Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles heard from somebody different every day the past several months about the pending new television deal for the Verizon IndyCar Series. He’d get a call that said a source told them IndyCar was going to stay with ABC/ESPN, followed by another one that had it on good authority NBC was taking over in 2019.
“Everybody had a source but I’m telling you that it wasn’t decided until last Friday night,” Miles told RACER on Wednesday morning after it was officially confirmed that NBC and NBCSN were IndyCar’s new media partners. “It was a competitive process between two broadcast partners that had interest in doing the whole season and it was very gratifying.”
The three-year deal is highlighted with eight races on NBC, which is the home of the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown, Sunday Night Football, NHL Playoffs, The Players Championship, Tour de France and French Open.
“NBC knows how to throw a big party for a single-day sporting event and the Indy 500 is the biggest around, so as a driver and a fan, I’m ecstatic,” said veteran James Hinchcliffe. “To have 40 percent more network races is good for our teams and sponsors and fans. It’s a nice bump and as drivers we’re all excited.”
ABC, which will conclude its Indy 500 coverage in May with its 54th telecast of the greatest spectacle in racing, telecast five IndyCar races in addition to qualifying at Indianapolis, while NBCSN covered the other 12.
Miles was asked when he decided it was time to go with one media outlet.
“Early on I thought it was important to have one media partner in the U.S.,” he replied. “It’s so tough to divide our schedule like NASCAR does. ABC opens at St. Pete, then lies dormant until May and after Detroit is gone so NBCSN takes over.
“I often said our schedule looks like Swiss cheese, so it was important to find one partner that cares about us. And we could have probably shopped the Indy 500 and had lots of interesting choices but we thought it was important to be with one partner.”
Miles also said he kept the board of directors apprised of the negotiations but consulted a media expert to help.
“We’ve been working with Chris Bevilacqua and his company (Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures) for three years and he’s a media consultant with a great track record who is also a good negotiator. We wanted to get some good advice and I think we did.”
There had been talk of streaming all the races on an outlet like Amazon.com but Miles said between NBC’s Sports Gold package, NBC and NBCSN, IndyCar will be covered like never before.
“Obviously, network television is still very important for us. But our fans will be able to see every practice and qualifying session and every race, whether it’s on television, on their computer or on their phone.
“It brings IndyCar to one home and I think that’s really good news.”