UK IndyCar coverage switches to ESPN
The IZOD IndyCar Series 2013 season will not be shown on Sky Sports in the UK, after the broadcaster announced that the exclusive television rights to show races had gone to rival network ESPN.
"IndyCar has been signed up by ESPN, so all races will be on there from March," Sky Sports announced as a reply to an enquiry on their Facebook page on Thursday. The same source added that there was also no deal in place for the channel to continue showing NASCAR Sprint Cup highlights in 2013.
Keith Huewen, who has fronted Sky Sports' coverage of IndyCar for 15 years, confirmed the news on his own Twitter feed.
"Finally, ESPN UK is the new home of IndyCar. Having covered IRL since '97 I will feel the loss! Thanks to fans that have been so supportive," he posted. "And thanks to the dedicated teams of people at Sky Sports who have done their best every round to make it the best show possible.
"Hopefully IndyCar fans will get what they want from the new deal here in the UK. I will be shouting for DF, JW, JJ etc. the same as before!" Later he added: "Many thanks for so many positive comments, I'm stunned by the reaction! IndyCar might be minority sport TV... but it's got passion!"
Sky Sports' disclosure of the IndyCar situation seemed to catch ESPN UK itself by surprise, as there was no immediate official announcement or press release concerning their new acquisition except for a brief post on Twitter.
"Confirmed: We will have IndyCar action on ESPN UK from the first race in St. Petersburg on March 24th," the channel's official Twitter feed posted on Thursday afternoon.
There was no further information forthcoming, so it's unknown whether the races will be aired live or in full. ESPN UK also shows DTM races, but usually delayed by up to 12 hours according to other events getting priority.
It's also unclear whether IndyCar will be shown on ESPN's main channel or on ESPN America instead. The difference is that only the main channel is available across all platforms in the UK.
Also unconfirmed is whether ESPN has also picked up the online streaming rights that would enable the network to show the series to subscribers of its ESPN Player service in 2012 emerged over the winter following an analysis of the situation by The F1 Broadcasting Blog. Crash.net