Historical IndyCar TV Numbers

As 2019 draws to a close, AutoRacing1.com analyzes the IndyCar TV data from 2016 thru the current year 2019. Any while you may have read the picture is all rosy for IndyCar, don't believe the FAKE NEWS as we present the raw data and an analysis on the raw data to present the true picture. So much of what we read in the media today is slanted and bias reporting, it is hard for people to know what's real and what's fake. Was the move to all races on NBC/NBCSN good for IndyCar, or was it bad? Read and find out.

Raw Data (K=1,000)

Venue 2016
Network
2016
Rating
2016
Viewers
2017
Network
2017
Rating
2017
Viewers
2018
Network
2018
Rating
2018
Viewers
2019
Network
2019
Rating
2019
Viewers
St. Pete ABC 1.0 1,400K ABC 0.8 1,190K ABC 0.81 1,144K NBCSN 0.32 495K
Phoenix NBCSN 0.29 363K NBCSN 0.21 343K NBCSN 0.19 253K
Austin NBCSN 0.23 341K
Barber NBCSN 0.26 279K NBCSN 0.39 470K NBCSN 0.2 310K NBCSN 0.19 296K
Long Beach NBCSN 0.37 402K NBCSN 0.21 321K NBCSN 0.24 370K NBCSN 0.28 436K
Indy GP ABC 1.0 1,300K ABC 0.7 1KK ABC 0.55 780K NBC 0.71 1,066K
Indy 500 ABC 3.9 6,000K ABC 3.4 5,500K ABC 3.1 4,900K NBC 3.40 5,400K
Detroit 1 ABC 0.7 1,000K ABC 0.6 847K ABC 0.55 751K NBC 0.55 761K
Detroit 2 ABC 0.6 918K ABC 0.9 1,400K ABC 0.63 936K NBC 0.71 1,091K
Texas NBCSN 0.3 388K NBCSN 0.35 561K NBCSN 0.21 336K NBCSN 0.24 366K
Elkhart Lake NBCSN 0.33 470K NBCSN 0.37 568K NBCSN 0.22 322K NBC 0.77 1,104K
Toronto CNBC 171K CNBC
(live)
187K
Toronto NBCSN
(delay)
0.3 530K NBCSN
(delay)
0.32 489K NBCSN 0.29 458K NBCSN 0.33 502K
Iowa NBCSN 0.37 534K NBCSN 0.37 534K NBCSN 0.31 452K NBCSN 0.11 156K
Mid-Ohio NBCSN 0.55 811K NBCSN
(delay)
0.39 576K NBCSN
(delay)
0.39 644K NBC 0.47 670K
Mid-Ohio CNBC
(live)
0.13 200K CNBC
(live)
0.09 139K
Pocono NBCSN 0.45 635K NBCSN 0.4 618K NBCSN 0.34 542K NBCSN 0.36 549K
Gateway NBCSN 0.23 359K NBCSN 0.23 391K NBCSN 0.20 310K
Watkins Glen NBCSN 0.29 440K NBCSN 0.41 604K
Portland NBCSN 0.35 529K NBC 0.74 1,101K
Sonoma NBCSN 0.33 528K NBCSN 0.33 536K NBCSN 0.38 629K
Laguna Seca NBC 0.50 732K

Statistics – Annual Total Viewership

ABC/NBCSN 2016 ABC/NBCSN 2017 ABC/NBCSN 2018 NBC/NBCSN 2019
Total Viewers 16,169K 16,303K 13,886K 15,376K
% Chg
'16 to '17
+0.8% % Chg
'17 to '18
-14.8% % Chg
'18 to '19
+10.7%

Analysis
Positives: Total viewership was up 10.7% in 2019 over 2018, because 3 additional races were on network TV (NBC) vs. 2018
Negatives: Despite more races on network TV in 2019, total viewership in 2019 was less than both 2016 and 2017 when the network was ABC instead of NBC

Statistics – Average Viewership per race by Network

2016 2017 2018 2019
ABC Avg NBCSN Avg ABC Avg NBCSN Avg ABC Avg NBCSN Avg NBC Avg NBCSN Avg
2,123,600 489,091 1,987,400 498,250 1,702,200 436,333 1,490,625 383,444

Analysis
Positives: None. While total viewership was up by adding 3 network TV races, average viewership by network is down
Negatives: Average viewership on NBC races was down 12.4% per race vs. ABC in 2018, down 25.0% per race vs ABC in 2017 and down 29.8% per race vs. ABC in 2016. Average viewership per NBCSN race was down 12.1% from 2018

Conclusion

As a result of the NBC IndyCar deal, the black you see above is exactly what TVs outside the USA get for IndyCar race broadcasts, i.e. nothing

By moving all its races to NBC/NBCSN IndyCar has shot itself in the foot. ABC had offered 11 network races per year for 2019 and beyond vs. only 8 for NBC. Had IndyCar chosen ABC/ESPN not only would the total viewership have been up much much more, the average viewership per race would have been up, not down. We saw that when F1 moved from NBCSN to ESPN2 – much higher viewership and ratings on the ESPN network

Add to that the fact that IndyCar would not have gone dark globally because ESPN International would still be distributing the race broadcasts around the world to over 100 countries, and it becomes clear what a disaster the new IndyCar TV deal has been. We see that with so many teams still not set with sponsors and drivers for 2020. If you are confused why IndyCar is hurting for 2020 when the economy is so strong, look no further than the TV numbers – the data does not lie. It's the TV Ratings stupid.

Just about everything is down and whoever made the decision to switch made a serious error in management judgement.

Will Roger Penske start to clean house and put managers in charge who can make sound business decisions, or stay the course that will result in IndyCar floundering and its drivers, its heroes, remaining unknown to 99.9999% of the population?

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