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.