How Should IndyCar Improve The TV Ratings?

By the time Trackside aired on Tuesday night, the overnight TV ratings for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg had been released. They were not good. In fact, they were abysmal. The race earned a 0.6 rating. That’s not even good for a cable telecast, but this race was carried over network television. That translates to 685,000 viewers nationwide, which is not going to make advertisers salivate. For comparison’s sake – the NASCAR race from Martinsville on FOX generated a 3.8 rating, which corresponded to 4.34 million viewers. Keep in mind, that NASCAR is lamenting the fact that the Martinsville race suffered a 5% drop in viewers compared to last year’s race.

As our friend Pressdog might say – cue the hand-wringing.

Tuesday night, there was an e-mail that Kevin Lee read over the air. I’m paraphrasing, but it was the same tired old argument that we’ve been hearing for years: “No one is going to tune in to watch foreign drivers that you’ve never heard of, driving on road courses. What IndyCar needs is American drivers running on ovals, because that’s what the public wants to see.” Really? Hmmm…

Kevin Lee had a very quick and truthful response – the old IRL was based mostly on American drivers and running nothing but ovals for their first nine seasons in existence. Those ratings were abysmal as well. The only difference is that there were not as many entertainment choices then as there are now – and they were still bad. Truth be told, I’d be willing to bet that many more people have heard of foreign drivers Will Power, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan; than they had Racin Gardner, Jim Guthrie or Dr. Jack Miller – the racing dentist.

Granted, twenty years ago – there were more Americans in the CART field than on the grid of a typical Verizon IndyCar Series race. With eleven Americans having full-time rides in 1994, there were only five Americans in Sunday’s race. While it’s important to have an American presence in an American-based series, I don’t buy the notion that this is why the American public is not watching.

While there were six more Americans twenty years ago as compared to today, the majority of drivers were still foreign. The difference is, the drivers – both American and foreign – were bigger stars. Foreign names like Emerson Fittipaldi, Nigel Mansell jump out at you, but other foreign names carried bigger star-power than some of the names today, such as Scott Goodyear (Canadian), Paul Tracy (Canadian), Raul Boesel (Brazilian).

The American names jumped out as well. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser, Jr. are names synonymous with American open-wheel racing. We were also just a couple of years removed from the retirements of AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford (who finally officially retired in 1994), Tom Sneva and Gordon Johncock.

The five Americans in Sunday’s race were Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden. Those are names that resonate with us, the hard-cores; but none are what I would consider household names among casual fans – yet most casual fans can probably name Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon. However, Hunter-Reay has amassed more wins (9) since 2008, Earnhardt (3) or Gordon (7). Yet, who is considered the bigger stars?

Comparing the two eras from 1994 to 2014 is comparing apples to oranges. You can’t do it. It’s worth noting that twenty years ago, CART and NASCAR had virtually identical TV ratings. What happened? It’s easy to blame it on The Split, but it’s more complicated than that. Drivers came up in different ways, the economic environment is different and most importantly – audiences tastes have changed. People in my age group grew up idolizing fast cars and those that drove them. Today, a fast car is looked upon as something evil that does damage to the planet. Cars are looked upon as appliances, much like a dishwasher – nothing at all sexy, but it serves a purpose.

Today’s viewers have different ideas when it comes to entertainment. Across the board, sports programming have taken a dramatic downturn – except for possibly the NFL. Baseball, basketball, college football, hockey, motor racing are all showing declines – partly because they’ve reached a saturation point and partly because many younger Americans don’t care about sports. Sports is something their parents watched. I would venture a guess that the majority of those in their twenties don’t even have cable – nor do they want it. Most of their viewing habits now involve online programming, which rarely includes sports.

My twenty-four year old son grew up going to races and playing stick-and-ball sports. He now has zero interest in either. For a while, I considered it a phase. Now I see that’s the way he is. He is not alone. Susan’s twenty year-old son, who still lives with us, has no interest in sports, nor does he even want a cable jack in his room. All of his viewing is online and that does not seem at all unusual for his age-group.

While there are many that fret over foreign drivers and road racing, my guess is that those are the most vocal are probably closer to my age than the up and coming generation that will actually determine the long-term viability of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Personally, I much prefer ovals to road racing, but I do enjoy watching and appreciate road racing – I would just like a more balanced schedule. As for the foreign drivers, I actually find it more appealing that the sport has an international flavor and think that they bring more credibility to the series.

So what is the answer to last week’s horrible ratings? Stay the present course, that’s what. Open-wheel racing didn’t go into the tank overnight and it won’t be salvaged overnight. Although, Sunday’s race was going up against the NASCAR race, the Elite Eight and other programming – it is still a bad number. There will always be sport conflicts and other choices for viewers. Blaming the number on the NCAA Tournament is an excuse. Viewers need a reason to want to watch IndyCar races, regardless of what’s showing on another channel. It will be a long process turning this thing around. IndyCar fans should prepare for a season of embarrassing TV ratings. But I do think it will eventually turn around – just not as fast as we want it to.

Give credit to both TV partners. Bringing Allen Bestwick on board made a huge difference in their broadcast on Sunday. NBCSN isn’t standing still either. They’ve added Paul Tracy to the booth for six of their races, beginning next week at Long Beach. The television broadcasts should always strive to improve, but that’s not the long-term answer. Neither is manufactured drama, whether it is promoting rivalries that don’t exist or messing up a points system that had worked so well.

The answer is a full-fledged effort in marketing. I’m not talking about just throwing more money at the problem. It needs to be a fully thought-out marketing campaign that could take a couple of years to roll out. Throwing anything out there quickly results in embarrassing attempts like "I am Indy". The series has been woefully lacking in marketing for years. Those that think that marketing makes no difference are living in dreamland. How do you think that ESPN built a brand around poker or the X-Games? Through marketing. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it – no one will buy it. With changing tastes in the audience, you need a top-notch marketing plan laced with creativity to make this product attractive to the younger audience. Like it or not, that’s the audience we need for the future. I don’t care for a lot of the changes being made to the sport, but I’d rather see the sport change than to go away.

I cut Mark Miles and company very little slack over the past year. It seemed as if he and the board of Hulman and Company were content to just sit back and hope that things happened. Lately, we’ve seen strong evidence that a lot has been going on behind the scenes. Now that Miles has his team of CJ O’Donnell as Chief Marketing Officer and Jay Frye as Chief Revenue Officer – I am much more optimistic.

When I say stay the course, it is easier said than done. I know, I know – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results. But top executives haven’t stayed around the IndyCar offices very long in the past. For various reasons, there has been a revolving door, making it very hard to build any continuity or momentum. I now fully believe that Mark Miles has a plan. He didn’t rise to his position by being clueless. Hopefully, he will put a stop to the revolving door and allow the executive team the time it will take to execute the plan.

George Phillips


35 Responses to “How Should IndyCar Improve The TV Ratings?”

  1. It all begins with Promotion. We can (and do) have the best racing product on the planet but if no one is looking at it, it doesn’t matter.

    Who has been the most recognizable driver in the last 20 years?? Danica. Was she the best driver, no, not even close. BUT she was the most promoted. People knew who she was. Even people who couldn’t tell the difference between an open wheel or Nascar knew who Danica was.

    Randy Bernard (for all his faults) understood that we needed promotions..I think he was on the right track with his Cars and Stars approach.

    Mark Miles seems to have a plan and he looks to be building from the inside of the series out, hopefully all of these new people will stick around and his efforts will bear fruit.

    In many ways we are almost in the same place as 20 years ago..The Stars from this current era are all nearing the end of their careers. Helio, TK, Seabass, are all in their late 30’s, Dario has already been forced out. The difference is that at least this time there is a next generation to build around…

  2. Thanks for the mention, George. The hand-wringing is cued! The reason I’m not among the hand wringers, though, is ratings are always the same story, different year, for the last five to seven years, if not more. Story goes like this: Ratings bad, stay the course, give it time, hope (current leader) has a plan, we need more marketing/promotion. Just copy this post and save it for next time. Ask the 20-somethings (my daughters in that range don’t watch sports either) about racing and they’ll tell you about NASCAR. NASCAR IS racing in this country. IndyCar’s marketing — that we assume is coming — needs to differentiate itself from NASCAR as well as other sports. It’s possible, but don’t hold your breath. IndyCar should have been building a fan base for road/street races for the last five years, because it needs twisty fans that don’t exist today. After about seven years of stressing ratings as indication of the poor health of a loved one, I’m over it. Ratings = sales in many ways. When sales suck, it’s not up to the customers (fans) to come up with a plan to make them better. It’s up to the company.

    • ….because it needs twisty fans that don’t exist today.

      ….it’s not up to the customers (fans) to come up with a plan to make them better.

      Think about both of those comments and you start to see part of the problem and part of a solution.

  3. Why does it always seem to be lost on the “hand-wringers” that NASCAR (the undisputed MOST POPULAR form of auto racing in the US these days) has only two boring Road Course races out of 36 every year? THIRTY FOUR OVAL RACES! And have you seen their ratings for their boring Road Course races? Doesn’t anyone believe that if NASCAR wasn’t popular on ovals they would be adding boring Road Courses at every opportunity? Why haven’t they, if boring Road Courses are SO popular with US racing fans? Hmmm? Anyone?

    Wake up IndyCar….

    • Enough with the ovals already. Road courses are not what is ailing IndyCar. NASCAR races all look the same. If you shut your eyes and spun the schedule on a pin wheel, and stopped it , would you be able to tell which track they were racing on if the name of the track was not written on the perimeter walls? With the exception of a handful of tracks, NASCAR suffers from way too many ovals. Especially the 500 mile short track races. Good lord. NASCAR has the ovals handled at nausea um, the last thing IndyCar needs is to add to them.

      • NASCAR SUFFERS? Really? Uh, NASCAR is THE MOST POPULAR FORM OF RACING IN THE US TODAY, PERIOD. I’m no NASCAR fan, I hate the fact that they are more popular than IndyCar but I cannot ignore it. It doesn’t matter a hill of beans to their fans where they are racing. Have you ever heard of Branding? Of course all the tracks look the same, they did that on purpose, to differentiate themselves from IndyCar 50 years ago, it was genius.

        Oh, and the phrase you butchered is “ad nauseum.”

    • Absolutely corrent. And nothing disturbs me more than seeing the name of an Indy Car driver with their national flag right next to it. F1 Lite. It is not what Indy car is or should be. A few foreign drivers has always added spice and story lines. But a sport dominated by them does not work. From a marketing standpoint a league dominated by road courses and foreign drivers has never worked in this country. And you already have such a league overseas if you want it. F1. Otherwise, save it for the olympics.

      The goal should be at least 50% ovals, and at least 50% American drivers. Of course drivers who earn a spot and don’t have to buy it. Losing Lyle Larson to Nascar was huge and no one considers that problem. It probably started when Jeff Gordon could not get a ride in Indycar. Not too many years ago both would have stepped right into Indycar.

      These problems did not start with the split. Instead they played a part in the split that followed. Indy car management seems to be following the same discredited playbook with the same discredited results.

      I too have seen the lack of interest in many sports by the young. But don’t expect that to last. You may be surprised at their interests in 10 years. They are growing up in a culture much different than we did and in a lot of ways I realize now how lucky we were. They have a lot of issues to deal with that we did not.

    • billytheskink Says:

      With SOME (emphasis), perhaps many, domestic race fans I do not think it is necessarily a road course/oval ratio issue so much as it is Indycar’s disconnect with North American grassroots racing. Of course, much of North America’s most popular grassroots racing is on ovals, but I think it is a people issue as much as it is a track type issue.

      The stars of most popular sports in North America began their careers at a high school/college/0.375 mile track “just like the one down the road”. LeBron James played basketball for a high school basketball team not unlike several that are a short drive and $5 ticket away from me, just as Brad Keselowski began his career on short tracks similar to one I visit every other Saturday for $10.
      Indycar’s American drivers largely came up through karting, which is quite infrequently available to fans compared to other types of grassroots racing. Indycar’s foreign drivers navigate an even less familiar path to the series, and CAN (emphasis) be harder to relate to because of it.

      This is only one of many issues that Indycar faces, and it is confined to only some of their target audience, but it is not an issue that should be dismissed.

  4. Marketing, marketing, marketing. The reason NASCAR is as prominent as it is, can be directly related to how much it spends on marketing period. If you don’t invest in promotion of the series or the drivers, you are not going to get a return. NASCAR faces the same problems as IndyCar with the younger demographic but it is more insulated and protected because of all the PR they have invested in over the years where IndyCar is out on the edges exposed. IndyCar’s marketing has been virtually non-existent( a joke really) and lacked direction for many, many years. The result- right now. There is lag time here too. In a sense NASCAR got the flu shot and IndyCar did not to save money (or did not have any to spend) IndyCar is susceptible, weak, in a sense. The “I am Indy” campaign was so ridiculous it was embarrassing and probably the ultimate low but that just reflects where the advertising stood at that point and time. The direction was spiraling down . They are going to have to “stay the course” it is going to take a long time to get ship turned around it is not going to happen overnight. Continuity , awareness, popularity and momentum are expensive, require investment ,none of which IndyCar has at the moment.

  5. I have friends who are hard core NASCAR fans and they tell me they will never watch an IndyCar race. They see IndyCar as elitist, snobby, rich guys who have no connection to the common man. This applies to both the drivers and the fans. When I go to a race they always ask if I am taking wine and strawberries because in their opinion that is what IndyCar fans consume with pinky extended. They put IndyCar and F1 in the same group. If the wheels are open, there are nothing but a bunch of pompous asses around it. For them, it isn’t blue collar enough.

    • Jim Gray Says:

      Truth be told, that is one reason I shied away from IndyCar years ago. They HAD, sadly, almost gotten to that point. NASCAR, with its drivers publicly calling each other out w/o fear of losing sponsors, seemed new and exciting. Now the tables have turned. NASCAR and the circus atmosphere seems tired. IndyCar and the crop of fan friendly drivers are are great for the fans and the series, now the question is how to market that part of it?

      • I know what you are saying is true. However, We should inform your friends that folks like me enjoy a pull or two of Jack Daniels, brats and tenderloin sandwiches during the race weekend. I roll like that at Bristol, too.

  6. You hit the nail on the head with this line “Viewers need a reason to watch Indycar racing.” It has always been my belief that most people will watch the most popular programs not necessarily because they like it, but because everyone else is watching it & they want to be included in any “water cooler” conversation. Marketing is the key as well, but there needs to be more marketing from the sponsors who are involved in the series rather than the series doing all the marketing. I would like to see how much money Nascar spends on their marketing vs the amount of money their sponsors spend on marketing their products with their drovers. I have long believed Nascar doesnt do very much marketing, but their sponsors, Lowe’s, Diet Mt Dew, Napa, etc, do a wonderful job marketing/promoting t Iheir product as well as drivers. The only Indycar sponsors I ever see on TV commercials are Novo-Nordisk with Charlie Kimball & the Verizon commercial that had Helio,Will, Briscoe & Hinch. Where is the DHL Ryan Hunter Reay Commercial? Or the Target commercials? Or the Marco Andretti Snapple commercials? I have gone on far too long. I always enjoy reading as well as reading the comments to your blog.

    • Mike Silver Says:

      I agree with DJ. Sponsor marketing needs to step up. What’s the point of just putting your name on a car then not letting anyone know about it? target especially does a poor job of promoting IndyCar. With their national reach they should be doing a lot more to promote their drivers. They have won 3 Indy 500′ since 2008 and have the defending champion driving for them this year. You would never know that going into a Target store.

    • TheAmericanMutt Says:

      This: ” It has always been my belief that most people will watch the most popular programs not necessarily because they like it, but because everyone else is watching it & they want to be included in any “water cooler” conversation.”

      So much that. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I knew eight years ago who followed Nascar, that now don’t, who only did because of this, and EVERY DAMN ONE of them slept thru most of the race.

  7. Jim Gray Says:

    Despite all the doom & gloom that is spoken of the series, not saying some isn’t warranted,I do see some positives. The crowds at the tracks I go to have been slowly climbing, the casual fans I talk to seem a little more knowledgeable, I see a lot more fans bringing kids who seems thrilled with the track (and time w/ their parents). I think we are ever-so-slowly getting the word out but it needs to increase. IndyCar has been doing a much better job of advertising as I have seen commercials and the product in places I never have before, but it could be better. I have big hopes for Verizon and what they are capable of bringing to the table, let’s hope it comes true! All this being said, I do realize that my perception may be skewed by living in Indianapolis.

  8. jhall14 Says:

    If any of you really “listened” to what Mark Miles said, this “Verizon” deal is much more than cash.Look around you every day, it seems most everyone has a smart phone.There is advertising going on the whole time with a smart phone.Mark Miles definitely has a plan.Infrastructure is changing now at IMS with improvements.Stay the course,improvements will start changing the tides.

  9. Marketing is probably #1, but you have to have a product that is marketable. I think getting more ovals is important, and at least getting drivers like Daly and Karem into rides also would help.There are three fanbases Indycar needs to work to pick up.

    Firstly they need as many NASCAR fans as they can get. Personally I converted from a NASCAR fan to a multi-series fan in the summer of 07, so it is possible. It doesn’t take a lot of NASCAR fans to see ratings shoot up (note: NASCAR Qualifying ratings/Camping World Trucks). Cross promotion (which I think may come from NBC Sports next year) and letting those people see how close and competitive Indycar ovals are is what that takes. Probably would help to have a few more ovals and winning American’s, too. Secondly Indycar needs to pick up the road racing fans of Sportscar/F1/AMA/MotoGP in the US who don’t watch. That’s relatively straightforward since there’s already a lot of road and street racing. Thirdly Indycar needs to get the extreme sports/Supercross/X-games market. That’s Indycar’s access to the next generation. Sadly this is the most difficult. Indycar is undoubtedly an extreme sport, but it can be hard sometimes to show that to non fans. I think for these people road course/ovals matter less than the speed/excitement/and close racing. In other words Indycar should be able to market both types of tracks as extreme.

    Schedule wise Indycar needs more ovals or they are never going to get enough existing race fans to become Indycar fans. More importantly they need close, exciting racing. Which is possible on road courses and maybe street courses (Sao Paolo last year). St. Pete was an okay race, but there was only one pass for the lead. Maybe with a track like that add another straight and passing zone? If Indycar plays its cards right I think it can succeed by being all things to all people.

    As for marketing and ratings there does seem to be some hope that things are improving on that front. I have some hope that over the next two years we’ll see some significant improvement. As James and I discuss on our podcast (which I am still editing) it seems ABC/ESPN is a little more interested in Indycar now that NASCAR is leaving, and NBC Sports now can cross promote Indycar and NASCAR, so that plus Verizon provides some room for optimism. Of course if that doesn’t succeed then there is a serious crisis.

  10. Ron Ford Says:

    I would guess that most of the regular readers of this column became hooked on open wheel racing because someone took them to a race. IMHO I believe few new fans become interested in IndyCar racing because they happened to see a race on TV. It is the sound and the fury of the trackside experience that gets folks hooked. Consider if you will all the tracks throughout the good ol’ U. S. of A. that no longer have a IndyCar race. There are now vast areas of the country that do not have a race. In today’s economy or any economy, a parent or friend in Portland, Phoenix, etc. cannot afford to fly or drive their children to the nearest race. There is no app that can give you the visceral experience of being trackside.

    NASCAR, on the other hand, races at many more tracks and there are more affordable opportunities for potential fans to see a race. While there they might recognize the name of a local short track star who moved up. IndyCar will gain no new American fans racing in Brazilia, but they will if they go back to Road America, Phoenix, Portland, etc. The reason or excuse given for not being at such tracks is because the sanction fee is too high for the promotors to make money. Then perhaps the indyCar series should bite the bullet for a few years and make those fees more affordable. That’s called investment.

    I also think IndyCar needs to provide internet streaming. I am a long, long way from being a twenty-something, but I dumped cable a few years ago and have never looked back. Do I miss seeing races live on NBC cable? Sure, but so what? In a few days the race is availlable on YouTube and I can watch it at my convenience. Tomorrow night I will be following the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA Final Four. The game will be on some cable channel. However, I can simply go to the NCAA website and watch the game being streamed. Will I count in the TV ratings? No.

    The IndyCar level of open wheel racing survived and grew when the only race on TV was the Indy500.

  11. billytheskink Says:

    If I really knew the answer to this question, I would be a much wealthier fellow…

    A point I do think is worth making, though, is the dearth of recent American success in Indycar’s most powerful star-making tool, the Indianapolis 500. While I do not wish to dismiss the likable and talented non-Americans who have found great success at the Speedway over the past two decades, North America’s most successful motorsports series have made hay promoting likable and talented Americans who win on the sport’s biggest stages.

    I do not believe there has been a North American Indycar star in the televised era (70’s to present) who did not frequently compete for wins at Indianapolis, with the possible exception of Paul Tracy. The top domestic stars of recent years (most notably, Danica Patrick) have qualified themselves as “stars” because of consistent competitiveness at IMS, and unfortunately, there just have not been too many of them in the last decade.

    I’ve quoted this bit of trivia before, but it is relevant to this point. The last 5 Americans to win the Indy 500: Sam Hornish Jr., Buddy Rice, Eddie Cheever Jr., Buddy Lazier, Al Unser Jr. Add domestic drivers who have battled for wins on multiple occasions during the last 20 years and that list does not get a lot longer.
    Is there a Bud(dy) Tinglestad Jr.? Given that pattern, I’d look at putting him in a car…

  12. Even intoxicated by both good scotch and a perusal of Rick Mears’ book I can’t imagine a road/street race on network TV getting more than a 1.5 rating. I’d say IndyCar would be well advised to find a way to cut the costs of competing so as to deliver attractive ROI to sponsors based on that TV ratings reality.

    • Yep…1.5 is all that Indycar can legitimately expect at this point. More than doubling one’s market share generally doesn’t happen with only luck, too. As several have noted, consumer-focused sponsor activation has been nearly non-existent for quite a few years…the series as a whole needs to find a way to bring back automotive oriented sponsors for whom there’s a clear(er?) path to ROI in using Indycar as a primary advertising venue.

  13. When I watched CART I was 18 years old and was fascinated by oval racing and the daring drivers. When CART went full blast with road and street racing I lost interest. The foreign drivers were not an issue for me (my favorite driver at the time was Emerson Fittipaldi) as it brought the best in the world to the sport.

    Now, we need more Americans to be able to get rides. You cannot keep losing the Jeff Gordon’s, Hildebrand’s, Larson’s and so forth. That right there is INDYCAR’s mistake. You need to be able to bring those people into the series.


    First, be realistic, the sanctioning fee for ovals HAS to be LOWER. Help the promoter get its investment on track.

    Second, bring sponsors that ARE business partners. Is not all about the money (CASH) but how you promote and sell your brand. In the heyday you would see lots of commercial make reference to IndyCar and its drivers (by the way, Emerson was in a few of those).

    Third, enough talk about how costs cannot bring technology and new chassis or grandfather old ones. That right there is what sold tickets before. You can name it whatever you want, people came to see the drivers race fast in those beautiful AND different car combinations: THE CARS ARE THE STARS!

    Fourth, You have to make the Indy 500 exciting again but not with false aero tricks to have 68 passes for the lead. Make qualifying difficult and an honor as it used to be. Pay more to the entrants; a minimum of $300,000 so it covers the costs if one team does not make the show. Bring more entrepreneurs to be enamored with the mystic and tradition IMS brings.

    This four (4) items should be a blueprint to bring back INDYCAR where it should be. Anything less is just band-aids and to procrastinate the problem. Think big and you will get there…think small and with fear and you will get nothing. IT IS THAT SIMPLE IN BUSINESS!

    (posted on my blog also)

  14. This is a bit random, but please bear with me. I’m as much of an IndyCar fan as anyone. But, despite my age (39), I identify with the twentysomethings in George’s post. I don’t have cable – haven’t had it for a few years. NASCAR does not compete for my interest, nor does any other sport for that matter. What does compete for it is activities that have nothing to do with watching TV, let alone watching sports. To set aside the time to watch St. Pete last weekend, I was out freezing my butt off in my backyard at 9am, rather than waiting for the temperature to finally rise to something reasonable right when the green flag dropped. One thing that must be fixed is the fact that media companies hold live sports hostage. If I want to watch the whole IndyCar season, I need a cable subscription that includes NBCSN. It’s not enough that I have a cable modem – I need to pay for the TV package as well. So, what needs to happen is to make IndyCar content available online. That’s how twentysomethings are watching their TV. That’s how I’m watching my TV. I’m turning on Netflix at 10pm after the kids are in bed to watch House of Cards. I’m watching the few precious YouTube videos that IndyCar puts online on my phone when I can. But I don’t have the time to be chained to a TV at 3pm every Sunday, and don’t see the value in paying a bunch of money each month just to be able to watch a few races.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      You nailed it! I’m not convinced that potential sponsors pay total attention to TV ratings anymore. I think that the internet and internet-connected TV is the way entertainment viewing habits are heading. Sponsors are paying attention to that.


    Have you noticed over the past two months that you cannot escape NASCAR being in your face?

    I start up with Yahoo News & there is not just an article on Yahoo’s front page but it is located at the top of their news listings, which is usually relegated to non- sports news.

    But not with Yahoo – Right there at the top of the column that so and so has scratched their nose yesterday afternoon at 2:12pm which will not prevent them from driving …………

    Then there is the ever present Danica Machine grinding out press on a weekly basis. Again in your face front page importance where news and not sports is generally situated.

    So the propaganda mill continues to program readers/individuals with at least one critical ‘newsworthy’ tidbit/gossip per day……. using non-sports media to deliver and be ever present in your face.

    Some would offer that they (the ‘news’ media) are pandering to a certain mentality;however, that approach appears more to be focused in the long run on continuing to remind individuals that NASCAR exists so that they do not forget that it is their duty to watch & support ………………

    Cease the ever present , in your face pace of distributing propaganda and the audience not only diminishes, but they (the audience & consumers) no longer remembers to watch your train racing, buy that brand of soda, etc. that sponsors…… , etc.

    Look no further than the perpetual moaning about the annual grand number of INDY Car races.

    Sneeze and this year’s race schedule is over & completed.

    Retreat into hibernation and perhaps if you are lucky receive a wake-up alert in April 2015 before the 2015 season is completed.


  16. mostmint Says:

    Have races every week at the same time. How long now til the next race – who knows! It is hard to have continuity if their are three weeks between races. If I knew races were every Monday night at 8 (or Sunday at 1) for 15 weeks I would watch them. As far as the race, figure out how to reduce the time spent under yellow. The open wheel cars fly apart and make a big mess in any high speed crash and we miss a big chunk of the race. This is obviously worse on ovals and temporary courses that have no runoff areas.

  17. […] not suggesting IndyCar give up on TV altogether, but a recent post by George Phillips at Oilpressure illustrates the current situation very […]

    • Yannick Says:

      You are very much on the spot there with your blog post , Next Gen Indy. The series must make its video stream available in places where the young folks go online. That quote from George above in which he talks about his and his wife’s sons and how they don’t watch TV struck a chord. I’m a 30 something from Europe who is hoping for a comeback of the German 500 one day. That alone identifies me as a bit of a CART nostalgist but I don’t have a TV and don’t want one and when I watch an IndyCar race, it is always on a webstream. And those are hard to come in these parts of the world.

      So how about IndyCar go where the young folks go for their entertainment, as you suggested. The youtube clips are fine if a bit too short but really, the IMS radio network should have a free live stream and/or a podcast on iTunes. And your suggestions regarding gaming are very nice as well: a game in which a user can run a full season of IndyCar … of course, it needs to be easily upgradeable with new tracks throughout the years, as calendars change.

      As far as circuits are concerned, George:
      I have been reading rumors lately that Gateway would be interested in re-joining the Verizon IndyCar Series. But nothing official yet, so it may indeed be just a rumor.

  18. I was expecting a 1.0 or higher since it was on ABC

  19. What ratings do F1 races draw on NBCSN with no Americans and no ovals?

    • Worse. F1 averaged less than 250,000 viewers on NBCSN. Keep in mind, those races were run in the middle of the night.

      • ballyhoo Says:

        It will be interesting to see if F1’s ratings are higher this weekend since the telecasts were in daytime hours here in the States. The month of May’s ratings will be telling for IndyCar, although I truly agree that TV is just one part of the whole picture.

  20. There’s a wise method for making cash from other individuals’ video content on YouTube with simply 30 minute once a week updates, producing month-to-month recurring cash from YouTube, wired straight to your savings account. –

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