A common refrain from the start of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 through the checkered flag on the 61st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona was a noticeable uptick in the size of the audience.
“I think there were more people at the Roar than at the last bunch of Rolexes we’ve been to, so hats off to whoever is in charge of that,” said legendary team owner Chip Ganassi a few hours prior to the start of the Rolex 24. “It’s changed in a big way.”
“I think it’s important for the manufacturers that are supporting us to see the interest,” added another legendary team owner, Roger Penske. “We’re going to reach a bigger population from the standpoint of sports car racing, and I think that’s important.”
Indeed, with all of the audience metrics now in, a bigger population was reached during the month of January at Daytona – from fans at the racetrack, to those watching on television and those following the action from various locations around the world on their preferred device and platform.
For the Rolex 24 At Daytona event, Daytona International Speedway reported an all-time attendance record. A week earlier, a huge crowd buoyed by thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts camping in the infield turned out for the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
The increase in at-track attendance was visible for all to see, but at the same time there was a significant increase in television viewership as well. NBC Sports reported that viewership was up 28 percent over the 2022 audience with an average of 360,000 TV-only viewers for the NBC and USA Network telecasts. All five TV windows on those two networks were up over the year before, with a peak viewership of 1.2 million.
While NBC Sports platforms served the domestic audience, IMSA.com, international broadcast partners and IMSA Radio brought the Rolex 24 to the world and posted impressive numbers as well. The Rolex 24 international race broadcast was available everywhere in the world via IMSA.com and in 17 international countries served via broadcast partners.
IMSA.com live streaming hours totaled 1.5 million to post a 25 percent year-over-year increase. There were 3.8 million total IMSA Radio connections for a five percent increase, and IMSA.com saw 4.3 million page views (+ 7 percent).
The launch of the “Win the Weekend” docuseries on IMSA’s YouTube channel just prior to the Rolex 24 surpassed 1.2 million views, with nearly one million viewers previously unexposed to IMSA content. IMSA’s collective social media channels saw impressive growth. Total engagements numbered 6 million, representing a 500 percent increase year-over-year, while 31 million video views accounted for a 72 percent increase across all social platforms.
“Our audience metrics from the Rolex 24 match what many of us saw with our own eyes,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “We believed that the introduction of our new, hybrid-powered GTP class would resonate with race fans, and these metrics proved it to be a resounding success. We couldn’t be prouder of the efforts of our IMSA and Daytona International Speedway teammates, the significant activation from many of our official automotive partners, and the tremendous on-track competition provided by our teams and drivers. We have substantial momentum that we expect to continue into the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring next month and throughout the 2023 IMSA season.”