NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge a Ratings All-Star for Speed

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Speed Channel revved its way to the highest rating in its history Saturday night with its coverage of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge.

The network averaged a 3.53 household rating (2.48 million homes) May 19 for its inaugural presentation of the event, according to Nielsen Media Research data, earning a 7% advantage over the 3.3 rating delivered by FX the year before.

Prior to the 2007 Nextel All-Star Challenge, Speed’s highest-rated program was the 2005 season-opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race from Daytona with a 2.1.

Speed’s Nextel All-Star Channel coverage from 7 p.m.-11:14 p.m. attracted 3.79 million viewers on average, making it the second-most-watched show on basic cable the week of May 14-20, behind only the 4.97 million that viewed TNT’s coverage of game five of the National Basketball Association playoff series May 16 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns, according to a Disney ABC Networks analysis of Nielsen data.

The 3.5 household average was tied for the fourth top show of last week.

At its peak, the Nextel All-Star Challenge -- the first of an eight-season run on Speed -- drove a 4.37 mark (3.06 million homes) and averaged more than a 4.0 over the final 90 minutes of the four-hour telecast, network officials said.

With the race results -- Speed was basic cable’s top network from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. May 19 among total households and men 18-49 -- the service crashed its way into the medium’s top 10 for the week of May 14-20. According to Nielsen data, Speed was tied for 10th place with a 0.9 primetime average, along with Home & Garden Television, Hallmark Channel, Spike TV and Court TV.

“Everyone at Speed, everyone at Sprint Nextel, everyone at JHE Production Group, everyone at NASCAR, everyone at Lowe’s Motor Speedway put maximum effort into getting off to a strong start with the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge on Speed,” said network president Hunter Nickell in a prepared statement. “We’re all incredibly proud of the inaugural effort and we had a blast doing it, but the real message is, ‘We’re just getting started.’ We’ve learned a lot in year one and we already are talking about how to make it even cooler in year two … we’re on our way.”

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