Olympics hurt IRL TV ratings

August 28, 2008
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Officials for the Indy Racing League are probably happy the Olympics happen only once every four years. This year’s games in Beijing, IRL officials said, have done a number on their TV viewership lately.

The IRL’s Aug. 24 race in Sonoma County, California, earned a .41 rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. The rating for the race at Infineon Raceway, which aired at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2, means about 450,000 households nationwide tuned in. That’s a significant decrease from the .61 rating (650,000 households) the same race earned a year ago.

“It’s the same story with a lot of ratings the last couple weeks,” said IRL spokesman John Griffin. “Everything is being overshadowed by the Summer Olympics.”

To be sure, the Olympics are a formidable competitor. The Beijing Games regularly drew more than 16 million U.S. households during primetime. The IRL’s TV ratings are still trending up overall from last year on races that appear on ESPN or ESPN2, while the numbers on ABC are flat, according to Griffin.

Now that the Olympics are over, there will be pressure from series sponsors for TV ratings to head back in the right direction. The series has three races remaining starting with a road race in Detroit at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday on ABC. The league also has races at Chicagoland Sept. 7 (ABC) and in Australia Oct. 26 (ESPN2).

With potential title sponsors keeping a close eye on this first year of unification with Champ Car, it will be a critical stretch run for the league.
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  • Maybe if the IRL stopped putting out such an inferior product the series would prosper. Low tech cars, single manufacturers, un-interesting racing and a lot of flim-flam dog and pony shows. This new version of indycar is a complete joke. Truth be known, Indycar has been relegated to little more than a small-time third tier cable sport, and the Indy 500 is a shadow of it's former self ... It will never regain the prominence it once had, never.
  • Duder, or should I address you as Downer:
    Never is a long time.
    And when it comes to low tech carss, uninteresting racing, flim flam dog and pony shows, I thought you were describing NASCAR.
  • I couldn't agree more Duder. Every IRL race is like going to midget race at Raceway Park. I think THG thinks that is what everyone likes.
  • AHHH HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

    The 'league' will be wishing it had a .4 next year when this garbage is on reVersus.

    It's mildly amusing that people somehow think that FTG even cares about it. He has what he wants, his precious 'control'. He will be writing a lot more field filling checks very soon. Cue up the welcome back Kotter theme - hello again Cahill, Pagan, Neinhouse and all the early coiled snake stalwarts.

    Hysterical.

    I'm sure the massive attendance more than made up for the miniscule ratings. Oh, wait. Heh.

    Remember, if the 'league' had to run as an actual business, FTG would have been binned years ago. Since he wants to play pretend and make a spectacle of himself with this abortion masquerading as motorsport, he and his few fans will just have to deal with the fact that he has engendered more animosity than anyone in the history of motorized transport with his actions. The ridicule and mocking will never cease, especially since it's the only entertaining thing about the earl.
  • I keep wanting to give the IRL folks to get things turned around, but this latest piece of ratings news certainly doesn't look good. And now potential title sponsors for next year are getting squeamish over the Versus deal. Look out!
  • IRL HAD a race that competed against the olympics for viewer eyeballs? I might as well say it... ummm... Who Cares? Olympics is only once in every four years (not combining summer and winter, but one or the other). To actually compete against them, you better have a Dang Huge Audience... (American Idol). but sport event vs sport event, people are going to pick what they enjoy more.
  • Always excuses flowing from the inbreds at 16th and Georgetown. Can't FTG take some of Grandpa's money and buy ratings like he bought his hobby stock series and crowned himself Grand Poohbah?

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