INDIANAPOLIS – The early portion of the NTT IndyCar Series schedule is behind us now. Yes, it may still be April, but the series is off until the May 11 IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The annual road course race inside of the famed 2.5-mile oval marks the sixth time the series has raced on the 2.39-mile road course and is the fifth event of the 2019 season overall. With 17 races on the calendar this season, the Month of May in Indy begins the second quarter.
That next quarter is crucial for a number of reasons, but the biggest is that all four races in the second quarter of the 2019 season are all on network TV. That comes after what NBC Sports proves as the second best start of the season with a 21-percent increase in viewership through the first four races in 2019 compared to NBC Sports’ coverage of the first four races for them in 2018.
Granted, that could be taken in a few different directions, the main one that we have a couple of different comparisons, but still, any gain is a good gain no matter how you want to look at it.
With St. Petersburg, Circuit of the Americas, Barber and Long Beach complete, NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of nearly 400,000 viewers (397,000) across NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, up 21% vs. its first four races of 2018* (327,000) and NBCSN’s second-best start to a season in eight years, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.
This past weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (4:41-6:36 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of 442,000 viewers on NBCSN and NBC Sports’ digital platforms, making it the most-watched Grand Prix of Long Beach in seven years (2012; 468,000) and up 18% vs. 2018 (376,000). Coverage peaked with 473,000 TV-only viewers from 6:15-6:30 pm ET as Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi won his second consecutive Grand Prix of Long Beach. Three of the season’s first four races – St. Pete, COTA and Long Beach – registered viewership increases vs. the comparable 2018 race.
*Note: the viewership average of the first four NBCSN races of 2018 includes Phoenix, Long Beach, Texas and Road America, and excludes Barber, which was moved to Monday due to rain.
Where this is all big is, it’s building momentum heading into the biggest month of the year for the series. Indy, always receives a huge platform and this is the first year that NBC will air the race itself. So far, NBC is proven to give Indy Car far more coverage and marketing than ABC did. In turn, we see an uptick in viewership.
With NBC airing both races at Indy, will we see a jump over what ABC had for the two a year ago? Then, will we see positive momentum for the doubleheader weekend in Belle Isle the week after Indy? Both of those races are on NBC too.
The Indy 500 will also be included in NBC Sports’ Championship Season marketing campaign, which touts numerous high-profile championship events that are presented across NBC Sports platforms from May to July, including the Triple Crown, The PLAYERS, Premier League Championship Sunday, French Open, Stanley Cup Final, Tour de France, and The Open Championship.
Over the final 13 races, NBC will air eight of them on network TV. Joining both races at Indy and Belle Isle on NBC is Road America on Sunday, June 23 and Mid-Ohio on Sunday, July 28. The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship will be decided on NBC, with the season’s penultimate race in Portland on Sunday, Sept. 1, followed by season finale at Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 22.