downward trajectory

IndyCar’s TV rating decline could not come at a worse time

The 2017 11 percent decrease in TV ratings comes at a bad time for IndyCar, which is looking to sign a new media/TV deal in the coming months.

And they received a double whammy recently when they learned that series sponsor Verizon is dropping out after the 2018 season – because of low TV ratings on NBCSN.

IndyCar and its broadcast consultant, New York-based Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures, this summer told they believed they were on firm footing in asking for a more lucrative deal. They pointed to a more than 35 percent increase in the series’ TV ratings from 2013 to 2016 and growing live attendance. has made no secret about the fact that 100% of IndyCar races must be on network TV if the series is ever to grow in a meaningful way. Teams cannot land good sponsors when viewership is way way under 1 million for all races on cable TV. Sponsors won't even look at you. This means IndyCar may have to sacrifice TV revenue for the over good of the series.

Higher network TV ratings will enable IndyCar to land a more lucrative series sponsor to replace Verizon, and it will enable the teams to land real sponsors instead of relying on ride-buyer money and B2B deals.

IndyCar officials have told IBJ they still could look to re-up with NBC and/or ABC or could look for another-possibly non traditional-partner. IndyCar officials said looking at potential candidates such as Google and Amazon is not out of the question.

This season, an average of 1.14 million viewers tuned in to each of the 17 IndyCar Series races, according to Nielsen Media. That's down from an average audience of 1.28 million that watched each of 15 races last season.
This year’s average is down only slightly from the 1.16 million that watched in 2015, but up from the 1.03 million average of 2014 and 953,000 that tuned in on average in 2013.

Despite the overall decline in TV viewership and the impending loss of Verizon as the series’ title sponsor, Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar parent Hulman & Co., remains a defiant as 'Baghdad Bob.'

“We had a fantastic year," Miles told IBJ. "We had close, competitive racing and we crowned a great, new champion. I think there’s a lot to be really excited about going forward."

We guess having half a field full of ride-buyers constitutes success for some. Staff

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