SBD/August 15, 2012/Media

Izod IndyCar Series Looking At Ways To Increase TV Audience Amid Low Ratings

The Izod IndyCar Series’ low Nielsen ratings this season across ABC and NBC Sports Network have “caused a drop in sponsorship valuation, and until the ratings start to increase, sponsors will be reluctant to pay top dollar,” according to Marshall Pruett of SPEEDTV.com. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, “It has to continue to be our focus and we have to figure out better ways to skin that cat in my opinion. That's the thing -- we can't pretend that our TV is great, our viewership numbers are great, and I think that we need to just hit that fact over the head and say, how are we going to increase our viewership?” Pruett noted it is “clearly going to take more time to raise awareness about the series and its home” on NBCSN. Bernard indicated that the NBCSN/Indycar partnership "continues to evolve." He said, “IndyCar and NBC Sports Network have to be on the same page. I think that it's imperative that NBC Sports Network does off-channel marketing. I think that they're selling to the same people about IndyCar when they’re promoting us on NHL. And they need to grow that number.” Pruett noted any rise in IndyCar’s ratings “will most likely coincide with NBC SN’s addition of more popular sports to its lineup.” But until that happens, IndyCar “will have to deal with modest gains.” There are several other issues facing the series, including the cost of running in the series and engine problems, but “one thing is clear: If Bernard can find a way to improve IndyCar’s television ratings, the rest of the problems become much easier to handle” (SPEEDTV.com, 8/14).
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