IndyCar posts 34 percent year-on-year viewing increase on NBCSN in 2014

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NBCSN’s viewership numbers for its 12 Verizon IndyCar Series telecasts this season posted a 34 percent year-on-year increase over 2013.

The average number of viewers per race was 378,000, up from 282,000 in 2013. Since the series’ 10-year contract began with the network formerly known as VERSUS in 2009, this was the second highest yearly number (402,000 in 2011) in six seasons.

The first race from Toronto shifted to Sunday morning on CNBC due to rain; it was originally set for NBCSN on Saturday. A full release on the viewership gains is linked here, via the NBC Sports Group Press Box website.

“The viewership increases this year clearly demonstrate the benefits of everyone in the industry working together,” Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports & NBCSN, said in the release. “Our two organizations successfully cooperated to reduce scheduling conflicts; drivers and teams delivered thrilling races week after week; our marketing department drove viewers to telecasts by utilizing all of our motorsports platforms; and our production team continued its best-in-class coverage. We look forward to growing viewership for the sport for many years to come.”

Of note, NBCSN’s coverage reached a total of 4.356 million unique viewers, five races beat the top 2013 race, and Race 2 in Toronto averaged 484,000 viewers to be the most watched since the 2011 Baltimore race (591,000). There were key demographic increases as well:  up 13% among Adults 18-49, and up 21% among Adults 25-54 vs. 2013.

The following is a table of the six most-watched IndyCar races of the 2014 season on NBCSN:

Race 2014 Viewership 2013 Viewership % Change
Toronto 2 484,000 258,000 +88%
Iowa 444,000 253,000* +75%
Texas 424,000 383,000* +10%
Barber 400,000 253,000 +58%
Houston 2 396,000 161,000 +144%
Mid-Ohio 386,000 195,000 +98%

 

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”