Indys TV Ratings Improving

And now for some good news for network TV.

The major events of the Memorial Day weekend - the Indianapolis 500 and the NBA playoffs - both did better in the overnight ratings than they did last year. Just a little better, mind you, perhaps because the weather in some places wasn't conducive to outdoor activities, but better nonetheless, counter to recent trends for network sports.

And that was with the Lakers-Trail Blazers, the NBA's marquee matchup, going head-to-head on NBC against Indy on ABC because of a protracted rain delay at the auto race.

Overall, NBC's weekend basketball was up 1 percent over last year.

Indy did 2 percent better despite its clash with the NBA.

ABC divided its auto racing ratings into three periods - the pre-race show, the rain delay, and the race itself.

The pregame show got a 3.2 rating, down from 3.8 last year, and the rain delay, which featured driver interviews and clips of the 1999 race, had a 3.8 - no comparison because there was no delay last year.

The race itself, which began at 3 p.m. EDT and ended at 6:19, received a 5.4 rating, 2 percent higher than last year's 5.3.

The overnight ratings cover about 63 percent of the nation's population.

"The length of the entire show was odd," said ABC spokesman Mark Mandel. "It's very rare when you ask people to sit for seven hours - it's going to hurt the ratings. Given that and that we were up against the NBA, I think it was great."

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