The Daytona 500 drew just an 8.0 rating and 13.7 million viewers on Monday night after being rescheduled from Sunday afternoon due to rain. The race also featured a two hour delay 3/4 of the way in due to an explosion on the track that rendered the track unraceable for a nice chunk of time. The race didn't end up finishing until close to 1 AM EST Tuesday morning.
The only lower rating for the 500 over the last decade was in 2010, when the race had a 7.7 rating. Excluding that number, you have to go all the way back to 1995 to find a lower mark. In raw viewers, this year's race is slightly higher than the 2010 race, but lower than every other one since 2001.
The jet fuel explosion didn't just complicate the race, but the interpretation of the ratings. FOX tried to spin the ratings for this year's race though. When announcing the ratings for the race, FOX threw out a fact of 36.5 million viewers watching "part of the race." Of course, this includes people who tuned in for at least a brief part of the race (and stretched for an enormous period of time) as opposed to the average viewership, which is usually the one that's referenced for ratings. This practice of moving the numbers around was also addressed by the anonymous TVSportsRatings yesterday on his or her Twitter page.
The numbers have to be a bit disappointing for NASCAR. It would have been interesting to see how the race would have done in the Monday night primetime slot without the delay extending the telecast till early Tuesday morning though. The Monday Night Daytona 500 was a new experience, but the slight dip in ratings probably means it isn't something that's here to stay.
[h/t: Sports Media Watch]