We Don’t Need to Like It

Last Friday night, there was a fan-celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to commemorate the fact that it was exactly 100 days until the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Fans were treated to food and refreshments, as well as a program consisting of driver interviews with several key drivers. The evening was topped off with a fireworks display.

This had been done before, but one thing was different this year. There was an ever-present camera crew recording every moment, on-stage and off. They were there gathering footage for the upcoming docuseries 100 Days to Indy. I also know that their crew was on-site for Spring Training at the Thermal Club a few weeks ago, having sit-down one-on-one sessions with the drivers and getting footage of cars on-track.

If you read what I wrote back in December, you know I was more than a little skeptical on this project. I was viewing this as a poor man’s knock-off of the successful Formula One: Drive to Survive (DTS) on Netflix (Season Five drops today, by the way).

As I’m learning more about 100 Days to Indy, I’m finding myself being a little more open-minded about the whole project. I’m hearing from people I trust and respect that this is no half-hearted attempt. What I also didn’t know until recently, is that this is not costing IndyCar a dime. The CW seems to have a large budget set aside for this project.

The harsh reality is, it doesn’t really matter what I think. Probably no readers of this site need to like it. This project is not aimed at us. I am in my mid-sixties and have been a fan of this sport for almost sixty years. They’ve already got me. Most hard-core fans are at least over forty. They’ve got us.

I have to listen and believe those that know best, who say that The CW is the perfect vehicle to reach the coveted young fans, who are counted on to be the next hard-core generation to replace those of us who will be dying off in the next twenty years or so. Right now, the pipeline is pretty thin of millennials who are IndyCar fans, or any form of motorsports for that matter. I don’t watch The CW at all. I know it is in my local Nashville market, but I couldn’t immediately go to it, without finding it on our cable guide.

However I am told that those young people who still watch TV, watch The CW on a very regular basis.

My generation has seen DTS and we know how effective it has been in reaching and converting viewers into new F1 fans. We wish that IndyCar had come up with this before F1, but we are reluctant to see IndyCar try to do a Me-Too version of DTS. It just looks to much like we were late to the party.

I am told that this will be different and will be geared more towards those that are forty and fifty years younger than me. That means I won’t like it, but that it may be very successful in reaching a younger segment that has not even seen DTS.

In a strange sense, I hope that I don’t like it. If it appeals to me that means it likely does not appeal to their target audience. It’s rare to almost never that a nineteen year-old and I both like the same thing. They don’t need to appeal to me. They’ve got me. I’m not going anywhere as a fan until I assume room-temperature. They don’t really need to appeal to anyone my age. Even if they happen to snag a new fan in their mid-sixties, they probably won’t be around long enough to justify their investment. No, this project is geared to lure new fans that will make up the fan base for the next forty years; long after they’ve shoveled dirt on my age group.

I am hopeful that 100 Days to Indy will be the vehicle needed to bring in the new younger fans we’ve been hearing about for the last twenty years. I know very little about The CW, but those that I trust assure us that they know what they are doing and have a definite plan they are following.

Last week, we learned that the first of six episodes of 100 Days to Indy, will premiere on Thursday April 27 at 9:00 EDT on The CW. That’s the night before the race weekend at Barber starts up. It will also be shown locally in Indianapolis on Channel 8 WISH-TV. I understand it will also be available on On-Demand.

I look forward to seeing what the creators have done to come up with a new way to present our sport. I am also prepared not to like it, and that should be a good thing.

George Phillips

5 Responses to “We Don’t Need to Like It”

  1. James T Suel Says:

    George, all I can say is I am 100% in agreement with you on this. I am 72 and have been a fan forever. I hope it does the job. I love this sport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 500. I wish them the best.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    There are no magic bullets to popularity, but this show could well be a part of the solution. The fact that it is not costing Indycar anything is definitely a positive.

    The youth skew of CW viewership is probably overstated a bit, especially as the network moves forward under the ownership of Nexstar media, but I’m sure the network’s fairly extensive online/streaming viewing options move the average age of viewers well below what Nielsen reports.

    Frankly, I think compelling sports narrative is appealing to young and old alike. I think older fans will probably enjoy the show, and younger ones may find that there is more to Indycar than they assumed.

  3. You’re over the target with this write-up George. The Indianapolis channel 8 broadcast signal barely makes it past I-465. I just checked I do have CW on my YoutubeTV subscription. I do watch the rerun sitcoms on the CW and I am in your boomer demographic. I watched “ROWDY” over on the free streaming service, Freevee a knock-off of Prime Videos. I caught myself not wanting to change the channel so I knew the production and storyline was engaging and not talking over any non-fans head. The Indycar commercial that runs on CNBC all day on a scale from 1-10 is a 3 and annoying after a couple of shows. Put in some hot young women in the commercial and I will add 4 more points. Going forward the drivers look awkward and outplaced in their firesuits in every photo shot. There is more than one way to skin a cat and tone down the overuse of the firesuit. Last year there was a photo of three Indycar divers in their firesuits on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach golf course. They looked so out of place I felt bad for them. Stop marketing to me is the theme and get those kids hooked on the Indianapolis 500 plus the Indycar Series. Have an easy-going weekend George. Boogity, Boogity, Boogity LOL

  4. Bruce Waine Says:

    George my age is showing with regards to the following.

    What does CW refer to and or mean?

    • “The network’s name is derived from the first letters of the names of its two founding co-owners CBS Corporation and Warner Bros.” -From Wikipedia

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