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October 05, 2011


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Umm ... I want to say something here that mitigates this, that explains it, that somehow spins this and casts it in a light that isn't dire and depressing.

I got nothin'.

That's just demoralizing, no matter how you slice it.

Leigh O'Gorman

As I wrote on Twitter earlier on, "ouch."


Results like this and the obvious lack of attendance at ovals other than Indy, Iowa and Texas make it hard to listen to the road course haters demands for more ovals. Promoters and advertisers are in the business of making money, not losing it.

Stewart Levy

As another writer put it with these ratings indycar has a lot more to worry about than finding more ovals, that's for sure.

indycar can slice it and dice it any way they want too but without a better TV partner the indycar series is dead. The new cars next year won't make an ounce of difference if no-one is watching!

This could be a good series but the Georges need to let go if it's going to fly. And enough of the weak publicity stunts which are really pathetic.

indycar's management has made what was once a great sport look very amateur. No wonder fans have walked away in droves. Very sad. Something needs to change and quickly.

Leigh O'Gorman

The same race in the UK - with less than 1/5th of the population of the US - pulled in around 120,000 on a nowhere to be found sports channel late at night.

In (a relatively poorly thought out) comparison, that's a truly dismal performance on Versus.


If Vegas doesn't score more than 0.8 on ABC it's past time for Randy Bernard to step aside. As he said he would. Fact is he should be asked to step aside anyway. Two years on the job and the IndyCar Series is in no better shape and it's not going to get better at this rate.

The Speedgeek

Well, crap.


Fire Bernard? What exactly would you have his replacement do to sell this (apparently unwanted) series any better? Besides turn the clock back to 1988 which--despite the wishes of R. Miller and his minions of doom--isn't likely. I like this series, but it's becoming obvious I'm in the bottom 1/10th.


The negativity around here is dragging me down - and it's probably completely justified (I can't even enjoy Ed's win for 5 minutes before hearing SFR's losing their sponsor). However, on the day we've lost Steve Jobs, remember that Apple was pretty much finished 10 years ago. Or IndyCar could be Betamax...

The good news is May seems to be on it's way back and the new cars should help. RB can't fix years of horrible mis-management on both sides of the split overnight.

Would we feel better comparing the ratings with ALMS, Grand Am, F1, and ARCA, or would that just make me more depressed?

Steve Jenkins

Mark.. don't know about the rest but F1 averages 200 million viewers per race. Indy at 188,000 is less than an infomercial


I don't think the ratings have anything to do with it being an oval race. I think the biggest factors in the rating are competition from NFL & NASCAR, inconsistent schedule with long breaks, and the whole Versus thing.

Heck with the Japan race/break in the schedule you go a month between races that are run at a normal time and then when you come back you are running directly up against NFL & Nascar...


Putting some perspective around this rating without succumbing to the "Sky is falling...We're all going to die...IndyCar is doomed" hysteria that the mindless masses voluntarily contort themselves into...
Ultimately people have preferences. Preferences can be rank ordered. When people are offered the opportunity to choose from amongst that list of preferences, the items at the top of the list are going to be chosen over the items in the middle or bottom of the list. In the sports broadcasting market today, football, particularly the NFL is the preferred sports programming option for a majority of Americans.
In this situation, as George at has commented on for years (I got in on the same opinion once myself though I would change some venue list a bit these days: ) It makes no sense to continually line up against an entity you cannot beat.
Another Run of the mill week of IndyCar racing stands no chance against either college or Pro football. IndyCar is not alone here, nascar has been trying for years to come up with a “Chase” formula to win against football, but has failed. In Dover last weekend, the stands were half empty so that the Eagles and Ravens fans in the area could stay at home and watch their teams play on TV. Regular season Football games out draw the World Series. The Only race that should be happening after labor day is the Vegas Finale and that should be a Thursday/Saturday night affair (Street course then Oval).
And patrick...other than Brazil (rain) and Kentucky (schedule change) year on year ratings for all common events are up this year compared to last, and you want Bernard to quit? Do you have any concept of realistic expectations? Of course not. It took ten years for this to go in the crapper and you are expecting a one year turn around???
Leigh…you are better than that easy, convenient doom implying comment…
Speedgeek…Hang with us man…Don’t succumb to the sea of Despair…
One last comment…while in theory, final neilson ratings include DVR watching, once the NFL gets going they become unreliable for any shows or events recorded during the weekend. The ratings only count DVR viewership within a 48 hour period of the actual airing of the event. With A Sunday Afternoon and Evening filled with the NFL, a work day Monday followed up by Monday night Football, most weekend DVR’ed events aren’t going to get viewed until after the DVR viewing window closes at 5 pm on Tuesday.

Leigh O'Gorman

Good point JP and a good thing too for picking me and dusting me down.

The 120,000 were overnights, but in the UK now, we wait one week to count up repeat and later viewing for the reason you gave - people watch things later in the week (I only saw the race last night by the way).

For many reasons the Nielsen's no longer represent how television is watched.

Irrespective, it's still rather disappointing - let's hope the Las Vegas / ABC race delivers.


Wait til next year; patience, patience patience, the new car will cure everything ... been hearing that for five years. End of the day, 0.1 is putrid no matter how you look at it. Triple it to 0.3 and it's still putrid. Presumably the schedulers were aware of the NFL game AND NASCAR Chase race (which got a respectable 3.0) would be going on and still picked this time slot. Why? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. But next year, well, next year ...


I'm not a very positive person and even I expected a better than a .1. I was thinking along the .3 lines, which sucks, but still, better than .1. The real problem is it's been 3 years on Versus and things aren't consistently better. Some races are up and some aren't but no races on Versus are getting good ratings. Give it time? they've had 3 years and it still sucks... that's a problem. What it seems like is when Indycar has a good lead in the ratings are up (Tour De France) which helped Edmonton and Toronto. So I guess the goal needs to be to get more of those, while at the same time avoiding major NASCAR, NFL, NCAA, and MLB games. My concern is teams need more sponsorship going into 2012, and that means they really need higher ratings. Kind of hard to sell sponsors on .1 ratings...

But ending the season around labor day??? Only if you start it in January... that happened one year and it was possibly the longest off season I've ever seen.


Part of it is competition, part of it is people not giving a damn. I went out of town the weekend of the race and found a nice BW3's to patronize. Figured with all the screens there they'd be able to dedicate one small, out of the way one to me, and the hostess & waitress was more than willing to comply.

Unfortunately, the manager wasn't. The explanation was that the feed distribution system they had could only do 10 shows, and they were all full. Of NFL, mind you, but all feed distribution slots on their system were being used. There were football games for some teams that didn't have any fans in the building, but they wouldn't change one of the small TVs to a sports show for one fan of Indycar who was. Go figure. And BW3's is a sponsor of a team.

I finished my food and left. What else could I do?

The problem is that people simply don't give a damn about the series. More viewers watch poker. Freakin' poker. I like playing it, but watching it is like watching paint dry; unless you can read minds, you're not watching "action" at all.

I don't really know what to say about this.


Not saying that number is not putrid, it is. But if you continue to poke yourself in the eye, you have no one to blame but yourself for the pain and for indycar, racing after labor day is poking yourself in the eye.

The numbers for this season before labor day are up...yet there's a clunker after labor day and people flip out...

A question for all you marketing and television wizards out me a single sport that doubled yearly ratings two years after a mgt change?


JP (aka Disciple of IndyCar) your rationale has avoided all sense of reality, fact or figures.

IndyCar's Kentucky race averaged 188,000. The Japan race that preceded averaged 122,000. The last two IndyCar races combined averaged a whopping 310,000 viewers. Period.

Nascar's Nationwide race also up against the NFL on Sunday averaged 1.45 million viewers or 5x the number of people who watched the last TWO IndyCar races combined.

NFL may be a preferred sport programming for many Americans, but there is a vast population that doesn't follow NFL and could be drawn toward IndyCar. If there was a reason to entice them. Which clearly there isn't. This is where IndyCar and the people running it have seriously failed.

Versus is the 5th largest sports network. Reaching more than 75 million households. A meager 0.25% (1/4 of 1%) of Versus subscribers watched the IndyCar race on Sunday.

You mention other than Brazil and Kentucky all ratings are up. Wrong. Long Beach was down 34%, Barber was down 35%. The list goes on. The races that were up on last year average 18% or 55-65,000 viewers. Nothing when viewership should be in the millions.

Contrary to your comment, Bernard has had more than 1 year to turn this around. And two seasons is more than sufficient to demonstrate what he's capable of. The much flaunted double digit increase in viewers over several races means nothing when the benchmark was an embarrassment for any professional sport to begin with.

Whether it took 10 years for IndyCar to fall apart or not is irrelevant. Anyone capable and experienced enough to turn this mess around would have walked in with a clear and concise plan. Serious changes would have been evident in weeks if not days.

Two years on IndyCar is in absolute disarray, grand announcements are made before anything's finalized, promises and assurances come to nothing, gimmicks take precedent, desperation is evident in every decision or idea that's presented, IndyCar's credibility as a professional organization is shot. TV ratings are in the hole.

There is not another professional organization, corporation or company that would retain the person at the helm given this state of affairs after 2 years. The board would also be ousted.

So yes, I agree without any doubt whatsoever, Bernard should be let go at the conclusion of this season. Or if he truly believes in IndyCar, he should take a bow and leave with some dignity. His antics are the reason IndyCar is treading water and will not survive on its current path. Obviously Bernard is committed, but commitment is not enough. It always comes back to experience. Bernard is way out of his depth and he knows it.

Contributors to this post are not focused on doom and despair. To the contrary Disciple, their expectations are on target and far more realistic than yours.

TV ratings are the be-all and end-all. Without significantly higher TV ratings, there's no money. Without money, eventually there's no IndyCar.

Whether IndyCar is up against NFL, Nascar or whatever else you can contrive, the fact remains only 188,000 people watched one of the better races this season. Most of whom probably live in the Indianapolis area. NFL is a draw card, but I don't believe the remaining 74,812,000 households that have access to Versus were fixated on NFL this past Sunday.

This is the reality.


In retrospect, too much was pinned on needing a new car. There was nothing wrong with the current car that an additional 150 horsepower wouldn't have solved. It would have done away with that stupid (and, let's face it, rather trivial "push to pass" button) and put controlling a car's power back where it belongs - with the driver's right foot. Of course, Honda didn't want to increase the power because it would have come at the cost of a few blown engines - bad in their eyes for their reputation, but certainly something that would have spiced up the racing. (Anybody else miss the days of a car blowing its engine? Fortunately, F1 still has the occasional engine failure; and, golly, I don't think worse of Renault, Mercedes, or Ferrari because of that!). The side-by-side "racing" between Ed and Dario at Kentucky was just an artifact of too little horsepower pushing heavy aerodynamic drag. Not really my notion of racing - a passing car should be able to actually pass. Also, all their side-by-side "racing" did was jam up everyone behind them. Yeah, some race. Glad Ed won, though.

No, Bernard should have focused instead on the TV package and the schedule. As alluded to by others, I think it may be time to throw in the towel and have the IndyCar season wrapped up by early September. Football and the inevitable change of seasons just are too much to fight against to keep people interested in motorsports, which most view as a summertime sport anyway. I think more races on consecutive weekends would help to bolster sustained interest over the summer months. Still, the economy is the 800 pound gorilla in the room - until things get better in that regard we may all just be wasting our breath in trying to analyze what IndyCar needs to do.

The Speedgeek

Oh, believe me, JP, I'm not going anywhere. I'm just less than enthused that arguably the best race that we've seen in the last 2-3 years was seen by only a slightly larger audience than Motegi was, that's all.

Some of this chatter is really rich. I can not imagine a single thing, or even ten combined things that Randy Bernard could have done to have gone from steadily downward sloping TV ratings trend to a step change to 5x the TV ratings, in just an 18 month period. That is not a realistic scenario. Numbers do not work that way. In respect to where we were 24 months ago (if anybody can remember back that far, because it seems like nobody can, but here's a refresher: all races but one won by a non-Red Car, no new car anywhere on the horizon, hideous TV numbers at EVERY race, identical aero packages on eveyr car, resulting in dire racing just about everywhere, events just returning year over year, regardless of whether they made any sense or money, and on and on), I think we've come a pretty good way to having increased TV numbers at something like 11 of the 14 races that returned to the 2011 schedule from the 2010 schedule. Anybody who thinks that Randy should definitely fall on his sword or that there's a Board of Directors anywhere in the US that would toss out its CEO after such an improvement...well, I have a feeling that those folks probably have never been within 1000 yards of a board meeting of any type. Really, what's a panic search for a new CEO going to get us at this point? Probably some even bigger promises (and subsequent bigger disappointments) than what Randy's given us thus far (and, I'd like to point out that Randy has probably delivered nearly as often or maybe even a little more often than not in the last 18 months: ladder scholarships, increased sponsorship for both the Series and many of the teams, eyeball and attention grabbing missives at Indy and Vegas, a new car for 2012, regardless of where you stand on if it'll make any difference or not, because the process for a new car was nowhere when he was hired in back in March 2010)? Might not a new CEO bring an even more scattershot approach to grabbing some publicity here and there? Thanks, but I'll pass.

No, what's needed is not a resignation or firing of the CEO the day after the Vegas race. That isn't going to get us anywhere, except back to square one (aka March 1, 2010, or maybe even earlier). What's needed is some calm, reasoned learning of some lessons from 2009 through 2011 before proceeding into 2012.

Oh, yes, there have been lessons learned. One that JP and Oilpressure George have touched on: the NFL timeslots are ratings poison. It'd behoove the Series to stick to Saturday night races or do some "outside the box" thinking (along the lines of trying a weeknight race or something), if there are to be races post-Labor Day at all next year.

Lesson #2: depending on how the Vegas race turns out, attendance- and ratings-wise, maybe the track rental/IndyCar promoted race weekend is the way to go, as far as ovals are concerned. If it works next weekend, then by all means, let's try it at Vegas, Loudon and one other place for 2012. If it works at at least two of those three tracks in 2012, then let's add in a couple more such events for 2013.

Lesson #3: Versus, while they generally do a good job of covering the sport, is not doing us much good, ratings-wise. I'm not a marketing guy, nor do I work in TV, so I'm happy to hold my hand up and say that I don't know how to fix this situation. I'll defer to whoever does, but only if they're not exclusively talking out of their ass.

Lesson #4: ABC/ESPN didn't do us a whole lot of favors this year. Hopefully the new TV contract (remember how Randy said there's some good stuff in there for 2012?) is going to fix that. We'll have to take his word on it and wait and see (not a very satisfactory answer for the "I NEED AN ANSWER RIGHT NOW" internet crowd, but there you have it).

There are certainly other lessons to be taken from this season, but real life beckons. All I'm saying is that reason and cool headed logic are what need to rule the day, not snap reactions and mass firings across the board (well, unless we're talking about Brian Barnhart, which, yes, I hope he's out of Race Control for next year, along with a complete rethink of the race procedure rulebook). That stuff isn't going to do any good at all. I'd like to think that Randy Bernard, Tony Cotman, Amy Konrath, and whoever else are working in the front office (those are the only three names that leap to mind, and again, real life beckons, so, sorry for singling them out) are smart enough to be working on this. Let's just hang in there, offer up some reasoned advice whenever we here know what we're talking about (which, admittedly, is like 26.4% of the time, at least in my case), and see what happens, shall we?


Speedgeek, I'll address several points you raised.

I don't think anyone said anything about achieving 5x ratings. But 2x last years ratings was certainly achievable in 2011, and should have been mandated.

Six races in 2009 were won by Penske.

The new car was on the horizon before Bernard took the helm.

As for 24 months ago.. "hideous TV numbers at EVERY race, identical aero packages on every car, resulting in dire racing just about everywhere, events just returning year over year, regardless of whether they made any sense or money"..

What's changed. And 2012 is looking much the same.

The increase in TV viewers is so minor it has no bearing on revenue growth or sponsorship dollars.

Personally, I am on four boards. Formerly CEO of two successful corporations.

The series itself is not generating enough revenue to stay afloat. It's backed financially by IMS for the simple fact without the series there would be no Indy 500.

Would a new CEO bring a more "scattershot approach". No. Not if they have experience and know-how. Bernard clearly is not experienced in this role. Possibly marketing, although frankly I've worked with junior marketing associates that have better ideas, and more adept timing and execution ability.

Versus will not invest in promoting IndyCar until there is stability and direction. IndyCar is in disarray, and until this is figured out, no-one is prepared to bank on the series being around post 2012.

ABC invests more than $600M year in Nascar. They locked up IndyCar, Nascar's only direct competitor, for $6M year. An absolute coup. Don't hold your breath expecting "good stuff" in 2012. It won't happen. ABC is all about protecting Nascar. Which went right over Bernard's head at the negotiating table.

Barnhart should have been fired immediately and without a second thought. Not because of the decisions, but the negative impact those decisions have had on IndyCar's credibility. This again comes back to inadequate and inexperienced management.

"Smart" and IndyCar do not correlate. That's part of the problem.


Bernard will get another year. Where else will IndyCar get a CEO willing to work 80 hour weeks? I am not optimistic ratings will change much though. Bernard had to sign the ABC extension because NBC was clearly not interested in negotiating seriously. The NBC guy sounded almost believed that abc made a deal. Next year when ratings are roughly the same there will be a new crop of excuses.


I'm worried about Indycar's future, but basically--I like the product. I'm encouraged about the new car. And young drivers. And putting some fun in the product. I realize that has nothing at all to do with important stuff like ratings or filling up aluminum seat in oval tracks or being on a board of directors. It just has to do with the fact that I like to watch it on the television and every once in a great while I'm able to make it to a race. And I'm really looking forward to Vegas and wish I had the time off and the money to go to that shindig. So I don't really know why it bothers me so much when people say stuff like "smart and Indycar do not correlate." Mainly because my dictionary is super-heavy and smells musty and nasty when I have to look up words like "correlate."

It's a fact though that most people I know don't know anything at all about Indycar except the Indianapolis 500 and Danica Patrick. And I guess that's one reason it's not doing so well. But I still am hopeful about "next year."


NBC wasnt prepared to sit down while ABC was in exclusive discussions. If RB didn't extend the deadline NBC was ready to look at it seriously.

Tom G.

What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

PDog: [to Leigh] Germans?
Leigh: Forget it, he's rolling.

And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough...
[thinks hard of something to say]
The tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
[runs out, alone]


I am amused by the assumption that I am Disciple operating under a different name…He and I disagree on some pretty fundamental issues with regards to IndyCar and I suspect he is quite insulted by your association! Also, I drop far fewer references to forceful backside intrusions in my blog than he does…Just Sayin…
You have access to ratings data. Congratulations, wide circulation of Indycar ratings is not always easy to find and even when it was, it is not necessarily something I reliably database for future reference.
I would point out a trend in the data you mention however: The Pre Memorial day races - Ratings down. After labor Day – Down. In between - that’s where the gains were (and yes they were small). Ideally someone will observe such a trend and react to it when planning schedules in the future. It is clear that during the non summer months, the time slots IndyCar is occupying are not working. As a former CEO I am sure you understand the concept of “White Space”, “Green Space” and “Black Space” markets. Th same principles apply to broadcast slots. Scheduling against football post labor day is the Blackest of all slots. White or Green space time slots should be sought and occupied, but realizing that relative to the requirements of Track Owners and Networks is a complicating restraint.
Yes it is true that Versus has entry into 75 million households, but to assume that entire audience is a potential market for IndyCar is a bit rich. My 77 year old mother has Versus, but I doubt there is little in this world that anyone could do to convince her to watch IndyCar racing (and would Izod care if she did?). The size of the potentially receptive market for IndyCar is much smaller than 75M and that 10 – 15 share that the NFL pulls in on a Sunday afternoon decimates it.
I have written before of my expectations for Bernard in the ratings department, the difference is that my timeline is extended from what yours apparently is. Mine is simply 1.0/2.0/4.0 (versus/ABC/500) by the end of the 2012 season. I don’t count 2010 as a real season for him since it’s schedule was in place before he got there.
Overall for Bernard…I do think he is in over his head, not because he is a racing novice so much as I think he greatly underestimated the political landscape that is IndyCar racing. In the PBR he likely had a situation where he had fewer interests to balance and far fewer people whose voices and bottom lines he needed to concern himself with.
Part of the issue with IndyCar financially is the number of profit centers that have to be served on top of the league itself. Track Owners and Promoters need to turn their buck as do team owners, it’s a franchise model with two separate sets of franchisees. You could argue the same is true in nascar except for the fact that ISC owns over half the venues it races at. This is why the Vegas race is so important. The experiment here is to change the business model by removing the track promoters from the equation. If it works then more similar promotions may follow.
My biggest disappointment for Bernard thus far is that from what I have seen he has spent too much time listening to the wrong people. As much as it was a morale boost for long time fans to have a CEO that was interested in what we had to say, for the sport to grow, our opinions really don’t matter, particularly if they are an obstacle for others who could join the fan base. I don’t know what has been done behind the scenes, but my impression is that very little research into the preferences of the acquisition market has been done. Strategic and promotional decisions have been made relative to Subjective/editorial inference and not research informed insight.
Like Speedgeek, I am too a little down on the prospects for IndyCar going forward. But I do not see the point of slinging mud, nurturing chronic pessimism and hysterically pointing out shortcomings unless they are complemented by constructive suggestions for improvement. I love the sport too much to resort to destructive cynicism.
While you dismiss the relevance of it, what happened over the past ten years is important in this regard, a major need in IndyCar today is capital to research and invest in promising opportunities. Ten years of split squandered millions of dollars that otherwise could have been used for those purposes. The turnip has been bled dry.
Some perspective…The Research budget for customer retention and acquisition for nascar is closer in magnitude to the Operating budget for IndyCar than it is to the Research Budget for IndyCar. A former company of mine bid on bits and pieces of the nascar pie and a friend of mine held the research position at IndyCar. SO I feel pretty confident in that assessment. Despite pitches he made for proactive strategic research, my friend at the IRL never had the budget to do more than purchase syndicated neilson reports. The leadership in place at the time didn’t know what to do with him so he spent his last 3 months of employment there with the responsibility of making sure the big poster board checks were where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there. He left as well he should have.
I could go on about some other things, such as your assertion that the TV number is the only one that matters, but I am 500 words past the threshold of cluttering Bill’s comment page.


I appreciate comments, but maybe try to keep them under 1000 words? I think this has been discussed well and truly.


JP, well commented.

Reference to Versus coverage was not on the premise 75 million subscribers are a target audience, but rather Versus ability to build on IndyCar's meager viewership if there was incentive, financial or otherwise. If 1% of Versus captured audience tuned into IndyCar, ratings would increase more than 100%.

It's reasonable to assume min. 5% of Versus audience (3.75 million viewers) are not fixated on NFL or Nascar but enjoy sports entertainment in general. IndyCar could but doesn't deliver a quality enough product to entice this segment.

Correct regarding Bernard. PBR was a walk in the park compared to IndyCar. PBR had no history, baggage or internal politics. Bernard walked into a mine field and his experience, or unfortunately lack thereof, has shown through.

IndyCar requires a decisive dictator, not a nice guy who relies incessantly on reaching out to all and sundry for advice and opinion. Then makes decisions or employs strategy based on ill-informed judgement calls.

IndyCar promoting its own races is the best option. The problem is they don't have the talent or financial backing to pull it off successfully. If Vegas is an example of their plan moving forward, it will fail. Reminiscent of promoting a county fair. Not an established professional sport.

If IndyCar is to prosper the person at the helm can have no regard for the past 10 years. They should analyze mistakes of the past, but it's all about the new CEO walking in on day one with a clear and concise plan, set in stone with adequate contingencies, then executing it without compromise. If the plan fails or doesn't meet set expectations, the CEO was not the right person for the job. There should be no wait-and-see.

I am an avid sports fan on many levels. My interest in IndyCar is more a fascination with how an organization with such history and vast potential can't visualize its never-ending mistakes. IndyCar's principles need a serious wake-up call before it's too late. It seems obvious their blatant and selfish efforts to protect the Indy 500 has been at the expense of open wheel racing's growth and prosperity in America.


The problem is what's the plan to grow Indycar??? To me the easiest market to try and tap into is NASCAR fans... there's a lot of them and they already watch racing. Look at it this way... Trucks and nationwide outdraw Indycar on Versus and ABC respectively. But getting those people to care is kind of challenging especially with so few ovals.


Petit Le Mans ALMS tape delay broadcast had approx. 900,000 viewers. Not sure what the live ESPN3 stream got but was probably not significant.

Even with these numbers, a lot of the hardcore ALMS nuts think their media package is a complete disaster.

Really puts IndyCar numbers in context. Big problems....

Having said that, the Indy 500 pretty much keeps the series from falling into the abyss completely.

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