NFL-Versus deal would be huge score for IndyCar

August 2, 2011
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Many of my colleagues are trumpeting the fact that Versus cable channel will be changing its moniker to NBC Sports Network Jan. 2. NBC and Versus are both majority owned by Comcast Cable, so that makes perfect sense.

And while that’s wonderful, and should provide a little boost to the IndyCar Series—which airs most of its races on Versus—it’s not the biggest news coming out of the network this week. Not by a long shot.

The NFL is in talks with Versus to bring a package of early season Thursday night games to the cable station, possibly as early as 2012. That move would seriously legitimize Versus’ attempts to rival ESPN and put it on the map, and, more importantly, make it more prominent on the cable dial for millions of sports fans nationwide.

That’s news that IndyCar officials and fans should be jumping up and down about. Since the early part of the NFL season overlaps the last part of the IndyCar season, it could open serious cross-promotional opportunities for the series.

That kind of NFL-fueled cross promotion would give IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard a lot more juice to trumpet his season-ending gala in Las Vegas, which is scheduled for Oct. 16 this year.

The potential Versus-NFL deal also shows the channel soon to be branded as NBC Sports Network is serious about growing, and bolstering all of its properties.

The NFL package is worth about $700 million annually, according to sources familiar with the deal. Of course, the deal will have a lot of other ramifications on the NFL, Indianapolis Colts and football fans, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

But this isn’t a done deal yet. Turner Broadcasting, which aired NFL games from 1990-97, is also bidding for the eight-game package. Turner wants to air the games on TBS, TNT or truTV.

Fox also is talking with the NFL, and has an interest in putting the games on FX. But there are hurdles for Fox that might make it too expensive to put on FX.

ESPN and Spike TV also have an interest, but  Versus and Turner have emerged as the clear front-runners.

And the roar from the IndyCar paddock is building.


  • Re-branding Good For Indy Car
    My sources indicate that Comcast/NBC-Universal is very close to signing an NFL deal. That would, in fact, be a great-by-association bonus for Indy Car. The real synergy of the newly named network and those possibilities will not be realized, however, until the 2012 season.
  • Fascinating development
    My sources tell me IZOD is cutting back. Shockingly the powers that be missed using the IZOD paid-for commercial time during the BY400 this past weekend to pump the IZODcraz series at all. IZOD ran a generic commercial. Nice slap in IRL's face.

    My sources also tell me that there is serious bidding for the NFL contract and NBC/Versus is just one of several bidders. In other words, don't get yer hopes up Mr. North of $20M.
  • Knowing chiefs track record, I am now putting more faith in the NFL deal.

    Also adds fuel to NBC taking all Indycar races.

    New engines, new cars, new sponsors, new energy, all bode well
    • AT&T U-Verse Universal Sports
      While this is great news for Versus and IndyCar, I'm at a loss about another NBC owned "network," NBC Universal Sports. It is carried locally by several cable networks and over the air (OTA) on WTHR 13.3. What is disappointing is that since this is not an actual network and suimply an OTA subchannel, AT&T's U-Verse will not carry it. They won't carry WRTV's Hometwon Sports (WRTV 6.2). It is time for U-Verse to carry the subchannels of local broadcasters.
    • Keep dreaming
      No one watches now. What will make them watch then?

    • Danikles Sayonara
      This too will be great for IZOD leagUe...I'm hearing from my sources shes fulltime in nationwide next year...part time CUP.

      Wow, that'll be great. VerSus and no Danika Patrick. Now the IRL will soar to new lows.
    • Chief, we have been through this before. indy would fold without the "
      Stars and Cars". Indy will fold without Michael Andretti, Sam Hornish, Juan Pablo....fill in the blank driver. Now it is Danica, even though Indycar has several female drivers currently running who can do as well or better.

      As Foyt said, "AJ did not make Indy, Indy made AJ". True then, true now.
    • Topic Reminder: Versus Re-brand.
      What's with all the continuing, panic striken, off-topic, obsessed diversion, chief? Rough day at nursery school?

      Try keeping scattershot commentary confined to the actual topic. It is far less tedious.
    • The Sourcer's Apprentice
      My sources are telling me through loose associations with a third parties' people that Disciple's sources are comfortably ensconced in his head, but they do venture out sometimes.
    • IRL treated like red-headed NBC step-children
      Soon as NBC took over, pooof, gone IRL dominated part of NBC website. Gone Versus website. GONE to IRL ringers writing for Versus.

      Thats called cut backs. What gives you any reason to believe NBC will get the contract? Get back to me when they land the NFL.
    • Don't count them eggs
      I agree with some of the comments above. NBC has to win that NFL contract first before all of this means anything. With the new CBA being 10 years, there will be stability and the price tag for any TV contract will be hefty. Also, the NFL will look real close at access to the new NBC Sports channel and how many households truly have that station. Also, I can see them expanding to having even more games on the NFL network in the next few years too.
    • Once again Chief, your attempts to sound cool just come out as giberish. Of course that is probably what comes out of your head.
    • My sources are impeccable
      You don't have any and neither do Diciplies.

      I win.
    • impeccably wrong. I am not sure you have gotten a single prediction right. How many years ago did you claim IMS would close, be sold or give you an apology? Sorry Chief, no one here wants to use you has a source.
    • Chief never said those things
      I admit, he never said those things. Chief often posts links with proof. I do understand the need to make amends to the fans of the AOW, but why apologize?

      Duh, so how do you apologize? By raising tix prices? Foist upon the sport the same unsuccessful droning by 8 year old chassis and engines by foreign lease? Yup, and if you don't like it, well, go play in the street.

      See Chief, it's not all that hard to apologize, is it?
    • new car at track photo
      looks good less f1 more indycar but i want to see more photos glad they get rid shark fins... bumpers not even look that bad looks differant than any open wheel car that what i wanted and look fast too the front look indycar but still need more photo tough see from that angle less f1 front is a good thing it look better than old car and it looks modern that good thing bumper fit car well still look sportcar looking top air in take look cool allways like that better than dp1 top air in take roller hoop lets see new oval airo kit
    • more photo its ugly
      still look like duck first video car look better with rocket front this look like f1 car and a duck old car look better
    • Stagnant
      All races on NBC? Or not. 500* and a few other races will stay on Always Bad Coverage and the rest on the former Outdoor Life Network. That's some upward trend.
    • How much are IRL races worth?
      This new 6 year deal between's gonna pay $6M a year 6 years. That's for the Five Hunedred and 4 races. Seriously, how much are IRL races worth in the year 2012? Non-indy $250K? $500K?

      How devalued is the sport if the IRL 500 only fetches about $4M a year? Yep, NBC's gonna save the day now with a fractured home of IRLcarz all over the cable box.

      This smells like failure to me....

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