Of all the sports presented by CBS, the Daytona 500 has been the network's most consistent performer.
So says Lou D'Ermilio, associate director of CBS Sports.
"It has been the most stable of all our sports," D'Ermilio said of the ratings for auto racing. "It has broken 10 and been a consistent performer in the nines. Last year, it came down to 7.9, but last year every sport's rating came down."
CBS will broadcast the Daytona 500 live for the 13th consecutive year Sunday, from noon to 3:45 p.m.
The network also has announced that in addition to carrying the Twin 125-mile qualifying races (a delay broadcast tomorrow from 2:30 to 4 p.m.), the live coverage of the Daytona 500, the Michigan 400, and the DieHard 500 at Talladega, it will add live coverage of The Winston, an all-star race for winners the previous year, from Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 19.
At Daytona International Speedway this week, the television crews have been busy installing cameras in the cars of Richard Petty, Davey Allison, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt. Meanwhile the broadcast team of Ken Squire, Ned Jarrett, Chris Economaki, Mike Joy, David Hobbs and Dave Despain have been putting the finishing touches on features.
"Among the stories we'll do before the start of the race is one explaining the new pit road rules controlling pit stops," said CBS's Daytona 500 producer, Bob Stenner.
Squire said he is hesitant to go into other features being prepared, because "the race has been so interesting the last several years we've gotten very little of our prepared work on the show."
But if there is a "window of opportunity," Squire hinted of a compelling piece on 53-year-old Petty and a hidden hero story about crew chief Buddy Parrott, who made the call that brought Derrike Cope home to victory in the 500 last February.
On another television note, ESPN's motorsports package of 20 races last season drew a 3.3 rating, while its Major League Baseball package grabbed 2.5. A rating point equals about 931,000 people.