IRL: Series extends television agreement

Indy Racing League Extends Television Pact Through 2009 with ABC Sports, ESPN INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- The Indy Racing League, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ABC Sports and ESPN have reached a wide-ranging, multimedia extension of...

Indy Racing League Extends Television Pact Through 2009 with ABC Sports, ESPN

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- The Indy Racing League, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ABC Sports and ESPN have reached a wide-ranging, multimedia extension of their current agreement.

The announcement was made today by Tony George, president and CEO of both the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Loren Matthews, senior vice president of programming for ABC Sports, and Mark Quenzel, senior vice president of programming and production for ESPN.

The new agreement, which runs until 2009, includes comprehensive coverage of the IRL IndyCar® Series in addition to the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù races and ancillary programming support along with both network's traditional extensive coverage of the Indianapolis 500.

The agreement includes distribution rights for IRL-related programming and content on numerous ESPN outlets, including ESPN Classic, ESPN International and ESPN.com, as well as opportunities involving emerging technologies such as pay-per-view, video-on-demand, interactive TV, broadband, video game development and wireless applications. ESPN will hold rights for high definition distribution on ESPN HD and Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes.

In addition, ESPN International networks retain worldwide rights to televise race coverage to 149 countries and territories. ESPN International will continue as global syndication representative. Current syndication agreements are in place with broadcasters in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, with pan-regional highlights available on Eurosport, the most widely-distributed sports network in Europe.

ESPN and ESPN2 will receive several programming opportunities as part of the agreement, including exclusive coverage of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and Indy Racing League Banquet, an annual ESPN Original Entertainment special, a Season Preview show and three one-hour Indy Racing League-related specials a year.

ABC Sports has televised the Indianapolis 500 since 1965, and done so live since 1986. Indy Racing League events have been on ABC and the ESPN networks since the League debuted in 1996. ESPN has televised Indianapolis 500 qualifying since 1987, and ESPN2 joined the coverage in 1996.

"Today's announcement reaffirms ABC Sports and ESPN's commitment to IndyCar Series racing," George said. "ABC Sports and ESPN have played a significant role in the advancement of the Indy Racing League. Their belief in the league via race events and ancillary programming brings the Indy Racing League long-term stability and offers our fans even more programming than ever before.

"I am particularly proud that today's agreement with ABC Sports extends its coverage of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race into a fifth consecutive decade, one of the longest running relationships between a sports entity and broadcast partner."

In the 2004 season, ABC Sports is televising 10 of the 16-race IndyCar Series schedule, including the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30. ESPN or ESPN2 is carrying six races this season.

"The Indy Racing League is poised for tremendous growth and we look forward to being a part of that," said Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production. "In addition to having the Indianapolis 500, the IRL is a competitive circuit that continues to add the top drivers and expand their sponsorship base. ESPN and ABC Sports' media platforms provide an unmatched opportunity to grown the national audience."

With the commitment to expand the IndyCar Series schedule both ABC Sports and ESPN will work with the league to develop a consistent schedule of races designed to grow the sport and increase television ratings. "This agreement comes as a result of creative thinking and a commitment from ABC, ESPN and the IRL to continue to build the Indy Racing League and the Indy 500," said Matthews of ABC Sports. "We look forward to our long-term relationship with the IRL and to broadcasting the greatest spectacle in racing." ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 have provided some 33 hours of coverage of the 88th Indianapolis 500 as ABC celebrates its 40th anniversary of coverage of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." ABC's live broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 will begin with pre-race coverage at 11 a.m. (EDT) May 30, followed by flag-to-flag coverage of the race at noon.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George
Tags TV