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Midseason continuity a windfall for IndyCar viewers

Nov 09, 2012


Midseason continuity a windfall for IndyCar viewers

By Dave Lewandowski , IndyCar

“See ya next week” has a nice ring to it says IMS Productions president and COO Robby Greene.

ABC’s 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series event broadcast schedule kicks off with the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26 and continues with five of the next six races over a six-week span in June and early July. It includes the inaugural “see ya tomorrow” Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Belle Isle and the network’s first prime-time telecast of a series race six days later at Texas Motor Speedway.

That continuity – from Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Belle Isle to Texas to Iowa to Pocono – has been a priority of INDYCAR since the dual broadcast mode with cable partner NBC Sports Network and ABC began in 2009.

 “The question has been how do we keep our ABC viewers knowing where our next show is going to be,” Greene said. “The continuity of a broadcast team – the producers, directors, talent – is so important. With an IZOD IndyCar Series race one week and the next six weeks later, it was a challenge.

“Now we’ll have overlapping storylines. Five different venues in six weeks is unprecedented and really exciting. It will offer a much clearer understanding for the viewer.”

The night race on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway follows the pair of races on the 2.346-mile Belle Isle street course. The track in Fort Worth will host its 25th IZOD IndyCar Series race since 1997.

“We’ve always wanted a prime-time race on the network and we’ve been working with ABC hard the last three years to make that happen,” Greene said. “It will create a special moment; all the components are there. It’s a race that we all agree is one of the more exciting on the schedule. What I’m hopeful of is it’s so successful that it creates an opportunity to see additional prime-time races.”

ABC’s new contract with INDYCAR, which begins in 2013 and includes a minimum of five races a season, runs concurrently with the NBC Sports Network deal through 2018. ABC will televise the Indianapolis 500 for the 49th consecutive year on May 26.

“We went into those meetings thinking it would be nice to true up our TV contracts and it was their suggestion,” Greene said of ABC management. “They wanted a long-term commitment. Because of the true shared heritage and passion for this sport and the Indianapolis 500 in particular, they felt confident enough to make this move. The Indy 500 is the brick and mortar of who they are.”

NBC Sports Network also will have consistency in its schedule, with the first four and the final eight races on the network. It also will televise the Milwaukee IndyFest in the middle of the ABC mix. With NBC Sports Network taking over the U.S. broadcast of Formula One, there will be four dates in 2013 in which an F1 race precedes the IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcast.

“We think there’s real upside for INDYCAR and this super-serves the open-wheel racing fan,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.



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