IRL ratings inching up or stalling?

August 3, 2009
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IRLTVIf Indy Racing League promos aired during the Tour de France helped the open-wheel racing series’ TV ratings, it was minimal. On the heels of the most watched Tour in four years, the Nielsen ratings for the IRL race July 26 in Edmonton weren’t exactly earth shattering.

Versus pumped its IRL coverage early and often during its hours-long daily Tour de France coverage in the month of July.

National ratings for the Edmonton race which started at 5 p.m. were .24. That means 279,000 TV households tuned in. In the Indianapolis market, the race earned a .73 Nielsen rating, meaning 8,000 TV households watched.

While the Edmonton ratings are nothing to jump up and down about, they are slightly higher than the last race aired on Versus cable channel. The Richmond race June 27 earned a .22 national rating and .67 in the Indianapolis market.

On the heels of the Kentucky race, which most impartial observers would have to admit was pretty exciting, the IRL has its next six races air on Versus.

If a compelling story line emerges, such as an Ed Carpenter win or a Sarah Fisher run to the front, that might boost viewership. Most motorsports marketers agree the Target-Penske domination really isn’t doing anything to fuel the TV ratings.
  • Kentucky will get about a 0.3

    Great race that hardly anybody in America watched because hardly anybody in America cares.

    Indy Car Racing is a niche sport with a small following. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • WAHt the hell you complaning about? THEre was growth over RIchmand. IN this egonomy with the innternets and all the channels on TV to have growth is huge. THe IRl is gone places. YOU just wate and see. IN 5 years it wil be more popular than the NASCARs or FORmula ONe. HAHahahaha certaily is bigger than CARt is now hahahahahahaha

    ANd Im one of those 8000. NEver been do proud in my life. THE IRl should be reserved fro just the true beleiavers. IF you dont beleave in the VISIon you dont deserve to wach the TV.
    • Oh boy, here comes Count Worthless spouting his ever changing diatribe as fact. Anything coming from his pie hole or keyboard is about as worthless as nipples on a boar hog.
    • Looks like all that advertising scared people away. Versus is wasting its time and money trying to get anyone other than the .24 IRl core to watch.
    • The IRL. What a joke.
    • I'd bet more people saw Kenny Brack win his gold medal in the X-Games Rallycross this weekend instead of the current Indy Car Series's most recent race at Kentucky. FWIW Berwick, if a person who has personal knowledge about the usefulness of hog nipples is the best expert the IRL can muster from its fan base, then you just probably answered the question on why their ratings barely beat a network test pattern. What sane person would want to watch the IRL broadcasts and be associated with ballistic Danica fans or animal nipple aficionados?
    • George Anthony - my, how enlightening you are, so rich in thought - so impressive.
    • Gee, Mr. Buck, I never posed as an expert of anything regarding the IRL. In case you've missed it, it is the COUNT that has posed as many degrees of knowledge about the IRL in a totally fradulent way. Perhaps I should have posed it this way (as Robert DeNiro would have asked), Can you milk that boar hog, Greg?
    • Just basic knowledge expressed here regarding the status of the IRL as a sport in America. Fourth Tier, small following. EXTREMELY low TV ratings.

      No insider scoop there. Just everyday observation.

      I want the IRL to succeed. The question is, do they?
    • Notice how the comment string to this article about the waning popularity of the IRL via TV ratings has so quickly degenerated into a back and forth of name calling posts? Maybe this is a fitting parallel to how little racing fans think about the IRL series these days and would rather waste our time with immature comments.

      As for the IRL and its overall future, the list of fixes needed is too long for any one article. While VS does its best with expanded coverage of IRL races, the series has sunk below the national viewing audience radar this year and has dug a deeper hole of overall public disregard towards the sport.

      I now turn you back to your regularly scheduled playground retorts.
    • They put on a good race Saturday at Kentucky. The changes may be of artifice, but it still showed the IRL of old is a product worth watching. It is just that hardcores only are watching. They probably number 250,000 tops in the USA. Maybe another 250,000 racing fans in general (NASCAR, Sprinters, Drags, sports cars) mya tune in now and again to see what the IRL is up to. So you are talking a potential audience of 500,000 people in the USA tops. That's where you are at.

      The IRL is headed in the very wrong direction of more road/street/parking lot events in the future and that bodes even worse off for the TV viewing audience.

      The IRL is a one trick pony. And that trick is high speed, balls-to-the-walls oval track racing. If they stray from that anymore, it is lights out.

      They got nothing else. 220 miles per hour, side-by-side, noseot-tail, three-wide, dip and divebomb, that is what gives racing fans the wood.
    • The ratings were bad bc the Edmonton race was boring as all get out. The Kentucky race was fantastic, so hopefully more people watched it. To gain more fans, the IRL needs to increase speeds. It's pretty pathetic when the track record at Indianapolis was two decades ago!! Use the advanced technology, to increase speed, to increase the popularity of the IndyCar Series!!
    • I just wanted to be part of this important thread. :D

      The IRL: not important. to anybody.
    • Kentucky was awesome!!! If you don't care the IRL don't follow it! It's simple! Whoe cares the old CART fans whining???
    • Count Tracula, are you still there??? WHY???

      BTW still more people cares about IRL than Champ Car. CC is dead because failed.
    • spedway, it's clear that only you and your cousin Buck and your neighbor JAmes RObert care
    • okey dokey spEdway.
    • Most motorsports marketers agree the Target-Penske domination really isn’t doing anything to fuel the TV ratings.


      Talking to Zak again, eh Anthony? Guy's got as many excuses as the 'league' for the big steaming pile of FAIL that is the earl.

      'Most motorsports marketers' should have the sense to realize that the 'league', and everything about it, isn't motorsport, it's crap.
    • IRL try this. Have a race every week on the same day of the week, the same time, and the same network. You might just get a following if people know when and where to look.
    • Stan,

      You are so boring. Same mantra every day. F1 is crap because it's all about money, IRL is all about racing. Side-by-side, like the old days on the ovals. More road and street races coming to the IRL it's more become CART. Why don't you like? Are you an unemloyed CART guy?
    • The KY race was one of the more interesting races this year. Their track is great because you can watch the whole race. It's too bad Vision Racing was inched out by Penske's money again. Penske and Ganassi may bring an end to IRL, unless of course Penske plans to buy it too.
    • Special Ed can't even buy a win with step dad's money (if he has any left). Who is Ed's real Dad, anyway? At least SE was Butler educated and can speak in complete sentences unlike _TG, but that's what years of drugs will do to you.
    • Good Job IRL! Kentucky was the most exciting race in a long time and you announce you are adding more road and street courses and reducing the number of ovals. I don't care there is 100 loyal fans for the street/road courses that are vocal but the ovals is where you will get your fans and ratings back guaranteed. Too bad you won't listen as you will loose this fan after the 2011 race. I have had Indy 500 tickets since 81' and won't renew unless I see a move back to the ovals by then.
      • the ovals is where you will get your fans and ratings back guaranteed.

        The earl has never had fans or ratings of any significant amount. Ever. You look silly trying to portray it otherwise.

        The 'league' doesn't care about you or anyone else. You will not be missed. You have been completely and totally owned by Lord Anton and his Vizhun by going along with it. That's pretty stupid. :lol:
      • I thought the split was hurting open wheel popularity? Whoops, guess that wasn't it. Time to roll out the next lame excuse.
      • Spedway, you still post here. Why? I don't get it. You don't have anything intersting to add. At least the others are interesting or funny. You? Well, not so much.
      • Then there’s A&E’s “Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design,” which is hardly a blockbuster, averaging 532,000 viewers through three episodes in its Saturday afternoon time slot. hahaha you irltards are p0wn3d

        Versus had more than 46 million watchers for the world's premiere bicycle race, up 41% from the 32.8 million who watched the 2008 competition.

        Over the course of the 21-stage race, which was presented in high-definition for the first time, Versus notched a 67% increase in household ratings, which translated into a 98% surge in viewership to 529,926 from 267,722, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

        AND during those three weeks of all day coverage 46 million watchers saw your IRL promos over and over and over.

        The most compelling statistic is it appears hockey, bike racing, rodeo, bass fishing, hunting and ultimate fighting FANS have NO cross-over fan interest in the IRL at all.
      • JoBu, .24 sponsors track these numbers more than blog posts
      • when Fat-Boy Menard, and HillJack Tony buy the series, everything will come a TRAINWRECK!

        The IRL: Nobody watching, nobody caring, nobody to the rescue.
      • SouthSide Dufus is a Smackforum toad. Outed!
      • The Truth? Where did that come from? I didn't post on this thread???

        Yeah, the Vs. numbers aren't good. But, in previous posts I have commented that the comparison to the other programming on Vs. is juvenile at best. Real adults can't expect the IRL in it's first season with Vs. to match an NHL or Cycling brand that Vs. has been growing for some time now.

        If it's the same story over the next year or two, then sure, it's fair. But making that juvenile judgement like SSD is, just doesn't hold water. You guys are comparing the superbowl of cycling to 'Edmonton'...c'mon. Who is delusional? Not I.

        That said, I don't have a problem with Vs. running promos on their own network to try and generate crossover. Don't most networks do that? If it doesn't work, great, but it's their network and they can't be run through the coals for trying. I see bull riding ads on Vs. and extreme fighting of sorts, but never once watched either on the network.

        What does dissapoint is that they really should be hitting the RACE programming hard..........

        I'm sure they don't have the budget for it, but each NASCAB race, F1 Race, etc. etc. shouldn't go without an 'IRL on Vs.' promo. And the promos shouldn't be just for the event, each one should highlight a few drivers/faces/names/sponsors/etc. Point being, if I watched a NASCAB event from start to finish, I should know at least 5 IRL drivers by name just from being brow beaten by the ads. You do that for a season of races and you have instant name recognition, regardless of the on-track product. Mass market recognition will get the attention of sponsors, even if those NASTRDS don't tune in.

        I do want to add comment to the others on here ripping the IRL for the street/road route....but that will be another post. Let's just say if you don't like to think while watching a race, than ovals only is the game for you. Fortunately for me, I like a thinking man's race to offset the occasionally (and rarely this year) exciting oval. I'd like to say it's the difference between me enjoying a baseball game vs. the guy that wants to watch some WWE (WWF in my day).

        There, did I cross everyone now? Cool. Thanks 'The Truth' for reeling me back to the threads. I was starting to feel empty inside.
      • Ah yes JoBu, the Indy Reject League is the league of wait until next year any it's always someone else's fault. It has been since it's inception and will continue to be until it's demise, which will hopefully be fairly soon.
      • Yeah, you summed up exactly what I said, George Anthony. Thanks for the mature and insightful response. You get the ‘Analyst of the Day’ award!!!

        You fail on so many levels, even with so few words. I personally am not thrilled with the IRL product and have offered criticism for years, but I have really started to notice there are 3 types of people on this board.

        IRL FanBoys, IRL Haters (you), and casual observers/fans. Only one group is rational, and sadly yours doesn't qualify. So here's to the casual folks who can admit there are problems in open wheel, but don't hate the sport so much they want to see it disappear. You know who you are. Cheers.
      • And, Mr. Anthony, in your typical fashion, you added nothing of value. Perhaps focusing on something positive for a change would be benficial - like the finish of the Kentucky race. That's about as good as it gets.

        Do I see a ton of things wrong? Certainly, but calling all those associated with the Reject League rejects isn't just unfair, it's absurd. Ryan Briscoe, for example, does not fit the definition of a reject. Perhaps you should put that hat on your own head and see if it fits? Just a thought.
      • hate is good for you
      • The IRl has had 14 years to build its brand. It is where it is because it has no redeeming value.
      • The IRL: lotsa hate, no value. :lol:
      • Dahooey,

        Kind of ironic that someone on your side would be saying the IRL is hate. Pot, Kettle, Kettle, pot.

        Also interesting that your side keps saying there is no interest in the IRL, yet here is a thread that is not yet a day old and has 37 responses. And easily the IRL threads far exceed any other posts on this or any other IBJ blog. No interest? Seems like there is a lot of interest.
      • The only value Dapoopey has are the value meals in his stink.
      • 5 people, like the stands at Sparta last weekend
      • indyman:

        you truly do not get it. You have the comprehensive skils of that guy spEdway who posts here. I dated a girl like that once. At least she had the turbo bod to make up for her lack of smarts. :lol:

        The IRL Gets alot of hate, the IRL gives no value.

        make sense now?

        The IRL: Even the fans have trouble getting it.
      • Dapoopey didn't date anyone Indyman. Don't fall for that one.
      • Da Hooey IRL gets lot of hate of how many? 4-5 people? Wow that's BIG! :D ALMS teams coming to the IRL, we've got 17 (possible 18) races next year, big sponsors, great TV productions, great drivers and teams. ALMS die sooner than the IRL. Nobody care ALMS of a competition standpoint. Grand-Am the way in sports car racing, NASCAR in stock car racing and IRL in open-wheel racing. It's simple. It's a shame that CART died (in 2003) but american OW racing history just repeats itself. When the economy starting to grow, IRL will follow. Just watchin'.
      • Indyman - OK, i know i type like shyte, but this is funny:

        Nobody care ALMS of a competition standpoint

        IRL: at least its easy to spell. :lol:
      • Anthony Schoettle asked, IRL ratings inching up or stalling?

        'Up' as Edmonton drew more viewers than the previous Versus IndyCar 'race', Richmond. Anthony didn't quite get around to explaining the 'stalling' part of his article title.

        Allow me.

        If you look at all of this year's IndyCar 'races' broadcast on Versus (I'm not counting Indy qualifying here), prior to Edmonton, the average # of households tuning in was just slightly over 301,500. If only 279,000 hh tuned in for Edmonton, it brought down the Versus season average. Meanwhile, the rating by my count (not Antony's as his early season numbers showed no consistency in calculation) was 0.26 - and due to the way averaging works, remained at 0.26 when Edmonton's 0.24 was factored in. If we included the 4 Indy qualifying broadcasts on Versus, the year's rating average actually goes down, from 0.28 to 0.27

        Considering the HUGE promotional push IndyCar on Versus was given during the month of July during Versus' Tour de France coverage, which we were already told included a significant viewership increase in the IRL's 'key demographic', people at Versus and IndyCar have GOT to be scratching their heads.

        People will seek out and watch a bike race, but when it comes to IndyCar, no thanks.

        Guys, it's really not difficult: very few people want to watch your product.
      • RenegadeX, trouble with seeking out cycling? How much press outside of Versus did the Tour get? USA Today, NYT, ESPN, BBC, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. It had mass global reach. FACT. You couldn’t pick up a publication, read Digg, read Drudge, watch evening news, etc. without seeing a story on Lance & the Tour. Let me know when the IRL gets comparable press, and adverts on Vs. don’t qualify.

        Couple that with the fact that all one had to do was scroll through the channels, and guess what CYCLING was on. Every time I passed Vs. it seemed like it was on. On in the morning, on in the evening via replay. The only way to miss it was if you didn't get Vs., and didn't ever surf through that channel.

        Not making excuses for the IRL b/c the ratings are truly unimpressive, but your comparison is made to look well founded, but in fact is not even close to being 'apples to apples'. I appreciate your time taken to dissect the numbers, but if you’re going to go that far, you need to eliminate your apparent preconceived bias. My advice to all, take Renegade’s analysis for what it is, an invalid comparison.
      • Let me know when the IRL gets comparable press, and adverts on Vs. don’t qualify.

        Well JoBu, I guess that's the difference between a truly world class sporting event and a pathetic remnant of the past with little of no future.
      • Again, showing your lack of wisdom, GA. Cycling was garbage in the US until Lance Armstrong won several Tours. Outside of Colorado and pockets of Europe, nobody paid any attention to the sport. Now everyday folks are in to biking, it's really no different than the effect Tiger had on golf. Look at Phelps. Aside from swimming enthusiasts no one really cared to seek out swimming events. Now everyone and their mother watches that carp.

        This all brings me back to the indication I made about 'branding' the drivers. If Danicle won at minimum 5 races a year, and multiple Indy's you would see a huge spike. Love her or hate her, it's all about the driver star power. Guys like me, and others on here care more about the car & technology, but that only satisfies a hardcore niche.

        IRL needs a star, a consistent winner, and needs one that the public can really connect with and support (no disrespect to Helio, Briscoe, Dario, & Dixon). Let's give Helio's achievements in the sport to Hunter-Reay, Danica, Graham, or any others in the 'American' crowd and you've got a completely different public awareness. (for the record, I enjoy the foreign competition, but we're not arguing that here)

        So, keep gracing us with your 'wisdom'. I really enjoy when you make it this easy to show your shortsightedness and lack of understanding.
      • Yes, a Danika spike would do it. BUT, face reality JoBu, she's a flash in the pan. That's all the IRL has been about...GIMMICKS from day one. One HUGE cheap GIMMICK, and they have NOTHING to show for it after 15 years.

        Ignore the statistical facts if you want, but the IRL has received NO lift from being on Versus DESPITE the fact other sports televised on Versus are SUCCEEDING with their target audiences.

        The IRL swims with the fishes.
      • I don't disagree on the gimmick front....however, there is a common variable over those 15 years....sponsors & fans were destroyed by the politics of the split. For 15 years, neither series truly had the power to brand anything, no matter how much cash was flung around they were still just competing with each other for attention. It starts with what is there now, if what is there now doesn't innovate and dies.

        I just prefer to take the non-complainer route and embrace it for what it is, a form of entertainment sprinkled with some hope for the future. That makes some folks mad, b/c they relish in the hate. So keep on hating, and I'll keep on posting. Cheers.
      • Let me know when the IRL gets comparable press, and adverts on Vs. don’t qualify.

        Technically JoBu, the IRL pulled that type of press from Danica/Milka last year at Mid-Ohio and completely squandered the Motegi Miracle last season too. We've got a series that used to have fresh cars and was open to innovation every year now running seven year old cars with a rented engine running at 70-75% the power it used to be at. Thousands of people literally ran to dealers in the past week to get rid of their clunkers while the IRL still scratches their heads about why only small batches of people watch their Dallara/Honda clunkers race. Add to that the IRL's apparent belief that the number of drivers/teams simultaneously marketed must always be able to be counted on one hand and you have the makings of a 14 year old money bleeding clusterf***. Unfortunately, the Hulman sisters took away our ability just explain it all away by saying I blame Tony. I blame Jeff just doesn't have the same right to it.
      • 51 responses, I rest my case.
      • Indyman, the 50+ posts on this article have come from between 25-30 people. Two drunken hicks fighting outside of a bar in an average sized city could draw 25-30 people to watch. Yet, you think that same level of interest on this site is worth ANY company investing millions of dollars annually for a sponsorship? You need to rest your head, instead of your case, before you seriously hurt yourself believing ridiculous drivel like that.
      • Buck that is 15 people, about the size of the IRl fanbase
      • IRL Sucks
        OMG, they better go back to all ovals! I'm sure they do anything to get your 80 bucks!
      • Who cares?
        Come on people, this the irl we're talkin' about, these kind of ratings have been the irl norm since the beginning. The irl has had 15 years to get people to watch and no one cares, if it hasn't caught on by now what makes you think it ever will? The acronym irl is tainted and always will be, same goes for, people outside indiana don't care anymore and indianins can't build a national championship. irl fans should look forward to T.V. ratings under 1.0 and indy 500 ratings under 4.0 cause that's what it's gonna be, America doesn't care about open wheel anymore, it's just a fact.

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