National, local Indy 500 TV ratings take dive

June 1, 2010
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The overnight Nielsen TV ratings are in for this year’s Indianapolis 500 … and the news isn’t great.

The race, which aired on ABC (WRTV-TV Channel 6) on Sunday, earned a 3.68 rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. Each rating point represents 1.1 million homes nationwide, meaning just over 4 million households across the U.S. tuned to this year’s race.

This year’s national rating was down from a 3.96 last year, or about 4.36 million TV households.

In the central Indiana market, the race predictably scored much higher, earning a 12.2 rating. Locally, each rating point equals 10,720 TV central Indiana households, meaning 130,784 tuned in. That means 22 percent of all TV households in this market watched the race (which is tape delayed here).

The local numbers too were down, from a 14.6 rating in 2009 and a 26 percent audience share.

The Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet, televised locally on WTHR-TV Channel 13 the night after the race, also saw a rating drop from 12.1 in 2009 to 8.0 this year. WRTV officials think part of this year’s drop can be attributed to a 2009 rating spike in Indy 500 programming.

Helio Castroneves’ victory, WRTV officials said, was particularly captivating, given his recent success on Dancing With the Stars and the press coverage surrounding a federal tax evasion investigation centering on the IndyCar driver and his sister.

This year's TV ratings for the IndyCar Series has new CEO Randy Bernard's attention, sources said, and he is working hard to improve them. More on that in the next day or two.

  • Indy 500 Victory Banquet
    I believe the banquet was televised on Channel 13 - not Channel 6.
  • These are final
    These are the national ratings, overnights came out on Monday.
  • overnight
    These are overnight #s. Final #s will be out Friday and will likely be a bit lower. Bernard has his work cut out for him. Series sponsors won't like this news.
  • WTHR
    You are correct Chris. I've already heard from several people who were upset that WTHR moved the NHL Stanley Cup playoff game featuring the Chicago Blackhawks to make way for the Victory Banquet. The NHL game got moved to one of WTHR's alternative digital channels.
  • Versus and IZOD activation was meaningless afterall
    IZOD throwing money down toilet with IRL. 3.x ratings at INDY prove it.

    The public ain't buying the INDY dream anymore.
    • New World
      You can watch the race live via internet. Small potatoes but I know a lot of local people who did this. And terrible move not showing the NHL playoffs-I could care less about drivers' speeches and checks being handed out.
      • Re: New World
        That's a true statement re: watching race live via the Internet. The coverage was more than adequate along with the radio on and where I'd normally watch the replay, I didn't because I'd already seen the race.

        Wonder how many viewers they had at Advertisers love that sort of direct feed...
      • over night 4.0
        i hope this is the end of terry angstadt he need to go speed is in less home than vs but get 2.3 nascar allstar race that way higher any irl race on vs espn espn2 abc if indy is out
        • Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha.
          Ahhh, ha ha ha.

          Ratings swirling the toilet, acres of gleaming aluminum where fans used to be. Yet the denial from the gomerati continues unabated.

          The only entertainment the 'league' provides is the minor humor of watching fail repeatedly.

          code = x2nm7
        • Next years forecast
          I have heard that based on this year's poor numbers and the declining trend of the last 5 years, next years forecast has been prepared by some sponsors to decide whether there is merit to continue sponsorship. In 2011, the centennial year, certain sponsors are anticipating that the race will achieve a record low - between 3.0-3.2 due to losses of sponsorships, teams, and drivers leaving.
        • aah, who cares
          apparantly nobody

          ::POPCORN::watching the insignificant racing league becoming more insignificant::POPCORN::

          get out while you can Randy
        • Wow
          Never in my imagination did I ever think I would ever see so many empty seats at the Indianapolis 500 that I saw while watching the race online.

          Our family went to practice, first day quals and the race from 1976 through 1994. It hasn't been the same since then and, unfortunately, it never will. We have gone to a few practice days here and there over the past 16 years, especially when a suite invite makes itself available, but no longer do I have much interest in the entire spectacle.

          Now the "big teams" hide from the railbirds at the north end of the pits and all of the boring cars are the same.

          Everything that I am hearing about the new direction of the IRL, etc. sounds great. However, I fear that, as times really are a-changin," that Indy Car has lost too many fans to the last two generations (generations that have other interests that do not include going to the trouble of going to a race track to watch cars go in circles and who could care less about what goes on with the people involved because it is not about them).

          Too bad. It was a great run.
        • P.S.
          Oh, and I guess Helio prancing around on "Dancing with Stars" didn't bring in the scads of fans... My wife did ask me this year why male Indy race car drivers aren't "men's men" anymore. I really didn't have an answer.
          • I guess
            I guess that makes the Indy Five Hunnert the third most watched race that day, after the Turkish Grand Prix and the Coca Cola 600.
          • ahh the haters are out in force which means they think they smell blood in the water. I am amazed how many people on here talk about seeing "acres" of aluminum on tv. But they were not there. They did not see the "acres" of people under the stands crowding the perimeter of the restrooms and concession stands and the trees in the golf course trying to seek relief from record temps.

            And for all the joy from the haters, Indy is still the largest one day sporting event in the world, and has a much larger financial impact than the Super Bowl or any other race in the US.

            Interesting article in the Star about the increase in rooms and spending local businesses have seen this month over previous Mays. They seem to feel that the condensed schedule has increased interest and participation as people can stay for two weeks and experience just about all phases of the race. Good article.
          • tan I am oval - you are an idiot
            Not only can you not type, but you don't have a clue. Terry Angstadt is the only one over there bringing in the sponsors and money. If it wasn't for him, the IRL would have folded several years ago.
          • INDY TANKS
            Never hear indy fans yelling shake & bake or I'm the magic man, or check out the 6 car. Why???? No one likes to what identical slot cars race around and around. Maybe if they make it open, increase speeds and develop more US drivers (hope it's ok to say that, then Indy mibght compete with the good ole boys.
          • Huh?
            Your wife will need to do some growing up. Ask Conway about being a man's man. Miracle not dead. Already impatient about getting back into car. Today's male racecar driver's are one up on yesterday's "men's men". They are gentlemen. Cheers to Dario, a talented, classy, handsome, and dashing racing star. Best wishes to all of them, men and women, in the Indy Car series.
          • Indy 500 ratings
            RAtings are not good news nationally and locally. IMS needs to partner up with Comcast/Versus/NBC and get away from ABC/ESPN. They simply will not promote it.

            Also, what about internationally? How did it do there?
          • Ditch Neilsen
            Until advertisers and sponsors stop relying on outdated Neilsen ratings, articles like this rarely inspire, and often do the opposite (how many show on the big three that you enjoyed have been cancelled??).

            In a world of many options and distractions, multi-tasking and technology...why would the IRL even think it could be what it was?

            No, it's not the same, and if we all can't accept that, OR accept change then maybe we are not true fans.
            • Snake got it.
              The world evolves. Time passes. Options for entertainment are nearly endless today. If Indy Car racing can settle in for a crowd of say 200,000 at IMS and maybe a 3.0 on the tube, and crowds of say 30,000 at other races, I'd say they will have carved out a pretty decent niche. It is getting down to where the true fans are watching and attending. That is cool with me. Let the sport evolve around those folks.
            • Delusions are funny
              And delusional Hulmanista's are even funnier. There is not going to be an abolition en masse of companies using Neilsen data. For all its flaws, the fact is the results are repeatable, and trends are quite firmly established from them.

              But I'm sure you Gomers would like to think that every company looking to blow an ad budget would rather rely on your 'gut feelings'. Lol. That's disgusting, really.

              Pretending that the minuscule audience Anton's folly has is enough to support this ongoing fraud is laughable in its delusional thinking. This is funny at the 'you need to be institutionalized immediately and permanently as a matter of public safety'-level.

              Keep it up, this is knee-slappin' comedy.

              code = xcpb5
            • Blackout
              Gee, do you think it might help if Central Indiana could watch the race?
            • what is knee slapping is it still drew the largest crowd of any one day sporting event and the haters feel it is on its death bed. They ignore the large number of empty seats and falling ratings at NASCAR events.
            • Gomers In Denial
              Gomers In Denial. It could be a summer season tv comedy epic. Actually it is.

              "Watch as this week, the Hulmanista's screech and pretend nothing is wrong, then bleat pointlessly about Nascar as if it has anything to do with the relentless years of failure from the 'league'."

              Next week, on a very special Gomers In Denial, we learn that there were no broken fenceposts, and Mike Conway is actually in rehearsal for the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars!


              code = 5xkhn
            • terry angstadt worst thing to american open wheel since cart
              only thing terry angstadt has done good is get the title sponser he push irl back 5 year he distroy danica boom he is reason she driver taxi cab because she bord of irl because dumb road racing yes out of control road racing he has lost so many oval rating has fallen down big time all has done is talk and love being in front of camera yes he is road racing nut case indy 500 rating will go up next year because of hype [birthday]
            • abc espn terry angstadt is a cart spy
              espn made danica they hype her up big time espn allways promote 500 very well rest of races not so good they do a very good indy 500 ads i like dan wheldon espn ad i thing it was in 2007 abc early promo start of the 500 is done very well too they need to get rid of goodyear and the other guy now so many foreign driver and no american racing what left for american to watch at least in the past they had american racing terry angstadt has throw away irl value no won has bought his spin or whining
            • Well we could watch carters in denial, but that show was cancelled some time ago due to lack of interest.

              We could also do the reality show haters, why don't they get a life and move on. But it would be the same episode every week. And I am sorry, even the mind numbed masses would get tired of the same incorrect predictions of it is going to fail, it is going to fail, it is going to fail.

              I would really like to see the documentary Haters living in the past. An in depth report on why haters seem to believe a series that killed itself was somehow better than a series that survived. Of course like cart, all those would have to be paid infomercials, because no network would be stupid enough to pay to show it.
            • Face Facts
              The IRL SUCKS, it's on a sucky Versus network, it got it's worst 500 ratings since recorded TV ratings history, grandstands that the Speedway acknowledged were empty, it got another flown Dallara into the fence and soon to be powered by "CART-like" turbo.

              With success like that, how can you call me a hater?
            • Because you are. Next question.
            • 3.68
              Looks like the American public has spoken: FINAL INDY TV RATINGS ARE IN!

              3.68 , INDY 500 tv ratings have fallen to the lowest level EVER. Why is that have all the answers.

              My guess is that the American public knows the IRL is a failure and they also know it's the IRL stink that permeates the 500 now.

              Tony George's IRL....designed to RUIN AOW, and I believe that 3.68 is PROOF positive especially with a record LOW amount of 9 AMericans in the race and ex-CART teams DOMINATING the 500. Something's racing to the finish and it ain't related to success. m This all should go over good with sponsors...
            • Anton's Legacy
              What is happening in American open wheel racing can all be traced to Tony George's childish power grab. He wrecked a healthy, viable series.

              What do you have now? Can the damage ever be reparied?
            • And you have the nerve to ask why I call you a hater. So why are you still here? I mean your series killed itself, you refuse to tell us what series you watch now for your brand of racing.

              As far as ratings, the IRL has a long way to go. I think we have all said that. They need to market and sell their product. I think the proposed opening of the engine design is a good start. If you have multiple engine manufacturers, there is more marketing. I think the IRL made a major score with Izod as they have gone above and beyond on marketing the entire series. They should be the model for all future marketing deals.

              I also like the idea of exploring a NBC/VS. partnership. Having the race on one family of stations will help with consistency. There is a long way for the series to go, but they have a good start.
            • Why?
              I'm here to keep you and the IRL honest. There's been so many things propagated with the inception of the IRL by the Speedway that I doubt the sport will ever recover.

              I want it to recover.....especially if the Speedway addresses the fallacies they brought on themselves. Haven't heard an apology or the official abolition of the IRL moniker. As you are well aware of, throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks IS a sign of desperation. That stuff they are throwing is the same crap they've been throwing the past 15, you can't fool me or the others who choose to keep the sport honest. How you can live with yourself is beyond me (letting it all get to this stage and allowing the speedway to screw everything up with merely a notice by you).
            • Didn't know the IRL owed you an apology. I figure cart owes you an apology for destroying itself.

              So new engine formulas, new and active sponsorship and seeking out new tv partners is the same thing they did 15 years ago?

              Most haters do not want it to recover. they want it to fail so they can dance on its grave and by snow cones at the mall that replaces the Speedway. We have all seen their comments on here. Luckily their predictions for the last 15 years have been way off. again, does anyone wonder why i call them haters?
            • Haters
              If it weren't for the haters, all that would be said is:
              "Everyone must be watching online. That's why the ratings are down." and "It was hot, so everyone was hiding under the stands. That's why it looked like there was nobody there."
              Throw in the occasional "Tony George SAVED AOWR", "Randy Bernard is a genius", "There's nothing wrong with the IRL. It's great as is." and "Danica is hot" and I doubt if much else would be said by the Kool-Aid drinkers.

              To them, I say:
            • if you think it looked like no one was there, then you obviously are drinking the haters kool aid. And if you doubt that thousands were under the bleachers, then you weren't there. And oh, by the way, it was flavor ade, not kool aid in Jonestown. Get your facts straight.

            • no one said no one was there
              Haters acknowledge the IRL 500 had tons of people. We are in touch with reality too especially when comparing pre-IRL attendance with that which exists in 2010. Far cry from same, both racing and attendance.

              jim has the proper perspective on it.

              How about that Texas race? Lookled like a ghost town! And that fire rescue...dudes standing around with fire extinguishers and limp fire hoses while the freshly crashed driver was ripped out of the cockpit. Great way to extricate a driver from a crashed burning vehicle.

              The IRL is a POX on the AOW racing scene. ANYONE who can tell me the head of IRL safety DOESN'T deserve to be fired for that performance is a koolaid drinking fool. How sad for the supposed higher level of AOW to respond like that. Heads should roll. but they won't....let 'em burn. Pathetic....goes right along with the flying cars issue. Only in the IRL...
            • 76,000 is a ghost town? You really need to attend a race before you try to guess the attendance. Let me guess, they fired from your job guessing weight at the circus, right?

            • iman is onit
              did you reach your quota for the month?
            • 76k on a work day!
              Yup...CART did that about 20 times at Toronto, and Austrailia, and Long Beach and ZILLIONS of other tracks BEFORE the IRL was stillborn. ON FRIDAY's!

              IRL sucks, we all lose.
            • aah, who cares
              So after 15 bankrupt years, they've run out of red ink. what color do they use now?
            • ...and nascar's ratings?
              They were low this year too...4.0. The 600 is run at night, so you'd think it would get a MUCH HIGHER rating, right? Indy was a 3.7 on a Sunday that was nice about everywhere in the country. You think momma and the kiddos are going to stay inside for 4 hours to watch a race...mine didn't.

              Noone can relate to racing today...most can't even change a tire, but sure can change the channel to American Idol. Fact is that people aren't interested in cute little "drivers" getting pulled into the hauler for getting upset. Here, people are interested in "racers", innovated macho American ones that they can relate to, that put their own finances and life on the line just to win a silly trophy at the end of the day. Monday Night Raw wrestling gets the same ratings as Indy...and that's FAKE! The only soap opera anymore is about Danica. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH BLAH BLAH. Go back to an open spec coupled with Foyt slapping Arie Lyundyk on a weekly basis (yep, years ago...I know) and you'll get people watching. Oh yeah...why baseball and football so popular? Because kids play it, then grow up watching it. What ever happened to the feeder series? Indy needs to INVADE the karting and USAC worlds and give incentives for the youth to go racing in the big leagues. And parents...take the armor off the little ones and let them get hurt every once and awhile...get'em into racing, not soccer. Yes, it is more expensive...but racing doesn't have ties. Racing has real noise, not that beehive noise that I'm hearing during World Cup games.

              I personally blame Penske and Co. for the sanitazation of Indy racing. Rick Mears was one of the best (and one of my all-time favorites), but he was too corporate and wouldn't really say a bad word about anyone. So now, all of racing uses the "Mears" model and the racing world suffers. If Indy racing had 12 Gordon Johncocks, a few Unser Sr's., and one AJ (that's all the series could handle), you'd see people coming back. A fair with a sideshow at each race wouldn't hurt either.

              My two cents...sorry for the rant. Just hate people looking at "ratings" and making a call on one fact. That's the same a saying, "My car is out of gas, I need to get a new one."
            • Nice One
              Nice One
              thanks for the good stuff..
              For more information please visit
            • Not what it used to be
              Too many commercials ( you can't sit back with a few beers and "get into" the race because of the constant interruptions ).
              Too many other long races: NASCAR.
              It's not a race anymore: it's a "spectical": all "money making" adjuncts.
              Unprofessional drivers conduct: jumping on fences, "bush league" stuff.
              Did I say "too many commercials" ??
              TV audio is so bad that I watch the race on TV, but listen to it on radio !!! At least I can keep up with the race, otherwise right in the middle of some action they sneak in a commercial. By the time the race returns, things have happened and those idiot announcers never mention anything ( most probably bacause those ads pay their overblown salaries. )
              Can't enjoy the race anymore.
              Carburation Day, etc. usually preempted by some golf game -- as if there aren't enough golf games on TV.
              Too many commercials -- too many attempts to make a few more "sheckels" at the expensive of a once-a-year race.

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