Why the Indianapolis 500 gets little news coverage in the UK

I’ve seen several people and journalists say on Twitter “why does the Indy 500 not get much coverage” in the UK, despite a Scottish winner? I admit, it’s a valid question. The answer is, unfortunately, that people are not really interested in this country about the Indianapolis 500 or American motor sports as a whole. Here’s the Indy 500 overnight viewership for this year and the past two years:

2010 – 14,000 viewers (17:30 to 22:00 – peaked with 27,000 at 21:10)
2011 – 39,000 viewers (16:30 to 21:00 – peaked with 65,000 at 20:10)

And this past Sunday on Sky Sports 4 averaged 28,000 viewers between 16:30 and 21:00, peaking with 53,000 at 17:20, interestingly at the start of the race rather than the end of the race.

One would have to ask whether the above 2012 rating would have been higher had it have been on Sky Sports F1. Unquestionably, yes, given the reasons I outlined here about the similar audience profiles. In comparison, an unadvertised IndyCar Series race live on Sky Sports F1 on April 29th had 16,000 viewers (moved from Sky Sports 4 at late notice).

One thing that bemused me was how they failed to promote it at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix programme, yet, if you were watching Sky Sports 4 for the Indy 500 you would have been bombarded with “the new home of F1 in HD” trailers. I mean, surely the majority of people watching Sky Sports 4 would have previously been watching the Monaco Grand Prix? It shall be interesting to see how the repeat of the Indianapolis 500 does on Sky Sports F1 tomorrow at 20:00, we should find out a week on Monday in the official BARB update.

I’m sure over the next months I’ll probably do a blog on MotoGP ratings, BTCC ratings and the such like, but in general, the situation in the UK in terms of ratings is…

1) Formula 1 (BBC and Sky)
2) MotoGP (BBC and Eurosport)
3) BTCC (ITV)

All of the rest is under 200k, or even under 100k the majority of the time. Things like GP2, WTCC and IndyCars are nearly always under 100k. Back to the original point though, the result of the Indy 500 does not get mentioned in news bulletins because it is something of minority interest in the UK, as the ratings show.

Comments and thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Note: The ratings information comes from BARB, Digital Spy and Attentional.

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