Indy Racing League TV viewership down 28 percent

October 29, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The results for the first year of the Indy Racing League’s 10-year television deal with cable channel Versus are in.

To start, the season finale at Homestead-Miami Oct. 10 scored a .15 national rating, meaning 171,000 TV households tuned in nationwide, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research.

In Indianapolis, the Oct. 10 race garnered at .23, meaning 3,000 TV households in central Indiana tuned in, according to Nielsen.

Versus officials said they met contractual promises made to the IRL about delivering more viewers across more programming, pre-race, post-race and during the races than last year.

Versus CEO Jamie Davis said Versus attracted 29.5 Million viewers for all IRL programming aired this year. The number of viewers is not to be confused with the number of TV households, a number more commonly used by media buyers and advertisers to determine ad prices.

Davis points out that Versus’ total number of viewers across all IRL shows on the cable channel this year, outpaced the total (25.9 million) ESPN and ESPN2 garnered for its IRL coverage in 2008. Of course, that only means there were a lot more lower rated shows this year than last. Those ratings, Davis insists, will improve.

A closer look at the numbers shows Versus’ average viewership for race coverage (315,000 per race for 12 races) dropped 59.5 percent from what ESPN and ESPN2 delivered (778,000) in 2008.

IRL officials said they expect it to take a couple years to build viewership on Versus and are encouraged by the increased coverage.

ABC also saw viewership drop 3 percent (2.64 million viewer per race for five races) from 2008, when it averaged 2.73 million viewers over seven races.

For the 17 races on Versus and ABC, average viewership per race this year was 1.16 million, a 28 percent decrease from last year’s 1.62 million average over 18 races.

  • Before the haters get on here and preach their doom and gloom and ever wrong predictions (how is that Brian Barnhart being fired prediction going?), Let me throw in a few comments. First, Vs. has a few months to get their troubles with DirectTv fixed. That of course is crucial, because that killed ratings the last couple of races.

    The programming was very good on Vs. Certainly more and better than anything ABC/ESPN put together. From their 1/2 hour and 1 hour specials to the pre, during and post race coverage. Now Vs. and the IRL must work to get more viewers to the better coverage. As Vs. grows, so will the rating for its programming. Same happened to ESPN and Speed. The IRL keeping its best drivers does not hurt. Contrary to some on here, migrating NASCAR coverage only helps the IRL. More racing fans exposed to great racing will equal more viewers. It will be interesting to see what next year brings.
  • IRL Ratings
    I'm sure the IRL and the NHL are steaming mad over DirecTV's stand on Versus. Sure glad I dropped the dish.
    Nothing to see here, keep moving. All is well. Wait till next year. Title sponsor any day. New spec in 2011, er 2012. New engine makers announced any time. Special Ed, Hideki Mutoh and Marty Roth Super Team in 2010. I hear Brawn GP, Ferarri and McClaren may bolt to EARL due to great production of Reversus. New races in Brazil, IN and the Speedrome.
  • re:
    Kudos to the IBJ for putting as positive a face on the IRL dilema as possible. The arbitor of everything will be CAN the IRL sustain sponsorship with dismal TV ratings (28% overall, 60% drop just on Versus). They've got NINE more years to improve the TV ratings. IMS and IRL have burned every revenue source possible and unless some clueless moron steps up with ca$h to burn, the future look bright for the an "up in flames" kind of way. I will never buy a ticket to an AOW event again as long as it's run by the bunch of fools at 16th and Georgetown. YOU businesspeople need to think what ROI is possible with 60% loss in viewership one year to next....from a sport that regularly garnered 6 times that ratings BEFORE the IRL existed.
  • re:
    Kudos to the IBJ for putting as positive a face on the IRL dilema as possible. The arbitor of everything will be CAN the IRL sustain sponsorship with dismal TV ratings (28% overall, 60% drop just on Versus). They've got NINE more years to improve the TV ratings. IMS and IRL have burned every revenue source possible and unless some clueless moron steps up with ca$h to burn, the future look bright for the an "up in flames" kind of way. I will never buy a ticket to an AOW event again as long as it's run by the bunch of fools at 16th and Georgetown. YOU businesspeople need to think what ROI is possible with 60% loss in viewership one year to next....from a sport that regularly garnered 6 times that ratings BEFORE the IRL existed.
  • The Usual
    iman, your usual lying crap. The ratings for the last couple of races weren't even the lowest of the season. They were right in line with the season numbers. The numbers indicate that DirecTV viewers are all NASCAR fans and don't care about TOney's imitation racing league. Although, potential sponsors do like seeing numbers that steadily decline as the season progresses.
  • What an inteligent use of the english language, you so epitomize the haters. Lets see, we could believe your theory or it could be that the ratings were at the season average without Direct Tv which would mean the ratings would have been up with DTV. I mean do you honestly expect us to believe no DTV viewers watched the races? Really?
  • IRL
    Man the IRL sucks! This is what happens when you design the cars to race at Texas motor speedway and not Indy!
  • That's laughable!
    Hey Indyman, what logical decision has IMS made SINCE the merger? I mean, bottomline, we ALL want AOW to prosper. You and your ilk in you "rah-rah" way, us in our hateful ways. WHEN are you going to take a stand and say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" to what has become of this sport under Hulman-George rule these past 15 years. I theorize you are BLINDED by indy, so much so you can't see beyond Marion County. And as long as YOU have your memorial day weekend (reliving tarnished traditions that no longer overshadow one race winner female racers who the other wishful 32 participant beg and scream for attention, often with several championships and wins amongst them) you are happy as a clam. There's another world beyond the horizon, one that the IRL can't ever reach. Keep enabling this failure....because for you it's better than nothing. Dyed in the wool race fans know this IRL is hogwash...the sooner you all stop supporting this failure and making excuses for it, the sooner it can begin a new. IRL is synonomous with FAILURE.
  • The Usual
    What makes you think that after 14 years, the NASCAR fan is all of a sudden going to care about a racing league where the drivers routinely apologize for its suckage? 0.15, a lot of people didn't give a crap who the IRL champion would be, did they. and you see improvement for next year? If the IRL had any fans, they would be watching no matter who was the broadcaster. It doesn't, and people don't. It's the product, not the presenter.
  • Stellar!!
    :lol: Just wiping out posts completely now? Comedy gold.

    Doesn't matter. It ain't gonna un-suck the earl. Nothing will. Ever.

    code = exf7c
    • Hilarity has ensued
      Brett, I find it amusing, and ultimately just pathetic. It's not like making posts disappear is going to make the abject hate for the Hulman-George crime family and everything they've done to annihilate an American tradition magically disappear.

      That sort of thinking is as delusional as believing the 'league' has garnered a new audience on ReVersus. And very typical of the denialists that permeate the gomer mentality.

      The mocking, derision, and ridicule will continue unabated regardless. :cheers:

      code = rf2c5
    • Fewer Cars too!
      The IRL is over after May 2011. 2010 is going to be a real gas. Word here in Indy right now is 18 cars tops, 19 when Jay Howard runs Sarah Fisher's SEVEN year old junk. Twenty cars tops. That's all races except Indy. Thirty-three at Indy right? Think again. They will have to come up with 13 to 14 cars to fill the field this time. WITHOUT TG money. Too funny...I don't knwo how they'll manage that.
      IRL got a .15 NATIONAL TV rating on a fine Saturday afternoon with the championship on the line between 3 drivers capable of winning? You know, the "HATERS" can't manipulate TV ratings. Haters can't influence change at IMS / IRL. Haters can't mislead about ticket sales, attendance, advertising sales and marketing....the truth is our only motivation. The IRL is the biggest lie ever conceived to mislead the public. I think the world has caught on to the failure the IRL is...117,000 households NATIONWIDE? Versus is working wonders....when the second biggest race in your series ends up with a .15 how do you explain that to your sponsors? But don't worry fans, they're building the sport. In a devolutionary kinda way.
    • Brett,

      I have had nothing to do with posts being pulled, Anthony can vouch for that. I am actually enjoying your attempts at arguements, it shows people your inteligence level.

      I learned long ago if your enemy is slitting his throat, do not interfere. So keep on posting the blind hatred that makes your side look silly.
    • What, no response from the haters? Of course that is typical. Again, unless all the DTV fans refuse to watch the IRL, the ratings would have been substantially higher for the last few races. Still too low, but something to build on, as is the much improved coverage.

      And yes, I would bet a lot of NASCAR fans would enjoy the IRL. That is why NASCAR has tried to woo away the most popular IRL drivers, including Danica, and try to manufacture IRL standards like close races and tight points races. The race for the chase was created to manufacture the tight points races that come naturally in the IRL.

      Ok, that said, let the hating begin.
    • The Usual
      Just another point of view from a sports writer:

      Championship will be decided today in Florida. But will anyone notice or even care?

      And while aficionados of the racing series will be plugged in, the general public won't and anyone looking for results in Sunday's newspapers will need a sharp eye.

      Until then, will anyone even notice or will anyone even care?

      No, and No.
    • Indyman
      "Try to manufacture IRL standards"? There is only one STANDARD in the IRL....the propensity for the 10 year old cars to break vertabra. Other than that, the IRL has NO standards. Let's see:

      -All Ovals....abandoned.
      -All Americans...abandoned.
      -Cars don't fly.....proven wrong.
      -"We'll beat 'em in the same equipment"....IRL defeated and taken over
      -Pep Boys, Northern Light and Fox Sports....flash in the pan.
      -No foreign expansion....foreign expansion.
      -Lots of ovals to race on....adding street races in foreign contries.
      -Same boring dronefest oval races....absolutely.
      -ESPN/ABC TV.....virtually NON existant now.
      -0.15 TV ratings for Champeenship race....IRL nailed it.
      -Greatest number of injuries per race per series per year for 15 years....IRL.
      -Can't fill grandstands at former successful CART races....see Toronto.
      -Races in Iowa Cornfield.....IRL.
      -Touts ETHANOL yet uses BRAZILLIAN ethanol...un-American.
      -Biggest star since IRL inception is a 110lb. girl who bares body in swimsuit and has won one race because someone ran out of gas....only in the IRL.
      -Supreme leader Tony George quits IRL in huff over IMS leadership, because he's ousted by family members for running business so poorly.....the legacy of the Sagamoron continues.
      -Marlboro pulls free IRL free ticket sponsorship.....Penske's deal with tobacco coming to end ASAP too.
      -NASCAR pulls back "Ticket Extortion Packs", forcing IRLer's to actually buy tickets.....sink or swim.
      -Where's IRL legends Billy Boat, Tyce Carlson, Greg Ray, Dr. Jack, Brad Murphy etc. ad infinium.......they were a gimmick and left behind when Tony george went for the power grab.
      -The IRL name is synonomous with FAILURE, WHY do they continue with the brand?......because IMS is working off of the 60 year old Hulman philosophy of INDY sells. Not with .15 tv rating it don't.
      -McDonalds has pulled it's sponsorship.....NO ROI.
      -Suites are for lease at the speedway....who cares anymore?
      -IRL creation was to insure competition / legacy at speedway.....castrated the month of May to an insignificant 10 day or less event. penske/Ganassi/ Andretti-Green have won almost all the races in the past 7 years.
      -No engine leases.....sold out to Japanese Companies for engine leaases.
      -American chassis, equal access to parts.....all Italian, some folks using SEVEN years old cars without equal access to parts.
      -IRL street race marketing plan flawed....using CART/CCWS numbers that the IRL can't produce or repeat equals misleading the consumer and leaves bad taste in customers mouths.
      -IRL is CART without fans or TV audience.....bad cars, bad racing and a sellout Tony George is what the IRL is. Unpaletable for any race fan.
      -NASCAR took good AOW talent because it was keeping the IRL "down".....why bother now?

      There's billions more reasons....chew on that Indyman. The Star pulled the "Crash History of the IRL" from the website for a reason. Bet you can't figure out why, can you? It's the only "standard" the IRL really has, too.

    • Chief
      Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
      Nothing like mixing truth and fiction and calling it fact. Chief, next thing you know, Obama will be calling you to be the Czar of Racing.
      • Wow Chief,

        Spent a lot of time writing your rant about a series you do not care about. Such a beautiful day, could not find anything else to do? See I typically do not spend anytime talking, posting or ranting about things I do not care about.

        Of course most of the rant is a recycling of your previous rants that alternate between factual, incorrect and just completely wrong.
      • .15
        DOWN 28% overall TV rating....DOWN 59.5% on Versus from 2008, 0.15 TV rating for Final Championship race. Those FACTS are the only ones needed for former potential sponsors. SCOREBOARD.
      • dreamers
        I think Chief has nailed it. Again. To suggest that any series has copied the hapless EARL is laughable at best and suggestive of a needed mental evaluation. How's the big Izod B2B title sponsor coming? Can Izod really be that stupid? LOL. I'm just glad Newman was in a Cup car and not a crapwagon, we all know what happens after a crapwagon moon launches after running over a gnat on the track. Boom! Pow!
        • Brent the Evil
          How's that IZOD sponsorship going, Brent, you say. And he continues, "choke, choke, choke" Well, Mr. Know It All, I suppose one could say it's going well. Guess you'll just have to continue choking on your own venom. Sorry......
        • re:
          Indyman, seriously..., do sponsors seek out low performing ROI sporting properties and throw tons of ca$h at them OR are those IRL TV numbers really THAT misleading to the untrained business eye? FACTS don't lie....why don't you offer comment on the FACTS? I know, it's easier to shoot the messenger than seek the rootof the message.
        • Brett,

          How is that crystal ball? Got another crack? Or is that what you are smoking? So to all haters, are you ready to admit to another year for the IRL like you have for the last decade? It is funny to watch your predictions come and go.

          For as fast as they run, the IRL is the safest series out there. When was the last one to go airborne? Sure, it could be safer, we could wrap the cars in bubble wrap, or slow them down to 20 mph. Sad that there are haters out there dreaming of the next major accident so they can crow about it. Truly Sad.
        • IRL and Versus
          I would respectfully disagree with this whole issue as it relates to versus. The bottom line is that this is a game of politics between DirecTV and Versus which is owned by Comcast. The IRL is at a point of growth and their strategy aims to capitalize on building an alliance with a sports network that wont cut it short. I recall the 2008 and even 2007 season where races where broadcast by ABC and ESPN only to be started or cut before the races where even run or concluded. A true scam if you ask me for the IRL. In short they were not getting their money's worth of air time and had I been in charge of the IRL I would have jumped the ABC ship way before because as a business owner I would have lost valuable market share because of these shinanigans by ABC and ESPN (I.e. Disney) ...Meanwhile back at the farm NASCAR (being the powerhouse that it is) enjoys much coverage on multiple channels including ABC. Its all about $ and marketing for the stations. Still Versus is not innocent here, Comcast its parent company raised the fees on DirecTV to broadcast it and DirecTV rightfully so pulled the plug on their programming in their line up in response. In the middle the screwed IRL viewers like me were left in the dark (thankfully at seasons end). I jumped ship from DirecTV over to ATT U-Verse, not so much cause of the actions related to this but because DirecTV itself is not all its cracked up to be too. Their programing is going downhill, I was succeptable to weather interference living in FL and their customer service (Now being a large company) has gone from bad to worse. Again when companies get too big they loose that personal touch with its patrons...(Sad)

          I hope this puts to rest this argument. I am speaking from having dealt with DirecTV..Comcast and now AT&T over a period of 15 years...I've been with them all in one way shape or form...speaking to multiple supervisors as well as making my own assessments of this cat and mouse game even in the TV programming. The reason many people don't like IRL is because they don't really understand it or take legitimate time to do so, and because there is a disproportionate amount of American Drivers in the series compared to other nationalities. Added, there is also that attitude that the IRL is a Foreign league because of Honda and Foreign drivers who make it up...I can go on an on. The IRL is exciting, its part of Americana, and in a few years I can bet people will know more about it. One key way is for the IRL to have vision and align itself with companies like versus to achieve that. Is Versus the best, likely not, but for one liked the coverage, it was on time, great analysis, and great post race interviews...ask ABC or ESPN to do that!.... Otherwise they may have to look further down and develop a channel much like the NFL did to get their point across at their own level and pace. Marketing is and will be key for the IRL but with programming being such a competitive thing everyone is vying for air time. In this economy it is difficult, but thats why contracts are there and I think for the NOW, the IRL should be on versus and its relationship should expand if Versus and the IRL are as committed to each other as they say they are.

        • Welcome
          Nice post Mr.E. You are a credit to the irl fans on this board. It is nice to read a well written post for a change. There is no question the Versus production is top notch but they just do not have the resources or households to make a difference for a series that can't take too many more headshots. Slick production won't overcome the worst ratings ever. And signing a ten year deal with a company that hasn't been around ten years sounds like there were no other offers on the table. In remains to be seen if Izod will do anything other than float the series a couple more years. The series is in need of a complete overhaul. Thefiring of TG was just the start.
        • Verus Disappointment
          I used to watch the IRL on Direct TV but now that DTV has taken down the channel I have found that there is more than enough sports on DTV to satisfy my needs. It is a shame that Comcast wants to play hardball with DTV, I would much rather drop the VS channel then to have my rates go any higher then they are now.

        Post a comment to this blog

        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by