It’s now obvious Miles, IndyCar are utilizing Boston Consulting Group’s suggestions


There are three words most diehard IndyCar fans would probably like to forget but are actually going to play a major role on the 2014 season.

No, they’re not Indy Racing League.

It’s actually Boston Consulting Group.

You remember the BCG report, done back in March during the angst of the then-six-month offseason that ran from mid-September 2012 through to late March this year, right? And the subsequent response from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the AP’s reporting on the report? You don’t? Oh that’s right, the suggestions offered from the 115-page document have not exactly been front page material in the wake of what’s been a dynamic season on track in the year’s first 16 races.

But, as time has passed, and planning for the 2014 IndyCar Series season has commenced, it’s become painfully apparent there’s a lot more of the BCG report that’s entering into IndyCar’s short-term strategy.

In no official order, I’ll offer these as proof:

  • Condensed schedule. The BCG suggestion was for a 15-race schedule held over 19 weeks, from April to August. Based on projections and sources, the 2014 IndyCar calendar will likely be 19 or 20 races held over 23 weeks, with three or four doubleheaders (St. Petersburg is in play to become one and/or replace one of the three existing ones from 2013). St. Pete will be held March 30 and if the plan to end the season on Labor Day comes true, that will mean a season finale the weekend of August 29-31. So there’s that. And potentially, even a greater thrash during the year for all involved with the traveling circus.
  • Using Indianapolis Motor Speedway more. Well, this one’s obvious. Like it or not, an IMS road course race is coming, and will thus open the floodgates to debate over whether the last bastion of IndyCar tradition at the Speedway has been dumped like yesterday’s Fried Tenderloin sandwich from Mug ‘n Bun. From a pure numbers standpoint, even if attendance is 40 or 50,000, it’s a bottom line improvement for the Speedway compared to 7,500 or 10,000, and another race for the series at the series’ greatest race course.
  • Selling the pure racing. If this hasn’t been discussed publicly, it should, and frankly needs to be in the wake of NASCAR’s Chase controversy and drudgery of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s dominance in Formula One. IndyCar’s product this year has been second-to-none with 10 different winners, 18 different podium finishers, a manufacturer battle that is tied after 16 races and a variety of circuits unmatched in motorsports. The product’s been too good to ignore … yet it’s ignored by almost all of mainstream America except for the 400-500,000 hardcores. I can dream about the prospect of some ambassadorial boots on the ground selling the product, right?

When the BCG report was revealed, it didn’t immediately scream that it needed to be implemented. But for Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, the head of IndyCar’s parent company, it’s now obvious that the report is playing into the series’ future direction. Whether it can take IndyCar to the next stratosphere it so deserves remains to be seen.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”