NTT is continuing its multi-tiered partnership with INDYCAR, signing a multi-year extension as the entitlement sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. In doing so, NTT will continue to deliver the smart technology backbone that will enhance the race experience for INDYCAR fans attending the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – and from wherever else they may be watching – on Sunday, May 30 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Technology from NTT will further enable the return of fans to the iconic race after last year’s event was postponed until August and held without fans on-site due to COVID-19 precautions. This year, additional solutions and services will help bring the race to life for those in attendance, as well as the millions of fans following the race around the world.
NTT, a global technology and business solutions provider and Fortune Global 500 company, became the title sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the start of the 2019 season and has extended this agreement, and its Official Technology Partner status with INDYCAR, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard Weekend.
“With world-class technology and innovation, NTT has helped take the INDYCAR SERIES to the next level,” said Roger Penske, Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation. “Over the first two years as entitlement sponsor of the series, the dedicated team at NTT has helped INDYCAR become more efficient and effective through smart technologies. As our sport continues to grow by connecting with a new generation of fans, NTT helps take us down new roads by creating more engaging experiences through our shared digital platforms. We thank NTT for the long-term commitment to the INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we look forward to driving the future of our sport forward, together.”
NTT remains committed to accelerating the future of smart communities and has developed an enhanced digital experience powered by real-time, data-driven insights, analytics and machine learning that will enable race fans to enjoy the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” like never before across multiple channels and environments.
At this year’s Indianapolis 500, fans will experience a whole new level of engagement, whether they plan to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in person, or to soak in all of the excitement from the comfort of their homes through an amplified, virtual experience.
“With no spectators at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for last year’s Indianapolis 500, due to the pandemic, we were set a new challenge – to think outside of the box in terms of leveraging our technology to bring the race to fans at home,” said Simon Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, NTT Ltd. Americas. “Enhancing the viewing experience and creating the next generation of INDYCAR followers – wherever they are – is a critical objective for INDYCAR and NTT, and we look forward to continuing our work with INDYCAR and the broader Penske Corporation and serving as a trusted partner to help the organization continue their digital transformation and achieve their ambitions.”
“The past year has significantly changed the way people engage with sports. NTT is helping INDYCAR adapt by creating new ways for fans to engage and connect through digital,” said Bob Pryor, Chief Executive Officer, NTT DATA Services. “We’re excited to enhance the enjoyment and experience of motorsports for more fans. As the digital partner of choice for our clients, NTT DATA is proud to grow with INDYCAR and help fans enjoy their racing experiences—on and off the track.”
The key to this unique fan experience is NTT Smart Solutions . The secure, distributed platform captures data via sensors and micro data centers in designated areas through video and sound. The platform also integrates historical data sources, such as traffic, weather and social media to leverage cognitive analytics, learn regular patterns and detect and alert operations teams to the presence of abnormal ones. Dynamic visual environments featuring the most exciting data-led content and storylines are enabled by machine learning and AI to bring the race to life for fans both at IMS and off site. New features and enhancements this year include:
- NTT Smart Venue: AI-enabled optical detection technologies, combined with real-time entry gate flow rate data, give the IMS operations and security teams better visibility into current and possible scenarios, enabling them to see a bigger, more real-time picture of the venue that includes visitor and vehicle traffic flow and congestion, social distancing, etc. These enhancements will allow the event teams to optimize their resources in real time with faster, more data-driven decision making to focus their resources on areas where race attendees can benefit the most. At-gate IMS personnel also now have mobile POS capabilities at their fingertips for digital ticketing and parking transactions – all to help manage the event venue more safely and efficiently, providing a more positive and consistent experience for attendees at the world’s largest sports venue, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- INDYCAR Data Experience: Powered by NTT, fans can now engage with more race and driver data than ever before via multiple channels, including the INDYCAR Mobile App , the IMS Media Wall (a 100-foot wide, high-resolution LED data display on the Pagoda) and more as they engage with real-time, data-driven racing insights powered by NTT. The multiple track views stay up to date with real-time leaderboards and provide access to more exciting, easily shareable data and stats coming off of more than 140 different data points from each car and the track itself. Among other events highlighted by the data experience will be a live race view of all competitors, biggest movers, featured head-to-head battles, race team and pit stop performance impact, as well as highlighted race events such as the green flag, yellow flags and the checkered flag.
- INDYCAR Mobile App: Powered by NTT DATA, fans can now enjoy an enhanced user experience and virtually ride along with their favorite driver athletes and teams as they tear down the course at 200+ mph. With additional live, in-car cameras and new video feeds, users can see up to five drivers from a first-person perspective. In addition, fans this year will also get to enjoy live streaming and a more integrated INDYCAR Fantasy League and e-commerce experience. Global usage of the mobile app continues to expand, with usage during live racing events continuing to grow. The free app is available for year-round use around the world via download from the iOS App Store or Google Play.
NTT’s proprietary Smart Solutions consumes, analyzes and transforms massive amounts of data (supporting an organization’s full data lifecycle) to deliver valuable insights driving technology-enabled business outcomes and helping organizations like INDYCAR further along their digital transformations. NTT Smart Solutions can be applied in a multitude of environments, whether a sports venue, like Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a city, like Las Vegas, a national landmark, like Chicago’s Navy Pier, or a major transportation center such as Edmonton International Airport. NTT is committed to developing and delivering disruptive technology that helps solve challenges and deliver the best outcomes for its clients.
- Eric Clark, NTT Data Services Chief Digital and Strategy
- Bennett Indart, NTT Data Vice President of Smart World Solutions
- Mark Miles, President and CEO Penske Entertainment Corp
- Rebecca Ruselink, Penske Entertainment Corp Chief Information Officer
- Peter Gray, NTT Data Senior Vice President
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the DEX Imaging Media Center here at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Great to see everyone here this morning.
Media-wise, fan-wise it’s already been a tremendous couple days here as we prepare for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
This morning a briefing regarding NTT’s partnership with INDYCAR as well as Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NTT, one of the leading global technology service providers, is in the midst of its third season as entitlement sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the official technology partner of INDYCAR, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and IMS’s annual Brickyard NASCAR event.
Before we introduce our special guests, let’s take a look at this partnership.
THE MODERATOR: With that, let’s introduce our special guests here this morning.
Eric Clark, NTT Data Services chief digital and strategy officer.
Bennett Indart is here, the NTT vice president of Smart World Solutions.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.
Rebecca Ruselink, the Penske Entertainment Corp chief information officer.
Joining us via Zoom all the way from Melbourne, Australia, is Peter Craig, NTT’s senior vice president who leads the company’s advanced technology group for sport. Welcome here this morning.
The infusion of world class technology and innovation from NTT has raised the level of the sport in just over two plus years. Today we wanted to share some of the significant fan facing programs designed to enhance their experience as well as extensive work behind the scenes through the company’s Smart Platform.
We’d also like to share a major announcement today regarding the NTT partnership. With that I’ll hand it over to Mark Miles.
MARK MILES: I want to thank Eric, Bennett and Peter from Melbourne for being here and joining us, and for all the work that you’ve done for this partnership over the years.
It’s not only a beautiful day in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but it’s a great day for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and I think particularly for our fans.
NTT became the title sponsor of the series two and a half I would say short years ago. We are far better off because of this partnership. So we are delighted today to announce the extension of the partnership for multiple years beyond this 2021 season.
NTT is a potent global leader in technology, as such they’re a critically important partner for us in making us an even more tech-savvy series. It is important the work that they do in so many ways.
First of all, as I think was mentioned in the video, for our drivers and our teams. They’re better operators, racers because of the technology made available to them. Increasingly NTT’s Smart Venue technology has enables us at IMS to conduct the world’s largest annual sporting event in ways which helps us to make the experience of over 300,000 fans outstanding and constantly improving.
Also, and very importantly, NTT’s technology, which powers the INDYCAR SERIES app, and the pagoda plaza media wall, which everybody is going to enjoy at this year’s race, are all very positive examples of how this partnership is providing more compelling content for our fans.
With this extension of our partnership with NTT, our fans can expect to have even more convenient access to much more compelling, exciting content from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This is a fundamental key to our strategy for growth. So it truly is a great day for our race fans.
THE MODERATOR: Incredibly exciting stuff, exciting news this morning. Let’s start with a couple questions here. Certainly, Eric, you know all about the role regarding the INDYCAR partnership. How important are the key programs the company has launched in the series and maybe expand on just a couple as well?
ERIC CLARK: First of all, we couldn’t be more excited about this partnership. As Mark mentioned, we began about two and a half short years ago, and when we started the partnership, one of our immediate goals was fan engagement. We wanted to make significant and quick improvements in the INDYCAR app.
First of all, we wanted to get it into the hands of more fans and more users. So we started by focusing on access. The previous version was only available on one carrier. We made the app available on all carriers and platforms. Then it was a race to put more data into it, more analytics, give more value, make it more compelling for fans who want to download the app and use the app before, during and after the race.
Just a few key elements that I think demonstrate some of the progress in that area is we’re currently up more than 30% year on year on concurrent users in the app during live race events. We’re also significantly up on downloads. Those downloads are becoming more and more global. Top countries today are the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Sweden. Based on the time zone that each one of these races are in, we see additional countries peak up when the time zone hits in other countries. It’s becoming truly more and more global.
As we continue this partnership, we are committed to drive more data, analytics, AI, and more compelling use cases into not only the app but also to the fans that are at live race events through things like the media wall that we have here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So this year at the event we’re going to be showing off some brand-new technology on the media wall as well as in the app that gives brand-new views into the data and the analytics that we’re performing real-time.
In technology we like to talk about data as the new oil. But what makes data really valuable is speed. So this combination with NTT and INDYCAR bringing speed and data together is perfect. We’re really excited for the fans to see what we’re bringing to them on the data wall and in the app for the race coming up.
THE MODERATOR: As Eric mentioned, cutting edge technology, providing really a fresh perspective of information available to fans, certainly the INDYCAR app powered by NTT Data, the media wall as well. We have a preview this morning, in fact.
THE MODERATOR: Pretty cool stuff. Again, Bennett Indart is the VP of Smart World Solutions. You come up to the Speedway, we all do, see all of the great upgrades that Mr. Penske has made in just over a year or so here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, outward facing upgrades. The NTT team has been making major improvements behind the scenes, one of the many reasons we’re here this morning. How has the Smart Platform been a part of this namely with the return of fans which we’re so happy to see here?
BENNETT INDART: Absolutely. First of all, thank you for having me today. I’ve been working on this for the last two and a half short year, as Mark says. It’s been lot of fun. We’re taking some things, as Eric mentioned, lots of data, talk about a firehose of data coming off these cars at 220 plus miles per hour, trying to take that in real-time and turn it into the stories you see on that little video.
That is what the Smart Platform is doing behind the scenes, that heavy lifting, looking at the 140 different sensors on each car, taking that and seeing the forest through the trees, if you will, to pick out the stories that are interesting about the race.
Not all the time do we get to see the entire stories unfold. What we are trying to do is to be able to give that holistic picture so the fan can actually experience the race in different ways, that being through action events like hot laps, fastest lap over the last 30 or so laps to see how we’re trending, we’re looking at g-forces in turns, passing and dangerous moves that they’re making. All things that we can look at through the telemetry.
We’re also doing some things around pitting and looking at different pitting times, how that accumulates over the course of the race and may contribute to the eventual loser or winner.
In addition to that, we’re also pointing that Smart Platform at the venue itself. Looking at IMS, which Mark has talked about a lot, as a large city on race day, 350,000 some odd people can come to this place and enjoy the race. How do they get in and out effectively? How do the operational staff support them in their journey in and out? While they’re here, how does that help the fan experience?
We’re doing things behind the scenes to help the operation staff looking at crowd placement, density of crowds, since we’re looking at different types of social distancing and things like that, helping the IMS operations and support staff provide a better experience or the best experience possible for the fans as they come to the race.
THE MODERATOR: Those are all great points. The race is one thing, but there are 33 stories or subplots within a race. This platform will help tell that story, which is tremendous.
Rebecca Ruselink is the Penske Entertainment Corp’s chief information officer. You have seen literally firsthand the benefits of NTT’s arrival three years ago. What kind of impact has it had?
REBECCA RUSELINK: As CIO, we couldn’t ask for a more ideal partner. The relationship with NTT is really the perfect alignment between a tech-savvy series and a venue that showcases motorsports innovation.
In March of 2019 we actually visited the NTT innovation center and mapped out what we hoped would be our customer journey. NTT has been central in allowing us to improve that customer experience through showing us to be more accessible and more cutting edge in that technology.
We’ve talked about a couple of those ways already with Smart Venue and INDYCAR data experience. The INDYCAR data experience for me is a way for us to convert a new and casual fan to an avid fan.
So many of us know the sport is fast and breathtaking, but it’s also rich in data. So many fascinating touch points. NTT has really helped us tell that story in a more consumable way, whether it’s through the app or whether it’s through the media wall that has also been discussed here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also a critical partnership for NTT. They understand the history and the legacy of the racing capital of the world in a way to help us really prepare for our future. Smart Venue we started implementing in 2019, which is a big part of our future. Through NTT Smart Platform, using artificial intelligence and data tools, we are in a position to actually showcase ways for us to improve gate congestion and traffic flow in a way that we hadn’t before. It will allow us to direct our resources and personnel to areas that specifically need them.
Ultimately NTT has really become, and we’re looking forward to them continuing to be, a reliable partner for us. We’re excited about the journey for them being a part of a bright future that we’re all looking forward to.
THE MODERATOR: INDYCAR is one of the several sports sponsorships that NTT and its family of companies are currently engaged in. Prestigious list also includes Tour de France, Major League Baseball and The Open golf tournament.
Let’s take a look at how NTT is shaping the future of sports.
THE MODERATOR: And that leads us to our final guest here this morning. Again joining us from Melbourne, Australia, Peter Gray, the senior vice president advanced technologies group sport at NTT. Peter’s group focuses on conceptualizing, designing and delivering strategic innovative projects for the NTT technology team on the ground Tour de France since 2015 and do so again when this year’s edition begins next month, June 26th.
Peter, an early good morning there where you are, I believe. Your team has certainly implemented namely at the Tour de France all these great innovations and the importance of the NTT sports sponsorship as a well.
PETER GRAY: Thanks for the opportunity. Look, I really wish that I was there in Indianapolis with all of you. I think I would love to be able to experience the Indy 500. Really looking forward to watching it even though it will be in the very early hours in Melbourne.
I come to you from my garage because this is the way we work these days. I just want to share with you some of the different activations and ways we’re using technology across our sports across the world.
We know that sports is something that helps us to connect as communities. NTT prides itself on helping people, our clients and our communities create a better future. Similarly sport is able to help us showcase technology and innovation and to enable revolutionary experiences for athletes, for fans and for sports organizations.
So when we look at our involvement in sport, really focuses in on three pillars. I don’t know if you have the slide in front of you. Here we go.
Around fan engagement, experience, around data insight, we’ve seen a lot of that in the discussion so far today, and in helping sports organizations to transform and to use technology to assist them in doing that.
What we focused today on the INDYCAR SERIES and Chip Ganassi Racing, NTT also partners with a number of other icons of the sporting world. So if we turn to the Tour de France, NTT is the official technology partner of the Tour de France. This would normally be my office for the month of July, but we will be completely supporting the Tour for many us remotely again this year.
We’ve worked with the Tour de France since 2015 to help a new generation of fans and followers of the race to get a closer view of the action and to really use live tracking and live data analytics and insights for television broadcast, immersive digital platforms, and artificial intelligence-powered race predictions on social media and through mobile screens around the world.
There’s a really common thread between the Indianapolis 500 and the Tour de France. Both of them take place in venues that are iconic, historic and unique. It’s that uniqueness of those venues that makes the events special and drives some of the opportunities and some of the challenges around fan engagement, data insights and business transformation.
This year is going to be a special year for us as we begin to create the world’s largest connective stadium, creating a stadium of over 2,000 miles around the countryside of France. You think about the exciting things that we’ve been doing with Indy. Well, we’re certainly looking to leverage some of those ideas and tools like NTT’s Smart Platform that Bennett was talking about earlier to bring some of those capabilities to the Tour de France, moving from iconic venues such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Tour de France to 100% virtual venue.
We work with Swift, a massive multi-player online cycling, running, physical training environment, that let’s us compete, train and compete in the virtual world. The platform allows people from around the world to participate in casual structured training and races in rich 3-D generated virtual world ( indiscernible) physically together.
We’re really crossing the boundaries here between traditional sport and eSport with Swift and NTT supporting UCU Sports World Championships, the world’s first governing body sanctioning the World Championship which is held in December 2020. We partner with Swift to layer on fan experiences and data insights to using the real-time data from the game platform to provide analytics and race data to the major event broadcasts.
It includes using some of the algorithms that we’ve used for the Tour de France to identify and track routes of riders taking place in a virtual race so the viewers have a better understanding of the race as it evolves.
All of this processing, we’ve talked about it all happens in real-time in merely seconds that that is able to be incorporated in the broadcast graphics. We’re able to share analytics on which riders are best at playing the game with a new efficiency rating that calculates the average power, speed, watts per kilo and efficiency over the last few minutes from the start of the race. We think this represents an exciting part of sports future.
NTT is excited to put data-led storytelling at the heart of it for fans as we take our expertise from INDYCAR and Tour de France to innovate in the eSports world.
We move across to Major League Baseball. We’re the official partner with Major League Baseball and official MLB fan experience partner for ultra-reality viewing. That’s a decent mouthful. We’re working with Major League Baseball around this ultra-reality viewing experience.
What that involves is taking real-time super high-definition video synthesis technology that combines 4K camera images into a super wide 12K image in real-time transmitting synchronously to remote locations. That means that remote audiences can view sports content in an immersive environment, as if they were watching it live in the stadium or on the field. It’s a new fan experience in a smart world era. It was debuted in October 2019. We’re continuing to innovate on this technology together with Major League Baseball.
Finally The Open Championship. The Open Championship is the world’s oldest golf major championship held in the UK. NTT Data is the official patron, technology patron, of The Open Championships. We support this world class sporting event working with them around a whole range of groundbreaking solutions.
NTT Data Wall has been the centerpiece of spectator engagement for those on-site at the event featuring an interactive display which continuously updates graphical information on the scores, the rankings, the plays at each hole, details of the players, et cetera. With the limitations on crowds this year, those data insights are going to be available through the mobile app and through the website where you can follow them online from your home, from the office, and as people move all around the world.
Along with that there’s a news feed delivering personalized content based on your favorite players. This solution has fundamentally transformed the fans and viewing experience as a platform for synchronizing a wide range of data in real-time and continuously presenting the most up-to-date data alongside the live golf action.
So just to summarize, at NTT we believe that technology has the ability to make a positive impact through enabling a connected world. Our work across sports is a highly visible demonstration of the power technology has to change the game. We’re really excited to help drive that change certainly at Indy and across these other iconic partnerships.
THE MODERATOR: The first thought that comes to my mind is wow, this is some cool stuff.
MARK MILES: Yeah, if that’s a question, the answer is yes (smiling).
One thing that hasn’t been said yet this morning is our real admiration for the people of NTT. All of us have gotten to know a lot of you. We haven’t met anybody that we didn’t really love working with. People who are expert in their fields, people who care about us as a partner, and who try to do everything they can to under promise and over deliver. We really want to say thank you to you and your whole team from your CEO and throughout the entire organization.
It’s just so important, I remember thinking years ago when I got involved, that if you’re not a really avid fan, there’s so much going on on the track, so much in our sport that the real racers understand because of the length and depth of their experience, but a casual sportsfan doesn’t necessarily just get. Yet it’s viscerally compelling and exciting. What happens out there you just know is unbelievable.
For us a key to unlocking that value and the growth potential of the sport has always been about technology. We’re not talking about a fan looking at tables of data, right? It’s the way you all in real-time can translate unbelievable amounts of data into content that’s going to make the fans, as Rebecca said, more fans get more deeply involved with us.
From my perspective it has been two and a half short years, COVID-affected years to some extent, but we’re ready. I think the pace of additional increases in the development and displaying of technology is only going to increase. We’re really, really excited about what this means to the growth of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
THE MODERATOR: Let’s go ahead and open it up for questions.
Q. Mark, the timing of this to have fans back at the Speedway for the Indy 500, to basically solidify your entitlement sponsor for the series, also with the TV negotiations going on, how important is this for the timing for all three of those subjects?
MARK MILES: Yeah, it’s really good on a number of different levels. We believe that in every respect the series is growing. I hate talking about being positioned for growth. I like growth. I think it’s happening now. All the metrics are indicating that. More fans are paying more attention, being more engaged with us.
To have the continuity with the perfect partner in our technology development at this stage I think is vitally important. I think it’s a great signal and endorsement from a global powerhouse to other companies that will be considering getting involved with the INDYCAR SERIES. That’s important to us as well.
On a kind of specific level, so much work had been done for the Smart Venue technologies that help us, I don’t know that fans will ever see this, they’ll just be the beneficiaries of it, but technology allows people who control the running of this event for fans, getting them in and out of gates and the like that has been mentioned.
So last year it was not entirely but largely built. Then of course we didn’t have any fans to deliver it to so that we could see the benefits. This year with people coming through the gates on race day, it’s going to be very exciting to see the dividends that this work will have paid.
Q. How valuable of a tool will this be in your TV contract negotiations?
MARK MILES: I think for all our partners, whether they’re in the sponsor field, relationship, or our media partners, momentum matters. The broadcasters, folks we’re talking with, understand that we’re going to grow. We are growing and we’re going to grow. I think this is just a great validation of the point.
Q. Since this partnership began in 2019, obviously some big occurrences in the world and here with the pandemic being one, change in INDYCAR ownership being another. As you guys made this decision to extend this partnership, and you looked at the ROI and the metrics involved in that, were you grading on a curve a little bit given the disruption? Two, how much did Roger Penske’s purchase impact your decision to return?
ERIC CLARK: The value we see in this partnership didn’t change through the pandemic. Clearly the conditions changed and the outlook changed in the way we worked together had to change, right? But when we talk about the value of this partnership, we’ve talked about a lot of things here today, but I like to put it in the context of our clients that we’re doing business with every day.
You think about all the data that we’ve talked about here, how we’re using data as an asset, as an asset for the fans to make it safer and more enjoyable, and ultimately an asset for the racing teams to get that data and analyze that data and get value out of it. These are the same challenges that our clients have. This is a perfect venue for us to draw those comparisons with data and speed, helping our clients to find new opportunities to leverage the data they have.
It really didn’t change for us in terms of the overall value and our vision of this partnership. The purchase by Roger Penske I think is more momentum. It’s just more excitement and more passion around the sport. That makes us even more confident.
Q. Mark, knocking this out, this is a big piece, there are other pieces, the TV contract, you have a new engine coming, how important was it to get this particular piece completed?
MARK MILES: Well, I think a principal entitlement sponsor for a sport is huge, having the right one is even more critical. I never thought about it because I never had a lot of doubt that this is going to be a relationship that will be extended and stand the test of time. I hate to think about what it would have been like if that wasn’t the case and we were out in the marketplace, not because we wouldn’t have been successful, but because we had a lot to do.
To have the benefit of all the work that has been done already, the continuity, momentum that gives us has been really important. We’re just delighted. I think it’s a very important building block for our future growth.
Q. To be clear, you didn’t have to go to the marketplace because you have such a good relationship that you were working on an extension?
MARK MILES: Absolutely.
Q. For NTT, a lot of the things you do have a cool edge, the in-car cameras, the technology. How can you bring in younger viewers?
BENNETT INDART: A lot of the things we’re talking about, this is a roadmap, a continuing partnership that we’re having here, discussions that we’re talking about are doing things around even what Peter was talking about, game-ification, bringing in those types of things, where you’re actually allowing the younger fans to interact in a real-time way with the data as it’s coming off of the track, off of the athletes and their cars. Being able to kind of have their own experience and maybe even manage their own race, right? That’s one way to do it.
We’ve got a lot of ideas and we’re really excited about the potential of taking those ideas forth. That’s one area I think would be very impactful.
Q. Did you take any sort of hit or visibility with the pandemic or what NTT is doing for the series?
ERIC CLARK: No. In terms of what we’re doing for the series, our commitment did not change at all. In fact, we continued to develop the app, we continued to develop the user experience. I gave some statistics earlier about the increase in downloads and the increase in concurrent users this year. It actually increased last year, too, so upward trajectory of engagement.
BENNETT INDART: I would add one more thing. The backbone of a lot of the technology we’re talking about today is being used today in some of America’s larger cities. As a smart city engagement even when the pandemic hit, we were talking about how to get people back into transportation, for example, transit systems, looking at crowd flows, looking at density of buildings and floors and things like that. There is a thread through that I think that kind of continues for our customers, as Eric said.
Q. Anything for race day traffic?
MARK MILES: You’ll be here so early, you’re not going to worry about the traffic (laughter).
Q. Mark, with all this data we talk about for the fans, how much of this is available for the teams? How receptive are they to having this extension?
MARK MILES: I think one of the very first visible developments from the partnership was the handing drivers pads, devices, so that he had really ready access to data. If you look, you shouldn’t be surprised to see, especially during practice, drivers looking for the pad even before he gets out of the car when he gets back in the pits, to see what he did, compare it to the other drivers. It’s more that sort of thing, the ready access to data that is the kind of information that powers improved performance.
Q. NTT, how do you see this series differently, whether it’s with momentum or maybe the growth that you’ve already seen now compared to when you initially signed on back in early 2019?
ERIC CLARK: Yeah, lots of growth, right? We talked about some of the things that we measure in terms of downloads and concurrent users during live race events, but also just in terms of engagement.
We’re a global company with clients all over world. We’re using that to drive awareness of how data plays in business. We think we’ve entered this partnership and relationship at a key time. We plan to help each other really grow and benefit from it.
Q. There’s a lot of data and graphics that you guys are going to be able to utilize with the pagoda video board on race day. Will some of those same graphics be available for fans on the app? Will that experience be different or will it be very similar?
BENNETT INDART: Absolutely. We’re planning and are going to release a lot of the data you saw in some of these videos around the historical views, race views, some of the action events through other channels. One of them is YouTube, another will be across the Indy mobile app.
Q. Mark, obviously eSports was mentioned earlier. Is there strategy in place to change what you’re doing with eSports in the future? Is there plans to have a specific game based championship in eSports for actual sim races in the future?
MARK MILES: I think you can expect to see us grow in the eSports arena in every respect in terms of a game, in terms of competition. And our relationship with NTT will just make it easier for those who want to compete and those who want to follow the virtual racing to get more into it more easily.
Q. Peter, with regards to the fan experience, I’m looking for a little more detail on race broadcast. Would what you do work best on a streaming service platform or TV, say if INDYCAR were to ever offer up their own personal streaming service on the INDYCAR app, what could the possibilities be there? Could you give some examples?
PETER GRAY: I think the reality of the content and data that we are creating is able to be leveraged through more or less any channel. That’s intentionally the way that the whole solutions have been designed and architected. So we can embed that information into television broadcast graphics, into live streams or into the mobile applications.
I think that also plays to the other question about engaging younger fans. It’s about being able to produce content that’s relevant to our different channels, particularly social channels, being able to create really rich experiences there.
Really I think we’ve been creating the engine that then allows that data to be leveraged across all of those different channels. Really the imagination is probably the only limiting factor as we move forward. I think that’s the exciting thing about the extension of this sponsorship is the opportunity to continue to evolve that in the years ahead.
Q. Mark, in terms of momentum going forward for the future of the series, how big is this announcement today?
MARK MILES: In terms of new venues?
Q. On the future of the series.
MARK MILES: As we’ve tried to say, I think this is a red letter day. This is a huge day for our organization, for our fans. I think it adds to the continuation of our momentum. It allows us I think for some time to come to continue to capture more fans and get them more deeply engaged with us. It’s hard to imagine what could be more important than that.
To do that with an organization we’ve come to understand and we’ve learned how to work closely together with without skipping a beat is doubly important.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone, for joining us. A big day for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Indianapolis Motor Speedway certainly, and so much more. We’d like to thank Eric Clark, Bennett Indart, Rebecca Ruselink, Mark Miles, and all the way from Melbourne, Australia, he can go to bed now, Peter Gray.