IRL TV coverage causes static

June 24, 2008
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IRLTVThe June 22 Indy Racing League race at Iowa earned a 1.2 overnight TV rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Co., meaning about 1.2 million households nationwide tuned in to watch the race.

According to IRL spokesman John Griffin, this year’s TV rating is equal to last year’s rating at Iowa. The race was sold out, with about 45,000 spectators packed into the Iowa Speedway for the second annual Iowa Corn Indy 250.

The race coverage was panned on racing blogs and message boards early this week, sparking speculation that IRL officials will shop their TV package. The current rights fee deal with ABC and ESPN expires at the end of next season, but IRL officials are currently negotiating with their broadcast partner. Racing insiders said NBC is interested in the IRL, but it is doubtful the network would pay what ABC/ESPN is currently paying.

Racing fans complained about the quality of pre- and post-race analysis at Iowa, camera angles, sound quality and the announcers. And even though he designed the Iowa Speedway, open-wheel fans were not pleased about seeing retired NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace re-appear on the IRL broadcast.

The IRL will be in Richmond Saturday. ESPN will broadcast the race live starting at 8 p.m.

If you saw the Iowa broadcast, let us know what you thought?
  • The usual poor performance of the ABC/ESPN talking mouths will continue to leave IndyCar ratings flat. Get some people with character! AND it would be nice if the lead (i.e. Marty Reid) knew something, ANYTHING about the sport. He is an embarassment.
  • Well, it was probably the best coverage they have given this whole year, so take that for what it's worth. They actually had a pre-race show! It would be nice if the could get some more colorful people, as Scott Goodyear knows his stuff, he just isn't all that interesting (a board comes to mind). They need added shows like a weekly hour program. The biggest disappointment is that they do nothing to promote the IRL (they being ESPN). You don't see anything on Sportscenter unless it is Danicker. It does suck. Fox/Speed would be my vote.
  • So many positive things going on. And Michael, you are right about Marty Reid. He has a great voice and shows a lot of enthusiasm. But his knowledge is severely lacking. It doesn't appear that he's doing much to change that either. And, if I hear him call an IndyCar a missle one more time, I will scream!

    Cheever had some good points when he was in the booth, knowledge wise, but the bias he shows towards the Andrettis, the broadcast booth is no place for that, like them or not.

    Maybe it's time for them to bring in a great voice of knowledge that enjoys and follows the sport, and someone that will promote it. ESPN should do more to get their radio guys onboard with the IRL to a greater extent, like Mike and Mike.
  • The NFL teams have complete control of the broadcast personalities, and thus their image. The IMS/IRL has strict control of everything, including the caterers, so why can't they negotiate for talent approval?

    What ever happened to Paul Page?sq
  • Correction. NFL teams control RADIO in their local market. I guess if they had TV control Monday Night Football would not be such a 'corny' production!
  • The Pedigo lady in the pits sucks!! She might as well have giant cue cards to read from and puppet-like strings coming from her kneck with someone on a race transporter yanking on them!!! They could find someone at a car dealership with more character!! F'ng pathetic. Rusty W. needs to stay home and go fishing. He knows nothing about open-wheel racing. Stay away from IRL and get Bob Varsha or David Hobbs in the booth. This is once again another reason why Open-Wheel racing in the U.S. will never ever be on par with F1 (or GP2).
  • I thought that 'IRL' or 'Indy Racing League' was replaced with the hybrid 'IndyCar Series' to accomodate ChampCar? Am I wrong? Secondly, this re-unification has shown that there is real public interest in open-wheel. If 'Disney' doesn't want to properly handle it--take the NBC deal-remove the Nascar announcers---and go for it. Nascar has, and continues to get more corporate, predictable and boring by the week.
  • George you are correct. Nekcar gets more and more reduntant and nobody remembers who won two weeks ago!! Now the IRL needs to hit Road America, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca and a few other road courses to make things a bit better. Toss out some of the boring ovals,etc.
  • Personally, I didn't think the coverage was that bad. Remember, last year we didn't even have HD coverage or HD shots from the cars.

    This is one of the most exciting seasons we have had in open wheel racing in years. Let's all enjoy it!
  • Having some major racing fans in my house, we watch virtually all the IRL and the 3 major NASCAR series races, as well as some other racing on Speed from time to time. Our prevailing opinion is that Fox and Speed have BY FAR the best personalities when it comes to providing a fun and interesting telecast, and ABC/ESPN are really pathetic. While I don't find the IRL coverage as dismal as ABC/ESPN's NASCAR coverage, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Even my 8-year-old son notices how boring ABC's broadcasters are.

    Oh, and for the poster who asked what ever happened to Paul Page, I saw him doing NHRA coverage on ESPN the other night.
  • Nobody beats Mike King, the voice of IndyCar radio, when it comes to open-wheel commentary. I find listening to his radio coverage of the races to be far more exciting and knowledgeable than any t.v. broadcast.

    Hire King, and your problems of uninteresting commentators with little knowledge of the sport are solved.
  • Yes the Indy Car radio coverage is great. I listened to a lot of the Iowa race on XM (Mike King and crew).
  • Having been a life long Indy Car fan and a veteran 500 attendee for over 40 years, I think I know more than Marty Reid ever will; however, I like Scott Goodyear's insights but they need a voice that really speaks out and is vote is Bob Jenkins. I like the side by side commercial times so that you don't miss the race, but holy cow do they have a ton of commercials...perhaps something like FOX's gopher cam would even help with the televising...definitely more promotion by the TV network is needed.
  • Sunday's coverage left me even longing for Marlo Klain or Robin Miller. Anyone. The pit announcer woman was unacceptable. Unacceptable! Not sure what IRL can do, but they must talk to ABC/ESPN and include talent selection in their ongoing/upcoming TV package negotiations. Although I'm not sure they're negotiating position is that strong. Listening to radio broadcast while watching TV is brilliant. That's what I do for Pacers games. I'm sure the league's TV advertisers wouldn't be too pleased, but oh well.
  • Are you gonna publish the final, Anfonee?
    The 'league' is fetid sewage.
  • When I grew up in Northern Ohio in the Fifties, REAL Race Fans made Road Trips to the TIME TRIALS at Indy. Now, the only place that I hear that term is on ABC/ESPN. I really don't care much about quals in general, but the difference in vernacular shows a huge disconnect between the network and the IRL.

    If the TV folks think Chris Economaki (sp) has a valid opinion (lol), then even Dave Wilson has a valid shot!
  • Fox's Gopher Cam was used on USAC coverage by ESPN in the late 1980's.

    Anthony - how about an article about the relationship between IMS Productions and ABC/ESPN and who plays what role? My gut tells me a fair share of the blame for the poor coverage lies with IMS Productions, not ABC/ESPN.
  • Lance brings up a valid point. I have chronicled IMS Productions' part in this somewhat before. But it's probably worth another look. I'll check it out. One thing I don't think the IRL has much control over is the selection of on-air talent, and that seems to be drawing a fair amount of criticism. Thanks for the comments, and keep them coming. Oh, and to Stan, thanks for rekindling some old-time childhood memories. My older sister used to call me Anfonee, or was it Anfrenee ... and she didn't even have a lisp. Anyway, I'll track down the final rating for the Iowa race.
  • I don't understand why ABC never had any footage of the incidents that happen back in the field. If you are not in the top five, nobody watching on tv gets to see what is happening to you. Somebody must have noticed this, as I am watching the Richmond race and ESPN seems to have shown footage of all the accidents at this race. It is about time they started to pick up the coverage.

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