NASCAR esports was a big hit, as the channel drew in over 900k viewers.
This NASCAR event is now the most-viewed esports event in U.S TV history, according to a Nielsen report. The game runs in the iRacing simulator, with the race featuring 35 cars stacked with real-life drivers from current seasons and past Hall of Famers. With NASCAR shut down for the past two weeks, fans have been clambering for something to watch. Fortunately, esports had the key.
The event, according to esports industry analyst Manny Anekal beat out the previous most-watched event, the Mortal Kombat event on the CW in 2016 by over 130k viewers.
It might have been virtual, but NASCAR's best gathered Sunday to put on a show for the same reason they always have: you. pic.twitter.com/j256Gb4IAN
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 24, 2020
NASCAR Senior VP and Chief Digital Officer Tim Clark told Sports Business Daily:
“Blown away – we talked last week going into it that none had any expectations … This was about creating entertainment and a distraction from everything going on; I don’t think anyone even bothered to think about what sort of numbers this could drive. But I would tell you now having seen the number, just pleasantly surprised and blown away by the TV audience we saw, plus the digital and social metrics.”
Fox Sports and iRacing will return this Sunday for the second event in the series. The action will head to the (virtual) Texas Motor Speedway. Which would be the location of this weekend’s race had the shutdown not happened.
For comparison’s sake, last year’s NASCAR Cup Series events on Fox Sports 1 brought in viewers of around 2.1m on average. In addition, Nielsen noted the increased viewership in the 18-34 demographic compared to regular NASCAR events.