Rumor: What does this mean for IndyCar?

NBC has already committed to continuing with NASCAR after NBCSN goes dark at the end of 2021. It has not commented on its other motorsports properties.

Now comes word that NBC is about to double its payout to the NFL.

What does that mean for other NBC properties, like the IndyCar, IMSA, NHL and EPL, minnows in the broadcast rights pool?

Comcast’s Brian Roberts: “There will be…tough decisions where we have relationships that maybe won’t be continued,” according to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

And to think, IndyCar took the current NBC TV deal despite ABC/ESPN offering more money and more races on network TV, i.e. ABC. They also lost all international TV distribution – when they turned down ABC/ESPN’s better deal, they also lost ESPN International.

Time will tell just how committed NBC is to IndyCar as their current deal ends after this year. We shall see whether it gets renewed.

While NBC probably wants to keep the Indy 500, three of last year’s six non-Indy 500 races on NBC (Mid-Ohio Race 2, Harvest Grand Prix Race 2 and the St. Pete season-finale) didn’t crack 1 million viewers – not even close. So putting all 17 races on NBC won’t happen unless Roger Penske opens up his wallet and buys the TV air time.

If it does get renewed and Roger does not pay NBC to air all 17 races, here are the options for IndyCar:

  • NBCSN races get moved to USA TV Network – but the time slots offered may be horrible as they will play 2nd fiddle to NASCAR Cup  and Xfinity broadcasts, or
  • NBCSN races get moved to NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming channel at $4.99/month. Many of it’s less tech-savvy old fan base will be lost forever, and you instantly lose 100% of your channel surfing audience. Think TV ratings 10% of what they are on broadcast TV

The better option for IndyCar is to return all 17 races to ABC/ESPN, which is where F1 races are aired. The benefits are:

  • Higher TV ratings. F1 races now get much better ratings on ESPN/ESPN2 than when they were on NBCSN
  • Worldwide TV distribution via ESPN International
  • The Indy 500 moves back to ABC where it was home for 55 years
  • All races on broadcast TV instead of streaming on Peacock Premium and the loss of the majority of its fan base.

What will Roger do?

Mark C. reporting for