The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship enjoyed strong growth in all measures across 2017 with increases in attendance, television viewership and online engagement.
The spectacular finish to the season at last month’s Coates Hire Newcastle 500, where Jamie Whincup secured a record seventh championship, ended a huge year for the sport.
Nielsen Brand research found Supercars has grown relative to the same period in 2016, with other major sports recording declines.
Total attendance across the 15-event season, including the Australian Grand Prix, was 1,754,501 – an average of 116,000 per event or 36,500 per day – an increase of 3.1 percent on 2016.
The Australian Grand Prix (272,000), Clipsal 500 in Adelaide (272,000), Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (204,512) were the highest attendances for the season.
The first Newcastle event attracted 192,242, the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 had a crowd of 186,259 and 142,478 people attended the Watpac Townsville 400.
Cumulative total average ratings grew by 12 percent with 66.5 million viewers across the FOX Sports and TEN networks, which included races, practice, qualifying, highlights and Supercars programs.
Nielsen reported the average Fox Sports live race TV audience grew by 12 percent year-on-year whilst the majority of other major sports remained flat.
Live race audiences on Fox Sports were generally higher for each race in 2017 relative to ’16 and Supercars was the third most-watched major sport on Fox Sports; only one of two to record major growth in average audience.
Digital audiences recorded the most significant growth while media coverage grew by more than 20 percent compared to 2016.
In 2017, website visits have grown to 23 million, an increase of 28 percent, pageviews to 54.6 million (up 23 percent) and video views to 46 million, growth of 24 percent.
The Supercars app has been opened 4 million times with 16.2 million screen views, leading to an overall growth of 50 percent in visitation and 59 percent in pageviews across Supercars digital platforms.
Supercars CEO James Warburton said: “The finish in Newcastle was a brilliant finale to another superb season.
“It capped a fantastic year of big crowds despite heavy rain on the Saturdays of Bathurst, the Gold Coast and New Zealand, record corporate numbers at all major events and some amazing racing through the year.”
The 2018 Championship includes the Australian Grand Prix for the first time and features the debut of Australia’s newest permanent circuit, the $110 million Tailem Bend facility in South Australia.
The number of Championship events increases by two across a 37-week season next year, starting with the Adelaide 500 in March and concluding with the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 in November.
Night racing also returns to Australia after more than two decades with a 300km race at the Red Rooster Sydney SuperNight 300 on Saturday August 4.