SBD/August 10, 2011/Media

IndyCar Series Signs Six-Year Extension With ESPN/ABC To Keep Indy 500 On Broadcast TV

Indianapolis 500 has aired on ABC for 47 consecutive years
The Izod IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway agreed to a six-year extension of their broadcast rights agreement with ESPN/ABC. The deal will see ABC broadcast the Indianapolis 500 and four IndyCar Series races annually through '18. ABC has televised the Indy 500 for 47 consecutive years. Financial terms of the agreement were not available, though sources familiar with the deal said it marks an increase over the $6M a year ESPN/ABC currently pay for the same rights. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, “This helps the viability of our long term plans. It gives us more of a solid foundation while helping our teams, our sponsors and our sports property grow.” ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Julie Sobieski added, “We’ve had this relationship for 47 years. History is a huge part of this deal, and we want to continue that.” The deal ensures that IndyCar races will continue to air on broadcast television and be shown on two networks. Versus holds the cable rights to IndyCar for seven more years. ESPN/ABC and IndyCar have been in exclusive negotiations since the start of the year. The parties extended their exclusive negotiating window in June, allowing them to continue negotiating into July. They went on to close the deal early this week. Bernard: “The discussions went well and very smooth. They’ve been a partner for 47 years and they wanted to get a deal done, and we wanted to get one done, too.” ESPN has been transitioning many sports from broadcast television on ABC to cable on ESPN or ESPN2, but Sobieski said that keeping motorsports programming on ABC was important.

DETAILS OF THE DEAL: The deal will see ESPN create an in-car camera product for IndyCar Series races and make a live, in-car camera feed available on ESPN3. Initially, there will be at least six camera feeds available online, and Sobieski said that the number could be increased if there is sponsor interest in doing so. In addition, ESPN also retained international rights to the Indy 500 and IndyCar Series and committed to increase marketing and programming support of the race and series. The deal was negotiated by ESPN Exec VP/Programming John Wildhack with Sobieski and Bernard with Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Jeff Belskus and IMG Media Exec VP Barry Frank.
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