IRL gets it right with ESPN International deal

UPDATE #2 The IRL's John Griffin contacted and provided their perspective on how it will play out.

"ESPN International plays two equally important roles as a distributor of international programs," said Griffin:

  1. They distribute programming to all ESPN affiliates around the world.
  2. Further, they syndicate programming, as they will with the IndyCar Series package, to non-ESPN affiliated/related networks around the world.

"The entire schedule, as I have been told, will air live in Canada although an affiliate/network, but that network has not yet been identified. The same can be said for Europe as well as other countries around the globe.

"It is important for your readers to know that just because ESPN does not have its own network in a country it does not mean that country can’t see our races. That is where syndication comes into play.

"This is identical to any previous ESPN International agreements with CART, CC, the IndyCar Series or any other sport that has a partnership with ESPN International."

12/10/08 Well they almost got it right. Unfortunately this ESPN press release regarding 'worldwide' distribution of the IndyCar Series is misleading! ESPN International not only excludes the US and Brazil, but it also excludes Canada and most of Europe … see here.

On the European map it shows: ESPN America, which in actual fact is NASN ( and ESPN Classic ( (you can click on the icons to find out …)

NASN has never shown and doesn't show IRL (nor NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, by the way !), just NASCAR Nationwide Series, that's all … ! Then there is hockey, and more hockey, and basketball and college football and … again hockey! As for ESPN Classic, forget about it.

As for Canada, they do not get any ESPN channels in Canada nor do they get Versus, yet the IRL has two races in Canada. What are they thinking?

12/10/08 IndyCar Series extends deal with ESPN International for worldwide television rights: The IndyCar Series today announced an extension of its long-time association with ESPN International for worldwide (excluding the United States and Brazil) distribution of IndyCar Series broadcast rights until 2010, with a further two-year option for both parties.

The multi-year extension agreement gives ESPN International the exclusive right to distribute live, delayed and highlight programs via all forms of broadcast media, broadband, webcast and mobile for all IndyCar Series events, including the Indianapolis 500, Indy 500 support programming and Firestone Indy Lights.

“We are very pleased to extend our long-term partnership with ESPN International," said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “The broad reach of ESPN International is a real benefit to our drivers, teams, sponsors and not least of all, the worldwide open-wheel racing fan."

Earlier this year, the IndyCar Series announced its domestic television package including a renewal of its long-time partnership with ABC for the Indianapolis 500 and four other races and a new partnership with VERSUS for a minimum of 12 events annually.

“We are delighted to be able to extend our deal with the IndyCar Series," said Tim Bunnell, senior vice president of programming at ESPN International. “Motorsports continue to be hugely popular with sports fans around the world. It therefore makes sense that the IndyCar Series is part of our programming strategy for our channels and part of our global program distribution strategy."

The IndyCar Series continues its long-term partnership with BAND TV for Brazilian television rights.

“It’s only natural that we have a broad-based international television distribution package with ESPN International given the diverse driver line-up and schedule offered by the IndyCar Series," said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. “The IndyCar Series has a broad and loyal global television audience."

[Editor's Note: The IRL finally did something right with regard to their TV distribution. There is no company that can get them better worldwide distribution than ESPN International. The worry was that the Versus TV deal might preclude this from happening but in the end the correct decision was made.]

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