IndyCar Series on NBC
|IndyCar Series on NBC|
|Genre||Auto racing telecasts|
|Presented by||See commentators section below|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||NBC Sports|
|Original network||NBC |
NBC Sports Gold
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),|
|Original release||April 5, 2009– present|
|Related shows||IndyCar Series on ABC |
IndyCar Countdown (formerly IndyCar Central) is an American television program dedicated to the coverage of Indy Car racing and is broadcast by the American broadcaster NBC from 2012 onwards. The IndyCar Series on NBC is the branding used for telecasts of IndyCar Series races produced by NBC Sports, and televised by NBCSN (or CNBC if there is a conflict) in the United States. When the network began carrying the race broadcasts in 2009, the network introduced "IndyCar Non-Stop," featuring a format and appearance nearly identical to that of Side-By-Side.
It is a live on-site pre-race show for all Indycar races televised on NBC Sports Network and CNBC. It was initially broadcast on Versus from 2009 to 2011. At IndyCar events, the program is always hosted by Leigh Diffey; Diffey also does Formula One coverage on NBC so Brian Till (Former Racing Driver), Kevin Lee (NBC IndyCar pit reporter) and Rick Allen (NASCAR on NBC lead announcer) are on reserve when needed. Joining them for the IndyCar races former racing driver Paul Tracy and current WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver Townsend Bell.
When the CART Series was created in 1979, NBC broadcast the races as part of the sports anthology series Sportsworld. NBC soon became the exclusive broadcast partner of CART – although the series' most prestigious race, the Indianapolis 500 was sanctioned by USAC, and had a contract with ABC Sports. NBC carried races from 1979 to 1990, with the Michigan 500, Pocono 500, and Meadowlands their top events. Additionally, NBC televised a close father-son championship duel at Tamiami Park in 1985 between Al Unser and Al Unser Jr., with Big Al defeating Little Al by a single point.
In the mid-1980s, CART began airing races on ABC and ESPN. The number of races NBC covered each season began to dwindle during the late portion of the decade. In addition, the broadcasts on NBC were more often tape-delayed and edited, while those on ABC and ESPN were usually live and "flag-to-flag". As the sport was growing in popularity, the organization naturally preferred the more desirable live telecasts.
By the early 1990s, NBC carried only one race each year in July, either the Meadowlands Grand Prix or Toronto. The final season that NBC had aired a CART race was in 1994, with its coverage of the Toronto race. Jim Lampley (who called the Indy 500 on ABC in 1986-1987) was the anchor for the 1994 telecast.
In the early 2000s NBC covered occasional American Le Mans Series races and secured a multi-year TV contract with NASCAR, but in 2005, NBC agreed to cover the Champ Car World Series (formerly CART) in Long Beach and Montreal, using Champ Car's new in-house broadcasting team of (at the time) Rick Benjamin, Derek Daly, Jon Beekhuis, and Calvin Fish. These races were renewed in 2006, with the addition of San Jose. In 2007 NBC used their NASCAR announcers Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. (who had raced IndyCars sparingly, and whose father was CART's chief steward for many years after his IndyCar career) alongside permanent Champ Car driver analyst Jon Beekhuis, and added their own Marty Snider to the CCWS pitlane team of Michelle Beisner, Cameron Steele, and Bill Stephens. With ESPN once again covering the bulk of the calendar, NBC only covered the first 2 races of the season, in Las Vegas and Long Beach.
Versus / NBCSN
On August 7, 2008, Versus announced a ten-year deal to broadcast at least 13 IndyCar Series events per-season, beginning with the 2009 season. ABC would continue to broadcast the Indianapolis 500, as well as four additional races. Through the deal, Versus began airing one-hour pre-race shows the day before a given race. The channel's parent company Comcast would acquire NBC Universal in 2011, and Versus was re-branded as NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) in 2012.
Expansion to NBC
On March 21, 2018, NBC Sports announced that it had agreed to a new, three-year extension of its contract beginning in the 2019 season, and also acquired the broadcast television rights to replace ABC. As before, NBCSN will continue as the main broadcaster of the series, but NBC Sports Gold will offer a subscription service with IndyCar-related content not broadcast on TV, and eight races per-season will be televised by the main NBC network (in comparison to five under the previous deal). The broadcast television package will include the Indianapolis 500, marking the race's move from ABC after 54 consecutive years.
Bob Jenkins (who was signed as the chief announcer, and returned to IndyCar Racing full-time for the first time since 2001), Jon Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl were initially on the network's broadcast team, along with Jack Arute, Robbie Floyd and Lindy Thackston as pit reporters.
In August 2009, Indianapolis Star reporter Curt Cavin said that Arute would be leaving ESPN at the end of 2009 and join Versus full-time. He was fired from the network due to cost-cutting moves instituted by the network's new Comcast ownership following its merger with NBCUniversal. He was replaced by Kevin Lee, who is also a pit reporter for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Network. Wally Dallenbach Jr. joined the Versus broadcast team following the merger, replacing Robbie Buhl.
List of commentators
- Leigh Diffey (2013–present)
- Rick Allen - reserve broadcaster (2016-present)
- Kevin Lee - reserve broadcaster (2015-present) on-track sessions, (fill-in)
- Omar Amador - lead Spanish-language broadcaster
- Townsend Bell (2013–present)
- Paul Tracy (2014–present)
- Robin Miller (2016-present) (fill-in)
- Jon Beekhuis (2016-present) (fill-in)
- Robin Miller (2011–present)
- Kevin Lee (2011–present)
- Marty Snider (2011–present)
- Jon Beekhuis (2013–present)
- Katie Hargitt (2015–2018)
- Anders Krohn (2017-present)
- Kelli Stavast (2014-2015, 2018)
Host of IndyCar Live
- Kevin Lee (2012)
- "Experienced lineup". indycar.com. January 14, 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
- on YouTube
- "FAQ's about the TV deal". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series. August 7, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
- "Solid Partnerships". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series. August 7, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
- "IndyCar Announces New TV Deal". Inside Indiana Business. August 7, 2008. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Renyolds, Mike. "McCarley To Head Golf Channel, Davis Out at Versus in NBC Sports Group Reorg: Sources". Multichannel News. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Fernadez, Bob. "Goodbye Versus, hello NBC Sports Network". Philadelphia Inquirer. Philly.com. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- "INDYCAR SIGNS MULTIYEAR MEDIA RIGHTS PACKAGE WITH NBC SPORTS GROUP". IndyCar Series. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- "NBC SPORTS GROUP AND INDYCAR PARTNER ON COMPREHENSIVE, MULTI-YEAR MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT" (Press release). NBC Sports Group. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- Ayello, Jim (March 21, 2018). "The Indy 500 will soon have a new TV network". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- Steinberg, Brian (March 21, 2018). "NBC Sports Grabs Indianapolis 500 Rights From ABC After 54 Years". Variety. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- "IndyCar on Versus". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series.
- "Versus Expands Coverage Lineup". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series.