Less than 18,000 viewers watch Indianapolis 500 in UK

Less than 18,000 viewers watched live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on ESPN UK, official ratings from BARB show. The official ESPN UK top 10 for that week shows:

1 – 120k – Live Aviva Premiership Rugby (Saturday, 14:00)
2 – 24k – Live Football Friendly (Saturday, 23:01)
3 – 24k – Live Football Friendly (Thursday, 25:20)
4 – 23k – Live UFC (Saturday, 27:00)
5 – 22k – ESPN FC Press Pass (Tuesday, 18:00)
6 – 22k – Live UFC Preliminary Fights (Saturday, 25:05)
7 – 21k – Goal! Special (Saturday, 17:47)
8 – 19k – ESPN FC Press Pass (Wednesday, 18:02)
9 – 19k – ESPN FC Press Pass (Monday, 18:00)
10 – 18k – Pardon the Interruption UK (Monday, 16:30)

I suspect the figure was near to 10,000 viewers on average. It also shows, as I said at this time last year why the race gets little coverage in the UK. This is unlikely to change on BT Sport from August onwards. Yes, IndyCar will still remain on ESPN (but under BT’s ownership), but there will be no incentive for BT to promote IndyCar’s when you look at the figures above. Here are the figures for the year so far:

– 24/03 (St Petersburg) – 25,000 viewers
– 07/04 (Barber) – under 15,000 viewers
– 21/04 (Long Beach) – no ESPN data reported
– 05/05 (Sao Paolo) – 16,000 viewers
– 26/05 (Indianapolis 500) – under 15,000 viewers

Some of last year’s Sky Sports figures can be found here. In my opinion, year-on-year comparisons are largely irrelevant when the figures are so minuscule. If IndyCar finds itself clashing with a more higher priority event from August onwards, it will draw the short straw – again. As far as I can see, there is nothing that will change on that subject any time soon.

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6 thoughts on “Less than 18,000 viewers watch Indianapolis 500 in UK

  1. I don’t think there is much that can be done to increase views of IndyCar. Being an American based series you have the obvious problem of there being a considerable time difference, particularly if the race is in the western side of America. As a result the race will go on late into the night and maybe into the early hours of the morning. Even if it is on at a more reasonable UK time, you still have the issue of what else is on that day, as ESPN will prioritise another sport, such as football, over IndyCar, so if there happens to be a football match on that day, then IndyCar will again gets pushed into the early hours of the morning.

    As a result I usually record a race when its on and watch it at a time when it suits me, so while I watch it I’m not even sure if recording a programme counts as a view. I’m not even sure how these figures work anyway. If the figure was 10,000 viewers, does that mean that 10,000 TVs were tuned to that channel, or does it presume that if 4 people are living in a household, then that counts as 4 viewers, regardless of whether everyone in that household were watching or not. I assume its the former, but either way, it can and probably does makes the viewership figures quite misleading. Anyway, I digress.

    Going back on topic, the main reason that IndyCar will never have a high viewership is that ultimately, it is an American based series and so there will never be a high viewership outside of North and South America, even if time difference wasn’t a factor. Take the DTM, for example, where the time difference isn’t a factor. Now, I haven’t researched it, but I bet the viewing figures are quite low. I realise this is partly due to it being on ESPN, so not many people have access to it, but I bet even by ESPNs averages its not anything special. I could be wrong, but it must be fundamentally due to the fact that its not a British based championship. If for example the BTCC was on ESPN, I bet it would get a considerably higher amount of viewers than what the DTM currently achieves.

    • BTCC on ITV4 gets about 300,000 viewers on average. If it moved to ESPN, I think that would be slashed to about 50,000 viewers as a lot more people have access to ITV4 than ESPN.

      Regarding your earlier point: http://www.barb.co.uk/resources/reference-documents/how-we-do-what-we-do

      “In order to estimate viewing patterns across all TV households, a carefully selected panel of private homes is recruited. Each home on the panel represents, on average, about 5,000 TV homes.”

      Yes, it does mean that the lower you go, the more inaccurate ratings may become. But then, you may ask where people did watch IndyCar. Of course, if you don’t have ESPN, other ways and means of watching can be easily found….

      • Oh yeah, of course moving the BTCC to ESPN would slash viewing figures considerably, but I reckon those figures would still be higher than what DTM or IndyCar currently achieve.

        Also, the way BARB get their figures seems even more inaccurate than I thought. Only having around 5200 homes representing the whole country seems very inaccurate to me. I find it hard to believe that such a small number of homes can cover full range of demographic variations, even if they are carefully selected. I just thought that, in this day and age, views could be logged as a programme is being watched/recorded, especially as everywhere is digital now. But hey, what do I know? The current system must work reasonably well, otherwise BARB wouldn’t be using it.

  2. Too bad for the ignorant,so called motorsport fans,that it’s far and away the best racing around these days.
    As I sat in amongst the 300,000+ rabid fans there at the speedway I thought to myself…How anyone could dismiss this compelling event this is beyond my comprehension.

  3. Although clearly the figures for the Indy 500 follow the unflattering ones of previous races (bar St Petersberg), I think it’s worthy of noting that the live coverage was directly up against the BBC delayed coverage of the Monaco GP.
    As a motor racing nut and non Murdoch subscriber (I get ESPN through my Branson subscription), I prioritised the Monaco GP over the Indy 500 (but on the V+), and was pleased with my decision, not because of the annual tripe that gets churned out of the Principality (I thought I would have learnt my lesson) but because I recorded my first and one of the most enthralling Indy 500’s ever, to watch again and again, if I so choose.
    Although likely to clash with it’s European football coverage, i still think it makes sense for BT sport to cover the IndyCar series, via it’s ESPN channel (which is clearly being primed predominately for US sports), rather than the sterile fodder that is the DTM….

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