CHAMPCAR/CART: Increase in television viewers for 1999 season

DETROIT (November 9, 1999) - The number of U.S. television households that tuned into Championship Auto Racing Teams' FedEx Championship Series during its 20-race season increased by 5.8 percent in 1999, according to information compiled by...

DETROIT (November 9, 1999) - The number of U.S. television households that tuned into Championship Auto Racing Teams' FedEx Championship Series during its 20-race season increased by 5.8 percent in 1999, according to information compiled by Nielsen Media Research.

Nielsen reported that 22,605,000 households in the United States viewed CART's open-wheel racing series in 1999, reversing a trend of decline that began in 1996. CART's cumulative household audience was 21,369,000 for its 19-race 1998 season.

The 500 Presented by Toyota, CART's season-ending Champ Car race at California Speedway which was broadcast on ESPN, saw a 50 percent increase in its rating when compared to 1998, to close out the year.

"We are pleased to see that the number of television viewers who tuned in to our races in 1999 was an increase from a year ago," said Keith Allo, CART's vice president of broadcast services. "Our No.1 objective in 1999 was to reach more U.S. television viewers and, while our numbers are not yet at the level we wish, this is a positive achievement."

In 1999, CART races were televised on both ESPN and ABC in the U.S. ESPN, the world's leading sports network, carried seven events while ABC broadcast 13 races. CART reached an average of 1,130,000 households per race in 1999. When Nielsen counted the number of actual viewers, CART registered an increase from 27,447,000 in 1998 to 29,483,000 in 1999, up seven percent.

As CART approached its television package for 1999, its strategy included two key elements. The first was to place as many programs on network television as possible - the 13 races on ABC were a record. Second, CART chose to tape delay - by up to two hours - some of its races in a plan to make them available in the 4-6 p.m. ET, Sunday afternoon time slot to reach the greatest number of viewers. Late Sunday afternoon viewership increases leading into local 6 p.m. news segments. After reviewing the numbers, it appears the strategy was a success.

"We reached over 2 million more viewers in 1999 than we did a year ago," said Allo. "Adding a 20th race in Chicago did help push the numbers up and, on a per-race basis, our numbers have increased marginally as well. This, coupled with other market research, suggests a positive trend is building and we are encouraged as we look to the FedEx Championship Series season in 2000.

"For instance, visits to our Internet site (www.cart.com) continue to dramatically increase over a year ago, indicating a growing number of fans and a growing interest in our sport (the most recent research, for September, 1999, shows visits to cart.com increased 242% versus a year ago). We also have research that indicates more people are pre-disposed to follow our sport and that is a good sign for CART, its race teams, sponsors and race tracks. The key is to compel fans to activate their involvement with us on a more regular basis."

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc (NYSE:MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series, which, in 1999, was comprised of 20 races in five countries on four continents. Champions Juan Montoya, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among drivers who battle for the sport's top prize, the PPG Cup, on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser