New Nielsen policy cloaks IndyCar Series in secrecy

March 5, 2010
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Wow, what a morning!

The Colts signed Gary Brackett to a five-year deal, there’s a fake Milka Duno in Twitter-land burning bridges like nobody’s business, and I just got word from the Butler University athletics department that attendance at men’s basketball games is way up this year (more on that next week at The Score).

But there’s one thing I can’t tell you about that I intended to. I can’t tell you about the TV ratings for the Feb. 27 NASCAR Nationwide Series race featuring Danica Patrick. It was her third NASCAR race in February and is a critical measurement of the movement of her popularity in general and in fender-land in particular.

I also was going to tell you about TV ratings for the Feb. 28 Purdue vs. Michigan State nationally televised game on CBS. I was going to write about Purdue’s chance to steal market share from IU at a critical time for both teams. I’ll get back to that too, and tell you why I think former IU hoops coach Bob Knight played a big role in the skyrocketing fortunes of Purdue. But that too will have to wait for another day.


This is why. After two years of asking for television viewer numbers from New York-based Nielsen Media Research, I’ve been cut off. Apparently the number of requests is suddenly so intense, Nielsen can’t accommodate my requests for individual events any more.

This is the response to my request this morning from Nielsen’s Communications Director Aaron Lewis:
“Due to a remarkable increase in press requests recently, we’ve had to look at ways to scale back on what we can and cannot provide. Unfortunately, one of the first types of requests we’ve had to eliminate are those for local ratings of individual events. So with apologies, the communications office can no longer provide these requests, especially on a weekly basis. Some options you might consider are calling the local affiliates and getting the information from them.”

This response is troubling for a number of reasons. First, I’ve been getting TV ratings from Nielsen on a regular basis for Indy Racing League races for two plus years. And the ratings stories I’ve posted on this site have been hugely popular.

There’s a simple reason why. TV ratings are one of the only independent, reliable measurements of growth and/or contraction of the Indy Racing League previously available.

I’m not sure how getting TV ratings for IRL races is an option. Those races (and a lot of other sporting events) air on cable TV. So there’s no local affiliate to approach.

Not only that, I need an independent source for these numbers. Nielsen is the only one. Believe it or not, broadcasters, sports properties and advertisers, well they don’t always tell the entire truth. As difficult is that is for me to admit, it’s a hard truth I’ve learned after 21 years as a news reporter. People with a dog in the fight round up, exaggerate or just plain don’t tell the real story about the numbers.

And since the Indy Racing League doesn’t release attendance numbers—or any other revenue number that would give you the vaguest idea how the series is doing, Nielsen’s new policy drops a cloak over one of the last measuring stick the media, fans and other interested parties have to gauge the series’ success or failure.

It should be pointed out that Nielsen is a private company. They provide these TV ratings reports for paying customers. They owe me nothing. But such a sharp break with a long-standing policy always leaves me wondering why.

But I’m not asking Nielsen to give away the store front. The miniscule amount of information IBJ (or any media outlet) publishes isn’t going to cannibalize their business in a significant way. Paying customers seek the massive detail that a complete Nielsen report provides.

As far as time, it couldn’t take more than three minutes to process the numbers on a single sporting event.

The press gets a story. Fans and others get a glimpse at how sports properties are doing. Nielsen gets free publicity in front of countless prospective clients.
I thought everybody came out a winner.

The new Nielsen policy makes us all a little less informed. That, to me, is always a losing proposition.

  • I support Neilsen
    It's my suspicion that Neilsen can't be bothered by the IRL's one watches, no one cares. Digging out 0.14 rating only proves one thing...the IRL sucks. Neilsen is just saying "why bother". You keep adding zeros you get a whole bunch of nothing....

    Keep on 'em Anthony...I for one am happy you care enough to even want to write about it. The blog is a beacon for the TRUTH of which we know none exists about that lEegue.
  • You're not much of a reporter, are you?

    You should know that any decent size advertising agency would have access to ALL those numbers.
  • Neilson
    The only thing that sucks here is cHiEf.
  • I pay attention to The Score
    I pay attention.
  • Hehehe
    Naaah. That Gordon Kirby interview with Terry Angerstadt revealed who sucks...Terry's angry and bitter responses proves he's under pressure and unwilling to move from the IRL mantra of "Everything's coming up roses".

    When in doubt...shoot the piano player. I don't write the music...I just play it. Take it up with the composers over at 16th and Jonestown. Doing business since 1996....
  • I got your gauge right here
    "And since the Indy Racing League doesnâ??t release attendance numbersâ??or any other revenue number that would give you the vaguest idea how the series is doing, Nielsenâ??s new policy drops a cloak over one of the last measuring stick the media, fans and other interested parties have to gauge the seriesâ?? success or failure."

    14 years of abysmal ratings and attendance should give you a good idea of what the bozos at 16th and catchfence are capable of, and it's definitely not success, in any sense of the word. They and the vizhun are synonymous with failure.

    The 'league' started at rock bottom, and since then has only commenced digging. It, and everyone involved in it, is an abject fraud, and an affront to decent, hard-working Americans.

    Too bad you won't have the numbers though, they at least had comedic value. :lol: I'm confident the non-Hulmanistas here can give you a relatively accurate estimation.

    code = 6m53y
  • Leave it to Chief to insinuate that the IRL somehow has gotten Nielsen to cut off Anthony not only from the IRL ratings but all local ratings. Conspiracy theory time. Is that a black helicopter I hear? Chief, grab your tinfoil hat.

    I wonder which of our local haters is doing the Milka impersonating on Twitter. Sounds like something they would do.

    It is unfortunate for us and for Anthony that Nielsen is doing this. You would think with computers and all that fancy stuff they could make it easily available. I am guessing it has to do with money.
  • Nielsen lie
    I've got to go with IndyMan on this. With the computerization of data, it would take 30 seconds to come up with a rating for a single event. It took more time for Nielsen to compose their response to Anthony than it does to fetch a handful of ratings. This is complete garbage. There's more to this, though I have no idea what.
    • Stan
      Stanley has his panties in a wad again! Hey, Stan, why don't you grab a mike on race day and call all of the attendees what you say on these blogs. Then pick up your bloody carcas and state "I was right". Yeah, you and Obama.

      Fancy code: StAnS tHe LoSeR
    • Testy
      I have no influence anywhere. All I have is my opinion...which is more than any contribution BerwickGuy has made in this new year, decade and century.

      Let's face it...the SPEEDWAY will go to all lengths to control what is being said about it. But, in this case I'm willing to bet Nielsen is sick of tabulating ZERO scoring marks for the write-in submissions every Thursday. IRL has 0.14 tv rating on VERSUS and the IRL is totally accepting of them. SO, really, other than us who really cares? IRL sucks...that's the problem here.
    • There is the possibility...
      ... their system doesn't scale to handle a lot of requests.

      They'd be one of the first to jump onto using computers to any degree.

      But when the systems are designed by someone who couldn't pass a 3rd-grade ISTEP, attempting to squeeze a little more with each request, oops.

      97% (it might be 98%) of people in the IT world don't belong there. (I'll count myself in that number, just to be fair about it.) Walking into one of those situations is like cleaning up the elephant poo once the parade has passed. No matter how good you are, it doesn't become any easier and it still stinks.

      People like to interview candidates to see if they can get a good fit. If I know I'm being called in to fix a system, particularly if it's to deal with something which doesn't scale, I'm always tempted to get a sample of the code which needs to be fixed.

      I do have something which would be constructive for this. And I hate mentioning it because someone might beat me to it, but perhaps Nielsen needs to do some outsourcing: let them do the data collection. They (apparently) have that to a science.

      What they is a complement which will take care of the analysis, both the "standard" system they pass out, as well as finding new ways to make use of the data.
    • Hate to say it, but...
      Complaining that Neilsen won't give out numbers for individual events is like me complaining that Home Depot won't give me free CFL light bulbs. I mean, it would take them 30 seconds to give me one off the shelf, and everyone benefits, right?

      Nielsen charges handsomely for their services. Complaining that they won't give them away for free seems rather petty to me.

      IBJ has plenty of advertisers, it seems. And if the ratings articles generate a fair amount of traffic, it seems it would be beneficial to just suck it up and pay for the numbers!
    • Izod Indycar Series
      It's easy. Start with 0.1 and just guess the last digit.
    • iman's fantasies
      and just try to tell me 600 million dollars won't buy what it use to
    • Agast
      Puck Daddy Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:32 pm EST

      DirecTV deal report 'not true' according to Versus
      By Greg Wyshynski

      Hopes up, hopes dashed. Such has been the Versus/DirecTV dispute since September, with several false alarms sounding that a settlement was near.

      A source with Versus with knowledge of the negotiations told us that the report is "not true" and that "nothing is imminent." The source told us that our report from last month stands today: "At this time, we are not optimistic that an agreement will be in place with DirecTV in time for the start of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs."

      Oh Emm Gee!!! No mention of the influence the tens of IRLcar fans have in the negotiations?
    • Chief,

      Get off it. This is nothing specific to the IRL. notice Anthony said it also includes Purdue games, NASCAR, Butler etc.... i really think you are sitting around looking for conspiracies. i am just not sure if you are the mel gibson sitting in a tinfoil covered room listening for the bottle to drop, or the Joaquin Phoenix type just sitting in a closet with a tin foil hat on.

      BTW, did anyone notice all the empty seats at the Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta? bad economy or burnout on NASCAR? I am guessing a little from column A, a little from column B.

      Anthony, any word on how attendance for NASCAR races are going?
    • Enough to
      "Anthony, any word on how attendance for NASCAR races are going?"

      Enough attendance to get them invited back to all the races that they ran last year. How's it going for the IRL?
    • and how many venues was the IRL not asked to come back to? Why are you even posting if you have nothing useful to add? Your screen name may be anthony, but you are not the one I was addressing.
    • Awww my feelings are hurt
      Get off of what? Don't blame me for the 60% drop in ratings on Versus and 28% drop in ratings for the 500. Facts is facts.

      I'm confident this good business journal will go to any lengths necessary to report the IRL ratings.

      I do have a question though: Seeing as VERSUS isn't shown on DIRECT TV and the IRL has an EXCLUSIVE 10 year contract with them....will the SPeedway announce that it was prepared AGAIN for drops in viewership this year? It's gonna be the BREAKOUT year for sure!!! Bwahahahahaha!
    • Get off the point that somehow Nielsen and the IRL are in cahoots to hide these numbers. I think that was pretty clear in my comment when I said "Get off it. This is nothing specific to the IRL. notice Anthony said it also includes Purdue games, NASCAR, Butler etc.... i really think you are sitting around looking for conspiracies." I think you are just dodging again. But again with how blindly you lash out at anything IRL due to your hatred of it, not surprising that you have trouble responding to factual posts.
    • Get off the point that somehow Nielsen and the IRL are in cahoots to hide these numbers. I think that was pretty clear in my comment when I said "Get off it. This is nothing specific to the IRL. notice Anthony said it also includes Purdue games, NASCAR, Butler etc.... i really think you are sitting around looking for conspiracies." I think you are just dodging again. But again with how blindly you lash out at anything IRL due to your hatred of it, not surprising that you have trouble responding to factual posts.
    • Read R E A L Slow A G A I N
      I'm confident this good business journal will go to any lengths necessary to report the IRL ratings.

      I never stated or implied anywhere that anyone is in "cahoots". Fact is IRL don't want the ratings published (because they SUCK) and the blog here and at other places wants them published because they SUCK.

      Truth hurts, doesn't it? Well, easy fix...IRL needs to put butts in the seats and in front of the TV. PERIOD. I'm sure somewhere someone is concocting an interpretation to my last statement, most likely not even remotely related to that actual statement. Go figure....
    • "It's my suspicion that Neilsen can't be bothered by the IRL's ratings" and "Let's face it...the SPEEDWAY will go to all lengths to control what is being said about it." 'nuff said.

      is that a black helicopter hovering over your house?
    • Izod Indycar Series
      it was marketing genius that the IRLcar series went with Versus. keep the tens of current fans happy while hiding our suckage from the rest of the population.
    • Iman's Conspiracy Theories
      All FACTS, my good conspiracy theorist.

      IF the IRL was transparent they'd crow about the rating, good or bad. They just SPIN and REVISE anything they can. That's called not having to admit they've done anything wrong...see, that's why ANgstadt only wants to focus on the future too.

      Kinda like killing someone and acting like it never happened...and only wanting to talk about the future. Sound familiar? IRL...
    • So by that same logic, colleges, NASCAR and a multitude of other organizations must be hiding things because those were also cited by Anthony as events that he cannot get data for. Where are those orgs crowing about their ratings? Again, you pretend that it is only the IRL that Anthony can't get info about.

      Does it sound like Da Nang in '72 around your house? Remember, you are not paranoid if they are really out to get you.
    • New Nielsen policy cloaks IndyCar Series in secrecy
      Hey bro', don't go all Da Nang on me. IRL is spelled Chaos and it ain't anywhere near Da Nang.

      READ MY LIPS: The subject is about the IRL. I could care less about Purdue, Pacers and IRL pundits like you. Your conservatively obtuse points of view are perfect examples of why the IRL is in the shape it's in and why the IRL can't ever succeed under Hulman family domination. $600 Million couldn't put Humpty together again...and neither will the disjointed marketing the IRL is engaged in either. The ESPN commercials promote the St. Pete race on ABC/ESPN, yet they refuse to address races on Versus. Pretty cohesive marketing for sure.

      Versus is the IRL's graveyard. The IRL refusal to promote the races on the Versus network is a perfect example of why the IRL is plunging to the earth out of control. And you want to be a conspiracy theorist...come on, get with the program...
    • TOney TOney TOney
      Tony George screwed indycar racing so badly that Gordon Kirby had to go to Europe to get his Rick Mears biography published, as Americans no longer care about open wheel racing. Thanks Tony, and all you morons who supported his 15 year war on open wheel racing.
    • When has "what the subject is" ever affected your comments? That said, the subjuect is Nielsen withholding data on individual sporting events not just the IRL. But again, that would just ruin your conspiracy laden discussion.
    • Prognostication
      Indyman....what's the TV Rating over/under for Brasil race? Will they get a Danica bump? Will the mass marketing of the IRL pay-off? Is the IRL gonna pay to ship Randy Bernard to South America to see his first race? Will anyone show up ? Does anyone care? Will the day-old asphalt fail under searing hot of the southern hemisphere? Which Ganassi or Penske driver will win again? Will all the Brazilian s cry? Who even cares because they don't have versus? So many questions...
    • Guess we will not know since Nielsen has stopped providing them.

      I am guessing yes. Her NASCAR pub will carry over.

      I would assume Randy would be there.

      Something tells me the Brazil race will be a sellout. From news reports, the Brazillians are going wild for this race.

      Considering the amount of time you spend on this blog, I am betting you care.

      What is "under searing hot"? You mean searing heat? Can't be any worse than when the asphalt broke up on the street course in Miami (I believe that was the track). It is up to the venue to make sure the track is in good condition. we will see. Forecast is for 84. Not really sure I would call that searing.

      Kind of like which Hendrick race car will win in NASCAR. Unfortunately money brings wins in most sports.

      If Helio or any of the other hometown boys win, I am betting yes. the Brazillians are very emotional and passionate people.

      It is unfortunate that Vs. and DTV are still fighting. But so far most channels have gone through this. I remember when the locals were pulled for a while from cable because of a dispute.

      And I think I have answered most. Really simple if you use your brain.
    • Bernard speaks....
      International races and big US cities....Randy Bernard has expressed that the IRL's future.

      Good thing the IRL is leading this "back to the future" of the new VISION. Sounds like the IRL wants to be CART. that INDY fans.
    • But but but
      What about oval track opportunities for american roots racers? The Joe Goseks and Greg Rays? IRL FAILURE.

      Someone with a paranoid complex and a family worth at least $600 million and a famous oval track needs to step up and save the sport so it can turn back into what it was it never wanted to be. Indyman paradise.....
    • No matter how much you hate, cart is still dead. Didn't know big US cities was not part of the vision.
    • Hypocrites UNITE
      SO, CHINA is GOOd for IRL? WOW, the IRL are geniuses discovering that american ovals are not profitable....and seeking the foreign $$ for survival.

      How do you live with yourself Indyman? Seriously, adopting principles that were hated for so long under CART...are now embraced as necessity and with open arms by you and your brethren. The despised CART model is now your own. You love it don't you? What's the next oval track to get killed? Indy?
    • I heart the IRL
      This news just in from IRL season opener in BRAZIL:

      Qualifying postponed until SUNDAY AM due to track surface issues. Apparently the concrete is so slippery that cars are crashing on the STRAIGHTAWAYS! Bwahahahahaha!

      IRL FAIL. Catch it! And they're expecting RAIN on SUNDAY....arrrgh. :)
    • Uhhh Ohhh
      IRL lost $22 million last year? Only brought in $3 million in title sponsorship?

      IF it was a year like any other....simple math would be $22million X 15 years = $330 Million. That's a conservative estimate too. Hmmmm....
    • err,,hmmm,emmmm
      that was the first year they ever lost money. I'm an insider and i know the numbers. That lost was a consequence of absorbing the failed CART league from 1995 and with the gigantic, unheard of, precedent setting 3 million dollar title sponsorship from Izod, the series will make over 50 million dollars this year and it will grow exponentially from there.
    • Ratings, I got your ratings
      The Indycar race in Sao Paulo Brazil peaked at 0.6 and earned a 0.4 average television rating on Versus.
      • The IRL is Back Baby!
        And yet the Gomeratti is all geeked up about the increase in ratings. As if a 0.4 is a world-beater. 0.freaking4! Woweeeee!!!!

        I predict the 2010 Indy 500 gets a sub-3 this year.

        Other races will garner San Jose CART-like numerals.

        Funny watching this league in the throes of terminal illness.
      • Rating...on Versus?
        But...but ....but... The finals for the backwater VERSuS network won't be in until MONDAY. IUf it's .4 overnight it'll be a .25.OR it'll give Iman some prediction fodder to babble-on about.

        Hey, it's IRL's nature to crow about stuff that makes them look good...too bad we ain't heard nothing about Tv ratings, website viewership or attendances anywhere. Must not be so good , eh?

        TEWO weeks of indy coming....down two weeks but still MINUS $644Million and COUNTING!! Remember the James Bond movie...."10 seconds and coUNTing...". I wish it was 10 seconds left in the IRL's life.

        GO 'CUSE! Way betterer than the IRL.
      • twitter this
        Twitter/Facebook/old-fashioned email.
        IRL has to choose. will old-fashioned
        TV really work in 2010? doesn't work
        at my house.

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      1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

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