Whether you need this information for the entire season or just that big race in May, all IndyCar coverage will move to NBC next year—practices, qualifying, Indy Lights races and IndyCar races. That includes the Indianapolis 500, which, after the 2018 running, will have been broadcast on ABC for 54 straight years.
NBC and ABC networks share the IndyCar broadcast schedule for this 2018 season, with ABC airing five races and NBC Sports Network carrying 12. ABC has some of the big ones, like the season opener earlier this month, the Indy 500 and the road-course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway a week before the big one.
But all of that will go to NBC channels next year, with the Associated Press reporting that NBC’s announced “multi-year” agreement is for the next three years. NBC announced that eight races including the Indy 500 will be on its main NBC channel next year, and that the rest will be on NBC Sports Network. That’s up from the current network schedule, which only has five races on ABC. IndyCar will also be on NBC Sports Gold, which is a package for purchase that’ll include replays, Indy Lights races, and “all qualifying and practices not televised live.”
The ABC and NBC tussle over IndyCar coverage apparently wasn’t great, with ABC limiting how NBC could televise its races—even this season. From the AP:
ABC had a stranglehold on the Indy 500 and its contract limited NBC-aired events to cable. Both IndyCar CEO Mark Miles and heavyweight team owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi had stressed the need for IndyCar to be on one network going forward with fewer races on cable. ...
Miles told the AP that both NBC and ABC were in the bidding until the very end, with both networks interested in obtaining IndyCar’s media rights. Negotiations apparently ended late last week and ABC sent an internal memo to its stations notifying them the IndyCar package would end after this season. An employee at one of those stations revealed ABC’s statement in a since-deleted tweet, and ABC refused to comment all weekend.
NBC didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal that won its networks the bid.
But start prepping early for May if you’re a sucker for longstanding traditions, because ABC won’t make it to six consecutive decades of broadcasting one of motorsport’s biggest events. It sure got close, though.