Ahead of yesterday's IndyCar Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for Indy Racing League, appeared alongside Versus network president Jamie Davis to discuss the series' commercial position and the challenges facing the network's coverage of the sport this year. Angstadt said that the league is "very close" to signing a title sponsor for the IndyCar Series for 2010, and underscored how critical that would be to the league's plans to grow the sport.
"It's critically important, and we have been very up front that that has been one of our softer spots," Angstadt of title sponsorship, which the IRL has lacked for years. "We are very close to making that announcement, and that's not only important for our broadcast partners, because believe me, that comes with a big television buy, both on broadcast and on cable. But I think, more importantly, to allow us to promote outside of motorsports is critical. That is where we will attract what we think is a much broader base and raise the overall value of our series. And we could not be more excited about that development. That is a huge, huge development for our business, and again, when we all hear that probably within a couple of weeks, I think you will be as excited as we are as to what that can mean for our business."
At the end of the first year of the 10-year contract between the two parties, Angstadt also reiterated the IRL's confidence in and commitment to Versus.
"The decision to go out a year early and seek a new television and broadcast partner, especially in cable, was a strategic decision and one that we continue to feel not only good about but absolutely elated. We think we have found the right brand fit, the right strategic direction, the guys to make this sport bigger and better, and I think they've demonstrated that every day.
"I think that most of us would agree that increased programming will lead to more people following and understanding our sport. Needless to say, the increase in that is dramatic versus what we were experiencing before.
"And again, at the end of the day, do we want more households broadcasting and available to our fans? Of course we do. And that's Jamie's job, and I couldn't feel better about suggesting that it is in very capable hands. So from a league perspective, we feel good. Do we want it to be better? Of course, that's our job. We have a number of ways to attack that and feel good about that direction."