The Indy Racing League took a hit today when ESPN decided to pre-empt coverage of the league’s race in Japan this Saturday so that it can show a National Basketball Association playoff game live.
ESPN officials announced this morning that they moved the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi from its original noon telecast to 3 p.m. Eastern time.
A first-round game of the NBA playoffs between the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors will be televised live beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sports Center will run from noon to 12:30.
Sports marketers said the shift could hurt the IRL’s TV ratings, which are critical in attracting sponsors to the series and its teams.
The Indy Japan 300 will broadcast live on IMS Radio Network at 11:30 p.m. on Friday with live video streaming on www.indycar.com.