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IndyCar never let NBC bid on TV deal
Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and Versus, said Thursday his company didn't waste time considering a bid to become the network home of IndyCar because negotiations never opened.

ABC/ESPN, which holds the rights to such coverage through 2012, had an exclusive period to negotiate, and that was extended through the signing of a new deal that runs through 2018.

Perhaps it's just as well, because Miller said it would have been challenging for NBC to line up network time slots.

"Our schedule on weekends is different, for example, than ABC's schedule is," he said. "Where they have an (IndyCar) event on the third weekend in June, I wouldn't be able to do that because we have (golf's) U.S. Open, and where they have an event the second weekend in May, I have the Players Championship. And then I have the Stanley Cup playoffs and things like that.

"I don't have the same Sunday afternoon windows they have, so it would have required us to go in and do a full examination of available windows, and we never even had a chance to do that."

Miller likes IndyCar's growth on Versus; viewership has increased 34 percent since 2009, the first year of the 10-year contract. This summer's Edmonton, Texas and Toronto races, respectively, were the most-watched IndyCar races on Versus.

Even with the ABC/ESPN deal, which guarantees the network five races a year, including the Indianapolis 500, Miller said Versus wants more IndyCar races.

"We'd love to have more events," he said. "Ratings are up; attendance is up. (IndyCar has) done a really good job marketing the sport. We're very happy. It's performing at or better than all of our projections." Indy Star

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