Don’t Call it a Comeback

After months without new sports content, May brought fans much to look forward to as some sports leagues began to implement return-to-play protocols.

And the proof is in the ratings.

Last weekend, NASCAR got back to the track after a 10-week hiatus and the Bundesliga, Germany’s primary football league, returned after 65 days of hibernation. Both sports leagues reopened with rigorous new protocols to protect competitors and team staff – stands were empty and only essential personnel were present.

It’s a bizarre new normal for live sports, but the viewership numbers tell a very positive story.

  • 6.32 million viewers tuned in to watch the NASCAR race on May 17, up 38% from the last race prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.
  • NASCAR viewership reached a three-year high for any race other than the Daytona-500.
  • The first Bundesliga game on May 16 garnered record international viewership.
  • The U.S. saw a 489% increase over the pre-pandemic Saturday average for Bundesliga viewership – top markets were Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Kansas City and Tampa.

Americans are still waiting for major sports like baseball, basketball and football to resume.

But if the NASCAR and Bundesliga numbers are any indication, those sports leagues will see a sizable bump in viewership when they do.