Starting with the 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the IndyCar series will be moving to a new television home where all of their races will be found. After a healthy nearly yearlong bidding process NBC will air all of the series events and ABC will no longer be a broadcast partner.
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles has long wanted the series to be under the umbrella of a single television partner. So, the new deal will allow IndyCar to use the Indianapolis 500, to promote the series’ other events.
The partnership also increases the number of races that will be broadcast on NBC while the rest will be broadcast as they now are on NBC Sports Network. Getting the entire IndyCar series gives NBC Universal the most robust portfolio of racing on United States television, adding it to the existing contract with NASCAR.
The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, radio home will remain WHBO AM 1040 as Sports Talk Florida will be the rights holder again in 2019 and beyond. Meanwhile, ABC who aired the St. Pete race, the kickoff to the IndyCar season will broadcast their last race in this summer the second race of the Detroit doubleheader, one week after the Indianapolis 500.
Speaking of the Indianapolis 500 the new IndyCar television package includes the crown jewel of the series. ABC had been the home of the Indy 500 since 1965. It was ABC ‘s iconic Wide World of Sports that televised the first ever live broadcast of the race came in 1986, prior races were tape delayed and aired in primetime.
In a statement sent to Sports Talk Florida from Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming & Scheduling had this to say.
“We have had a wonderful and rewarding relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar and it has been our distinct honor to be partners for so many years. We look forward to the rest of our events this season and wish them all the best in the future.”
Meanwhile, the folks at NBC were very happy about getting one of auto racing’s most iconic events.
“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 of programming at 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.”
Meanwhile, ESPN did land the United States rights to Formula One and they will kick off their coverage this week with The Rolex Australian Grand Prix. It the first of 21 races in the “Worlds Most Glamorous,” racing series.
In an email statement to Sports Talk Florida, the network made the announcement.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had Formula 1 on ESPN and we’re very happy to have it back,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming & Scheduling. “There are a lot of exciting storylines heading into the season and race fans are intrigued about what’s to come. They’ll be able to see it all unfold on our TV and digital platforms and we look forward to getting started.”
ESPN, Sky Sports and Formula 1 have joined forces to bring Sky Sports’ presentation of the championship to viewers in the United States, with the Sky Sports coverage of races, practice and qualifying sessions to air on ESPN networks.
ESPN also has added Sky Sports’ pre-race On the Grid program for the entire season. For the Australia event, On the Grid will air on ESPN2 Sunday at 12:30 a.m. ET, with the full schedule to be announced later.
Sky Sports’ comprehensive coverage will include commentary and analysis from a lineup of former world champions and current F1 drivers, bolstered by the recent addition of 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg. He joins Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, Paul di Resta and Anthony Davidson along with expert commentators Simon Lazenby, Ted Kravitz, David Croft, Rachel Brookes and Natalie Pinkham. The agreement for ESPN to air the Sky Sports coverage was arranged by Formula 1, with the approval of ESPN and Sky.