NBC and IndyCar Reach an Extension

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Not long ago, I publicly ate crow after the double-header at Belle Isle. I had predicted a boring set of races that turned out to be very exciting. I led off the Random Thoughts post with hat in hand and publicly admitted I was dead wrong. It wasn’t fun, but at least I acknowledged it.

Since I did that, I feel I have the right to gloat over a couple of things that I got right. Back in April, I posted about an article that the revered Norris McDonald, of The Toronto Star, wrote. He had reported that NBC was gone as the television partner of the NTT IndyCar Series at the end of the season. He didn’t say he suspected they were gone, or that they might be gone. No, he reported it as fact that NBC was gone at the end of the season.

It incensed me that a motorsports journalist of his stature would make such an unsubstantiated claim. That’s more like something a lowly blogger might do, just to generate a few hits.

Then in May, I wrote in the last paragraph of another article that I suspected that NBC would be back with IndyCar in 2022.

As it turns out, one of us was right and one was wrong. I publicly ate crow in June when I was wrong. Can we expect McDonald to do the same? I’d say that’s highly unlikely.

Except for stroking my own ego, it doesn’t really matter who was right and who was wrong. What does matter is that yesterday, it was confirmed that NBC and IndyCar had signed a multiyear extension of their partnership beginning in 2022. That is huge for the future of IndyCar.

When CBS made it clear that they were not interested in broadcasting IndyCar races, it appeared that IndyCar was out of options. It was either going to be NBC, ESPN or something along the lines of MAVTV. Most fans were not anxious to return to ESPN – I felt like Roger Penske and Mark Miles were anxious to do whatever it took to return to NBC.

I’ve not heard an amount of money that NBC is paying. The deal that expires at the end of this season was reported to be about $20 million per year for the three year deal. I don’t know this, but I suspect the new deal is less.

Like anything, there are some points that fans will like and some that they won’t. The good news is that thirteen races next season will be shown on Big NBC (over-the-air). Races will also be streamed live on Peacock (I’m assuming commercial-free). The news that some will like, while others will be infuriated, is that two races will be shown exclusively via streaming on Peacock. That’s fifteen races, so far. The remaining races will be shown on USA Network. I’ve seen where some say they don’t have USA. Believe me, if you have cable – you have USA. More homes have USA than had the soon-to-be-shutdown NBCSN.

I think many fans also don’t realize that if they are a Comcast Xfinity customer, they get Peacock Premium for free. Personally, since we are Xfinity customers, I have enjoyed our free Peacock Premium. Not only do we get all of the IndyCar content with no commercials, but we have also enjoyed access to Yellowstone and the newest 8-part docudrama Dr. Death.

Ultimately, this is NBC’s way of trying to lure more customers to Peacock Premium. Even if you are not an Xfinity customer, Peacock Premium is only $4.99 a month accessible on your Smart TV, computer, tablet or smart phone. That’s about the same as the old NBC Gold and you get a lot more content. If you choose not to subscribe to Peacock, you will miss two race weekends and live practice and qualifying throughout the season.

As for me, I am ecstatic about the announcement. NBC will give viewers more options through their various platforms than any other cable option. It was not going to do anyone any good to have the series switch to Motor Trend TV or any other obscure cable channel. Even the CBS Sports Network was going to be far more limited than NBCSN was. That was going to be a tough sell for teams to take to their sponsors, as they try to set their 2022 budgets in the next couple of months. Thirteen races over Big NBC? That’s something that will raise eyebrows when meeting with sponsors.

I’m sure a lot of people disagree with me. When ABC/ESPN was on board for five races, with NBCSN getting the remainder – fans loved to hate on ABC, and longed for the day NBC would broadcast all the races. As soon as they got their wish, the fans turned on NBC. It’s not perfect, as we saw when lacrosse and tennis interfered with coverage of both races at Belle Isle, but it beats any other alternative.

I’m sure that Norris McDonald is none too happy either. If that’s the worst thing to come out of yesterday’s announcement, then this is a good thing.

George Phillips

14 Responses to “NBC and IndyCar Reach an Extension”

  1. Great news……….

  2. Overall a great package. Miles hinted but didn’t directly say that Indianapolis 500 would be on big NBC as well.

    • Phil Kaiser Says:

      Hey, theboxwindow, are you serious, or just trying to be funny?

      If you’re serious (really??) I don’t think Miles had to say anything about the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race being on NBC. The “Indy 500” IS IndyCar, there is NO series without it and any fool knows that.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:

    I’d rather have Superspeedways and I feel that the Flagship (ABC-ESPN) has to get focused enough to Return to In House Racing, because I don’t want to see Spiderman where the Indy 500 should be and that would be more on Principle and not on Business.

  4. “Every race live streaming on Peacock.” That’s all I needed to hear. This makes me very happy.

  5. Maurice Kessler Says:

    Peacock is well worth the money. Has NBC announced the broadcast team, same or changing to some extent.?

  6. billytheskink Says:

    This should definitely be a good deal for the series overall. The additional races on NBC will likely more than make up for any viewership loss due to other races on USA and Peacock and the ability to watch all of the races live on Peacock alleviates the biggest complaint fans had about the previous deal (though I would be surprised if NBC/USA simulcast coverage was commercial-free, much of the programming on Peacock Premium still has commercials).

    The two Peacock-exclusive races pose a challenge on their own, but are more than likely a tradeoff worth making to increase the number of races on NBC. No track or promoter is going to want to be one of the Peacock races. This may mean the Peacock races will be attached to doubleheaders or promoted by an affiliate of the series itself (IMS Road Course, Detroit, current Iowa rumor).

    Norris McDonald took a big swing and missed badly. Surely he will have to respond to this at some point.

  7. James T Suel Says:

    I think overall it’s a good deal for the series and the fans.. 13 races on NBC is big for this sport. And peacock is a bargin.

  8. Whew, what a relief! This is great deal for both fans and the series. I have to pay for Peacock Premium, but it is well worth it. And having no ads has been a delight. I don’t watch USA Network, but will add it to my faves.

    Shall we send a crow pie to Mr. McDonald?

  9. 13 Races on BIG NBC is huge

  10. earlier this year, Robin Miller replied to my email about NBC.
    quote:
    “I’d be shocked if INDYCAR got $10 million.”

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