MULTI-YEARMEDIA PARTNERSHIPS WITH ABC AND VERSUS
The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series in DIRECTV HD and Firestone Indy Lights, today announced multi-year media partnerships with ABC and VERSUS.
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will remain on ABC, continuing one of the longest partnerships in television sports, while the move to VERSUS, home to the National Hockey League, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, college football, Davis Cup and Tour de France, will give the IndyCar Series a new cable television partner beginning in 2009.
The new television agreements, which will feature the IndyCar Series in high-definition television, come just months after the unification of open-wheel racing in North America with immediate results including an average of 26-plus cars per race, stronger at-track attendance, increased television ratings and new corporate partnerships.
“We couldn’t be happier moving forward with our media rights with long-time partner ABC and now welcoming VERSUS to the IndyCar Series family,” said Tony George, the founder and chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. “Looking forward to 2009 and beyond, we have the opportunity to team up with our media partners and really capitalize on unification and the three-year Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Celebration.”
ABC, which will televise its 45th Indy 500 in 2009, has covered the IndyCar Series since its inception in 1996. The Indy 500 will continue to be aired on ABC through 2012, extending its deal through and beyond the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Centennial Era, with the network airing four additional IndyCar Series races annually.
The multi-year partnership with VERSUS calls for the network to televise at least 13 races per year for the next 10 years, with each telecast lasting a minimum of three hours and includes extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS also will air a one-hour preview show the day before each race that will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend. Additionally, the network will feature extensive coverage of all the qualification days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500.
VERSUS will feature at least 10 hours of IndyCar Series ancillary programming each season focused on the drivers, teams and tracks as well as allowing for extensive coverage of the Centennial Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Further, VERSUS will have IndyCar Series re-airs in the week following every race as well as the Firestone Indy Lights schedule highlighted in weekly 30-minute telecasts.
Additional shows and topics are yet to be determined and details will be announced as they become available.
“We are very excited to be entering into this multi-year partnership with the Indy Racing League,” said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operations for VERSUS. “All of the great live programming will be a perfect complement to our ever expanding line-up of elite competition. VERSUS is the ideal home for IndyCar racing since we pride ourselves on super-serving highly passionate fans and, as the new exclusive cable home of the Indy Racing League, we look forward to providing motorsports fans with the most in-depth coverage they have ever seen.”
The IndyCar Series, which last week announced its 2009 schedule, will release specific race affiliations for each network in the immediate future and will work with both ESPN and VERSUS on digital platforms to expand coverage of the series even further.
“Today’s announcement continues the momentum shown since we announced unification in February and will be an immediate asset for IndyCar Series drivers, teams, venues, suppliers and sponsors,” said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division, Indy Racing League. “The immediate and long-term beneficiaries are IndyCar Series fans who will get more IndyCar Series programming then ever before.”
With its diverse driver lineup and the worldwide appeal of open-wheel racing, the IndyCar Series has enjoyed broad international television reach and will work with both ESPN and VERSUS to continue its international television distribution.
About ESPN on ABC
ESPN on ABC is the home of the NBA Finals; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, including the entire Chase for the Cup; college football including Saturday primetime games and the Rose Bowl; college basketball; the Belmont, FIFA World Cup Soccer; The Open Championship (British Open); Little League World Series; and the IndyCar Series featuring the Indy 500.
VERSUS celebrates real competition across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD). Now in more than 73 million homes, the network is the national cable home of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well as best-in-class events such as The Tour de France, Davis Cup Tennis, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Boxing. The network also offers collegiate sports featuring nationally-ranked teams from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12 and Mountain West. VERSUS features the best field sports programming on television and is a destination for sports fans, athletes and sportsmen to find exclusive, competitive events that audiences can't find elsewhere. VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.
About the IndyCar Series
The IndyCar Series is the premier open-wheel series in the United States, competing on a challenging combination of superspeedways, short ovals, scenic road courses and temporary street circuits. In 2008 the IndyCar Series is conducting 15 events in the U.S. and one each in Australia, Canada and Japan, all available worldwide through a comprehensive agreement with ESPN, including all races broadcast in High-Definition, including a motorsports first 360-degree in-car camera. A leader in motorsports technology, the IndyCar Series is the first racing series to power its Honda engines on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel. The IndyCar Series continues to the be the fastest, most competitive and innovative racing series, attracting a diverse lineup of drivers with participants from the United States, Japan, Brazil, England, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. The stars of the IndyCar Series include 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyC ar Series champion Dan Wheldon, 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves, 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and 2006 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti. Other standouts include Scott Dixon, Buddy Rice, Graham Rahal, Will Power and Justin Wilson. For more information on the IndyCar Series, please visit indycar.com.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Meijer Indy 300 Aug. 9 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Kentucky 100 on Aug. 9. The race will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.