The IndyCar Series appears to be close to an announcement about a television contract for 2019 and beyond—and ABC may not be part of the deal.
That would leave NBC as the lone TV network that's about to get the contract, according to remarks made in recent days by Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar parent Hulman & Co.
IndyCar officials remained mum Sunday about a possible announcement about a broadcast contract. But a meteorologist at an ABC affiliate in Georgia tweeted that 2018 would be the network’s last year to broadcast IndyCar races, including the Indy 500.
Racer.com reports the tweet was later deleted. The story by Robin Miller says Mark Miles told the website that somebody jumped the gun.
Miles was traveling and was not available to talk to IBJ on Sunday, said Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Alex Damron.
“But there’s not really news to share at this time,” Damron said.
A spokesman for ESPN, a subsidiary of ABC, said the network is not commenting on the report.
Miles told AutoWeek in a story published March 15 that the broadcast package was heading to either ABC or NBC.
"There will be a very meaningful increase in our over-the-air broadcast package," Miles said, according to AutoWeek. "I’m not going to tell you which network right now, but it will either be on ABC or NBC. It will really be good for the future of the sport."
Miles made similar remarks to website beyondtheflag.com for a story published March 11.
IndyCar, which kicked off its 2018 season on March 11, has been working on a new broadcasting deal.
Currently, ABC and NBC Sports Network both televise races. This season, ABC has five, including the Indianapolis 500. NBCSN has 12. ABC is in the final year of a six-year renewal, and NBCSN is in the 10th and final year of a deal that dates to its predecessor Versus network.
IBJ reported earlier this month that IndyCar officials are seeking to sign a single partner to broadcast the entire season. Both traditional broadcasters as well as non-traditional, digital-based platforms have shown interest, said C.J. O’Donnell, the series’ chief marketing officer.
IndyCar television ratings have climbed 38 percent in the past four years, according to Rod Davis, chief revenue officer for both IndyCar and the IMS. And at least seven racetracks in 2017 reported year-over-year attendance growth, IBJ has reported. The series doesn’t divulge specific attendance figures.