NBC wins IndyCar rights race
March 22, 2018
By Colin Mann
Premier US single-seater race series IndyCar says it will significantly increase exposure for the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in 2019 following the agreement of a media rights package with NBC Sports Group. NBC Sports has acquired the rights to present all IndyCar races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The multiyear deal will put eight Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the 103rd Indianapolis 500 and its qualifications, on NBC from 2019. This is an increase from five races on broadcast television this year. Current TV rights are split between NBC and ABC. Most of the IndyCar races appear on NBCSN, while the Indianapolis 500 and a few other races are shown on ABC.
The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on NBCSN. All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will offer a package to IndyCar fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date.
NBCSN has seen its average viewership of IndyCar races increase by 78 per cent over the past four years. Dates, times and networks for next season will be announced at a later date.
In a first for IndyCar, an extensive amount of Verizon IndyCar Series content will be provided through NBC Sports Gold, a leading direct-to-consumer product. Subscribers will be able to choose the content they view and how and when they access it. Either at home or at the track, the service will provide feeds not available on any other platform, including practice and qualifying sessions not televised live. Fans will also be able to watch Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races and programming such as IndyCar’s postseason championship celebration, Miller Lite Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and additional ancillary programming.
All 2019 IndyCar races will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated subscribers.
“This arrangement brings all of IndyCar to one home, increases our exposure and includes our first direct-to-consumer offer for our fans,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We couldn’t be happier to have start-to-finish coverage of IndyCar’s season with the NBC Sports Group.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 have been aired annually on ABC, the latter since 1965. In that time, both IndyCar and ABC have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership.
“ABC has been a fantastic partner, not only for the ‘500’ but for its broad coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series,” Miles said. “This partnership will continue with the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 in May and together we look forward to the successful year ahead.”
As part of this new alignment, the Indianapolis 500 will be included in NBC Sports’ Championship Season’ marketing campaign, which touts numerous high-profile championship events presented on NBC Sports platforms from May to July. Other events include horse racing’s Triple Crown, The PLAYERS, Premier League Championship Sunday, the French Open, the Stanley Cup Final, the Tour de France and The Open Championship. The entire Verizon IndyCar Series will receive unprecedented marketing and promotional support from NBC Sports, which will utilize not only its own assets but many NBCUniversal assets as well.
“We’re excited to have NBC Sports serve as the exclusive home of IndyCar, which represents the most competitive open-wheel racing in the world,” said Jon Miller, president, programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “We’re honoured to bring the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports, to NBC, further enhancing NBC Sports’ ‘Championship Season.’ We’ve seen consistent growth for IndyCar on NBCSN in the past decade, and we hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the television, digital, production and marketing assets that make NBC Sports a powerful media partner.”
Securing this media rights package continues IndyCar’s recent momentum. Television ratings have increased 38 per cent over the past four seasons and overall media impressions more than doubled in 2017. IndyCar’s social platforms gained more than 400,000 new followers last year alone.
The entire Verizon IndyCar Series will receive unprecedented marketing and promotional support from NBC Sports, which will utilise not only its own assets, but many NBCUniversal assets as well. With the Indy 500 and seven additional races on NBC, INDYCAR will have the second-most races on broadcast television in all of motorsports.
NBCSN has been a telecast partner with IndyCar since 2009 will air its first IndyCar race of the 2018 season on Saturday, April 7th, at ISM Raceway near Phoenix (9 p.m. ET).