|TV numbers do not lie. IndyCar has very few real fans in Canada. They all left when Tony George destroyed CART|
Norris McDonald explains just how unpopular IndyCar racing is in Canada. This may explain why the attendance at the GP of Toronto every year is minuscule:
These are last year’s figures but F1 races in Canada average about 260,000 viewers. NASCAR Cup races attract an average of 220,000. IndyCar races in 2018 averaged just over 50,000 – 51,900, to be exact. In the words of one television executive I spoke to, “You can put just about anything on television on Sunday afternoon and get 50,000." [Including an infomercial]
Here are a couple of other interesting tidbits about IndyCar racing on Canadian TV. That 50,000-plus average was recorded when the races were shown on Sportsnet 360. When they were on Sportsnet 1, that figure dropped to a tad over 37,000.
Here’s something that’s surprising. The most popular IndyCar race in Canada on TV is the Honda Indy Toronto, which in 2018 attracted 125,800. The Indianapolis 500, the crown jewel of IndyCar racing, only attracted 117,500 viewers. However, both those races were watched by more than 100,000 and those are the two races that Sportsnet will make available on “free" television this year.
When TSN lost the IndyCar contract back in 2013, executives I talked to at the time said they were sorry to lose the Indy 500 but they couldn’t have cared less about the other races. I didn’t think to ask them about the Toronto race but it is now clear why they weren’t losing sleep over the others.
I, personally, am amazed by those figures. Never in a million years would I have imagined they’d be so low. There are 10 provinces in Canada (we won’t worry about the Territories for now) and that 50,000 means an average of 5,000 in each province are all that are watching my favorite sport. My goodness, that 50,000 isn’t even capacity at the Skydome.
I don’t like it but when you see those figures you have to say to yourself, "Now I understand why TV executives aren’t fussy about IndyCar. I mean, how can they sell advertising that will be seen by so few people?"
NBC issued a release after the St. Petersburg race last Sunday about how thrilled they were to have had 500,000 watching in the U.S. To be honest, they should be as concerned as Sportsnet.
If anybody’s wondering, I don’t have an answer. IndyCar has the best pure racing of all the series. The cars are fast and attractive. The drivers, for the most part, are more interesting than drivers in other series. I don’t get it. But the numbers don’t lie. Wheels.ca