INDY RACING LEAGUE ANNOUNCES MULTI-YEAR MEDIA PARTNERSHIPS WITH ABC AND VERSUS
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 7, 2008) -- The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series in DIRECTV HD and Firestone Indy Lights, today announced multi-year media partnerships with ABC and VERSUS.
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will remain on ABC, continuing one of the longest partnerships in television sports, while the move to VERSUS, home to the National Hockey League, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, college football, Davis Cup and Tour de France, will give the IndyCar Series a new cable television partner beginning in 2009.
The new television agreements, which will feature the IndyCar Series in high-definition television, come just months after the unification of open-wheel racing in North America with immediate results including an average of 26-plus cars per race, stronger at-track attendance, increased television ratings and new corporate partnerships.
"We couldn't be happier moving forward with our media rights with long-time partner ABC and now welcoming VERSUS to the IndyCar Series family," said Tony George, the founder and chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. "Looking forward to 2009 and beyond, we have the opportunity to team up with our media partners and really capitalize on unification and the three-year Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Celebration."
ABC, which will televise its 45th Indy 500 in 2009, has covered the IndyCar Series since its inception in 1996. The Indy 500 will continue to be aired on ABC through 2012, extending its deal through and beyond the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era, with the network airing four additional IndyCar Series races annually.
The multi-year partnership with VERSUS calls for the network to televise at least 13 races per year for the next 10 years, with each telecast lasting a minimum of three hours and includes 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.
VERSUS will feature at least 10 hours of IndyCar Series ancillary programming each season focused on the drivers, teams and tracks as well as allowing for extensive coverage of the Centennial Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Further, VERSUS will have IndyCar Series re-airs in the week following every race as well as the Firestone Indy Lights schedule highlighted in weekly 30-minute telecasts.
Additional shows and topics are yet to be determined and details will be announced as they become available.
"We are very excited to be entering into this multi-year partnership with the Indy Racing League," said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operations for VERSUS. "All of the great live programming will be a perfect complement to our ever expanding line-up of elite competition. VERSUS is the ideal home for IndyCar racing since we pride ourselves on super-serving highly passionate fans and, as the new exclusive cable home of the Indy Racing League, we look forward to providing motorsports fans with the most in-depth coverage they have ever seen."
The IndyCar Series, which last week announced its 2009 schedule, will release specific race affiliations for each network in the immediate future and will work with both ESPN and VERSUS on digital platforms to expand coverage of the series even further.
"Today's announcement continues the momentum shown since we announced unification in February and will be an immediate asset for IndyCar Series drivers, teams, venues, suppliers and sponsors," said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division, Indy Racing League. "The immediate and long-term beneficiaries are IndyCar Series fans who will get more IndyCar Series programming then ever before."
With its diverse driver lineup and the worldwide appeal of open-wheel racing, the IndyCar Series has enjoyed broad international television reach and will work with both ESPN and VERSUS to continue its international television distribution.