SBD/May 27, 2014/Media

Dramatic Finish Involving Recognizable Names Helps Boost Indianapolis 500 Ratings For ABC

Hunter-Reay and Castroneves battled with exciting passes in the final laps
The dramatic final laps of the Indianapolis 500, which saw Ryan Hunter-Reay hold off Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti during a six-lap shootout, helped ABC see a ratings jump for the race compared to the '13 edition. ABC earned a 4.0 overnight rating for Sunday’s race, up 5% from a 3.8 overnight for Tony Kanaan’s win last year, which marked an all-time low figure for the event since it began airing live in ’86. The 4.0 overnight is down from a 4.1 rating in ’12 and a 4.3 rating in ’11 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle notes the presence of full-time NASCAR driver Kurt Busch likely "helped ratchet up national viewership" for the event. He finished the race sixth. Hunter-Reay beating three-time champ Castroneves in the "second-closest finish in the event's 100-plus year history didn't hurt either" (IBJ.com, 5/27). The Indianapolis market, which gets the race broadcast on tape delay on WRTV-ABC, saw local ratings jump to a 12.9 this year after earning a 9.3 in '13. The INDIANAPOLIS STAR's Curt Cavin noted part of the improvement "can be tied" to the Pacers, who played an Eastern Conference Finals game against the Heat last year at the "same time as the tape-delayed broadcast." The Pacers did not play Sunday night (INDYSTAR.com, 5/26). 

GREATEST SPECTACLE IN BROADCASTING? In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote ABC's production and direction of the race "were outstanding with coverage whipping around at a dizzying pace." The "intense coverage left no moments of silence or boredom," and pit reporter Jamie Little "was the MVP of the broadcast." Meanwhile, the "best moment of the broadcast came when driver Ed Carpenter talked about the crash with 25 laps to go that took him out of the race and possibly cost him a victory." He said the wreck was the result of an "amateur move" by James Hinchcliffe (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/26). However, SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted viewers "crushed ABC for its decision to go to a split screen in the final, tight laps" of the race to show Hunter-Reay's wife and Castroneves' girlfriend (SI.com, 5/26). In New York, Ken Schott wrote by showcasing the drivers' significant others, ABC "took the emphasis off the race." Schott: "The reactions became a distraction. Race fans, both devout and casual, want to see the exciting finish and not the wife and girlfriend." While ABC "went to full screen during the final lap," the "magic was lost" (DAILYGAZETTE.com, 5/25).

APPEALING TO THE MASSES: Verizon and partners Qualcomm Technologies, Ericsson, Sequans and MobiTV on Sunday at the Indianapolis 500 conducted the first in-venue, live test of LTE Multicast. This is a mobile video technology that is designed to deliver mobile video to large numbers of users more efficiently than traditional, more data-intensive streaming. Verizon first introduced LTE Multicast at the Consumer Electronics Show and conducted a smaller test at the Super Bowl earlier this year. But Sunday's race represented the first deployment of the technology over an American commercial cellular network. The LTE Multicast of the race offered six additional camera angles of the race to users of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. Verizon is planning to feature LTE Multicast at other IndyCar events this year, and Qualcomm is also involved in a similar effort for the French Open. Efforts also are ongoing to expand the service to other smartphones. "This test fully met our expectations, and enables the distribution of high quality mobile video at a fraction of the network impact of regular streaming," said Qualcomm Senior Dir of Marketing Peter Carson (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
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