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INDYCAR signs multiyear media rights package with NBC Sports Group

by Mike Haag | Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Courtesy of the Verizon IndyCar Series

INDIANAPOLIS – INDYCAR will significantly increase exposure for the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in 2019 through a media rights package announced today with NBC Sports Group.

Graham Rahal dives into the backstretch kink during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Photo by James Black

The multiyear deal will put eight Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the 103rd Indianapolis 500 and its qualifications, on NBC next year. This is an increase from five races on broadcast television this year.

The rest of next year’s Verizon IndyCar Series races will be on NBCSN, which has seen its average viewership of INDYCAR races increase by 78 percent 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 honored 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 percent 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.

INDYCAR remains the most competitive form of racing on the planet, with 21 drivers winning races over the past six seasons. In September, Josef Newgarden became the youngest Verizon IndyCar Series champion in more than a decade and the first U.S.-born champion since 2012.

Earlier this month, INDYCAR officially debuted its new car to rave reviews in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, with close racing and a record number of passes around the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. The addition of four new teams further reflects the series’ growth. One of the largest fields in recent history is expected to attempt to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

NBCSN has been a telecast partner with INDYCAR since 2009 will air its first INDYCAR race of the 2018 season on Saturday, April 7, at ISM Raceway near Phoenix (9 p.m. ET).

About INDYCAR
INDYCAR is the governing body of the Verizon IndyCar Series, the premier open-wheel racing series in North America; the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder, which includes Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda; and the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich Tires. INDYCAR events are available to a worldwide audience through a variety of multimedia platforms, highlighted by long-term and broad-reaching partnerships with ABC and NBC Sports. INDYCAR is continually at the forefront of motorsports innovation with drivers, teams and tracks benefiting from safety and technological improvements such as the SAFER Barrier, SWEMS wheel and chassis component tethers, chassis enhancements, advanced aerodynamic bodywork kits, high-definition in-car cameras and E85 ethanol fuel.

About NBC Sports Group
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, GolfChannel.com, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of television rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, Churchill Downs, Premier League, INDYCAR, Rugby World Cup, Six Nations Championship, Tour de France, French Open and many more.  

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.