2021 Indy 500 Conor Daly Leads Pack Of Cars Sean Birkle Indycar Photo
The Indianapolis 500 drew its highest television ratings in five years on Sunday afternoon. (Sean Birkle/IndyCar photo)

105th Indy 500 Draws Highest TV Ratings Since 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday’s 105th Indianapolis 500 delivered the highest rating ever for an Indy 500 telecast on NBC and was the highest-rated running of the event since ABC televised the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016.

From 12:48 to 3:57 p.m., the race had a Total Audience Delivery of 5.581 million viewers (TV plus digital), according to television ratings released Wednesday morning. That made it the most watched Indy 500 in five years.

ABC’s numbers in 2016 were 6.009 million TV-only viewers.

The 2021 audience delivery is up 51 percent compared to last year’s Indy 500, which was held on Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and televised on NBC (3.692 million TAD). It was also up two percent over NBC’s inaugural 500 in May of 2019 (5.489 million TAD).

It was the most watched IndyCar rate to date on NBC and the first time since the 100th in 2016 that the 500 was delivered to more than 5.5 million viewers.

The TV coverage rating peaked from 3:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET, with 7.129 million viewers watching Helio Castroneves and Alex Palou battle to the checkered flag. Sunday’s race ranks as the most-watched sports event of the weekend across all networks.

Also, the 105th Indianapolis 500 was NBC’s most-watched Sunday afternoon sports event in 16 months, since last year’s NFL Wild Card matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles on Jan. 5, 2020 (36.0 million TAD).

Across NBC Sports streaming platforms, the 2021 Indianapolis 500 ranks as the second most-streamed IndyCar race ever, behind only the same race in May of 2019. The Average Minute Audience was 34,500 viewers.

In addition to the strong TV numbers, Sunday’s race featured a crowd of 135,000 in the grandstands, after the 2020 edition was run without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We opened America to race fans around the world,” Penske told SPEED SPORT Wednesday. “A real honor!”

Through six races to-date on NBC/NBCSN, IndyCar coverage is drawing a TAD of 1.926 million viewers, up 28% from last season’s comparable first six races across NBC/NBCSN (1.504 million TAD), and a 1% increase from the similar 6 races in 2019 (1.898 million TAD).

The race was aired live in Indianapolis for only the third time since 1950 and that market had the highest rating at 21.3. Below is a list of the Top 10 TV Markets for Sunday’s 105th Indianapolis 500.

Rank
Market
HH Rating
 
 
 
1
Indianapolis
21.3
t2
Dayton
8.1
t2
Cincinnati
8.1
t4
Ft. Myers-Naples
6.3
t4
Louisville
6.3
6
Knoxville
6.0
t7
Nashville
5.4
t7
Columbus, Ohio
5.4
9
Hartford-New Haven
5.1
10
Greenville-Spartanburg
5.0
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