IndyCar pursuing rights fee increase ahead of next broadcast renewal

NBC, The CW, Fox Sports and Apple linked with deal from 2025.
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  • Current deal with NBC worth around US$20m annually
  • IndyCar saw its most-watched season since 2011 last year

IndyCar, the North American open-wheel series, is pursuing a domestic rights fee increase ahead of its next broadcast renewal.

The series’ current deal with NBC, reportedly worth around US$20 million annually, expires at the end of this season.

Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reports that IndyCar has held discussions with NBC, The CW, Fox Sports, and Apple. While the series is seeking an increase on its current rights fee, this may prove difficult in the current market.

“It’s about expectations – overall, they’ll do fine,” Dan Cohen, executive vice president of global media rights consulting for Octagon, told SBJ.

“The tailwind is a resurgence in interest across motorsports. Now with that said, back to expectations, what do Roger Penske and Mark Miles think they’re going to get? … Looking to double [the current US$20 million annual rate], that’s not going to happen in this environment.”

NBC first secured IndyCar rights exclusively in 2019, having previously shared them with ABC. The US-based series has hired Endeavor’s IMG Media division to lead the next media rights process.

IndyCar is coming off the back of strong viewership figures, with an average of 1.32 million viewers across 17 races representing the most-watched season since 2011.

For comparison, Formula One only averaged 1.1 million viewers on ESPN last season in a deal worth between US$75 million and US$90 million, and Nascar recorded an average of 2.86 million viewers ahead of a record US$1.1 billion per season media rights deal commencing next year.

BlackBook says…

IndyCar should be hopeful of a rights increase in the context of the deals agreed by Formula One and Nascar in the US, but it is rarely that simple.

With four broadcasters rumoured to be interested, this may help to drive the price up of any potential deal. The CW could be one to watch with its increased focus on motorsport recently.

The network agreed a seven-year US$800 million broadcast deal with Nascar for its second-tier Xfinity Series, while it has also built a relationship with IndyCar through the six-part ‘100 Days to Indy’ docuseries that aired last season.

With many US sports properties securing handsome increases for their media rights, IndyCar will be aiming to follow the trend.


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