SBD/May 29, 2013/Media

ABC Sees Least-Viewed Live Indianapolis 500 Broadcast Despite Thrilling On-Track Action

ABC earned a 3.7 fast-national Nielsen rating and 5.7 million viewers for Sunday afternoon’s Indianapolis 500, marking the lowest viewership for the race since it began airing live in ’86. The previous low was 5.8 million viewers in ’10. The rating for the race, however, marks the second-lowest figure on record, with the 3.7 ahead of only the 3.6 earned in ’10. Indianapolis topped all local markets on Sunday with a 9.3 rating. The local telecast in Indianapolis, which aired later in the day on tape delay, had competition in the market from TNT’s Heat-Pacers Game 3, which drew a 16.1 in Indy. The 9.3 local rating for the race was down from a 9.9 rating last year. Dayton, Ohio, ranked second with an 8.6 local rating and Louisville ranked third with an 8.3. Sunday’s rating peaked at a 5.0 rating in the 2:30-3:00pm ET window (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Indianapolis, Mark Ambrogi noted the Indy 500 was a "record-setting, exciting race on the track, but it was a historic flop on television." IMS COO Doug Boles said, "We'll continue to move forward and evaluate where we can promote in various markets that are important as we lead into next year" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/29).

INDIANAPOLIS 500 AUDIENCE TREND ON ABC
YEAR
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
WINNER
'13
3.7
5,735
Tony Kanaan
'12
4.3
6,800
Dario Franchitti
'11
4.0
6,711
Dan Wheldon
'10
3.6
5,779
Dario Franchitti
'09
4.0
6,338
Helio Castroneves
'08
4.6
7,245
Scott Dixon
'07
4.3
6,402
Dario Franchitti
'06
5.0
7,623
Sam Hornish Jr
'05
6.5
9,743
Dan Wheldon
'04
4.1
6,078
Buddy Rice
'03
4.6
6,723
Gil de Ferran
'02
4.8
7,157
Helio Castroneves
'01
5.8
8,580
Helio Castroneves
'00
5.5
8,260
Juan Pablo Montoya
'99
5.5
7,762
Kenny Brack
'98
5.5
7,708
Eddie Cheever Jr.
'97
4.3
5,940
Arie Luyendyk
'96
6.6
8,479
Buddy Lazier
'95
8.4
12,025
Jacques Villenueve
'94
8.3
11,564
Al Unser Jr.
       

BOOTH REVIEWS: In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote while ABC's Indy 500 telecast had "superb direction and production, the broadcast quite often falls flat," and he believes "it's the broadcasters." Marty Reid "does a decent enough job as the lap-by-lap announcer, but analysts Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear are just meh." Jones: "I just get so much more -- information, analysis, entertainment -- from the NASCAR broadcasters" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/27). MOTORSPORT.com's Mark Wilkinson wrote Reid, Cheever and Goodyear's "somnolent tones and torpid delivery make you forget that the race is so freaking exciting." Wilkinson: "Make me sit on the edge of my seat. Make the race so exciting that I have to tune in, not next year, but next week." Meanwhile, ESPN's Lindsay Czarniak was "quite the upgrade" from previous host Brent Musburger, as she "gets auto racing and its personalities" (MOTORSPORT.com, 5/28). But AUTOWEEK's Steven Cole Smith wrote as a fan of the "moderately old-school, less-is-more style of race broadcasting ... I was just fine" with the call from Reid, Cheever and Goodyear. The crew's "no-nonsense approach, coupled with the just-the-facts pit road reporting, never got in the way" of the race. The only "slightly jarring aspect of the coverage is that Reid, Cheever and Goodyear sound quite a bit alike." They at times "almost sounded like they were arguing with themselves" (AUTOWEEK.com, 5/27).

CHANNEL SURFING: SB NATION's Matt Weaver reported former IndyCar driver Mario Andretti "feels the only thing preventing the Series from capturing the imagination of the mass audience is a better television package." Races are currently split between NBC Sports Network and ABC, and while the Indy 500 has been on ABC for 49 straight years, there "was still confusion among the casual or possible first-time viewers." Andretti: "We need a stronger TV package. We need a consistent home for Indy car that is easy for the fans to find and know when to watch. I think the current partners are invested in what we are trying to do, but I think most everyone would agree that it is not as strong as it could be right now" (SBNATION.com, 5/27). SI.com's Lars Anderson noted the "problem for IndyCar ... is that there are still five years remaining on its contract with NBCSN." The net has nine of the final 14 races this season, but IndyCar has "struggled to attract eyeballs." One driver said, "That television contract is just killing us. Even if you want to watch us, no one know how to find us" (SI.com, 5/26).

Return to top

Related Topics:

Media

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug