Q: Last week's question about swapping the “Duck Dynasty” family for the Hulman Georges is one of the most brilliant e-mails I've ever read in the mailbag. It was so brilliant I was compelled to write in on just how brilliant it was.
There's obviously a lot of sarcasm there, but is there a good idea in there somewhere? Is there something with a massively established fan base that we could somehow integrate into IndyCar to try and get viewers? Something like the most popular open-wheel series in the world that might also be broadcast by the same network broadcasting IndyCar?
Honestly, I know Bernie likely won't do IndyCar any favors, but is there any way possible that IndyCar could piggyback on F1's North American races? New Jersey, Montreal, and Austin? Give up the gate for the ratings and run the IndyCar race immediately before or after the F1 race. The ideal scenario is the world feed broadcasting the F1 races covers the IndyCar races as well.
I realize most of that is just a pipe dream, but the reality is, you need to get people to try your product. Sometimes that requires free samples. When your product is good enough, the money lost on a free sample is recouped by repeat business and right now the IndyCar product is as good as it has ever been, but nobody is trying it out.
Ryan, West Michigan
RM: It's pretty depressing to think “Duck Dynasty” gets 11 million viewers on A&E channel and IndyCar struggles to reach 400,000 on NBC Sports Network. With NASCAR joining NBC (maybe as early as next year), it should be a big lift for IndyCar because a whole new batch of people will be tuning into this channel and maybe they'll check out IndyCar. I think NBC Sports Network could realize viewing figures like ABC for an IndyCar race in time. As for Bernie letting IndyCar run with F1? You got a better chance of seeing Dario and Will go on vacation together.
Q: What can you tell us about the relationship with IZOD as a title sponsor? I never thought of them as very hands-on but they've certainly been less visible in the last year or so. I believe the contract has two more seasons but I also read that IndyCar was looking to find a new title sponsor. Any insight on this? Are there any prospective buyers? Also, what kind of money would it take to sponsor the series?
Joe, New York, N.Y.
RM: IZOD signed up in 2010 for five years at $10 million a year and started a very visible campaign with television ads and drivers and all kinds of billboards and store placement. But the CEO who fell in love with IndyCar and pushed the deal then retired and the new boss had little interest in continuing the program. They've done nothing in terms of marketing or promoting the last two years and they won't be back in 2014. No prospective replacement yet.
Q: Just read that Nationwide is bowing out of sponsoring NASCAR after 2014 to "refocus its motorsports spending on other areas of the industry." Wouldn't they be a good fit for IndyCar? If not the series, how about a specific race? I keep hoping that Verizon will step up to the plate. I do see their series app commercial a lot.
RM: Can't imagine Nationwide going to another series (hell, they had Dale Earnhardt Jr. as their spokesperson and you can't get more visibility). I was told Verizon was considering a title sponsorship before Randy Bernard was fired. At least Verizon seems engaged with IndyCar with commercials and apps.