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NBC Sports Grabs Indianapolis 500 Rights From ABC After 54 Years

IndyCar, the auto racing league behind the Indianapolis 500, is driving over to NBC after spending decades at rival ABC.

The Indianapolis 500, one of the best-known races in motorsports, will appear on NBC in 2019, as part of the switch, marking the first time since 1965 that the race will not be broadcast on the Walt Disney-owned network.

Under terms of the three-year deal, NBC Sports will own the rights to present all IndyCar races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019. The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on cable network NBCSN. NBC Sports said all races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. A package of races – all qualifying races and practices not televised live, IndyLights races and full-event replays – will be made available on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’  direct-to-consumer product.

Current TV rights are split between NBC and ABC. Most of the Indy races appear on NBCSN, while  the Indianapolis 500 and a few other races air on ABC.

Financial terms were not disclosed, though a person familiar with the matter said the new pact represented an increase in the value of the league’s TV rights.

“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,” said  said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN

The switch of rights marks the second sport to be dropped by Disney this week. On Tuesday, the Professional Bowlers’ Association announced it would move its broadcasts to Fox Sports 1 and Fox Broadcasting, part of 21st Century Fox.

“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,” said Burke Magnus, executive vice president of programming and scheduling at ESPN, in a statement.  ESPN manages sports broadcasts that appear on ABC, its corporate sibling. “We look forward to the rest of our events this season and wish them all the best in the future.”

ESPN has shed other motorsports rights in recent years. ESPN and Time Warner’s Turner Sports cut ties with Nascar in 2014, and rights subsequently moved to NBC Sports and Fox Sports. NBCSN has used the racing rights to build other programming, such as the series “Nascar America.”

 

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