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||NBC Sports|
|Original network||NBC |
NBC Sports Gold
|Original release||April 5, 2009 –|
|Related shows||IndyCar Series on ABC |
NASCAR on NBC
NASCAR on Fox
NBC Sports' current involvement with the IndyCar Series dates back to the 2009 season, when Comcast-owned sports network Versus acquired the cable rights to the IndyCar Series under a 10-year deal. Versus was merged into the NBC Sports division and renamed NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) in 2012 after Comcast acquired a controlling stake in NBC Universal.
In 2019, NBC Sports reached a three-year extension to its contract, which also saw NBC acquire the broadcast television rights to the IndyCar Series (replacing ABC). As a result, NBC gained the broadcast rights to the IndyCar Series' flagship event, the Indianapolis 500.
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 1990, NBC carried only one race each year in July, the Meadowlands Grand Prix. After a three-year hiatus, 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 Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach, Jr., both of whom still were contracted to the network despite NBC dropping their rights to NASCAR following the 2006 season, 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.
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 would continue airing the vast majority of the races, but eight races per-season would be televised by the main NBC network (an expansion over the previous ABC deal, where only five races were shown on broadcast television). The broadcast television package includes the Indianapolis 500, marking the race's move from ABC after 54 consecutive years. NBC Sports Gold also offered a subscription service with IndyCar-related content not broadcast on television. The content was later moved to NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock Premium in 2021.
NBCSN is planned to shut down by the end of 2021. For the 2022 IndyCar Series, there will be a significant expansion of broadcast television coverage, with 14 of the 17 events on the schedule being televised by NBC. The remaining races will be carried by USA Network, and one race will be carried exclusively by Peacock.
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)
- Kevin Lee – reserve broadcaster (2015–present) (fill-in)
- Omar Amador – lead Spanish-language broadcaster
- Kevin Lee (2011–present)
- Jon Beekhuis (2013–present)
- Kelli Stavast (2014-2015, 2018–present)
- Dillon Welch (2019–present)
- Dave Burns (2020–present)
Host of IndyCar Live
- Danica Patrick (2019–present)
- A. J. Allmendinger (2019–present)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2019–present)
- Rutledge Wood (2019–present)
- Dale Jarrett (2020–present)
- Rick Allen
- Rick Benjamin
- Don Criqui
- Bob Jenkins
- Charlie Jones
- Jim Lampley
- Paul Page
- Brian Till
- Bob Varsha
- Bill Weber
- Jon Beekhuis
- Robbie Buhl (Versus only)
- Wally Dallenbach Jr.
- Derek Daly
- David Hobbs
- Sam Hornish Jr.
- Tommy Kendall
- Steve Matchett
- Tim Richmond
- Johnny Rutherford
- Jackie Stewart
- Bobby Unser
- Dan Wheldon (Versus only)
- Paul Tracy
- Jimmie Johnson (2021)
- Jack Arute (Versus only)
- Michelle Beisner
- Calvin Fish
- Robbie Floyd (Versus only)
- Gary Gerould
- Brian Hammons
- Katie Hargitt
- Bruce Jenner
- Anders Krohn
- Sally Larvick
- Cameron Steele
- Bill Stephens
- Lindy Thackston (Versus only)
- Hélio Castroneves (2019)
- Robin Miller
- "Experienced lineup". indycar.com. January 14, 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
- on YouTube
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- "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.
- 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 qualifying, practice moves to Peacock Premium this year". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
- "IndyCar 2022 schedule has 14 races on NBC". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
- "IndyCar on Versus". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series. Archived from the original on 2011-02-03. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- "Versus Expands Coverage Lineup". IndyCar.com. IndyCar Series.[permanent dead link]
- "NBC confirms Tirico as Indy host". RACER. 2019-02-15. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- "Danica Patrick is joining NBC's inaugural Indianapolis 500 coverage". Awful Announcing. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- Ayello, James. "Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick on NBC broadcast team for Indy 500". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2019-04-04.