox made it official Friday by announcing that Gordon will be the only analyst to join play-by-play announcer Mike Joy in the booth for Cup telecasts this year. Darrell Waltrip wonât be replaced.
With one fewer analyst in the booth, especially the chatty Waltrip, there will be fewer interruptions between Gordon and Joy. The telecast will have more breathing room and should be more enjoyable, unlike all the hootinâ and hollerinâ on NBC noisy Cup telecasts.
Fox is expected to announce its full 2020 Cup telecast team this week, but the network said Friday that Kaitlyn Vincie (pictured above) has been promoted to host âNASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Edition,â with the former drivers Bobby Labonte and Ricky Craven as analysts.
Fox has many different sports to promote, of course, so it is not as if the network will use the Super Bowl just to pitch its NASCAR coverage. But the Daytona 500 is an enormous event that will be held only two Sundays after the Super Bowl, so just mentioning the race should help.
Even after seeing a slight decline in Daytona 500 viewership from 2018 to 2019, Fox posted a modest gain in its overall Cup viewership last year. So did NBC in its half of the season. A gain in Daytona 500 viewership could give a season of transition a jump start.
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