IndyCar – Attendance and Ratings

long_beachAttendance figures have been released for the Long Beach Grand Prix with a weekend total of 175,000. This is up from last years 170,000 for the Champ Car World Series finale. On the surface, a bump of 5,000 doesn’t seem to carry much significance, but with the stagnant economy, the numbers should be read as a win for the race promoters.

But the numbers only tell part of the story. This event’s headline act is far more stable than CART or CCWS was in their last few visits here. The ownership of the former CCWS also owns the rights to run the race, preventing IndyCar from running there. Now with the uncertainty of the split in open wheel racing, it would appear that Long Beach is poised to reap great benefit from its association with IndyCar.

Versus also saw an increase in their viewership this weekend. The Nielsen numbers indicate that almost 389,000 households tuned in to watch the race, garnering a 0.5 rating. The same race last year on ESPN2 drew almost 486,000 households. Last years race was the swan song for CCWS, but also an IndyCar points paying event since it coincided with the Motegi Japan. When unification occurred so late in the game, the only option was to run both races and have them both pay IndyCar points.

While Versus again lagged behind ESPN & ESPN2’s numbers, it is not panic time. Versus is building the IndyCar brand on their channel and “superserving” (their word) the IndyCar fan base. With the quality of the product that we have observed so far, and the networks dedication to their new property, I think it is clear that Versus will be able to grow the IndyCar audience. And since the IndyCar series signed with Versus for the next ten years, they think Versus is capable of doing that.

With the circuit moving to Kansas City this weekend, one has to wonder how the television ratings will pan out after the first oval of the season. The IndyCar fan base is very diverse, but those who have been following the IRL after the split have a certain affinity to the ovals. On top of that, the casual fan in the US is more likely to be interested in watching an oval than a street course. I think we are poised to see a good increase in the TV numbers this weekend above the half million household mark.

However, if you haven’t tuned in to the Versus broadcast yet, I would advise you do so this weekend. The ABC part of the schedule is picking up for Indy and Milwaukee and we will be back to the same abysmal coverage we have been stuck with for years now.

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5 Thoughts to “IndyCar – Attendance and Ratings

  1. The LBGP has always been a fantastic event, and I’m glad that it survived the split. Many other great events did not. I’m not a big fan of street races, but St. Pete and Long Beach both are very unique. Passing is still difficult, but its at least possible.

    Versus has been doing a very good job serving the IndyCar community. Yes, the ratings aren’t what we’d all like, but the numbers that will really count are those toward the end of the season. Those are the ratings numbers that the teams will use to sway potential sponsors. I’m curious how the IndyCar ratings compare to other event ratings on Versus.

  2. Jim

    Versus has got one thing going for it. they did not carry Indycar last year during the awkward Champcar getting to know IRL period. Now they get to build a fanbase for their coverage now that the freshman feel is out of the air. Please though get Jack Arute out of that stupid broadcasting position and make him walk the pit lane

  3. where is your source stating the attendance was 175,000?

    1. That was a number published by the Indianapolis Star. Unfortunately they don’t allow searching of older articles. The abstracts are available, but they charge for full articles.

  4. Welcome to the site Dave! Thanks a lot for the question as well. Anytime you like to come by and comment or ask questions is cool and you are most welcome here. Mike and Doug are IndyCar junkies and they have slowly pulled me into the fold.

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