IRL TV ratings still smoldering

June 10, 2009
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IRLTVThe Indy Racing League television ratings continue to smolder. They’re certainly not burning it up, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And in this case, that means there’s some hope for the open-wheel racing series to kindle a bit of interest in TV Land. There’s also some fear within the IRL sales and marketing ranks that a few drops of rain on this season (figuratively, not literally) and the smoke—and any hope of a spark—could vanish.

After seeing its ratings for the Indianapolis 500 drop 17.6 percent to a 4.2 national Nielsen rating, IRL folks had to be at least a little relieved after they reviewed ratings for the last two races. Now we’re not getting these confused with NBA Finals numbers (even without LeBron James), but they’re decent given the IRL’s track record and the switch this year to a new TV partner.

The Texas race Saturday night  on Versus earned a .36 household rating, with 467,000 households nationwide tuning in. That’s higher than Long Beach (388,864 households), the IRL’s previous top rated race aired on its new cable partner. And it’s better than ratings for Indianapolis 500 pole day (385,000) and bump day (349,000), which also aired on Versus.

In the Indianapolis market, Texas earned a 1.6 rating, which means 17,152 TV households tuned in here.

On Sunday, May 31, the IRL’s Milwaukee race, which aired on ABC, earned a .6 Nielsen rating, with 852,000 TV households watching. While the rating stacks up nicely to the IRL’s other races, comparing network to cable programs is hardly fair. I can tell you, IRL officials were hoping for at least a 1.0 for the network-aired race. Locally, the Milwaukee race was a winner, with a 4.1 rating (43,952 TV households).

It’s important to remember what local long-time media buyer Bill Perkins said after reviewing recent IRL ratings.

“All of television is down right now,” Perkins said. The numbers show, Perkins added, that ratings across the board are down 10 percent. Still, motorsports marketing insiders said, potential title sponsors will be expecting better.
  • You're trying to put a positive spin on a .36 for the league's biggest/best oval race outside of the 500?? That's a pitiful number however you look at it.
  • IRL: .36 is a success?! :lol:
  • Good gawd
  • Texas should be a 0.6+ rating if it really did better than Long Beach in household viewership.

    You reported the Long Beach race did a 0.52 HH rating back in April (, so something's fuzzy with your numbers.

    A race with 467,000 households viewing it should score a higher rating than a race with 388,000 households viewing it.
  • Stick a fork in the IRL.
  • The 0.6 rating is identical to the 0.6 the WNBA game on ABC got a week later.
  • At this point in time people don't accidentally leave their televisions tuned to Versus like they might with ABC or ESPN so those 467,000 households that tuned in to the Texas 550 are probably an accurate assesment of the size of the hardcore fanbase. It's not a great number but it's not a terrible number either.
  • Actually, when I run the math I get 0.63, so you're (or someone at Nielsen) is probably just being dyslexic today. :)

    Either that or VS suddenly is available in over 100 million households.
  • Anthony, like Doink says in Comment#4, something seems to be seriously wrong with your calculations.

    On April 28th you wrote that Long Beach had a .5 rating and said that was equal to 388,864 households. Yet today you say that a .36 is worth 467,000 households. What??!! How does a .5 rating have less households than a .36 rating?!!

    You also said St Petersburg had a .3 rating and 233,000 households.
    But then you also said Kansas had a .15 rating and 171,000 households.
    Using those numbers, Kansas had HALF the rating value of StP so why isn't the household number you gave also half? (@ 116,500 or thereabouts for Kansas)

    Try this little experiment:
    Multiply .15 x 3 and you get .45, then multiple your .15 household equivalent of 171,000 by 3 to get 513,000. With that figure for a .45 rating in mind, now look at your Long Beach numbers - .5 with 388,864 households. ???

    Also, you previously said Pole Day had a .35 rating and 385,000 households. Now you say Texas's .36 is worth 467,000 households --- that tells us that 0.01 of a ratings point is worth 82,000 households!!

    That would make Kansas 15 x 82,000 = 1,230,000 households. No.!!

    All of the above races that I've mentioned were on Versus, so there is absolutely no reason for inconsistency in the calculations. (It's not a matter of cable rating vs network rating).

    Please answer this question and re-calculate all your ratings(/household) figures for the season and post revised #s:
    ---> 1 cable ratings point equals _______ households.

  • Doink, and the rest of you that are confused,
    I have asked Nielsen folks on several occassions about their numbers, and each explanation is equally vexing. So, I report the numbers that I am given ... as I am given them. They assure me that the HH TV numbers are the most accurate and reliable. That's why I continue to include those in all my TV rating reports. I will endeavor to get to the bottom of this once again. Thanks for your patience ... and thanks for reading.
  • HAHahahah CARt done died and you haters aint got nothin but hate. GIVe it time. THe VErses will come through and befour you now it the sisters will be beggin from money from TOney. ANd I hope he tells them to go pound soem sand. THe stands were packed with TExas race fans. THe action was on the track. WAht more do you want? THEre aint nothing else. hahahahahahahaha

    THe IRl - fixing open wheel racing

  • If the IRL can run par with a garden variety WNBA game they are doing ok. That is where the sport is at: Niche, with small, loyal following. If they can maintain that level of interest, there is enough coporate flow to keep 22-24 cars going at aabout a dozen races per season as long as costs are kept under control and, ideally, lowered another .10 to .15 percent.

    Realistically that is what you are looking at. India, China, Brazil, is all Angstadt hokum.

    The sport has to be marketed as a domestic series of mostly ovals with Daddy every May. The WNBA has a daddy too.

    It can work. Not the big, bad ass you want it to be, but it can work. Now and again it will thrive. It's an ebb and flow thing. Let it ride and quit your sniveling. Indy Car racing is going to make it.

    0.36 is junk, but it has a value to it. One man's junk is another's treasure. It can be formed and forged into something servicable. And the IRL is servicable.

    Get back to me in 10 years when you are still bitching about the sport's impending demise.
  • Definitely got their numbers crossed. .63 is the number. 100,000 more HH's than previous best, Only 4 races in with Versus and Versus is expanding coverage. It will get better. The coverage is 100x's better than the mouse.
  • either Versus has doubled the number of houses that are in the last 2 months, or someone failed math:

    St. Pete - 233,000 households = 0.3 rating
    Long Beach - 388,864 households = 0.5 rating
    Texas - 467,000 households = 0.36 rating??????

    Pretty sad that your entire article is on how bad a 0.36 rating is, when the reality is that the IRL on Versus is showing rapid improvement (viewership has doubled from St. Pete to Texas)
  • Thank you for trying to clarify things... I suppose one possibility is that sometimes you've been given the average HH viewership and sometimes you're been given the total HH viewership from Nielsen.

    Maybe they changed how they reported things to you after the Long Beach race? Before the Kansas race all of the numbers you gave made sense to me based on my knowledge of the rating system.
  • If we keep getting these great ratings I'll be able to keep my job as CEO!
  • Not likely Tony.
  • I gave up on IRL last year. I'm glad to see I'm not alone. That isn't a TV rating, it is an indicator of how sorry the series has become. PS - This was the first year, in 25 years, I didn't watch the Indianapolis 500.
  • :burp:
  • This is further proof the IRL is gaining a foothold against Nascar. The IRL ratings are trending up while Nascar's is trending downward. You don't look at actual number of eyeballs, you look at the trend. That is what sponsors look for. I know everything.
  • I think I spoke too soon. If I would have known that Texas would get a .36 I wouldn't have written that Tony was out as CEO of IMS.
  • Wow, I was anticipating a bump from Shaq changing a tire. I will wait for Berwickgirl and Mindyman to extrapolate the key metrics and give us the true meaning of the ratings.
  • Thank you for the blog, Anthony!
    .36 does not surprise me. What is surprising is that the IRL still exists at all. The cars are ugly, sound terrible, and they are raced by uninteresting drivers parading in front of thin crowds. I've watched every '09 race up to the Indy 500, and I'm done with the IRL for good.

    I don't even know, or care, where the next IRL race is. I don't even care about Danica Patrick anymore. I'm sick of her stupid Go Daddy ads, and will not purchase any of her sponsors' products. She's both overexposed and over rated.
    I was huge fan of CART, and went to many, many races all over North America. I really, honestly, tried to like the new unified IRL, but I can't. It's a boring, empty, joke of a series. NASCAR is what I follow now! and I'll be attending at least one ALMS race. Good bye IRL.
  • Anyone every notice how angry and pathetic Canadian racing fans are? I always thought Canadians were supposed to be mild mannered. Who knew?
  • NO, but I noticed how judgmental and narrow minded you are
  • It's on VERSUS! No one knows where Vs is!!! You can't compare even a WNBA game on a NATIONAL BROADCAST NETWORK to a niche cable station...Re-runs of Andy Griffith will outdraw IndyCar if they are on ABC/CBS/NBC because EVERYONE with a TV gets those stations! My god you people are dumb...Versus will grow, they are already beating ESPN during certain times of the day...ESPN treated IndyCar like crap and all it did was promote NASCRAP racing...Versus coverage is awesome, and oh, btw, attendance has been level or up at every race this year! IndyCar is FAR from dead...
  • cmgww - open your eyes, will you? 3,450,000 hockey viewers figured out where Versus for one game was last week. The excuse that nobody knows what or where Versus has been soundly put to rest.

    Based on Anthony's Household Audience figures and's stated Rating Calculation figure of 1,145,000 HH per national ratings point, here's my re-calculated 2009 IndyCar ratings:

    St.Petes: 0.20
    Long Beach: 0.34
    Kansas: 0.15
    Indy Pole Day: 0.34
    Indy 2nd Day Quals: 0.28
    Indy 3rd Day: 0.25
    Indy Bump Day: 0.30
    Indy 500 (final): 3.90 on ABC
    Milwaukee: 0.74 on ABC
    Texas: 0.41
  • Wow Brett is still using insults to try to prove his point. How mature.

    While I was hoping for better numbers, the upward trend is positive. It will take a while for people to find Vs., but upward in a season where most tv numbers is downward is a plus. TG and the IRL have their work cut out for them. Of course it is the highest rated open wheel race out there.
  • Interesting that Mike from Canada has watched every race this year but hates the series. Would anyone else waste their time on something they hate? The cars are ugly and sound terrible? I guess I have never based my racing interest on how a car looks or how they sound. Someone is trying too hard to hate this thing. Also interesting that he cannot stand the IRL because the personalities are overexposed and the racing uninteresting, but he is going to watch NASCAR. Talk about uninteresting and overexposed.

    Speaking of which, when I said NASCAR needed to go back to its roots, I did not mean having their drivers manufacture meth in the backwoods and use it. If Jeremy is guilty, that will be a huge black eye on NASCAR.
  • trending upward?

    AOWR is circa 2009 is experiencing the lowest TV ratings in the sports history

    thats just a fact, some of you folks want to spin that to make yourselves feel better

    but reality is reality
  • I guess the real question is, will the IRL even finish this season? I don't think anyone doubts that there will be no IRL next season.
  • Indyman Says: Interesting that Mike from Canada has watched every race this year but hates the series.

    I did not say that! I said I have watched every race up to the Indy 500. I didn't even know when the Texas race was on.

    My point was that I gave it a chance, and really tried to enjoy the series. I can't. It's a bore. Judging from the ratings, many former other fans agree.

    There have been some great NASCAR races this year, you should give it a try. By the way, Mayfield was caught, and NASCAR has done the right thing by banning him. Mayfield has a black eye, not NASCAR!!
  • We sure do get alot of responses to every article about the IRL for a series that is dead. And don't try to say that you don't care. If you didn't care then you wouldn't even read the article let alone resond to it.

    Old CART fans should love the new IRL. It's the same owners as CART, same type of drivers as CART, same quality of racing as CART, nearly the same type of tracks as CART, heck it is CART without the girly sounding turbochargers.

    IRL fans should love the new IRL simply because on paper the IRL won and the series is controlled in Indianapolis home of the greatest race in the history of the world. So for the sake of the future of open wheel racing in America and the Indy 500 old IRL fans have to support this new product.
  • you need to beam yourself up Scotty, old CART fans hate the owners.

    leeg officials must be girly boys since they want those turbos.

    IRl fans should just accept anything TG feeds them cause hey, he's all you got.

    LOL :rollseyes:
  • Mike,

    I give you credit for giving the IRL a chance. But I do not know many people who so totally dislike a product that after giving it the chance you did to continue to blog about it so many weeks later. Many on here are the same way. They claim to hate the product, TG, the series and any of a number of other facets of it, but they still spend a lot of time watching it, researching facts on it like ratings and ranting about how much they hate it on these boards. I am not a fan of F1. I watched the USGP at Indy because of the local aspect. I have never gone to an F1 site, or blog and I very rarely mention it in conversations or posts on blogs. I could not tell you who is doing what. Why, because I do not like it. I could not imagine spending hours researching it and posting reasons why I don't like it. It boggles my mind that so many people on here do.

    The fact that a NASCAR driver, especially a popular one, was allegedly using meth, is a black eye on the sport and NASCAR in particular. This is the first time I can recall any main stream race driver testing positive for drugs, especially one has dangerous and white trash as meth. Trust me, NASCAR is doing damage control like crazy. They will be judged on how they handle this, which so far seems well. But there will be a suspicion cast over all of NASCAR that if one driver was doing it, were others? How long was he doing it before he was caught and did he race while under the influence. My guess is he was, because meth is a very addictive drug, not one you can use on a Tuesday and then skip for a few days. I have seen meth users, they are not casual drug users.

    That said, I know NASCAR does random drug tests, I am not sure how other series like IRL, F1 or NHRA do it, but I am thinking all should do drug test right before each race. That way you know, and the drivers know they will not get away with it. The problem with random drug tests, we do them at work, is that it may be a years before you are randomly picked. It gives you a false sense of security that the odds you will get nailed will be slim. Imagine how bad for the sport it would be if it is proved that Mayfield raced for weeks of months under the influence.
  • Scott, Anthony Schoettle wrote in the headline of this article that the IRL's ratings are still smoldering. That means its burning with little fire or flame. Ask most any former Champ Car fan and they would agree; some might say IndyCar is dead to them but there is unfortunately no denying the fact that the League continues to exist, mired in its incompetency and unattainable visions of grandeur.

    Some of us care about the ratings because if they continue to run close to 0 on a consistent basis, perhaps the teams will finally say it's time to stick a fork in it (IndyCar). Only then can the sport regroup and start over without the animosity and clueless leadership that ruined it.

    I live for that day.
  • If you think killing the IRL will save American Open Wheel, then you must be the same deluded sort who felt cart was doing well, before the split. Sorry, a series does not die with the loss of one race and Open Wheel does not rise from the ashes like a Phoenix if the IRL fails.

    There is no way anyone has the money or the support to start this from scratch. If the IRL fails, then don't expect to see American Open Wheel racing survive.
  • Question for Adam..

    did you get both ratings #? as well as the household # from neilson?

    or just the ratings # and do the conversion yourself?
  • I love Nelson Philippe!
  • Now thwt the sisters have kicked Tony out, he doesn't have the money either.

    Spongebob= 8 times the viewership of the Irl
  • Keep up the spin indyman. The IRl, thirteen years of less than mediocre results. And nothing anyone does will change that fact
  • The spin is on your end. Why is the IRL the only open wheel series left? cart had everything but one race. What happened?
  • cause TOney spent hundreds of millions of dollars of the family money which he now no longer has access to. Why is Toney condensing his Visions?
  • But cart had access to many more millions. They had the big name sponsors, and the big name teams. They had the IPO that netted them millions. They had the cars and the stars and they had push to pass. '

    cart spent more and lost more than TG, and they still failed. So I am thinking your answer if incorrect, but thanks for having the guts to answer, many of the TG/IRL haters refuse/are scared to.
  • and now they are about to have Tony's league
  • for a lot less money
  • Sorry, they do not exist.
  • but someone does. hide and watch
  • Am I correct that Tivo or DVR recordings do not count in the ratings?? I rarely watch live myself anymore, too busy. Besides, hate to wait thru the commercials, side by side or not. Not sure how much difference it would have made. Anyone else Tivo or DVR'd? TZ

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