The near-record raceweek crowd was not the only one watching the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. On the strength of a new multi-faceted broadcast and digital package with ABC and ESPN, the first round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÂ¢n set an all-time viewership record for the event. The number of households and viewers watching America’s oldest sports car race on ABC, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com was more than three times the next-highest total which occurred during the 2009 season.
“We truly had a terrific race week in terms of onsite fans, television audience, world-class teams from America and Europe – and a great race," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “Tres Stephenson (Sebring International Raceway General Manager) and his staff along with the IMSA and ALMS staffs did a marvelous job. We should all be very proud of the results.
“This simply reinforces further that the relevancy of the Series is resonating with fans and viewers. These results are good for our corporate partners as well as those who are passionate about motorsports and the automobile industry."
While Atherton acknowledged that the digital delivery of the broadcast has been controversial, he was pleased with achieving the goal of expanding the audience. For those who missed any of the live coverage, Atherton reminded fans that full coverage of all qualifying and race action is available on-demand at americanlemans.com in perpetuity as well as on ESPN3.com for three weeks after each telecast.
“One of the primary reasons we decided to partner with the worldwide leader in sports programming," he said, “was that we wanted to take advantage of ESPN’s diverse methods of digital content distribution as well as its traditional cable and satellite distribution. The combination was expected to have quite an impact and increase the audience for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÂ¢n. The results of the first broadcast delivered what we expected in this area."
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was not only a record-breaker for just the ALMS, however. The live full-length race telecast on ESPN3.com was the most watched auto racing event ever on the outlet, 147 percent over the previous high. The average time spent viewing per unique viewer was 161 minutes – 87 percent higher than the average time spent for all events on ESPN3.com.
As further indication that the digital age is having a significant influence on sports and Series fans alike, the ALMS’ Web site traffic increased a staggering 141 percent compared to race week a year ago with page views up more than 170 percent.
“By the numbers, it was a very good week for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÂ¢n," Atherton said. “We learned a lot for this first experience that will be immediately incorporated into our future plans. And now it’s on to Long Beach."