INDYCAR announces 2009 TV schedule

SEASONFINALE MOVED UP A DAY; 2008 TV VIEWERSHIP INCREASES 21%

The IndyCar Series enters 2009 with a new television package that will continue to feature long-term partner ABC while introducing VERSUS as the new cable television partner. VERSUS will open the season on April 5 and will air three consecutive races before ABC kicks off its five-race coverage, beginning May 24 with the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

            ABC will air five races, produced by ESPN, within a seven-race period before VERSUS televises the final eight races, including the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which has been moved up one day to a twilight race on Saturday, October 10.

The entire 2009 IndyCar Series television package will be available in high-definition (HD) television.

Following races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Kansas on VERSUS, ABC will air five of the next seven races, including four that it carried last season.

            ABC will air the Indianapolis 500 for the 45th consecutive season, followed by the races at The Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway and Watkins Glen International. The network also will televise the IndyCar Series first visit to Toronto.

            “We are very excited about engaging two broadcast partners beginning in 2009,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. “Having the season essentially broken into three segments - three races on VERSUS, five of the next seven races on ABC and then eight straight races on VERSUS – will give fans a consistent place to find the IndyCar Series all season.”

            “Having ABC kick off the summer portion of our schedule with five races in a compact time period beginning with the Indianapolis 500 should really build momentum as the season heads into the heart of the championship battle. Having that battle play out on VERSUS, with the additional programming opportunities that we have, will give fans comprehensive coverage of the championship run.”

            After the first season of the unification of open-wheel racing in 2008, the IndyCar Series enters the 2009 season with gains in viewership across all television partners including ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. For the 17 races on the IndyCar Series schedule last year, race viewership averaged 1.7 million across the three networks, which was a 21.4 percent increase over the 2007 season (1.4 million).

Separately, ABC averaged 2.7 million viewers for its seven IndyCar Series races, up 10.1 percent  for the same number of races in 2007 (2.5 million); ESPN averaged 707,000 viewers for four races, up 27.2 percent compared to the five races run in the 2007 season (556,000). ESPN2 averaged 892,000 viewers for its five races in the 2008 season, which was a 53.5 percent increase over the 2007 average (581,000).  

The IndyCar Series announced multi-year multimedia partnerships with ABC and VERSUS in August. The partnership with VERSUS calls for the network to televise at least 13 races per year for the next 10 years, with each telecast to last a minimum of three hours and include 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. The complete Month of May schedule will be announced shortly.

            The complete 2009 television schedule follows:

Date Track Network Broadcast Window

(All times Eastern)April 5 Streets of St. Petersburg VERSUS 2-5 p.m.April 19 Streets of Long Beach VERSUS 3:30-6:30 p.m.April 26 Kansas Speedway VERSUS 4-7 p.m.May 24 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC Noon-4:30 p.m.May 31 The Milwaukee Mile ABC 3:30-6:00 p.m.June 6 Texas Motor Speedway VERSUS 9 p.m. – MidnightJune 21 Iowa Speedway ABC 1-3:30 p.m.June 27 Richmond International Raceway VERSUS 8-11 p.m.July 5 Watkins Glen International ABC 1-3:30 p.m.July 12 Streets of Toronto ABC 1-3:30 p.m.July 26 Edmonton City Centre Airport VERSUS 5-8 p.m.Aug. 1 Kentucky Speedway VERSUS 8-11 p.m.Aug. 9 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course VERSUS 1-4 p.m.Aug. 23 Infineon Raceway VERSUS 5-8 p.m.Aug. 29 Chicagoland Speedway VERSUS 9 p.m. – MidnightSept. 6 The Raceway at Belle Isle Park VERSUS 3-6 p.m.Sept. 19 Twin Ring Motegi VERSUS 9/18 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.Oct. 10 Homestead-Miami Speedway VERSUS 4-7 p.m.

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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 Indianapolis 500.

About VERSUS

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 t hroughout 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, Austr alia and New Zealand. The stars of the IndyCar Series include 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar 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.

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           The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on 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 indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.