Mark Miles has taken a lot of flak from old-school Indy-car fans because he’s added a road race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to try and enhance May but there was a method to his madness and it was confirmed Tuesday. ABC will be televising the whole month.
In releasing the 2014 television schedule, Miles’ caveat is putting Indianapolis 500 qualifying back on network television (May 17-18) along with the inaugural road race (May 10) and the 98th running of the greatest spectacle in racing (May 25). And NBC Sports Network will cover Carb Day on May 23.”I think it’s good for IMS and good for IndyCar because it’s going to get us a whole lot more eyeballs,” said Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company.
“We think we’ve put together a good lineup with our TV partners and I’m especially happy with how May turned out. I think it’s important for us to focus on all the things we can do to promote our drivers and racing during our biggest month.”
Since 2008, Pole Day and Bump Day have been on cable (VERSUS and then NBC Sports Network) and there was no lead up programming to the Indy 500 on ABC it simply appeared on race morning.
Whether that affected the viewership or not can be debated but this year’s 3.7 rating was the second worst ever recorded since ABC began telecasting the race live in 1986.
“The Indianapolis 500 has been an important property for our company for many years and the milestone of the 50th consecutive race on ABC is one that we plan to celebrate,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming, in a press release.
“It’s only fitting our celebration with include the new race on the Indianapolis road course and the drama of qualifying.”
The 2014 season, which runs from March 30 to August 30, opens at St. Petersburg on ABC before switching to NBCSN for Long Beach and Birmingham, Ala.
Then comes May, where ABC takes over except for NBCSN’s six hours of Carb Day coverage.
ABC returns to Detroit and the doubleheader at Belle Isle’s street course for its final two races of the year, before
NBCSN runs with the last 11 concluding with the 500-miler at Fontana, Calif. on Labor Day weekend.