The NTT IndyCar Series and NBC have signed a new agreement that will ensure the continuation of an exclusive partnership between the series and broadcaster that began in 2019.
RACER understands the announcement of a multi-year extension is imminent, and that the new deal is likely to contain a significant increase in the number of IndyCar races aired on the main NBC network. With NBC preparing to shutter NBCSN, its primary sports cable outlet where the rest of the series’ races have been delivered, the schedules for 2022 and beyond will have a different look as NBC’s USA Network is expected to factor into its plans.
Under the original 17-round IndyCar schedule for 2021, NBC was set to carry nine races and NBCSN was due to air eight as the network demonstrated its commitment to the series by tilting the broadcast calendar towards the network where the biggest audience is found. RACER has learned that trend is set to continue as NBC could carry 12 or more races next season, possibly accounting for two-thirds of the schedule, with USA replacing NBCSN, and the ongoing use of NBC’s streaming platform Peacock continuing as a resource for delivering other sessions.
In a recent interview with RACER, NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske said the 2022 calendar could have as many as 18 races, which would suggest the new arrangement between the series and NBC is founded on elevating IndyCar racing to new heights among its sporting properties on the network.
The roots of the modern relationship began in 2011 when the network bought the Versus cable channel and converted it into NBCSN. Holding dual contracts with ABC and NBC Sports, IndyCar’s annual calendar was shared between the two networks, with the Indianapolis 500 and select rounds being featured on ABC while the majority of the schedule was distributed through NBCSN.
At the conclusion of ABC’s contract following the Detroit doubleheader in 2018, IndyCar entered into negotiations with a number of networks and streaming solutions and chose NBC as its sole outlet in a three-year deal from 2019-2021. Despite a brief spell of interest from rival network CBS, it’s believed NBC has been the leading candidate to secure IndyCar’s broadcasting rights since the new round of negotiations opened. In an outreach from RACER, IndyCar representatives were unavailable for comment.
In a recent communication from NBC Sports, the broadcaster reported a 30-percent increase in IndyCar viewership through the first 10 rounds of the season.