IRL a step closer to title sponsor

March 27, 2008
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DirecTVThe Indy Racing League late yesterday finalized a deal worth $3 million annually over the next few years that will essentially make DirecTV the series’ presenting sponsor. The California-based satellite television service provider is expected to launch a major promotional campaign next month promoting the series—which will be called the IndyCar Series in DirecTV HD. IRL officials expect to announce the deal tomorrow in Miami, where the series kicks off Saturday night.

Sources close to the deal said DirecTV is poised to launch print, billboard, TV and Web ads touting the series and its relationship with it. DirecTV, which has 16.8 million customers nationwide, may also launch a sweepstakes-like contest involving the IRL, sources close to the deal said. Sports marketers said DirecTV was attracted to the series due to its upscale, technology-oriented fans. DirecTV already has a strong presence in NASCAR as a series and team sponsor for Richard Childress Racing.

Indianapolis-based Just Marketing International, which has had a relationship with DirecTV dating back two-plus years, was instrumental in the deal, sports marketers said. JMI officials are also pursuing a title sponsor for the series, which they hope to announce in May at Indianapolis. With the massive exposure IRL officials expect DirecTV to bring to the table, Just Marketing’s hunt for a title sponsor just got easier. Just Marketing officials said they “are getting closer every day” to signing a title sponsor.

Also in the coming weeks, the IRL is expected to announce Coca-Cola and Frank’s Energy Drink as exclusive category sponsors.

Do you think the series will sign a title sponsor by May? And is this a sign that open-wheel racing is back from the brink?
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  • From a sponsor's perspective, it allows them to reach audiences in this demographic (which is similar to, if not the same as, other sports/racing fans) and separate from the sponsor clutter in NASCAR. There are so many sponsors in NASCAR that fees have to be pretty high. Advertising in IndyCar could provide a better return... especially in the month of May.

    It doesn't necessarily endorse IndyCar racing as being back, but I think IndyCar racing will benefit and will grow as a result of those market/economic factors in the advertising industry.
  • On a side note, were you able to find out if there's any update on getting a title sponsor for F1?
  • I hope this means that Directv will have a subscription package like they do for Nascar that gives you access to different car's camera views, as well as their telemetry. That would be fun.

    I don't know that I would want to see an actual title sponsor, although if it were something like Uncle Booger's Bumper Dumper, I might change my mind. (www.bumperdumper.com).
  • Is DirecTV actually going to be providing support to IMS Productions with the HD broadcasts? Did they help purchase the HD equipment?
  • Casey, I've been told there will be no such IRL-DirecTV subscription package--at least that's not part of the deal right now. I also have been told by sources close to the deal that DirecTV will not provide support to IMS Productions or purchase HD equipment for the series--again, at least that's not part of the current deal.
  • If the IRL or DirectTV needs any more indication that they hit the nail on the head, me and three buddies are getting together on Saturday to watch the race, at one of their homes, with you guessed it, DirectTV HD (ESPN 2) as the race will be on HD since the rest of us either dont have DirectTV or we get HD via antennae which does us no good with the ESPN family of channels....

    Now how do we get the owners of the unified series to seriously look at hiring American drivers? Maybe just maybe this opens the door since more sponsors start coming in owners wont have to hire pure foreign ride buyers. But will sponsors come aboard to teams who currently have unmarketable foreign drivers. The circle continues....

    While Gordon, Stewart, and Hornish have left and Marco, AJ Foyt IV have practically empty side pods....Somebody has to take the first step
    or this will continue to be an only May series.....
  • Casey,

    The IRL is moving in that direction with the announcement of their 360 HD cameras that can be accessed for a fee via the web....
  • What are you talking about Chris B. ...

    I'll give you AJ has no sponsor (he doesn't need one being on Tony George's Team) , but Marco is on AGR which is probably the most sponsor rich team their is. He had NYSE all last year and will have a rotation similar to Ganassi's Target cars rotating with Energizer at races. I believe his rotation will include NYSE, Meijer,and AirTran.
  • Rich,

    So Anthony doesn't need a sponsor but his teamate (Ed Carpentar) does? (Menards)

    I said practically empty sidepods, the word out of the AGR camp has been pretty mum, as they are obviously piecing Marco's sponsorship together. Take a look at all of his pre-season photo shoots, available on Indycar.com -- nothing but a blank firesuit. Sure the word is a rotating series but alas that shows nothing but a team piecing things together to pay the bills vs. a healthy league that can FULLY support a rising american driver...

    I guess if you want to root for Vitor Meira National Guard WTF? or Ryan Briscoe you like the league, I for one stricltly like the action on the track, but I tell you there is a ground swell looking desperately for fully funded american drivers.....
  • I think there are some very marketable American drivers who haven't gotten the attention from sponsors that I would have thought. I think Sarah Fisher is a better driver than Danica. Now, I understand Danica's marketing power, don't get me wrong, but I never could figure out why Sarah didn't get more sponsorship interest. If she had sponsors who afforded her the kind of car and engineering that Danica has, she would have been the first woman to win a race by now. This is not an isolated incident, but it is an interesting case study.
  • I hear from sources close to the deal that an announcement about DirecTV becoming a presenting sponsor of the IRL will come some time on Tuesday, April 1, probably in the morning.

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