The IndyCar Series and NBC Sports Group announced a three-year deal on Wednesday to put the entire series schedule, including the iconic Indianapolis 500, on the network and its broadcast platforms beginning in 2019.
The Indianapolis 500 has been telecast on ABC since 1965, and this year’s race, in May, will be the last edition broadcast on the network, at least for now. But other IndyCar races have been split between ABC and NBC for 10 years.
IndyCar officials said the new deal with NBC would enable the series and the network to more heavily promote both the 500 and IndyCar’s 16 other races. Under the contract, eight of the 16 IndyCar events will air on NBC, while the rest will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.
Mark D. Miles, the chief executive for Hulman & Company, which owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series, said Wednesday that he expected the partnership to help IndyCar in its search for a new title sponsor. Verizon is leaving that role after this year.
While the races will be split between network and cable channels, every event will be live-streamed to subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Additionally, NBC Sports Gold, the NBC Sports Group’s on-demand and streaming service, will offer a package — at an additional cost — that includes qualifying and practices that are not televised live, every race in the second-tier Indy Lights series, and race replays.
Any time you can have an entire package of a sport, it enhances the ability of your company to get behind it and enhance it and grow it,” said Jon Miller, the president of programming for NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network.
Miller said the Indianapolis 500 would become a prominent part of a marketing campaign built around several high-profile events NBC already broadcasts from May to July, including horse racing’s Triple Crown events, English Premier League soccer, the French Open, the Stanley Cup Finals, the Tour de France and The British Open golf championship.
“This bookends May, which opens with the Kentucky Derby and ends with the Indy 500,” he said.
In previous years, Miller said, NBC would not start promoting its IndyCar racing coverage until April at the earliest. Now that it will air the entire season, the network can do it year-round.
“People tune in to the Indy 500, but the racing is just as good the week after in Detroit and the week after that in Texas,” said James Hinchcliffe, the 31-year-old IndyCar Series veteran. “We’re not a one-race-a-year show.”