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Indy 500 Qualifying viewership up nearly 40% from 2023

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Credit: Matt Fraver/Penske Entertainment

Fueled by a NASCAR superstar, record-setting speeds, and a battle between a teenager and a veteran of the sport for the final spot in the race, NBC’s coverage of the second day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying recieved a TAD (Total Audience Delivery) of 1.22 million viewers across the linear broadcast and its streaming service, Peacock. That number is a 38% increase from the same event last year, which clocked a TAD of 842,000 viewers.

Sunday’s broadcast goes down as the most-watched Indy 500 qualifying broadcast since NBC gained exclusive IndyCar rights in 2019. The number comes during negotiations for a new IndyCar broadcast deal, as NBC’s most recent contract with the series expires at the conclusion of the current season.

Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported last week that the fight for IndyCar broadcast rights has come down to the incumbent NBC and FOX, who currently shares NASCAR Cup Series media rights with NBC and recently agreed to continue that share along with Amazon Prime Video and TNT for the next seven seasons. In an interview with Inside Indiana Business earlier this week, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said “We’re getting close. We’ve been working at it for months… I think we’re going to know which way we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks.

With that, the series’ eyes may be on the viewership numbers for Sunday’s Indy 500 broadcast, one that has suffered over the past two years. 2021’s race pulled in over 5.5 million viewers, NBC’s highest, before taking a significant downturn to 4.8 million in 2022 and 4.9 million in 2023. According to Miles, there has also been discussions of lifting the controversial TV blackout of the race in Central Indiana with grandstand seats nearly selling out for the race.

We’ll know it when we see it,” said Miles. “We just keep selling [tickets] and we’ll see where we end up.

NBC’s coverage of The 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 starts at 11:00 am on Sunday. Viewers outside of Central Indiana can also watch the race on Peacock.

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Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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