INDIANAPOLIS – The Verizon IndyCar Series announced a new TV deal on Wednesday morning, as the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons will air exclusively on NBC Sports. That decision includes the next three Indianapolis 500 races as well. That also means that for the first time ever, the ‘500 will air on a network other than ABC Sports.
So, with that being said, what does that mean for the Indianapolis market and their local blackout? Does it become lifted?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean a thing. Even with the new deal, the blackout isn’t being lifted. According to INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles, that’s a decision made by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and WTHR-13, the local Indianapolis NBC affiliate.
Miles, says that the hopes is that the race can sell out again like it did in 2016 and that they can lift the local blackout. Right now, the plan is for WTHR-13 to reair the race on Sunday evening just like ABC did.
The plan is also still there for all three parties (IMS, INDYCAR and WTHR-13) to be able to work together and finally lift the blackout for good going forward. But, it has to be right for all three sides.
The track doesn’t want fans to stay away from 16th and Georgetown each Memorial Day weekend and if they know that fans can watch the Indianapolis 500 from the comfort of their homes live on TV, why risk the fall out of ticket sales? The TV station on their side doesn’t want to get a bad rating locally when 300,000+ spectators are at the track watching the race in person itself. The series’ side is, they don’t want to lose ratings or attendance.
So, what’s the best route?
That’s what they’re looking at.