FOX easily won the ratings battle with a rain-delayed, fire-delayed Daytona 500. There's a lesson here, and I'm pretty sure it's "don't underestimate the drawing power of things blowing up."
The number is actually down from past years, but that's to be expected given the competition-free Sunday afternoon time slot. But despite having to preempt House, Alcatraz, and multiple Simpsons repeats, FOX drew their largest Monday night rating since game 5 of the World Series.
All this, with a two-hour delay smack in the middle. Perhaps because of that two-hour delay? I can only extrapolate from my own experience, which statistically isn't far off from the 18 or so households that comprise the entire Nielsen Ratings, but I didn't care about the race before things started exploding. This line is completely stolen, but my mother knows more about dubstep than I do about NASCAR. But as I finished up watching a hockey game on NBC Sports (I should talk about niche sports; NHL on NBCS regularly gets killed by infomercials in the ratings), Twitter lit up. Fire at Daytona? Totally in. TV viewers peaked when the flames did.
Productivity was shot for the rest of the night. Staring at the peaceful chaos of the flames gave way to endless replays, and no one does replays of shit going wrong from as many angles as NASCAR. From there it was sideshow: the drivers chilling, Brad Keselowski tweeting, Danica peeing, the announcers trying to fill the time, the side-by-side commercials, the detergent—oh, the detergent. All the while cracking jokes on Twitter, because nothing strange can happen on television without our first thought being "I wonder what Twitter's saying about this." Even after the restart, they couldn't get through without another crash and a caution, and then back to Twitter to talk about how ridiculous NASCAR is, and while that was happening there was another crash, and finally a winner, and who really cares about Matt Kenseth but holy shit it's 1 a.m. and I've been watching for three hours, so joke's on me, not NASCAR. So yes, I watched an awful lot of the Daytona 500, even if it was for the shitshow and not the racing. Normally, NASCAR does spectacle, which lives next door to shitshow, but every once in a while that fence comes down.