Is IndyCar preparing for another money grab?

Will Miles go for the money-grab or series growth?
Will Miles go for the money-grab or series growth?

IndyCar's current TV deals with ABC and NBC Sports Network run through the 2018 season. NBC Sports said it is very interested in continuing the relationship.

Will IndyCar do the right thing this time to ensure series growth by putting all races on network TV, or will it do another money grab from NBC Sports Network where the majority of races are on cable and invisible to the American public?

IndyCar uses the NNBCSN money to pay for its team welfare system called the Leader Circle Program, instead of doing it the right way – which is delivering a minimum of 1 million viewers per race (the average will probably be 2 million per race) on Network TV so the teams do not require welfare and ride-buyer money and can get sponsorship on their own.

The current business model would make a great Master Degree or Doctor's Thesis in business on how to ensure your business stays small and irrelevant.

IndyCar is consulting with Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures in preparing to go out for a request for proposal from the various networks.

NBC Sports markets itself as the "home of motorsports" in the USA with rights to NASCAR, IndyCar, F1, and Red Bull Rallycross and it consistently delivers horrible results to every series. Even NASCAR is seeing consistent double digit declines in TV ratings on NBCSN.

NBCSN needs content and Jon Miller, NBC Sports President of programming told Sports Business Journal that "while IndyCar's ratings don't approach NASCAR's, the company wants to retain America's top open wheel series because NBC is focused on serving all stripes of motorsports fans.

"We're very happy with the product — if you talk to them, they'll tell you that they're happy with the partnership — and we certainly will talk with them when the time is right," said Miller.

"Mark Miles and I have had many conversations about when that timing will be, but we're very interested in going forward. We think they've got a real home as part of the NBC Sports Group and hope it continues for a long time."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]We will now see if IndyCar wants to grow the health of their teams, grow the sponsor base, and grow the fan base, or keep the series right where it is – invisible and unknown to 99.99% of Americans.

What goes up with a 100% Network TV deal and 1.0 or higher TV ratings for all events?
– Race Series Title Sponsorship fee
– Race series sanction fees
– Engine manufacturer participation fees
– Race event Title Sponsorship fees
– Car Primary sponsorship fees
– Car secondary sponsorship fees
– Race event signage fees
– TV advertising fees per 30-sec. spot
– etc.

Miles made statements that when NASCAR joined NBCSN it would raise the awareness of the network and hence raise the TV ratings for all content across the board.

While IndyCar did enjoy a slight bump up in viewership, it was so small and meaningless, it was laughable. And this year the ratings actually declined on NBCSN.

At the end of the day unless you are getting consistent 1.0 and higher TV ratings the majority of sponsorship money in the IndyCar series will be from ride-buyers and business-to-business deals.

Is Verizon a real sponsor for the series and two of Penske's cars or does Roger Penske use Verizon in all his businesses, and in return they throw some money IndyCar's way? With 0.5 TV ratings on NBCSN how can Verizon justify that sort of expenditure any other way but B2B?

And more importantly, what happens to the series when Roger finally calls it a day? Roger isn't a young chicken anymore and won't be around to prop up the series forever.

It sounds like Miles has already made up his mind though — instead of putting IndyCar on the path of growth and prosperity, he'll likely do what we all expect.

by Mark Cipolloni – President of and disgusted with the decline of IndyCar racing since the CART heydays because of poor management decisions.