|Mark Miles and Jay Frye|
IndyCar/NBC Sports Q&A
Mark Miles, IndyCar CEO
Jay Frye, IndyCar President
John Miller, President of Programming, NBC Sports
Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the IndyCar State of the Sport season-ending press conference. We're joined today by IndyCar CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar president Jay Frye. Jay will talk about the competition aspects of the 2019 season. Mark will focus on the business side. We'll take questions after that. Just a quick note, in addition to these two guests, we have two special guests from NBC, we have Mr. John Miller and Mr. Sam Flood. They'll join us and talk more about the TV from their perspective as well as ours.
We'll start off with Mark about the business side of IndyCar for 2019.
MARK MILES: Hello, everybody. I suspect, like you, you are half like us, you are very happy to be here in Laguna Seca. We just thought this was an opportunity to make some comments on how we've seen this year, maybe a bit of a hint about what we see coming up, and I may end up doing a little more talking than Jay because it's hard to get Jay to talk. But we'll see what we do.
I'd start by saying we believe IndyCar is the most compelling form of motorsport on the planet, and I think that's more true, more defensible every year. Under Jay's direction, with the combined expertise and experience of our teams of Dallara, Honda, Chevy and all of our suppliers, we just keep getting better, the racing improves, it's more competitive, and it's all done while being very attentive to managing costs for the team.
I'm also delighted to say that in almost every metric, our marketing and promotional and commercial initiatives are growing the sport and ultimately attracting more fans. With that said, let me just take you through some of our specific observations, what I think of as high points.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]So on the track, what can you say? We do believe it's great competition, probably the most competitive form of racing. The number of cars, as you know, if you follow the sport, has been solid on the grid for IndyCar races, 22 here to 24 throughout the year, and at the Indianapolis 500-mile race, we continue to add to the number of entrants. 36 this year trying to get in, and from my perspective, Bump Day is back, and I think the fans loved it.
Looking beyond that, we have had seven winners so far, seven full winners, and seven wins for Honda and nine wins for Chevy so far, a great balance in terms of the result between the manufacturers.
And for the 14th consecutive year, I'm sure most of you have written this, the championship has come down to the finale, and we're thrilled about that.
Looking forward, we're excited about McLaren joining us next year. We're very committed to and looking forward to the introduction of the wind screen, which Jay will talk about in a few minutes, and we look forward to the continued development work on the hybrid system that has been mentioned. Jay will also elaborate on that.
Those are about improving safety and improving our race.
On the business of the sport, we're really pleased with the schedule, its consistency, our ability to continue to have balance between streets and road courses and ovals. We successfully added COTA, and we are really looking forward to the addition of the finale here at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey at the WeatherTech Raceway, Laguna Seca.
Really, I want to thank — I saw Tim here somewhere, Tim McGrane, the guy who is making this all possible, the guy who runs this place, and your team, Tim, for doing a great job for us. It's been a terrific experience working with you to this point, and we expect that we're going to have a lot to celebrate at the end of the event, and also the people of the county and the supervisors for the county and everybody who's been involved in making this possible. You've been great hosts and great partners.
We've seen, I think, continued progress in the recent additions at Gateway and Portland, and we're really pleased about that. And attendance, while we don't have auditable numbers from all of our promoters, I think it's fair to say that it's meaningfully up. We believe at about eight of our races there has been increased attendance from year over year at their tracks. We think four of our races set weekend records for their events, and we think it's fair to say that more than 1.5 million people in total attended our races this year before this weekend.
We had a great May. We've continued to have a series of great successes in May over the last several years, and that's just so important for us. At IMS we think we continue to make history. We know we continue to delight fans, and we do all of that for lots of reasons, but not the least is which is to make an important contribution to the growth of the NTT IndyCar Series. This has been a remarkable from our perspective in sponsorship, so in less than 12 months, we've added as new sponsors NTT as our title sponsor of the series, Speedway as official fuel and convenience store, Gainbridge as the presenting sponsor of the Indianapolis 500-mile race, and I'll take all comers on whether or not we're able to add another meaningful sponsor for next year and announce that before the end of this year with Bright Close. Those are new.
In addition to that, we extended Firestone, I saw Lisa Boggs here, Lisa, you and your team and Firestone are an institutional part of IndyCar racing who have extended our partnership through 2026, a big deal to us, and I know very good news from the perspective of the paddock.
97 percent of our sponsorships are in place through 2020, so we're now really focused on selling for 2021, and I believe we have the kind of story to tell and the momentum which will help us continue to grow.
Just a word about some of those key sponsors that are new that I mentioned. From our perspective, NTT has been a great partner, a great new title. Lots goes into that, but they hit the ground running having been involved previously with NTT DATA. They're here this weekend in numbers, and we're working really hard with them and have been for months on how fans will begin to see, beginning next year, more technological innovations that help the fans take in the sport and find it more exciting. So we're looking forward to some of that rolling out.
I want to thank and compliment three new senior additions to the team with S.J. Luedtke running marketing, Mike Zizzo up here in communications, and Casey Lane, who I think is still on the road who took over the position to lead our sales efforts. They've all been terrific additions and made impacts right away.
In terms of marketing, our social media, we have channel growth. We have growth of engagement, and C.J. has been working on refining our strategies for next year. It'll be an additional focus, an additional area for investment, and no doubt the growth will continue and actually continue at greater rates.
I didn't mention the app when I mentioned NTT, but we should. We did not take for granted that we had to build an entirely new app, basically start over from last year to this. Those things don't necessarily work. They're not necessarily delivered on time and on budget, and we think it was a successful, seamless transition, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude for that.
We have continued to see growth in the downloads over the year. More than 200,000 have downloaded the app so far this year, and that we believe will continue, and there's also good news in terms of the consistency of our unique users of the app from week to week. So all that's good news.
I wanted to mention a word about something we haven't talked about much, but that's esport. This year there was, I think, sort of an unnoticed major development from our perspective. We teamed up with Microsoft and Forza for their Bounty Hunter challenge. A number of our drivers laid down times for May and then gamers tried to see if they could beat them for points and various prizes. 700,000 downloads of the Forza 7 game occurred as part of this initiative, and the Forza team told us that given the link — that it was not a new introduction in terms of a game, it was the biggest number they saw for downloads in their experience in the space so far. That bodes well for us, I think.
The last few months we've done a lot of work to decide what our strategy ought to look like for esport. We're not going to get into that today, but you will see us stepping up and getting more into the esports space next year for sure.
|John Miller and Mark Miles|
So those are some of the key comments. We're going to reserve maybe the biggest news, which is our relationship with NBC and all that's gone into that and what it's achieved until last, but before that I want to turn it over to Jay and ask him to talk about anything we can get him to talk about but at least to include the wind screen and the hybrid.
JAY FRYE: Thank you, Mark. So we've been working on this aero screen since 2016, so I guess you'd call this an overnight sensation. But the real game changer for us this past year was when we partnered with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.
There's been no stone unturned on this program, this project, from driver cooling, driver expectation, clarity, glare, impact. It's amazing what they've been able to do in a very short period of time. We believe this is an industry-changing total safety solution for driver cockpit protection. We're very excited to get it on the track because we always say the data doesn't drive, drivers drive, so the next step in the process is to get it on track and see where we're at.
The first test will be coming up at IMS on October 2nd. We'll go to Barber on October 7 and Richmond on 10/15. So it's a very aggressive schedule, but the ball is in motion for a 2020 implementation. So again, we think this is going to be something that's going to really set the standard on driver safety. We're excited about it. We really appreciate what all Red Bull has done, PBG, Henkel, Isoclean. There's been a lot of people involved and we're excited about the future of that.
In regards to the hybrid piece, it's very important that we remain true to our DNA, and our DNA is fast, loud, authentic and unapologetic, so when we put together this product or put together an RFP for this product, that had to meet all those criteria. A couple of things we're working on with this piece is one is for safety so the cars will have electric starters, so the driver spins, they stall the car, they'll be able to start the car into 1 so the driver is not exposed. Another will be our AMR guys out there with an umbilical cord having to start the car, so they won't be exposed. Another thing that's really a byproduct of the whole system is hopefully we'll keep the pace of the race going, so there won't be as many yellows, so that will help, too. But one of the bigger parts, the biggest part in our opinion is horse power, so our goal, our stated goal is to get over 900 horsepower. This product will give us at least 50 of that, so we remain true, again, to our DNA. We want to have less downforce but have more horsepower. We're excited about this. We've got 10 current RFP's out, so the plan is to have a chosen partner in the first quarter of next year for a 2022 implementation.
These projects are big. I think they're game changers for the sport, but at the end of the day we've got to be who we are, and that's fast, live and authentic. We're excited about the direction, we're excited about what Mark has talked about, and we just look forward to a great weekend this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Jay mentioned the test October 2, just a quick note, it'll be with Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden and that will be open to media. We'll also produce some media content out of that, as well, for people who can't be there. Mark, do you want to introduce our special guests?
MARK MILES: Yeah, I want to introduce John Miller, president of programming at NBC Sports, and Sam Flood, who is the czar of everything you see. I don't know exactly what your title is, Sam, forgive me, to come up and join us. As they're walking, just one quick word on international media. Some of you who follow the business of the sport know that we took that function back internally now, we manage that directly, both the sale and the production. Our friends at IMS Production have done a great job in helping us deliver that in a seamless way, and I think that's going to bode well for the future of the sport. John, welcome. Great to see you. Sam, thank you for joining us.
You know, it's interesting that we started, I think, in St. Petersburg, Florida, together, talking as a group about how we saw the future, and we had great aspirations, and these guys will elaborate, but let me just lay out a couple data points some of you may have already seen. The average total audience delivery, total audience delivery for the series was 1,129,000 viewers for races through the first 15. That doesn't include the Portland data, which will contribute meaningfully, or here at Laguna Seca, both of which as you know are on NBC network. Season to date, 11 races have posted growth over their comparable race viewership numbers last year, which we think is terrific. And NBC's inaugural Indy 500 had total audience delivery of about 5 and a half million people, 11 percent year over year, which is a great accomplishment and something that these guys to my right and their team worked very, very hard to make happen.
We've been really pleased with this partnership, proud of the partnership. It's worked from our perspective really well, and to be able to report the results that bear that out is the proof in the pudding.
With that, I'll be quiet and ask John and Sam to add their color.
JOHN MILLER: Thank you, Mark and Jay. It has been an incredibly exciting first year for the NBC Sports Group to have the entire NTT IndyCar package. As many of you know, we had the cable rights for several years but shared those with another broadcaster so to bring the entire property under the NBC portfolio umbrella really made a big difference. And I think in a business where flat is the new up, when you see increases that are almost approaching double digit increases, that's a real testament to the property and the product that we're able to put out there.
We're fortunate that we have a leader in Sam Flood who knows this space better than anybody and has put together an incredible team with great talent and great execution. We've worked closely with the folks at IndyCar to make sure that we program it the right way, that we take advantage of lead-ins, that we take advantage of what our competition is to showcase everything.
We launched an NBC Gold IndyCar opportunity. You'll be able to make all practices, qualifying available to fans. So we've been very happy, and going to eight broadcasts up from I believe you had four or five with your prior deal. So to have eight IndyCar races on NBC broadcast has really made a big, big difference. To be able to crown the champion here at Laguna Seca this weekend at this incredible venue and to have it be so close to come down to the wire really bodes well for us, and I know that next year is not that far away, and we've already started planning on ways that we can do things to grow it even further. So we're happy.
SAM FLOOD: We were thrilled to be able to do the Indy 500 for the first time. It's one of the iconic events in all of sports. And to have the Peacock Tower behind the 500 was a proud moment for us. But we're thrilled to be able to embrace the event, make it bigger, grow the rating, and all the talent that came out to be a part of that from all parts of the NBC Sports Group and the NBC Sports team, to have Dale Jr. there, to have Rutledge Wood there, to have Leigh and the group that does the races week by week, to be supported by this additional group, Danica Patrick joining the team for that race, we think we elevated what the race was about. We had a great deal of fun producing it, and we were a little nervous all week long about the weather, which is one of those things you can't control. We're not an indoor sport, and as we all know in racing, you want blue skies and fast cars, and we had both of them, and we were thrilled to accomplish what we did at the 500.
But most importantly, carrying that momentum into the rest of the season and telling the story with this one production and talent team the entire year, we think made a big difference and able to engage the audience in new ways and helped grow the sport to new levels. So we were thrilled with everything that was accomplished this first year.
JOHN MILLER: Being able to include the Indianapolis 500 as part of our championship season we also think helped elevate it. We had several big high-profile events, whether it's the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kentucky Derby, the Open Championship and the Indianapolis 500, some of the biggest events that happen in the sport of sports in a very confined period, and being able to add to Indianapolis 500 to that lineup we think was terrific.
MARK MILES: You talked about the great marquee events you had, tremendous opportunities in terms of cross promotion. Can you tell us how you helped raise the level of not only our sport but the other sports?
JOHN MILLER: Well, I think that what ends up happening is that we started promoting the Indianapolis 500 and the NFL playoffs in January. This was an event that wasn't going to take place for another five months, and to make sure that people knew that it was on everybody's radar screen but especially on our radar screen I think helps signal just how important this event and this property and quite honestly this relationship was to us, and because of also the championship season promotion, it gets promoted consistently from February and even after the Indianapolis 500 is over, it goes all the way through our last championship season event, which is the Tour de France, so it has the benefit of a six-month promotional window, which is pretty unique for a property like this.
Q. Mark, with a bunch of European drivers now in the championship, in the future is there any realistic chance we'll have a race in Europe? Are you in contact with European race promoters or track operators?
MARK MILES: Well, as you know, we've talked about it and we continue to work on some expansion of the NTT IndyCar Series to include races outside of North America, and I think I'm still quite optimistic that that will happen over the next couple of years. We're looking for as many as two, as we particularly like the idea that they might be in February to be at the beginning of the year as opposed to more salted throughout the calendar later in the year.
So saying that, as a European, you know well that there are very few places, at least in western Europe, where it's likely that we could race in that time. So I will say that I think the prospects for us racing internationally are better in other regions. It's not because we don't like Europe, but I'm just not sure it's going to work for us immediately with our current strategy in terms of climate.
Q. You just said western Europe. Is there any possibility of eastern Europe?
MARK MILES: No, I didn't mean to exclude — all of Europe. The issue is weather so you'd have to be looking at those few places far enough south where you could depend on a good racing climate for the racing and for the fans in February. That's tough to find.
Q. And the second question, can you talk about the current status of another engine manufacturer?
MARK MILES: I'm going to pass that to Mr. Frye.
JAY FRYE: Well, obviously we announced some things this year that we're quite excited about, and I think that will help enhance our overall product and some of the things they're looking for.
Over the next couple months we're going to hit it really hard, and we've heard from a couple that we had not heard from before recently, which was good. So it's a big commitment, but we're going to make sure we're going to knock on a lot of doors in the next few months.
Q. Mr. Flood and Mr. Miller, NBC has shown the ability to take sports with centuries-old traditions and make them seem cool again. How valuable has that been in helping revitalize events such as the Kentucky Derby, the IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis 500, the Olympics?
JOHN MILLER: Well, I'll let Sam talk about the production side. In terms of the positioning and the marketing, we're blessed that we work for a very big company in Comcast, and so we're able to bring all the assets of our company to the table, not just NBC Sports, but you saw the Indianapolis 500 showcased on things like the TODAY Show. We brought in Jimmy Fallon. We have our cable partners, CNBC, Golf Channel. We used every asset at our disposal, both in terms of linear and social to make sure that everybody knew it was coming, so those kind of things bring in a casual audience, which is one of the things that I think for an event like the Indianapolis 500 you need to have.
SAM FLOOD: And then as a production philosophy, we really lean into big events. We want to make big events bigger, and it started years ago with our Olympic coverage, storytelling, making you care. You think about the Mario documentary we aired prior to the 500. All it was about is making people care more about the people in those cars, and then the event becomes bigger based on the relationship we build with the audience, with the stars and then the place.
There are certain places in this country and around the world that when you step into them, you're in a unique environment, and the 500 was that, so we're able to highlight, showcase and tell the stories in a unique spread of ways, and to have Mike Tirico there signal that this mattered, because Mike hosts the biggest events for NBC Sports. He's there at the Olympics as the host. He's there at the Kentucky Derby. The big things are signaled by Mike Tirico being there, and we made it a point right off the bat, and Mike was thrilled to do it, and in just looking at his schedule for next year, being an Olympic year, he's got a very crowded calendar, and the one thing he said to me is I'm not missing the 500, and I said, no, you're not. That's what it means to our company.
MARK MILES: One of the things that also helped us a lot, when we first came — started in St. Petersburg, NBC had just finished the acquisition of SKY in the UK, and we were able to work out a deal where we could put NTT IndyCar racing on SKY for the very first time, and that really turned out to be a great benefit for all sides, and they've really embraced it, and I think it's done quite well for them, and obviously it just helps further tell the story of this great series.
Q. To follow up on that with a less popular country, Canada, who's not to thrilled with the current deal, can those fans expect to see an upgrade for next year, or are we not sure yet?
MARK MILES: Well, that would be on me, not these guys, although they could probably get a little NBC. Listen, I wouldn't ever refer to it as an upgrade. I think we appreciate the work that's been done by our broadcast partner there now. We will always be looking to grow the reach, and so I take it that you follow the business in Canada. It's kind of a volatile sports media market at the moment, and so I don't know how quickly we may be able to grow our audience there, but we'll continue to be close to it and attentive to opportunities.
Q. We've seen an upgrade in the hospitality world, the big air — owe whatever you want to call that two-story village. Is that a direction you guys are trying to — I know you don't control it but are you pushing it because it kind of adds to the show?
JAY FRYE: No, I think it's a great indicator. We look at car counts, we look at different things like that, so that's — all of a sudden you see an explosion of different things like that going on, so that feels like we're going in the right direction.
MARK MILES: I think it's an example of very friendly competition in the paddock. I think Arrow probably came first and Big Splash with their investment in hospitality there, and now we've seen others, and I'm pretty sure when we see McLaren come forward you may see even more. So that's all good, and it has effect equations, as well.
Q. I have a question about McLaren. What will they bring to the series?
MARK MILES: Well, we think we have a big opportunity for growth internationally in any case. Anything that happens that causes us to be in front of more race fans and sports fans around the world is a big thing, and the McLaren brand is powerful, and their place in motorsport is powerful. So we have no doubt that more people around the world, particularly in Europe, will be paying attention to IndyCar because McLaren is competing.
I want to give you one other example if I can riff off of that question a little bit about the international opportunity that I just thought was really cool, and I don't think enough people heard it, but I had the privilege of being with Simon Pagenaud and Hailey when he did his kind of tour de force, not France, in France in early August, I think, with the Borg-Warner. It was only the second time the Borg had been out of the country that I know about. The first time we know was in Japan.
First of all, this was initially — it was basically his initiative. He wanted to go back and get in front of racing fans in France. For three days — first of all, in Budapest Formula 1 race he was welcomed and that was terrific, then three days in Paris. But the day I wanted to mention to you was Thursday, the party that was part of this, including Simon and the Borg went on the TGV to Montmorillon, France, his village of 6,000-some people. The mayor invited all residents to come to a program, Simon, the Borg, the presenter, important presenter of motorsports in France, and they put on a great program for about two hours, which we thought was quite adequate, but it was really very well done.
Simon grabs the mic after it's clear to everybody that's it's over and he says, "You don't have to leave," to the 2,000 — 2,000 people showed up of the 6,000 people in the village. "I'd like to meet every one of you." So he stayed four more hours saying hello to people, signing autographs and really just being himself, which is the kind of thing that will grow a sport anywhere but was really touching to see in France.
Q. Mark, on Wednesday night Jay was at a media event here in Monterey and was talking about how IndyCar works with other motorsports series and wants everybody to succeed, and I think he was mostly referring to working with IMSA, but obviously NASCAR has been part of that discussion, as well, and there was a lot of momentum, I think, in May for maybe a double-header, NASCAR/IndyCar in the future, and Dale Jr. was among those who was a big proponent of that. I don't have to tell you the two men to your right I think would love to see things that help NASCAR and IndyCar. Where do you stand on all that, and what are the challenges to making that happen, and how early, 2022, '23, if things went well on all fronts, could something like that happen?
MARK MILES: Well, I appreciate the question because it's a chance to elaborate upon our thoughts about it. We're all very open to it. That shouldn't be misunderstood. But it's complicated in the fact that you've asked in terms of '22, '23, indicates that you understand that just to get the schedules together to be in the same place is going to take that kind of time.
It was said that there was momentum in May. In my view there was more discussion in May, more talk about it, more smoke than fire. So I think the folks at NASCAR know that we think it's a good idea. I think as far as I can tell, they think it's a good idea.
Jay is more in touch with them regularly than I am. So we'll see if it can be pulled together. I don't see it before 2022, and exactly when, I don't know. But it's something that we think — if it gets more people watching motorsports, it's well worth working on.
It is complicated. We have to get the schedules together. From our perspective, at least my perspective, I think it might be easier to do that where we already race as opposed to adding a race, another stop on our schedule. I don't know whether that's the same sense that NASCAR would have. There's the schedule, then there's all the rest of it. It would be a lot easier if it was in the second half of the year from the perspective of these folks to my right.
You've got to make sure that the sponsorships work and there aren't those kinds of conflicts and a lot of commercial things.
But look, if it gets more people watching motorsport, then we think it's worth spending some time working on.
SAM FLOOD: And we certainly cross-promoted — Roger Penske did the ad with two of his drivers that we shot at the Brickyard last week that got out there. A lot of fun, a lot of great response to it, and that's things we couldn't have done in the past. I think that's part of us leaning in as NBC in trying to grow all of motorsports, and it's important that every form of racing gets attention, and that's what we're pushing, as you know all too well.
Q. John, is there a plan for more shoulder programming? We know that kind of helps grow the sport and grow the personalities, and what are the plans for Gold? It's been fun to have. I know the races I wasn't at I really appreciated having it. Is there a plan to continue to grow that?
JOHN MILLER: Yeah, I think the Gold experiment this first year, we were very happy with it. It helped super-serve the fan, which is something that we obviously want to do, especially when we're an exclusive partner like we are with IndyCar. We're that way with the Premier League and a couple of other properties. So Gold continues to be something that we invest in and try to grow.
As far as shoulder programming, we had a great experience with the Andretti doc in front of the 500 and got great response. We have a wonderful team inside NBC Sports that does these kind of shows, so we're already looking at some new opportunities for next year, but yeah, I think you'll see more of that, and we'll use our social channels, as well, to get this out there and to kind of get the word out. So yeah, it's very positive.
SAM FLOOD: And the new Peacock streaming service that was announced earlier this week will be another opportunity to put out long-form content which will be very beneficial to everyone.
Q. Jay, I was curious, you mentioned a few times, you seemed to use the slogan, fast, loud, authentic and unapologetic. What would you have to be apologetic about? What does IndyCar have to be apologetic about?
JAY FRYE: Nothing. So that last word, it's kind of like you talk about the first three, you don't want to come off arrogant because we don't mean to be arrogant, it's just who we are and what we do. So we added unapologetic. It was originally just fast, loud and authentic. So there's a new one in there. But no, there's nothing to apologize about.
Again, when we talk to other manufacturers, we've got a couple new initiatives, a couple new platforms we're working on.
The aero screen is equally as important. I think that's kind of — there was a couple magazines in Europe that we would usually get about a paragraph in. Last month there was 15 pages in this magazine about this aero screen. So I think we can't wait to get it on the track in a couple weeks. I think it's going to be a game changer for motorsports in general, so we'll see how it goes.
Q. Mr. Miller and Mr. Flood, a follow-up on the commercial that featured Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Blaney and Roger Penske. Were any of you surprised to see how great of an actor Roger Penske was?
JOHN MILLER: I assume he's got his SAG card. He's certainly been in front of the camera enough, and he's quite an ambassador for the sport, so we were not at all surprised by that.
SAM FLOOD: We were thrilled that he agreed to do it. It's one of those special things and the kind of guy he is to jump on board and make it even bigger because we had a plan B if Roger couldn't do it, and when we got the confirmation, we knew we had something special that was going to happen.
Q. Obviously you guys are running your own series and doing your own thing and you have a very different identity from NASCAR. Inevitably when you're running a race on the same weekend, people go, okay, here are NASCAR's ratings, here are IndyCar's ratings. Do you look at the comparison between the two? Sometimes the gap seems to be narrowing a little bit, seems to be getting closer. Do you evaluate that?
MARK MILES: So my view is we're not running against NASCAR. I'm happy to see their ratings grow, not just because these guys are sitting right here with us. We want to see the industry grow. We're focused on our number and our audience growth, and we don't really gauge our success by whether we're catching NASCAR or not, although I appreciate the question.
We do spend time looking, as John already referred to, as best programming, best scheduling. And so we've gotten better over the years at avoiding head-to-head overlaps, which I think is great for fans and helps the audience for both.
JOHN MILLER: We had a motorsports summit last December with all the partners of every motorsport that John has got us lined up with, and everyone talked about one this, which is growing the overall motorsports pie and getting more people to pay attention, and we think it's working. We launched the YouTube channel, which is about to hit 100,000 subscribers. So a lot of positive things came out of that, and it broke down some walls because everyone realized that we need to work people inside this ecosystem and share the audience and grow the audience, which is the combination we've been working on.
Q. Jay, a technical question concerning the forthcoming test with the aero screen. There are a lot of pictures now on the internet what the aero screen looks like. After the test the drivers say there must be some significant changes, is this technically possible?
JAY FRYE: Yeah, absolutely when we talked earlier about data doesn't drive, drivers drive, so it's going to be to that point. Now, we've got it to where we think all the data shows it's going to be great. All the stones have been — remember we said a little bit ago. We think it should be fun.
The clarity, the visuals, we went through a lot of the process already, but it's never been on the track. The track is the final sign-off. We'll go through it in the morning with just really checking boxes.
You'll see the driver cooling piece, that type of thing, and then in the afternoon we're going to run some tires with our friends at Firestone, to kind of get a different feel. But there's — yes, there's certain things that we could do to change it if we have to. At this point we don't think we will have to, though.
Q. Jay, you just mentioned to Wolfgang just about the magnitude, the amount of people and engineers that are working on this project from Red Bull on down the road.
JAY FRYE: Well, you know, Red Bull Advanced Technologies, their entire staff, Red Bull's F1 team, Henkel — Henkel is a global — if there's anything to do with metal, they're the best in the world, they're involved. PBG, the aerospace industry, is involved. Again, this is probably even the coolest project we've ever been involved in. We have access to all these people that are all focused on getting this right and getting it right in a big way.
You think about, too, from a Red Bull perspective, it's got to look cool, it's got to work. So all these things are part of the plan. There's been some things that have happened as a byproduct that we didn't expect when we first started the project, which has made it even better, so when you think of the upper frame, the people call it a halo. It's really not a halo, it's a frame that the screen sits in. But the frame has as much strength — is stronger than a halo. Again, that's a great thing. It wasn't part of the original plan, but it turned out like that. Again, we're just excited to get on the track.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time.