2009 television schedule announced

INDYCAR SERIES ANNOUNCES 2009 TELEVISION SCHEDULE, SEASON FINALE MOVED UP A DAY; 2008 TV VIEWERSHIP INCREASES 21% INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008 - The IndyCar Series enters 2009 with a new television package that will ...

INDYCAR SERIES ANNOUNCES 2009 TELEVISION SCHEDULE, SEASON FINALE MOVED UP A DAY; 2008 TV VIEWERSHIP INCREASES 21%

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008 - The IndyCar Series enters 2009 with a new television package that will continue to feature long-term partner ABC while introducing VERSUS as the new cable television partner. VERSUS will open the season on April 5 and will air three consecutive races before ABC kicks off its five-race coverage, beginning May 24 with the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

ABC will air five races, produced by ESPN, within a seven-race period before VERSUS televises the final eight races, including the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which has been moved up one day to a twilight race on Saturday, October 10.

The entire 2009 IndyCar Series television package will be available in high-definition (HD) television.

Following races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Kansas on VERSUS, ABC will air five of the next seven races, including four that it carried last season.

ABC will air the Indianapolis 500 for the 45th consecutive season, followed by the races at The Milwaukee Mile, Iowa Speedway and Watkins Glen International. The network also will televise the IndyCar Series first visit to Toronto.

"We are very excited about engaging two broadcast partners beginning in 2009," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "Having the season essentially broken into three segments - three races on VERSUS, five of the next seven races on ABC and then eight straight races on VERSUS - will give fans a consistent place to find the IndyCar Series all season."

"Having ABC kick off the summer portion of our schedule with five races in a compact time period beginning with the Indianapolis 500 should really build momentum as the season heads into the heart of the championship battle. Having that battle play out on VERSUS, with the additional programming opportunities that we have, will give fans comprehensive coverage of the championship run."

After the first season of the unification of open-wheel racing in 2008, the IndyCar Series enters the 2009 season with gains in viewership across all television partners including ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. For the 17 races on the IndyCar Series schedule last year, race viewership averaged 1.7 million across the three networks, which was a 21.4 percent increase over the 2007 season (1.4 million).

Separately, ABC averaged 2.7 million viewers for its seven IndyCar Series races, up 10.1 percent for the same number of races in 2007 (2.5 million); ESPN averaged 707,000 viewers for four races, up 27.2 percent compared to the five races run in the 2007 season (556,000). ESPN2 averaged 892,000 viewers for its five races in the 2008 season, which was a 53.5 percent increase over the 2007 average (581,000).

The IndyCar Series announced multi-year multimedia partnerships with ABC and VERSUS in August. The partnership with VERSUS calls for the network to televise at least 13 races per year for the next 10 years, with each telecast to last a minimum of three hours and include extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS also will air a one-hour preview show the day before each race that will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend. Additionally, the network will feature extensive coverage of all the qualification days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500. The complete Month of May schedule will be announced shortly.

-credit: irl

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