“100 Days To Indy” Docuseries with The CW President of Entertainment Brad Schwartz
PIT PASS INDY– SEASON 3, EPISODE 1 – “100 Days To Indy” Docuseries with The CW President of Entertainment Brad Schwartz
January 3, 2022
Pit Pass Indy Host Bruce Martin has an exclusive interview with The CW’s President of Entertainment Brad Schwartz, a major force behind the “100 Days to Indy” docuseries.
One of the major projects for INDYCAR this year is the long-awaited docuseries, “100 Days To Indy” which will air on The CW Network beginning in the Spring of this year. The unscripted docuseries will air on “The CW” and give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and teams in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
“100 Days To Indy” will be geared toward a younger audience, but viewers of all ages should be entertained and enlightened by the show as INDYCAR tries to build its fan base and attract a younger audience.
In Bruce Martin’s exclusive interview for Pit Pass Indy, Schwartz details the exciting new project and why this is a great time for The CW to air its first sports programming.
For more INDYCAR coverage, follow Bruce Martin at Twitter at @BruceMartin_500
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INDYCAR fans, it's time to start your engines. Welcome to Pit Pass Indy, a production of Evergreen Podcasts. I'm your host, Bruce Martin, a journalist who regularly covers the NTT INDYCARSERIES.
Our goal at Pit Pass Indy is to give racing fans an insider's view of the exciting world of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in a fast-paced podcast, featuring interviews with the biggest names in the sport.
I bring nearly 40 years of experience covering INDYCAR and NASCAR, working for such media brands as nbcsports.com, si.com, ESPN Sports Ticker, Sports Illustrated, Autoweek,` and Speed Sport.
So, let's drop the green flag on this episode of Pit Pass Indy.
Welcome to this week's edition of Pit Pass Indy, as we enter our third season in giving INDYCAR fans the latest news and interviews with the major players in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
We hope everyone had a fantastic time over the holidays, and here is hoping that 2023 is filled with hope and promise.
It's also back to work for many of us, including the teams and officials in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with the beginning of the 2023 season just two months away.
One of the major projects for INDYCAR this year is the long awaited docuseries, 100 Days to Indy,which will air on The CW Network beginning in the spring of this year. The unscripted docuseries will air on The CW and give fans a behind the scenes look at the drivers and teams in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
100 Days to Indy will be geared toward a younger audience, but viewers of all ages should be entertained and enlightened by the show as INDYCAR tries to build its fan base and attract a younger audience.
Our guest on today's Pit Pass Indy is The CW’s President of Entertainment, Brad Schwartz, a major force behind the 100 Days to Indy docuseries.
I caught up with Schwartz to talk about the goals of the program and why The CW saw this as a perfect opportunity to become involved in sports programming for this exclusive interview for Pit Pass Indy.
Joining us now on Pit Pass Indy is The CW Network's Brad Schwartz. Brad is President CW Entertainment, responsible for programming, strategy, creative and brand development, and day-to-day operations of The CW Network, America's fifth national television network.
Brad, some exciting news in the partnership with The CW and Vice Media as you're rolling out a docuseries called 100 Days to Indy that will debut on The CW Network sometime in 2023. Brad, if you could just tell our listeners a little bit about the docuseries and how important it is to get involved with INDYCAR on this project.
Yeah. It's a really, really exciting project for us, but has always been really amazing in broadcast and with the reach of broadcast and what broadcast is kind of tailor-made for is sports. I mean, sports hasalways done incredibly well.
And so, for us as The CW and we start looking out and having more aspirations in the sports world, we obviously, aren't going to jump in with NFL right on day one, but the idea of finding really amazing emotional sports storytelling seems to be a really good place to start.
And to partner with such amazing brands at INDYCAR and the thrill of race car driving, to partner with an incredible production entity and brand, which has always been contrarian and aggressive and exciting and differentiated, and Vice Media. And combine those two things with the reach of The CW, it just seemed like a really exciting project.
And obviously, we've seen some success in shows of this elk recently, whether it's Drive to Survive on Netflix or other emotional sports documentaries, all the 30 for 30 series, et cetera, that it just seemed like a really good place for us to play.
Do you think that INDYCAR has really good stories that nobody's really ever heard?
That's a good question. We're going to find out.
When I was in college and high school, growing up, I was a big INDYCAR fan and I even went to the Indy 500 one year, and my dad was in the truck parts business in Canada and so, I always kind of grew up around that world.
And so, it's something that I've always been very interested in, and you just think about the incredible drivers and the incredible athletes in these cars and the death-defying speeds that they're all racing at. There's such drama and they really are real life superheroes in many ways.
So, yeah, I think there must be great stories. There are great characters. It's certainly an exhilarating environment and Vice and the team at Vice are the ones that can find it all out.
When you think of the Indianapolis 500, you think of history and tradition. There's probably no other sporting event in the world that's as steeped in tradition and in history as the Indianapolis 500.
But it seems that INDYCAR needs to look forward in order to encourage new fans to follow the series. And your network has always been a forward-thinking network that tracks a younger audience. How important is that younger audience to bring them into INDYCAR?
I think that is certainly a goal of INDYCAR in putting this deal together. But you are right that The CW has built a brand on always looking forward and then always looking at emergent trends instead of residual trends.
And whether it's going back to Gossip Girl or Vampire Diaries, or even the Flash and Arrow, et cetera, Riverdale — The CW has put some of the greatest pop culture television shows of all time into the world.
And we do target a younger audience, and I think Vice is also a brand that has historically targeted really emergent trends and young audiences. And so, if we can bring a little of those audiences to INDYCAR, I'm sure that's an added bonus, and a way to bring car racing to more people and the next generation of viewers. I think that's a happy result of this project.
But ultimately, the storytelling, I think will be universal and …
You want to preserve the history of INDYCAR racing and the Indianapolis 500 while also being able to look forward into the future. So, how will you balance that in the docuseries?
That's a great question. I don't think I’m fully equipped to answer it. The Vice team, the team producing, they have hired an absolute A level group of producers and directors and writers that are at the top of their field in producing sports storytelling.
And they are going to be embedded with the drivers. They're going to go to all the races that kind of lead up to the Indy 500, and they are going to be the ones that find all these stories and follow the results.
And I think one of the really exciting things about how we are going to air it is, it's going to air six weeks in a row leading right into the Indy 500. So, it's not day and date, but it's as close to day and date as we can get because these stories are going to go really leading right into the event on Memorial Day weekend.
So, Vice will be telling all those stories, we'll see what comes out of them. You should follow up and talk to the Vice team there because they're closer to it. I'm looking forward to seeing what they deliver.
But what's really exciting is the fact that this is going to air as almost like a countdown every single week leading right into the moment of the Indy 500.
If you break down the demographics of INDYCAR's fan base, they probably have the highest number of fans of any sport, 50 and older, and probably, the smallest number of any fans in the 18 to 34-year-old age group.
So, in some ways, is The CW Network taking a little bit of a gamble since you are such more of a youthful network?
We are, but we are also a broadcast, and we also reach 99.8% of the country. We have apps and digital platforms that have been downloaded almost a hundred million times. So, we have incredible reach across the entire country on every platform including linear broadcast.
So, I believe that this platform can reach both of those audiences that you're talking about; the current INDYCAR fans that can watch us, and then hopefully, we can also expose this storytelling to a new generation of fans.
So, I actually think we're perfectly situated to handle both jobs and both audiences, and really, that's what makes broadcast so special. It's broad and we reach everyone.
30 years ago when CART was the sanctioning body of most of INDYCAR racing except for the Indianapolis 500, but their teams were the ones that competed in the Indianapolis 500, it was almost like CART sold a lifestyle as much as the racing. Do you see that as a formula that you'll try to do with this docuseries?
I would absolutely bet on it, yes.
Well, the fact that that lifestyle, there's equal parts glamor, equal parts bravery, equal parts daring — I mean, in a lot of ways what sets these drivers apart is they're able to do extraordinary things that the average person just can't fathom what it's like to be in a race car at those speeds with that type of pressure for that long. Is that one of the things that you find appealing about the sport?
Oh my gosh, you just said it better than I could ever say it. I guess you've been doing this a while.
But yeah, 100%. It's all of those things. I mean, these are super athletes. They're so brave. They're doing death-defying things. And there is a glamor and there is … all athletes are interesting in a certain way. It just takes a different type of mindset to be the best in the world at anything.
And so, to follow these people and their lives and their competitiveness and everything that goes into it, is really, really compelling. That's drama, that's conflict, that's excitement, and that's what makes good story.
We'll be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
Welcome back to Pit Pass Indy. And now, here's the rest of my exclusive interview with The CW President of Entertainment, Brad Schwartz for Pit Pass Indy.
Penske Entertainment, CEO, Mark Miles said, “Although this show will be geared to try to attract a younger audience to follow INDYCAR, the older fan will be entertained by it also.” And how important is that to be able to keep both the entire fan base interested?
That is absolutely the goal. I mean, we want to make something that all INDYCAR fans love and are so excited about and want to watch it and go deeper into the sport that they love, while at the same time, creating stories that maybe new fans and new viewers will find really compelling.
I think that's what Drive to Survive did. I mean, Drive to Survive brought F1 to a whole world of people that never watched F1 and made it really compelling and really exciting. And I feel like our series will be very similar in being able to excite fans and to bring new fans to the story.
You talked about the saturation level of how many markets you reach. Among the markets that have The CW are such brand name stations as WGN in Chicago, which is one of the first super stations when cable became popular in the late ‘70s, early 1980s – has a huge market point. It's probably in many ways, the number one station in Chicago for news and things of that nature. And also, KTLA out in Los Angeles.
And PIX in New York.
Yes. WPIX in New York, a famous brand, used to be the flagship station of the New York Yankees for many, many years.
And also, for the home base of INDYCAR, WISH-TV in Indianapolis is a member of The CW. From the Nexstar standpoint, you've got Fox59 and CBS4. So, in a lot of ways you have some pretty big stations that are going to be airing this show. And just how important is that?
Look, I think sports in general respects and understands the reach of broadcast. And in a world of changing media dynamics, broadcast TV still connects locally in hundreds of markets. It still has bigger reach than anything, bigger reach than Netflix, bigger reach than cable, bigger reach than anything.
And so, even in today, it is a monster platform with complete reach. And it's why so much of sports is still on broadcast television, there's still NFL games that reach 40 million viewers on broadcast television, or what we just saw with the World Cup and Fox. I mean, there's still records being broken with viewership for sporting events on broadcast television.
And so, the ability to be able to bring this story and these athletes and this sport to a big broadcast audience is really important. And the Indy 500 itself, I mean, it aired on ABC and I think it's going to … is it NBC this year? Is that right?
I mean, that's a show that still does 6, 7 million viewers. That's an event that still does a huge number on a holiday weekend. So, the broadcast TV part of this is certainly important.
Does The CW Network have a plan to get into sports programming?
I have nothing I can really share right now, but the idea of getting more into sports programming, more into emotional sports storytelling, is certainly something we will keep our eye on.
In some ways, would you say what we're seeing at The CW now is a little reflective of, say, Fox in the early 1990s. Because they were not televising sports and then all of a sudden, they ended up with the NFL package and they basically put a sports division together in about a year or two.
Is that similar to what we may be seeing at The CW? Because it was a big shock to the fan base when Fox first took over and was able to get the rights to the NFL package away from CBS back in the 1990s.
That was that was a great time, I remember that. But sports is made for broadcast. Everybody, we all know in broadcast sports, news, local are really important 10 folds to the broadcast business. And so, for us not to be thinking of how to play in sports would be silly.
So, again, nothing specific that I can share. Plans are still coming together. I don't want to start making up strategies on the spot here. But we are certainly interested in sports as we should be.
For fans who want to watch a 100 Days to Indy, it'll be on broadcast TV, but for those who may not be home or may not set the DVR for it, they can always watch it on Vice TV on a streaming platform. So, how important is it to have that component?
Well, let me correct you there. So, we will air the premiere on The CW, which is linear broadcast, 99% of home reach. There will be a repeat of the show on the Vice linear cable channel. So, Vice has a linear cable channel and they will give the show some repeats so that it gives people more chances to watch.
The digital, the place where you can stream for free, all of the episodes will be on The CW. So, we have apps, CW app and CW website. Our apps have been downloaded almost a hundred million times. So, pretty much everybody in the country has downloaded a CW app.
And you can watch all of these episodes for free on the apps, on our website anytime you want after itpremier's on broadcast.
Well, that's some key information. I'm glad you corrected me so that our listeners on the podcast get it right.
But when you think of the Indianapolis 500 and the INDYCAR series, I know you said earlier that you attended the Indy 500-
… many, many years ago with your dad. What was it that stands out the most? When you hear the words Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR, what does Brad Schwartz think of?
Wow, I'm Canadian. So, first of all, I think of Scott Goodyear and Paul Tracy and Jacques Villeneuve. I think of all the Canadian drivers that I cheered when I was younger. I certainly think of Scott Goodyear coming second to Little Al by less than a second on that last lap.
I remember I road tripped from where I went to college in Philadelphia to Indianapolis, rented a car with a buddy. Wasn't with my dad, it was with a buddy from college. And we drove there, and my dad had friends in the truck parts business in Indianapolis, and we stayed with a friend of my dad's there.
All the great parties the night before and that weekend, and then just being there in the Brickyard, I mean, the noise, the sound, the drinks, the food, how big it is. I think that was one of the things I always remember.
You're used to watching it on TV, but when you're there, just how big the track is, how far away the fans are on the other side, everything going on in the middle. It was an amazing experience.
One of the things that I wanted to do in college was experience lots of things, that just one of a kindtype things. And going to the Indy 500 was certainly that for me. It was a once in a lifetime kind of thing to go do and experience, and I'm glad I did. So, those are the things that come to mind.
So, as a Canadian, the 95 in Indianapolis 500 has to stand out because Quebec's Jacques Villeneuvewon the race, but it was the driver that was on his way to victory was Scott Goodyear until he got penalized for passing the pace car on the final restart of the race.
So, I'm sure in a lot of ways that's probably one that the entire nation of Canada really paid attention to.
Yep, absolutely. And Jacques Villeneuve, who had a famous dad who is a famous Canadian as well, there was … yeah. And we Canadians, we certainly champion our own. So, I remember all of those. I was a big Paul Tracy fan, I have to say.
Well, then I'm going to put you on a spot with this question; who actually won the 2002 Indianapolis 500, Hélio Castroneves or Paul Tracy?
You're putting me on the spot, I don't have that answer.
That's a good political answer, especially when you're going to debut a new series such as 100 Days to Indy. But it just goes to show all of the great storylines and stories that stand the test of time that have come from that race. And I'm sure in a lot of ways, that's one of the things that you really want to capture as part of this series.
Brad Schwartz, the president of entertainment from The CW Network. Thank you for joining us today on Pit Pass Indy, and good luck with 100 Days to Indy, which will air on The CW Network beginning in 2023.
Excellent. Thanks for your time. Thanks for your interest in the show, and I promise you we're going to make it great.
And that puts a checkered flag on this edition of Pit Pass Indy. We want to thank our guest, The CW President of Entertainment, Brad Schwartz, for joining us on today's podcast. Along with loyal listeners like you, our guest helped make Pit Pass Indy your path to victory lane for all things INDYCAR.
For more INDYCAR coverage, follow me at Twitter @BruceMartin (one word, uppercase B, uppercase M) _500.
And to all our listeners, we want to extend our best wishes for a very happy and productive 2023 from all of us at Pit Pass Indy.
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thanks to our production team. Executive producers are Brigid Coyne and Gerardo Orlando. Recordings and edits were done by me, Bruce Martin, and final mixing was done by Dave Douglas. Learn more at evergreenpodcasts.com.
Until next time, be sure to keep it out of the wall.