Indianapolis 500 telecast ratings rise over 2010 ABC's high-definition broadcast of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 delivered a 4.3 preliminary overnight rating in metered markets - up from 4.0 in 2010.
Viewership increases were realized in Chicago, Las Vegas, Tampa, Fla., Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, among others, of the 56 markets during the noon-3:30 p.m. (ET) race broadcast. ESPN on ABC's one-hour pre-race show hosted by Brent Musburger -- with a blend of compelling features and the sights and sounds of the pre-race ceremonies on Memorial Day weekend - also attracted strong viewership numbers.
It was the 47th consecutive year that ABC telecast the 500 Mile Race -- one of the longest-running relationships between a sporting event and a network.
"All in all, the race was excellent with storylines throughout that kept the viewers' and spectators' attention," said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. "We saw a significant television increase in the metered markets, and it's important for us to keep our momentum moving upward to 2012. With the introduction new car, we think it's a great storyline and we're optimistic there are more good things to come."
Dan Wheldon won the drama-filled race on the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, overtaking the crippled car of rookie JR Hildebrand a few hundred yards from the start/finish line. Hildebrand's car made right-side contact with the outside retaining wall exiting Turn 4 on the 200th and final lap, but he was able to slide across the "Yard of Bricks" to claim second place.
Wheldon, a resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., earned $2.56 million from the purse of $13.5 million. Hildebrand, of Sausalito, Calif., who was voted the Chase Rookie of the Year, received $1,064,895.
More excitement and drama is sure to come from the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, featuring two 125-lap races on the 1.5-mile oval with a one-hour break in between. VERSUS will broadcast both events starting at 8 p.m. (ET).
ABC will televise IZOD IndyCar Series races from the Milwaukee Mile (June 19), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Aug. 14) and the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16).
It's an off weekend of competition for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, but teams are using June 1-3 to test at the Milwaukee Mile for the June 17-19 race weekend.
[Editor's Note: That's two ABC network broadcasts this year and both had higher ratings. But the races on Versus will suck the wind completely out of any momentum IndyCar has.]