Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday Rants: Volume 2

Thoughts on…
It rained, get over it…So it rained two years in a row…The weather was clear in St Pete this year, but I remember rain two of the past three years with last year’s race bouncing to Monday no different than what happened Sao Paulo did this past weekend.  If I have a gripe as to the weekend it is that the race probably never should have been started.  Surely someone could have looked at a weather radar and seen the monsoon on the way and had the sense to either not have started or at least dropped the red flag earlier.
Let’s not dance around the elephant in the room.  There are many people who simply don’t want to race outside North America and the States in particular.  ESPN has provided Eddie Gossage space to write a blog and on Monday it featured a post questioning:  If IndyCar races in Brazil, will anyone know it or see it?
Photo From The Economist
Let’s talk some numbers here…IndyCar has been running around a .3 rating on the Versus broadcasts which translates into around 400,000 actual viewers on the Television.  Kevin Lee reported tonight that 15,000,000 eyeballs were on the Band broadcast in Brazil.  Now US eyeballs are probably worth a bit more in monetary terms for an advertiser due to the difference in disposable income between the two countries.  So let’s say based on GDP #’s that One US eyeball is worth 4 Brazilian eyeballs.  That means that in US equivalents the Brazilian market is 3,750,000 eyeballs…compared to 400,000 US eyeballs.  The Brazilian television market is worth 10X as much to an advertiser as is the Domestic IndyCar television market. 
What Brazil does for IndyCar and its teams is makes a marginal ROI decision featuring only the US TV Market turn into a complete No Brainer when the US and Brazilian TV markets are Bundled as a package.  Unlike Europe where there is a very different Branding landscape than in the US, many of the players in Brazil are either American companies with divisions in Brazil or global companies with presences in both. So selling sponsorship packages for a single company with a footprint, like Nestle or Chevrolet or Honda, in both countries becomes easier if two sizeable markets are a part of the viewership package.
A second Brazilian race makes sense in that it helps to grow viewership in Brazil for all IndyCar races in Brazil.  The  past couple of years, Sao Paulo and Indy were broadcast on Band Proper, garnering 8 digit audiences, then once the 500 came and went, IndyCar bounced to the Band Sports cable channel where the viewership dropped off tremendously.  The second race late in the season means that the season kicks off early with a Brazilian date, has the 500 in between and then closes with a date during the championship run (that doesn’t throw a time zone wrench into the picture like Motegi does).  Along with the involvement of Itaipava, what that does is to keep IndyCar on the main BAND channel and the 15M Brazilian eyeballs engaged the whole season long.  More Value for the Sponsor that operates in both markets.
The Sao Paulo race is very well attended, after Indy, it is in the running with Texas and Long Beach as the next most well attended event.  This is where I have a bone to pick with Mr Gossage.  He does a good job selling IndyCar down in DFW and is to be commended as a partner.  TMS is one of several SMI tracks, and at this point his parent company has yet to deliver for IndyCar.  More People attended the race in Brazil this year than attended the Kentucky race over the course of the past 3 years combined.  Last year I sat next to a man with his grandkids who asked me what car Kyle Busch was in, I had to break the news to him that Kyle was in the trucks the night before.  Turns out a ticket agent at the Kentucky speedway assured him that morning that Busch was in the Saturday night’s race.  Last Thursday I got an e-mail from Kentucky Speedway letting me know that the Sao Paulo race was on ABC Sunday at three.
IndyCar is partnering with SMI and has new dates at New Hampshire and Vegas.  I hope the company Mr Gossage works for can deliver crowds at those events or perhaps the question should be…If IndyCar races at an SMI track and there is no one there to see it, did it actually happen?  What say you Mssrs Gossage and Smith?

On principal, NO. 
But, there is a story I think that once was attributed to Will Rodgers.  But Mr Rodgers was at a dinner with several stuffy, well to do women.  He decided to have some fun with them and asked “Would you sleep with a man for a million dollars?” The women  giggled and postured and came to the conclusion of course they would, it was a lot of money.  The he proceeded to ask them, “How about $50?” To which one of the women responded with shock “What do you do you think I am, a prostitute?”  Rodgers responded “We’ve already established that, we’re just haggling about the price now”.
That’s the rub here.  How much money is involved?  I guess if they back the money truck up with $50m, IndyCar will be packing the planes as quickly as they can.  Please do it some weekend early in the year when no one is paying attention anyway – like the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
On Blogger night on trackside last fall, I mentioned a vision of what the series could be.  The Pan American series.  A series that delivers a common marketing platform to the three largest economies in the Western Hemisphere:  The US, Brazil and Canada.  That trio features three of the top ten largest Economies in the world featuring: the largest Economy in the world, the second fastest growing economy in the world and, well, Canada, cuz’ we wouldn’t want Step or Meesh to feel left out.  Ultimately the only events that would make the series schedule would be races in those three countries.  If an aspirational season grew to 24 events, 18 would be domestic and 6 elsewhere. 
Currently we are looking at a 2012 that will feature two Brazilian dates and two Canadian dates.  As the series schedule grows the next stop might well be in French Canada.  Of course the issue in Canada currently is the piss poor commitment to IndyCar that TSN has shown.  Perhaps a presenting sponsor (like Itaipava with Band in Brazil) could be found that would Insure live broadcasts for our Canadian friends.  Then the Sixth date (if China Doesn’t happen and Motegi does go away) could be a third stop in Brazil, perhaps done the same trip as SP.  The wildcard might be if Mexico reclaims their country from the drug lords.  Mexico City has an established history of open wheel racing.
Anyway, I am rambling and you are bored. 
Trump got axed and I do want to follow up the opinion from yesterday:  How cool would it be to announce Alex Zanardi as the First official member of the Vegas 5 as he drove the pacecar at the 500…
Look for some reality based snark that could win you a prize of some sort over the weekend….

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