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Volume 25 No. 48
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IndyCar Keeps Races Together, Signs Three-Year Deal With NBC, NBCSN

Photo: GETTY IMAGES

IndyCar this morning formally unveiled its new media-rights deal with NBC Sports Group, which will be the series’ sole broadcaster starting next season. The three-year deal puts IndyCar on the NBC broadcast channel eight times in ’19, including the Indianapolis 500. Five races are slated to air on ABC this year. All IndyCar races beginning next year will air either on NBC or NBCSN, but the series will also have content on NBC Sports’ Gold OTT product. That will include some practice and qualifying sessions not aired on linear TV, plus in-race content, IndyCar’s postseason championship gala and action from Miller Lite Carb Day. The addition of the Indy 500 to NBC’s roster of events means the race will air on a network other than ABC for the first time. It was first featured on “Wide World of Sports” in ’65 and had aired live on the net annually since ’86.

FURTHERING CURRENT RELATIONSHIP: Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said the arrangement continues the sides’ prior relationship that included IndyCar using its IMS Productions subsidiary to help produce races. Miles said there is a rights fee that NBC will pay IndyCar for the deal and revenue-sharing opportunities related both to ad sales and NBC Sports Gold subscriptions. He declined to say if IndyCar earned an increase in its current rights fee, but said both sides were comfortable with the arrangement. NBC will help IndyCar sell its series entitlement, which is being vacated by Verizon after this season. The NBC partnership was first reported in SportsBusiness Journal earlier this month, but Miles insisted that the decision to side with NBC over fellow incumbent ABC was made last Friday. He said IndyCar execs were “blown away by NBC’s enthusiasm” for the product. Miles added NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus and NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller “just tick all the boxes for us.”

BALANCE BETWEEN NBC, NBCSN: Putting eight races on NBC annually accounts for roughly have of IndyCar’s annual schedule, and Miles said landing on that figure was both a product of scheduling issues and a desire by NBC to have a balance between the broadcast net and NBCSN. The Indy 500 will be included in NBC Sports’ “Championship Season” marketing campaign that promotes high-profile sporting events like the Open Championship, Stanley Cup Final, French Open, Premier League Championship Sunday and the Tour de France. Miles said, “It’s a critical step for us. We’ve been working on this for more of a couple years – respecting our partners’ rights but also trying to understand what the market thought of us and who the interested parties might be. To have sorted through it and know what we’re going to look like in ’19, ’20 and ’21 is a big step and we really couldn’t be much more pleased.” IndyCar consulted with Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures on the negotiations.