Key metrics up for IndyCar since unification
For the 2008 IndyCar Series season, the action on and off the track was fast and furious in this season of unification.
With a more than 40 percent jump in the number of cars on track, a record-tying nine drivers visiting Victory Lane and 13 drivers recording podium finishes, and a record Indianapolis 500 purse in excess of $15 million, impressive numbers were also reached away from the racetrack with stronger at-track attendance, increased television ratings, dramatic increase in merchandise sales and new corporate partnerships.
Those key metrics included:
Television: The first season of unification of open-wheel racing under the IndyCar Series banner saw gains in viewership across ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. For the 17-race IndyCar Series schedule, average viewership was 1.55 million viewers, an 11% increase over the 1.4 million average last season across the three networks.
ABC averaged 2.7 million viewers for its seven IndyCar Series races, up 10.1% from 2.5 million viewers for the same number of races in 2007. ESPN averaged 707,000 viewers for four races, up 27.2% compared to the five races run last season.
ESPN2 averaged 821,000 viewers, up 41% from 581,000 viewers last year for five races.
Attendance: At-track attendance, based on media estimates, was up at 12 of the 16 races on the 2008 schedule where the IndyCar Series raced in 2007.
Merchandise: At-track merchandise sales were up 25% in 2008 compared to 2007, according to Main Gate, the league’s merchandising agent. Of the 15 events where merchandise was sold, 14 events experienced gains over their 2007 merchandise sales, with 11 events witnessing double-digit percentage increases.
Online: Indycar.com has enjoyed more than nine million visits to date, marking a 33% increase over the same time last year according to Google Analytics. The league’s website has shown a 19% increase in the number of Unique Visitors this year, and usage of video on indycar.com has experienced 51% growth over 2007.
Mobile: IndyCar Mobile started with a beta launch in January 2008 with the Sports Illustrated magazine ad promoting ‘text DANICA to 23907’ in order to be entered to win an autographed swimsuit issue poster. The official launch of IndyCar Mobile started opening weekend March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the release of the official short code, 234500, which will be utilized going forward into 2009. IndyCar Mobile debuted this season with 20,000 new visitors with an average of 80,000 non-unique visits from both returning and new users per month to the mobile portal.
Sponsorship: The season of unification witnessed three companies partner with the IndyCar Series – PEAK Motor Oil, Coca-Cola and IZOD – all joined the series and quickly put together activation plans around the series and its drivers, teams and venues. IZOD became the official clothier of the IndyCar Series in July that included partnerships with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Logan Gomez. IZOD ran a billboard in Times Square featuring Hunter-Reay during the month of July and in Hollywood in August. IZOD's activation also included a two-page ad in Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine featuring Hunter-Reay. IZOD is developing a line of IndyCar-themed clothes that will be featured around the country at major retailers such as Macy's.
PEAK leveraged its relationship with the IndyCar Series to gain PEAK Motor Oil distribution at key retailers such as AutoZone, O'Reilly Auto Parts and Pep Boys. In race markets with store promotion, retailers saw double-digit increases of sales around race event activation. As part of its relationship with Danica Patrick, PEAK featured posters of Patrick and the IndyCar Series logo to promote specials inside the stores, had in-store POP featuring Patrick and the IndyCar Series logo in front of motor oil on shelves, ran national radio spots featuring Patrick and allowed retailers/commercial customers to present the pole award, which it co-sponsored with automotive retailers in race markets.
Coca-Cola joined the IndyCar Series at the start of the 2008 season, and its activation included at-track Fan Fest hospitality areas, a College Fest, IndyCar Series branded truck backs and promotional cups and tray liners.
Continuing that momentum, each event on the IndyCar Series schedule featured an event entitlement, minus the Indy 500, and teams saw an increase in sponsorship interest and participation.
“We entered 2008 with the remarkable momentum of unification and that benefited all of our key metrics all season long,” said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division for the Indy Racing League. “While we are very happy with the immediate results of unification, we will spend the off-season looking at ways to continue to build this momentum to grow the IndyCar Series.”
Looking ahead to 2009 the IndyCar Series will feature a new broadcast partner in VERSUS while continuing its longtime partnership with ABC. While they are new venues on the IndyCar Series schedule, the addition of longtime open-wheel successes in Long Beach and Toronto are expected to be revitalized and assist the league’s overall attendance. IRL PR