Dec 20, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, we gave you our take on IndyCar. Sadly, our report was pretty bleak. The series had just lost one of its premier teams, Newman/Haas Racing, and it was still reeling from the tragic loss of driver Dan Wheldon in the final race of the season. Oh, and then there was the ongoing issue of the series’ new Dallara chassis. Development of the chassis has not gone as hoped and, as we predicted back then, IndyCar has been forced to bail out of its relationship with Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That not only costs the series a great racing venue with top attendance potential, but might also end up in an expense legal battle. All in all, our report on IndyCar wouldn’t send many investors into line to buy a piece of the series.
But in the interest of balanced reporting, we now want to offer you some IndyCar successes that might hold more promise for the future than we suggested here two weeks ago. For one thing, more people watched IndyCar racing last year than they did the year before. TV ratings and event attendance were both up for the second consecutive year.
This year, an average of 402,000 viewers per race watched the IZOD IndyCar Series on the Versus cable network. That’s 10 percent more than the 2010 average of 365,000 viewers. The broadcasts on traditional television did even better. Viewership for the ABC race coverage experienced a 28 percent increase, averaging more than 3 million viewers per race. Overall, the series saw a viewership gain of 28 percent, reaching more than 18.2 million homes -- an average of 1.4 million households per event. The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on ABC was the most-watched IndyCar race of the year with 6.7 million viewers, a 16 percent increase over the 2010 race.
In terms of through-the-gates attendance at its races, there was also some positive news for IndyCar. The existing races in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Toronto; and the Twin Ring in Motegi, Japan, all experienced some growth, though the Motegi race gained some of its added attendance by billing itself as “The Last Indy Race.” The series will not return to Motegi next year. The new street race in Baltimore also scored well in attendance, so overall attendance numbers for the 17-event schedule were up 22 percent this year.
“IndyCar had one of its strongest years in growth on TV and in live audience in 15 years on the last year of our current car,” says Randy Bernard, CEO of the series. “We believe that the new car along with Honda, Chevy and Lotus coming into the IZOD IndyCar Series will help the sport show positive momentum for 2012.”
We’d like to believe he’s right.
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