News & Media

'12 Daytona 500 second-most watched in history

February 28, 2012, Special to NASCAR.COM,

NEW YORK -- It took 36 hours to complete from its scheduled start time but fans won't soon forget the 2012 Daytona 500 and the dramatic events delivered for Fox Sports.

For the first time in the race's 54-year history, rain postponed Sunday's 1:00 p.m. ET start until 12:00 p.m. ET Monday with continued showers in the afternoon delaying the green flag until 7:00 p.m. ET.

A total audience of more than 36.5 million Americans watched Monday night's race, according to fast national ratings issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, making the 2012 Daytona 500 the most-watched in Fox history. The 36.5 million total viewers, a measure of the audience that saw at least a portion of the race, is 22 percent higher than last year's total audience of 30 million and 22 percent better than 2010's 29.8 million. Monday's total audience is the second best ever for a Daytona 500 on any network behind 37.0 million viewers in 2006 on NBC.

Fox won the prime time night among adults 18-49 and total audience figures, a significant achievement going up against original episodes of popular network programs like ABC's The Bachelor, CBS's How I Met Your Mother and NBC's The Voice. The Daytona 500 on Fox posted a 4.6 and averaged 14.1 million viewers from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. ET, making it Fox's most-watched Monday night in 16 months, dating back to Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.

The 2012 Great American Race, which included a fiery crash when Juan Montoya hit a jet dryer and red flagged the race for more than two hours, earned an 8.0/14 rating/share and averaged 13.7 million viewers. While down slightly from last year's Sunday afternoon race that occurred without any significant delays, (-8 percent, 2011 Daytona 500 - 8.7/20), Monday night's race was up 4 percent when compared to the 2010 event (7.7/16), which saw lengthy delays for pothole repairs to the track.

Ratings for the 2012 Daytona 500 grew gradually through the first two and a half hours, climbing to an 8.2/12 (14.2 million viewers) in the 9:30 half-hour when the Montoya wreck occurred. Ratings grew further at 10:00 PM, peaking at an 8.8/13 (15.1 million viewers.) When the epic race concluded, Matt Kenseth emerged as the winner, capturing his second Daytona 500 victory in four years.