Taking My Lumps on Richmond’s TV Viewership Predictions

Yeah, I’m back to talk about TV Viewership Predictions.  In my article Prediction: Richmond TV Numbers-They Will Be Massive I closed by saying I’d be back to discuss Richmond after the numbers came out.

They are out.  I am back. 

Boy was I ever wrong.
In that article I predicted several things – most of which were wrong.  Some were not EVEN close.

On Tuesday, Adam Stern posted the Richmond numbers.  That I got right.  Results… not so much, as he reported…


I predicted that that there would be at least a 70% gain over last year’s Richmond race on FS1.  Wrong.  Richmond drew 3.310 million viewers.  With the switch back to FOX, the return of Chase Elliott to the series, NETFLIX and all the other things that had been attributed to huge numbers so far this season, I thought FOX could recover the 1.655 million viewers they lost from 2022 to 2023.  

I was wrong.  They couldn’t.  Got back 1.007 million. The 0.648 million viewer shortfall resulted in a 43.73% gain, not my predicted 70% gain.

Missed it by that much.     

OK, so I missed that, what did I get right?

Even with that miss, I did get the sixth consecutive week of gains and percentagewise, the largest to date by far prediction right, didn’t I?   That’s worth something isn’t it?


Well, it looks like it, but not really.  

You see I also predicted that even though the broadcast was switching from FS1 in 2023 to FOX in 2024, they would continue to use those numbers in a YoY comparison.  They didn’t, so I missed that one too.  Stern stated the switch resulted in no direct YoY comparison and instead compared 2024 Richmond to 2022, which was also on FOX.  That comparison produced numbers no one seems to want to talk about as 2024 Richmond had 648,000 fewer viewers for a 16.37% loss.  

So, I missed out all the way around on that.

How about those celebrations you predicted?

I also predicted the numbers would produce massive celebration further solidifying how back we are now.  But for some reason, I’m not finding any of those celebrations I’ve seen before that I predicted I’d see again.

No “all you ‘NASCAR is dying’ fans-read ‘em and weep”.  No “the NETFLIX Effect is so real” or “thanks for coming aboard @IcyVert”.  My predicted Facebook and “X” explosion was nothing.  Danielle Trotta never put her foot on the NETFLIX accelerator, choosing instead to mat the “Denny Hamlin jumped the restart” accelerator.  Larry McReynolds didn’t bother to crack open a bottle of his favorite wine and Dave Moody had more important things to remind us of.  

FOX’s Mike “up is up” Joy, had nothing to say about this week’s “up” which was actually “down” (or is it turn right to go left?).  

On “X”, Bob Pockrass, Jeff Gluck, Jordan Bianchi, Jim Utter, Danielle Trotta, Dave Moody, Mike Bagley, Larry McReynolds-Richmond’s ratings was crickets.  Hamlin’s restart jump was still the topic “du jour” as Richmond ratings discussions were conveniently and noticeably avoided.  I couldn’t check if or what Pete Pistone’s take on it was-he still has me blocked.

Daniel McFadin did venture out and repost Stern’s tweet and add that last year’s Bristol Dirt Easter Race pulled in 3.450 million viewers (still down 0.140 million viewers and a 4.0% LOSS).  


That got 631 views and garnered 0 comments and 0 retweets.

Other than his and Stern’s posts, you’d never know that the Richmond ratings had even been released.

Normally, the highest YoY gain of the season of six viewership gains in a row would still be reason for celebration.  A 3.6 million viewer increase in viewers over the six weeks for an 18.69% jump over last the same races year should still result in some discussion.  Heck, even if you throw out the Richmond YoY and used their 2022 v 2024 numbers, that’s still a 2.023 million viewer gain over those six races for a 9.48% gain.  That’s nothing to scoff at.  Last week, Mike Joy was celebrating a 6% gain.  

So why no discussion? 

You’d think with my track record on TV viewership numbers I stop any predictions now.  Call it a feeling, but I think when the 2022 vs 2024 comparison were done for Richmond it pointed to another issue, another factor that wasn’t being taken into consideration when they did their earlier YoY comparisons.  That factor was the “Chase Elliott Effect”.  As seen in other sports, when a top athlete doesn’t participate, their fans don’t tune in.  If they play, they tune in.  

In 2023, Chase Elliott missed these six races which resulted in a drop of an estimated 3.462 million fans and a 14.28% drop overall.  That’s significant.  Maybe, just maybe it makes means those YoY numbers that have been celebrated for the season are not directly comparable and a Richmond-like comparison of 2022 to 2024 needs to be applied to these other races to give a truer picture.

What happens when we compare 2024 to 2022?  

By making that comparison you eliminate the “Chase Elliott Effect”, making the results more comparable. After doing that,we see that only two of the six races had gains-Atlanta and Phoenix.  The Richmond race suffered the largest losses over this period, almost 650,000 viewers which easily offset the massive gains Atlanta provided.  Overall, the viewership hasactually dropped 882,000 viewers, for a 3.64% loss for these races.


So with all the positives that have been pointed to as creating massive viewership growth-NETFLIX, @IcyVert, Schedule Change, Stacked SuperSpeedways, Daytona Crashing Finish, Atlanta Record Finish, Bristol Lead Change Record/Tire “Situation” and on and on the net result is we’re behind in viewership almost 900,000 from where we were two years ago.

Maybe, just maybe when someone inside the sport looked at things a little closer, that maybe just maybe we’re not as back as we thought we were and put the word out to just pump the brakes this week, let this ride for a while and see if it will right itself.

That’s just a prediction though and you have seen what kind of job I do on those.

Any predictions for Martinsville?

Last year this race drew 2.218 million viewers.  It was the first race Chase ran after recovering from his injury so there was likely some bump up from it being his first race.  It was a Sunday afternoon race on FS1, just like this year is, so we should have a direct YoY comparison this time around.  With the weeklong controversy over jumping restarts and such more folks will likely tune in to see how the cat and mouse game between the drivers and NASCAR will play out.  Coupled with it being another race with the new Short Track Package it should increase interest some.  Can we have more than 5 Green Flag Lead Changes this time?  Can someone other than Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin actually race into the lead?  Goodyear is bringing back the same tire used here in the fall so that should not result in any Bristol-Esquea issues… but then again, that’s what they thought about Bristol!

 A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Think we’ll see at least a slight increase but will not be disappointed if we can hold our own.  But that’s just me.  You’ve seen how me and predicting viewership numbers get along.

I’ve been wrong before, so hoping this week, unlike last week, if I am again, it’s in a good direction!

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance      

Photo Credit (cover):  Alex Slitz / Getty Images


  1. David, these articles are so well done and valuable. Thanks for putting the effort into them.

    I still think that NASCAR is setting Richmond up for failure. This year’s race dates are the worst the track has had since the days the spring race was in February, and even then, the fall race had a great date, not something in the middle of August. It might be my paranoia, but I think poor attendance/ratings will be the excuse to cut the track back to one date, maybe so we can add a race using paths in an amusement park or something: “Oh, Hamlin touches him in the left rear, and he goes spinning into the tilt-a-whirl.”

    Maybe Richmond will become the first race around the main deck of a cruise ship.

    I’ll miss Martinsville, because I’ll be heading to Western Pennsylvania to see the eclipse, after finally making it to my first race of the year Saturday at Port Royal, with 410 sprints and the PA Sprint Series IMCA/RaceSavers running their postponed-from-2023 Keystone RaceSaver Challenge. I’m still only six weeks out from knee replacement and not mobile enough, yet, to chase guys through the pits all day, but I’m looking forward to some great racing, nevertheless. Unfortunately, we won’t have year-to-year TV comparisons from FloRacing.

    1. Frank,

      Sounds as recovery is going well. You keep on keeping on! Amazing! Keep it up!

      I agree with you on setting Richmond up for failure. When the schedule came out and I saw they got the Easter date my first thought was they were the ratings and attendance sacrificial lamb. Marcus took his lumps, now it is NASCAR’s turn and they threw Richmond under the bus.

      I’m figuring if they lose a date it’ll be for the international race.

      Sad. Should never be.

      The big rub for me is the way the media have blindly run with this years viewership numbers without asking even the most basic questions. That’s why I took an extreme position to get an explanation.

      Hopefully, this is the end.

      Thanks Frank for your input and may you have a quick recovery!

  2. Martinsville goes up directly against the final round of The Masters. I also agree with the 15% ‘Chase
    Elliott Factor.” Last week was one of the few Fox to FS1 direct comparison points, but its consistent with a couple of data points in previous years…although Covid alters any other comparison data. Did anyone publish top 5 markets data or do you know where I can get that reliably? I have not seen Fox’s usual release, nor Jayski, SBJ, nor autosports1, nor Pockrass has put it out. Kind of important to those trying to sell open spaces to potential sponsors.

    1. Thanks for your comments John.

      You brought up some good points. I wished I had access to the market info. I was really interested in seeing the before and after for Chicago but just haven’t been able to locate them.

      It’s out there and sometimes is posted but not consistently enough to be of much benefit. Adam Stern will sometime include them his posts. I do know that if Greensboro ever tunes out, the numbers are going to be hurting.

      It really shouldn’t be that tough to find but they seem elusive.

      Good luck.

  3. Gosh David, I am still amazed at the numbers and how you seem to be able to provide us with some of them. You do a great job! Thank you

    I have noticed the stands are not as full as they were a few years ago. Our newer generation fans don’t seem as dedicated as we were. Perhaps there are several reasons for that. I feel the way NASCAR has changed is part of the reason and too many distractions: ie: social media, etc are the main ones.

    Keep the articles coming, please! Thank you

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