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May 10, 2013


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These numbers are depressing. How low CAN they go? At what point is it unfeasible to broadcast?


If you look at the list of stuff on NBC Sports Network, there are some 0.0s in there and IndyCar at a 0.2 isn't that far behind their best rated show, playoff hockey at 0.4. So clearly nobody is watching the network in general. IndyCar has a contract with NBCSN to broadcast the races for the next five or six years, ratings not withstanding.


"At what point is it unfeasible to broadcast?"

Well--Ive had some of my favorite little shows on cable tv cancelled that were getting 3-4 times those numbers, basically close to a million viewers and many shows 5 times that on cable so I don't know how Indycar can stay on TV with those ratings? I would guess as long as sponsors are still buying spots on the low rated network it'll continue as it is--but for how long? The real Network NBC is probably in part, supporting and paying for the costs of operations that it cant possibly be making on its own--but for how long as well?

Also for those saying or hoping when this contract is up that they get back on network TV on a reg basis--NEVER going to happen as the reason they are on this low rated network (Versus before), is because NO other TV network wanted them? With Network TV they need at least 3-4+ million viewers on a reg basis as many reg network shows have been cancelled even for those ratings considered bad for network TV. Nowdays its all about the money and without sponsors providing that and buying spots of value, the networks do start questioning the shows they broadcast--period.

Notice Indycar and its loyal fans still looking at glass half full even though they know better or they should, as saying the racing is great when the proof that it isnt so much, IS the lack of interested viewers. Facts are by now people know about NBCSN--but they just aren't interested--apparently? Remember--you cant force people to watch or like a sport or anything else for that matter.

Don't shoot the messenger as it is what it is, just stating the facts.


The TV numbers are meaningless without knowing the standard error/margin of error.

When making a numerical assessment of an entire population by extrapolating from a smaller subset within that population, the best one could do is offer a range (which incorporates the +/- of the margin of error) within a specific confidence interval (usually 90-95%). Within a given confidence, the margin of error diminishes as the size of the sample grows. However television ratings are taken from a very small sample size in comparison to the general viewing public and the resulting TV number has a large margin of error that is not reported. That makes interpreting the rating basically meaningless.

As a result, the week-to-week ratings fluctuations of a particular race are only meaningful if they fall outside the margin of error. Otherwise, the two results from 2012 and 2013 are statistically equivalent and is not really accurate to claim that 100K less watched this year than last.

I know Indycar's popularity is not what it was 20 years ago. I'm not denying that. But it is junk accounting / dirty numbers / statistically inaccurate to say ratings are up or down compared to last year or last week, if the number from either falls within the margin or error. A .2 rating and a .33 rating are really the same because the error margin overlaps.

I know people follow the rating numbers and businesses even make sponsorship decisions based on the ratings, but that doesn't mean that the ratings are accurate or statistically valid. The true way to interpret those ratings is that they are flat, not up or down. Sorry just venting, but it is not accurate to say that Brazil is down from last year; the rating is actually flat and basically the same as last year. Ratings are not accurate within 100K or even 200K.


No argument, Rick, but even if the rating actually 3x what's reported, that's still 0.6 and still putrid.

The Speedgeek

Hey, vern, is there a reason that you keep proclaiming that the racing in IndyCar is not good? Because you've stated here that you don't even get NBCSN in your home, so have you watched the racing this year? I've watched about a billion IndyCar races since 1991 (along with probably 300 F1 races, several hundred NASCAR races of all levels, a couple hundred sports car races of all levels, dozens of short track races, both on TV and in person, and even some MotoGP and World Rally Championship). IndyCar circa 2013 is as good or better than anything else out there. This is not "glass half full"-speak, it's direct comparison (sure, it's my opinion, but by just about everybody's account that I've heard, 99% of folks watching IndyCar right now agree with me). Can you honestly tell me that the vast majority of people who might have seen the last couple of laps at Brazil then said "eh, whatever"? That stuff ranks right up there with Darlington 2003, fella (another race that I watched live and had me jumping up and down).

We'll go over this again. NBCSN is getting zero-point-something ratings for every single thing they show. That tells me that there is a giant chunk of America that either doesn't get the channel (though NBCSN's in-home numbers are probably not all that far off of SpeedTV/FoxSports1 or some of the ESPN properties) or they just have no idea that they even have it. When you dwell in the deep cable ranks with a channel number in the high-200s or 600s, you aren't going to get a whole lot of people stumbling across your programming. People aren't rejecting the current IndyCar product (because if they were, we'd see TV numbers that would reflect 30 million people tuning in for 90 seconds and then turning the channel at the first mention of something named "Viso" or "Jakes"), they have no idea it exists. Turning that around is the $64 million question right now.

The Speedgeek

Also, many thanks to Rick for the explanation of statistics. Seriously. I wish more people understood that stuff.


Good job Rick.
However these stats also fail to recognize that this feed is going out worldwide. Europeans watch it. So do Australians, Brazilians, Mexicans, Canadians and wherever else the feed goes. If you believe stats, Canadians watch Indycar at a rate of 3x more per capita than Americans.

And let's not forget Youtube where I watch Indycar when travelling.
Granted it's probably not going to do Sonny's BBQ much good but there're more people watching around the world than you know.

BTW I make a point of eating at Sonny's whenever I get down south.


To the person arguing that ratings don't matter, c'mon that's laughable as ratings in this modern word does matter--period. Its easy to say ratings dont matter when they are in the toilet anyway but if or when the ratings were better like a 1.0 those criticizing the ratings would be the first to bragg about them--enough said.

Ratings is what sponsors look at before spending millions of dollars sponsoring a co or team etc. Course if ratings are low then its fairly cheap for sponsors to jump in, although since not many are watching, they still aren't getting much return for their dollars in comparison to say Nascar or other sports where ratings are fairly good with millions watching. Also the networks can charge a lot more for the sponsors, commercials etc, when ratings are good. Proof to that is, anyone paying attention to what they charge for Superbowl commercials these days as it has 30-50+ million viewers worldwide, just as an example. I guarantee low as the NBCSN is in ratings, commercials only cost 1/3 or less what it costs them to run on a higher rated network, even most other cable shows. Big co.s aren't going to spend much on a TV network that cant generate even half a million people watching on a reg basis as that's bad business--believe it.

Ratings matter--and nowdays more then ever where everything is about $$$'s first and foremost--believe that as well--as why else do low rated shows get taken off the air--don't all answer at once? OK--because they arent marketable for the network any longer-- Woops--guess I explained it--oh well?

Ron Ford

It's cable that is dying. There are too many choices on the internet that are free like network TV. Just in one week after Sao Paulo some 6000 people watched the race on YouTube.


Ron 6000 views is nothing though that is a roughly similar figure to the amount of people watching a NASCAR Sprint Cup race live on websites like JustinTV.

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