VS-IRL telecast gets solid marks

April 6, 2009
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VersusWhile Indy Racing League officials are still awaiting the Nielsen ratings from the open-wheel series’ first race on cable station Versus, this much is clear: The coverage of yesterday’s race in St. Petersburg, Fla. was much more comprehensive than anything ESPN ran in the last few years.

The pre-race coverage featured interviews with more than half a dozen drivers, and included some nice personal profiles. We even got to learn how Dan Wheldon was enjoying fatherhood and surviving the perils of diaper changing. The coverage ran 20 minutes beyond its advertised time, something ESPN would never have considered. Versus used that time to do eight post-race interviews, including one with race winner Ryan Briscoe.

There were a few bobbles in the telecast, including some rough cut-aways and choppy commercial segues, but overall, the broadcast deserved solid marks. The question is, how many people watched. For that, we will have to wait a day or two until Nielsen releases its ratings.

Another set of numbers to watch will come from Joyce Julius & Associates, a Michigan-based firm that measures the value of the broadcast to various corporate entities based on how much airtime those companies got. Those numbers are based on how long corporate logos were seen on-screen and how many on-air mentions the company got.

While the IRL’s corporate partners seemed to get a bit more exposure through Versus’ telecast, ad sales seemed to be a bit thin. Even before the race was one-fourth over, TV viewers were seeing lots of repeat ads. But IRL officials had to be pleased with how visible some of their new partners, especially Izod and Apex Brasil were in the first telecast. Mattel’s Hot Wheels is likely to join the group for the next telecast in two weeks.
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  • TG is driving the IRL off the cliff in reversus in an IndyCar.

    Now that someone has said it, the idiots who post will have had their point made and we can avoid the dumb quabbles.

    On to the real comments, I agree with Anthony on his analysis of the coverage. It's also nice to finally have the series treated with some respect by the telecasters as it felt like pulling teeth with ABC/ESPN.
  • The only thing left to do is shepherd sports/racing fans to the telecast. I hope they have a solid plan to market the shows and races on Versus.
  • During the telecast there was a lot of promotion done for other Versus coverage - like the Stanley Cup and extreme cage fighting (or something like that). With this I assume on the other Versus coverage from hockey to cycling to hunting to cage fighting the IRL will be promoted too. Though I understand marketing needs to be done elsewhere to bring people to the Versus to watch the IRL races.
  • Ratings will be interesting. Phase 1 of TG's plan has worked which is more coverage and being treated like a real show instead of the vague coverage they got from ESPN.

    If VS. holds true like other sports upstart channels such as ESPN and Speed, this will be good for all.
  • I was excited for the start of the IRL season, but a little bummed to discover that I don't get Versus on cable. Then again, I'd rather listen to Mike King's commentary on IMS Radio anyway.
  • I did not watch the race but i am sure it sucked.


    Anthony - will you please dedicate a little ink here to the real open wheel racing series? You know, the #1? Formaula 1?

    I mean you may be the only paper guy left in 'Maerica who even wastes his time on this nonsense. The race in Malaysia was really cool. But then, no Danicles, no ink?
  • DaHooey, great to see you still spewing garbage on here (some call it trolling). I'm guessing you DID watch. If you didn't, you missed talented drivers (Wilson, Hunter-Reay) beat the series regulars. It's amazing, you leave the ovals and the big $ for aero doesn't make a bit of difference.

    Either way, I am an F1 fan as well, and Malaysia was a horrible rain shortened race. You had the penalties accrued by Hamilton from his team's dishonesty (leading him to contemplate leaving F1). Hamilton and his father expressed their disgust in their team with the deplorable human being, Mosley, who has no excuse for being able to continue in power.

    The future prospect of teams BrawnGP, Toyota, etc. using rear diffusers that may in fact still be deemed unsporting (despite passing initial muster). Personally I hope they pass, but if they don't, they face Hamilton's fate. Losing all of their points, losing their victories, and never being shown on the final stat sheets for having participated. Yes it can and may happen.

    And the racing this year, give me a break. It's like saying the IndyCar series is as stout as it was in the early 90s (i'll give you that one). Last I looked, the top qualifiers continue to dominate (even two races in)...it's just different teams (spread the wealth around, just another spec series). But F1, yeah they're great!!!!

    Even better, Ferrari looked great in qualifying, didn't they, DaHooey??? How can a team as experienced as theirs, with drivers as experienced as Massa and Kimi make such a HUGE blunder??? If that had been an IndyCar blunder you'd be on here spewing up a storm. But, it's Ferrari and F1, and they're the best.....

    You can trash ICS all you want on here, it's your right to do so, but don't come on here and act like the F1 weekend was fantastic. As an F1 fan, I can say without a doubt that the series is quickly becoming an embarrassment to racing. It's a good thing I'm a patient fan and haven't given up yet. They strip Brawn's wins though, I'm out.

    Long post aside, your continuous ICS trolling is ridiculous and your bizarre opinion of a great race in Malaysia only proves you’re not really an educated race fan. JoBu, OUT!
  • Anyone surprised that DaHooey claims he did not watch the race but still commented on it?

    JoBum,

    I think Anthony should hire you to do the F1 report. I did not watch it as I am not a big F1 fan (get rid of Bernie and I will think of it) but from what I was told by a German Expat, you are fairly dead on. He is a huge F1 fan, but getting tired of the politics.
  • I have to go with JoBu. I follow all forms of motorsports, and the F1 race in Malaysia was a stinker.
  • St. Pete IndyCar TV Rating plummets: As we predicted, regardless of how good the production of the TV broadcasts on Versus will be, viewership for IndyCar races will be disastrous. Our prediction, as unfortunate as it is, has come true. Last Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first-ever IndyCar Series race on Versus, earned 233,000 viewers. Last year’s IndyCar season opener, the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, earned 1.1 million viewers on ESPN2 on a Saturday night in primetime. That means this year's season opener was down 79%. The '08 race from St. Pete, which was that season’s second telecast, earned 575,000 viewers on ESPN for a Sunday afternoon telecast, representing a drop this year of 60%. No matter how you slice it or dice it, a disaster for someone trying to sell sponsorship

    It's all part of the Vision(s)..
  • The production quality was the best that I've seen in racing in a long, long, long time. The quali show was great, and the racing coverage couldn't have been better. This all from a network that had never covered Indycar before. I was astonished how well they performed. No where to go but up...

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