IndyCar News: It’s NBC vs Fox for next TV contract (Update)

Word on the street is that Fox has dropped out of the running for the next IndyCar TV contract, meaning IndyCar races will primarily be broadcast on no-growth NBC, USA Network and Peacock for the foreseeable future

April 22, 2024 

The TV contract for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, a crucial factor in determining how fans can watch their favorite races, is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season.

The executives for Penske Entertainment are currently negotiating a new contract, with NBC, the current contract holder, and Fox Sports emerging as the top contenders. This decision could significantly impact how fans access and enjoy the races.


2021 Indy500 NBC team

Today’s TV deals usually try to balance revenue that Network TV broadcasts (NBC, ABC, FOX, etc.) generate vs streaming that generates very little revenue because viewership is much lower.

One would expect that adding new viewers to IndyCar broadcasts is the first priority, but IndyCar is desperate for revenue, so that may be Penske Entertainment’s first priority.

Streaming service is typically best for practice and qualifying sessions leading up to the race because viewership is low anyway, so why waste a Network TV slot.

The landscape of TV consumption has undergone significant changes in recent years. The rising cost of cable subscriptions, coupled with the dropping of channels, has led many avid TV watchers to opt for multiple streaming services to access their preferred shows. This shift in viewing habits is a key factor in the ongoing TV contract negotiations for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Some of the younger crowd is also watching their shows on their mobile phones with the same streaming services they have on their flat screen television, but their numbers are still small. This provides a convenient way to see their programs anywhere while saving them money. With inflation through the roof due to the current administration’s war on oil, the younger generation can’t afford a home and can hardly afford food, let alone a cable TV subscription.

This change in TV viewing habits is not limited to the younger generation. Even baby boomers, who are on a fixed income, are now purchasing streaming services for their at-home entertainment. This trend underscores the widespread shift from traditional cable TV to streaming services, a factor that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES TV contract negotiations must consider.

To the aging diehard IndyCar fans, the cost of parking at a racetrack and then getting to their seats is a factor in their decision to attend races. And don’t forget about wet weather or steamy hot forecasts, which also add to the decision.

Autoracing1 asked a few seniors how they felt about losing the NBC streaming service of Peacock if the contract went to Fox Sports. The first response was that you cannot beat the $5.99/month price, and watching the weekend sessions is great from their favorite recliner.

Another comment was that the NBC broadcast team is excellent to listen to. Paul Tracy is certainly missed for his analysis of a team’s strategy during the race, but James Hinchcliffe has taken Tracy’s spot in the broadcast booth this season and picked up where Tracy left off.

The only drawback to Peacock is that the biggest race of the year, the Indianapolis 500, is blocked in the Indianapolis area. There are ways around that, which I am not going to discuss in this article.

When I spoke with Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar and Penske Entertainment, last May, he was not concerned about the fans in the immediate area not seeing the race live.  He stated that fans could not pay for Peacock for May because of the blockage.

My hope is that the series does not give up the progress they have made with NBC and their coverage of every race weekend; however, one cannot overlook the fact that viewership of NASCAR races on FOX, dwarfs that of the NBC races.

Would IndyCar also get much greater TV viewership on FOX vs. NBC? The answer is yes if the race broadcasts are scheduled just before, or just after the NASCAR Cup broadcasts.

IndyCar would do well to ride NASCAR’s coattails because TV viewership has been relatively flat on NBC – i.e. it’s not growing significantly at all.

Hence, the IndyCar brass has a dilemma – a choice of far higher viewership on FOX vs. the tried and true NBC.

Lucille Dust reporting for Autoracing1

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :