WISH-TV Channel 8 and the Indy Eleven, which plays in the North American Soccer League, have signed a two-year broadcast deal, team and station officials announced Tuesday.
WISH, which lost its CBS affiliation in January and replaced it with the CW Network, will air all 15 Indy Eleven home games live this season.
Games during the Indy Eleven’s inaugural season last year were broadcast on WNDY-TV Channel 23, WISH’s sister station. WISH generally draws more viewers than WNDY, so the Eleven should get more exposure from this year’s deal.
The Indy Eleven, which is owned by local developer Ersal Ozdemir, is pitching state lawmakers on a financing package to build an $82 million, 18,500-seat home venue downtown. Eleven officials said the new stadium is key to growing the team's audience.
The WISH deal, team officials said, is one more step in making the Eleven a statewide draw.
“WISH-TV’s professionalism and first-class broadcasts were pivotal to Indy Eleven’s successful introduction to the central Indiana community throughout our inaugural season,” said Larry Linde, Indy Eleven director of corporate partnerships and broadcasting. “Everyone at the club is thrilled to continue working with the WISH-TV family to provide even more extensive coverage … across the next two years on game days and beyond.”
Although financial terms of the WISH broadcast deal were not released, sports business experts think Eleven officials will be responsible for selling at least some of the advertisements to air during game broadcasts.
The broadcast slate on WISH begins April 11 when the Eleven starts its home schedule with a high-profile clash against the New York Cosmos.
The play-by-play action for the Indy Eleven games will be called by veteran broadcaster Greg Rakestraw. Brad Hauter will handle color commentary.
In addition to the two-hour game broadcast, WISH also will broadcast a 30-minute postgame show sponsored by Honda and including highlights and interviews with head coaches from both teams and a member of the Indy Eleven squad.
In conjunction with the WISH-TV agreement, Indy Eleven also has announced that Indianapolis-based video production firm WebStream Sports will produce game-day broadcasts the next two years.
WebStream Sports has produced events that have aired on ESPNU, ESPN3, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports Indiana, Comcast Sports Net and Sports Time Ohio.