NASCAR sets esports viewing record

Sunday’s inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race is believed to be the most-viewed esports event in U.S. television history.

Denny Hamlin’s virtual victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a 0.53 rating and 903,000 viewers on FS1, according to Nielsen data.

It exceeded the 770,000 viewers for a Mortal Kombat event on The CW in 2016, esports industry analyst Manny Anekal tweeted on Wednesday.

“Blown away — we talked last week going into it that no none had any expectations,” NASCAR chief digital officer Tim Clark told Sports Business Daily. “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.”

The virtual competition, featuring 35 current and retired NASCAR drivers, was designed to give fans a chance to engage with the sport during an indefinite hiatus caused by the global coronavirus crisis.

–Field Level Media

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