About Those International TV Rights…

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By Matthew Lawrenson

Note from George:  If you’ll recall, last August I had a guest-post from a longtime reader in the UK, Matthew Lawrenson. Many of you seemed to enjoy his purely British take on life as an IndyCar fan in the UK. This past weekend, he asked if he could return and give his views on the International TV Rights Package for the NTT IndyCar Series, which had not been announced yet.

I’ll admit to being somewhat selfish. Since I live in the US, have cable and have already bought the NBC Sports Gold “IndyCar Pass”; I’ve never really been that concerned about the International TV Rights. I am guilty of having a “If it doesn’t affect me, why should I care?” mindset on the International Rights Package. But I am aware that we are just a little more than two weeks before the start of the 2019 season and only a smattering of the international rights has been revealed.

Matthew wrote this on Saturday (before the Daytona 500) and sent it to me. To give a more authentic British feel to it – he informed me that he wrote it while sitting in  a pub. Since this was written, we have learned that Fox Motorsport has earned the rights in Australia to broadcast IndyCar – at the expense of NASCAR, I might add. I was going to run this on Friday, but with other announcements pending this week – Friday may have made this post obsolete.

But late yesterday, he did send the following photo to place at the top of his post. I guess this is what one drinks across the pond, while watching the Daytona 500. – GP

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So, mid-February, is it? So it is, and you, IndyCar fan, should congratulate yourself on making it this far. You’re scratching off the days on your calendar, with ever-increasing twitchiness as we head towards the first race of the season. Meanwhile you catch yourself watching Formula E at the pub and consider ‘given them a chance’. You even, heaven help you, think about watching the glorified bumper car race at Daytona.

But never fear. In less than three weeks, your favourite racing series will be back on the air and you know you’ll be able to watch it on NBC from the comfort of your own home or nearest sports bar.

Or some of us will.

For several reasons, 2019 is going to be a year where international interest in IndyCar will be higher than is typically the case. Save for the Wickens crash at Pocono, I saw no mention of the series in any UK media outlet last year. But this year, there’s Fernando Alonso in the 500, there’s McLaren. There’s even a guy from Manchester (England) doing a partial season with Dragon Racing.

So, you’d think the series would have its international TV deals sewn up by now, seeing as the whole show starts March 10th. You’d (Bobby Unser voice) reeeeeeaaaaalllly think that, wouldn’t you. But no.

Back in November, Hulman & CO announced they were forming a new company to manage IndyCar’s international media rights. I thought at the time, blimey, well, 5 months is a bit closer to the season to do this stuff than I’d expect. Never mind, I thought, I’m sure all those years selling baking powder would confer a certain level of expertise in the matters.

As said, we’re now less than three weeks before St. Pete, and this side of the Atlantic, we don’t know what channel we’ll find the races on. Or even if they’ll be on at all, anywhere. I sort of understand Mark Miles et al wanting to sort out the US stuff first, as that’s about 95% of IndyCar’s (and associated sponsors) target market. But the last we heard (via Miller’s Mailbag on Racer.com) something’s going to be announced ‘early March’.

In other words, a week before the first race.

I’m sure I’m not alone to have made plans for the season opener. I’ve booked the day off work so I can see the whole show, instead of booking a taxi straight after work so I can just about catch the green flag. And at the moment, I don’t know whether I’ll be seeing St. Pete at all. I know. First world problems and all that. But it’s certainly irritating.

Of course, this could all be part of IndyCar’s awesome international future plan of sunlit uplands, dancing in the streets and Fred winning the 500. But from here, it’s looking a bit dicey.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching the Daytona 500 with my biiiig jar of corn whiskey and hoping for the best. Go Parker Kligerman!

18 Responses to “About Those International TV Rights…”

  1. Well said, I’m starting to get itchy now over here….

    • Matthew Lawrenson Says:

      Everyone will be relieved to know I finished off the corn whiskey last night while watching the last lap of the ’79 Daytona 500 on a loop. Now that’s fightin’ you can believe in!

  2. BrandonW77 Says:

    I’m sure they’ll get it sorted, but they are getting pretty close to go-time.

    More and more I’m realizing I may be an oddball among racing fans. I watch and enjoy all kinds of racing, if it has a motor and someone driving the wheels off it I enjoy it. IndyCar, F1, FE, NASCAR, BTCC, Aussie Supercars, DTM, Motocross, USAC, heck I’ve even enjoyed lawn mower racing (it’s awesome!). Drag racing is about the only kind of racing that doesn’t do much for me. I just love racing.

    • I don’t think you’re an oddball, I love RACING too! I just don’t think NASCRAP, F1 or FE are racing (LOVE USAC!)! It’s contrived “entertainment” on wheels, like the WWF. Just my opinion, and a lot of other race fan’s opinion that I happen to know, living here in Indianapolis, y’see…..

      • BrandonW77 Says:

        Not that I necessarily agree or disagree, but even “contrived” racing is still way more entertaining to me than 90% of the other crap on TV so I still choose it over some cookie-cutter sitcom or “reality” show garbage. As long as there’s cars on my tv, I’m content.

    • billytheskink Says:

      I’m with you on enjoying all kinds of racing. I love the competition and how it involves both man and machine. Even “less-pure” forms of racing involve genuine competition and the combination of driving talent and fast equipment.

      Now, I find drag racing to be a tremendous live experience that loses so so much of what makes it fun when you can only see it on television. All racing loses a lot of the sights/sounds/smells when viewed on TV vs. in-person, but the live experience of those things is pretty much the entire appeal of drag racing to me.

      • I’ve been to one NHRA event, briefly, that had the top fuel and funny cars. And yeah, that is not something you will ever forget as long as you live. Those things are so loud it literally shook my eyeballs and I couldn’t see anything. That part is cool and impressive, but it’s all over and done with in 3-4 seconds and I find it hard to get interested in that. I’d still choose it over the Kardashians though. 😀

  3. I think all fans should be concerned about missing opportunities for exposure

  4. No coverage has been announced for Canada either and I am quite concerned I will need to find alternative measures to watch races that definitely don’t contribute to the IndyCar revenue stream.

    • Precisely what I’m thinking. It goes right against the grain as I’ve always believed in paying for my coverage but ‘needs must’…..

    • Exactly.

      Canada (with possibly more per capita Indycar fans than the USA (I made that up but it may be true)) has no Indycar coverage except for the mainstream NBC shows.

      Seriously guys, WTF?

      It’s getting so that without CBSSN I wouldn’t have any real racing to watch.

      Ah well, we in the Great White North live in blind faith that something will be sorted out. It will won’t it?

      • Wait, wait, wait, wait…..you have TVs in Canada?? Well, I’ll be…

        😀

      • S0CSeven Says:

        So here`s the deal. Indycar on regular TV is no longer available in Canada (except for the Indy 500 and Toronto Indy) unless you buy a speciality channel for $20/month plus tax = $271 per year or get it streamed for $226 for the first year.

        The never-ending march of PPV for auto racing is well and truly underway.
        https://norrismcdonald.ca/indycar-to-blame-for-canadian-tv-schmozzle/
        At the moment, my love for Indycar racing and my disgust for money-grubbing huge corporate greed are certainly at odds. My TV/internet/phone bill is WAY over $2500/year and I refuse to pay more. (if you’re not retired you probably won’t get it)

        ……. This weekend, I’ll exercise my family opportunities and go and play with my grandchildren. Priority #1 dontcha see.

        So screw you Indycar. It ain’t the money, it’s the attitude. I’ll tune in again in May. Maybe.

  5. Ah, corn whiskey. The favorite drink of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Now I’ve heard it mentioned again. Some day I’m going to have to try it. Maybe on Pole Day this year and I’ll make a toast to Matthew and his fellow fans overseas.

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