NTT IndyCar Series

IndyCar Executives Talk about the Future of the Sport

Story Credit: INDYCAR PR
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo

INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles announced Friday that consumption of NBC Sports Group’s first full INDYCAR season has approached 1.3 million viewers per race for the first 15 events (Round 16 at Portland was not available at this time). That figure is based on total audience delivery, an industry measurement standard.

“That doesn’t include the Portland data, which will contribute meaningfully, or here at Laguna Seca, both of which, as you know, are on NBC,” Miles said. “Season to date, 11 races have posted growth over their comparable race viewership numbers last year, which we think is terrific.”

Miles made the announcement alongside INDYCAR President Jay Frye and NBC Sports Group executives Jon Miller (President, Programming) and Sam Flood (Executive Producer, President, Production). Miles added that NBC’s inaugural Indianapolis 500 broadcast had a total audience delivery of about 5½ million people, an 11 percent increase from the 2018 consumption.

“A great accomplishment and something (NBC Sports Group) worked very, very hard to make happen,” Miles said. “We’ve been really pleased with the partnership, proud of the partnership. It’s worked from our perspective really well, and to be able to report the results that bear that out is the proof in the pudding.”

Flood said veteran broadcaster Mike Tirico was used as the Indianapolis 500’s host as a signal of the importance of the event.

“Mike hosts the biggest events for NBC Sports,” Flood said. “He’s been there at the Olympics as the host. He’s there at the Kentucky Derby. The big (sporting events) are signaled by Mike Tirico being there, and we made it a point right off the bat.”

Flood said Tirico insisted he wants to return to the 500’s broadcast in 2020.

Also, Miles reported that 97 percent of INDYCAR’s sponsorships are in place for next season, which allows the emphasis to be on 2021 sales.

Frye reiterated plans are in place to implement a new Indy car protective Aeroscreen for 2020, a project in partnership with Red Bull Advance Technologies and several other key companies. The next step is a series of on-track tests, beginning with one at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Oct. 2. Additional tests are scheduled for Barber Motorsports Park on Monday, Oct. 7 and at Richmond Raceway on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

“We talked earlier about data doesn’t drive (cars), drivers drive (them), so it’s going to be that point,” Frye said. “Now, we’ve got (the Aeroscreen) to where we think all the data shows it’s going to be great. The clarity, the visuals, we went through a lot of the process already, but it’s never been on the track. The track is the final send-off.”

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.