INDYCAR sets 2014 broadcast schedule
INDYCAR released its over-the-air television broadcast schedule for the upcoming 2014 IndyCar Series season, as partners ABC/ESPN and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) share duties in scheduling the 18-race season that includes a new road-course venue at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and three double-header road/street course races.
ABC has the bulk of the early-season schedule in its corner, starting with the season opener on the streets of St Petersburg, a race that takes sponsorship from Firestone, the series’ long-time tire partner. NBCSN takes over for the (40th annual) Long Beach and Barber Motorsports street/road courses, while ABC covers the month of May, including the 98th Indianapolis 500 May 25th and then the first doubleheader at Detroit a week later.
The balance of the season belongs to NBCSN, which takes over the broadcast duties for the series’ exciting annual visit to Texas Motor Speedway on June 7th, staying with INDYCAR through to the season-ending 500-mile contest at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Labor Day weekend.
This is the first time in a good while that ABC has elected to televise qualifying at Indy; that’s been the province of NBCSN the past few years. The network will decamp in Indianapolis for nearly the entire month of May this year, a welcome change and a sign of consistency in its broadcast plans. Although not mentioned by the series, we’re hoping there will be plenty of pre-race coverage on the day of the Indy 500.
Mark Miles, CEO of INDYCAR owed Hulman & Co noted, “ABC is the destination to tune in for our three big weekends of competition in May.” He stated the company is “very grateful to our television partners for working with us on a schedule that gives our fans the best of both networks. Fans will know that NBC Sports Network is our home for the final 11 races of the season, including two doubleheaders as we build up to another exciting championship.”
In keeping continuity, all ABC race broadcasts (other than Indy) will begin at 3:30PM eastern time. “The Indianapolis 500 has been an important property for our company for many years and the milestone of the 50th consecutive race on ABC is one that we plan to celebrate,” declared Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming. “It’s only fitting that our celebration also will include the new race on the Indianapolis road course and the drama of qualifications.
“At the same time,” she said, “we’re also very happy to again be able to air the season opener from St Petersburg as well as the doubleheader from Detroit. We look forward to an exciting season with the IndyCar Series and the Month of May at Indianapolis.”
Jon Miller, president of programming at NBCSN said, “We’re pleased to again present a record 13 races to IndyCar’s passionate fan base on NBCSN, including Long Beach, Barber, two doubleheaders (Houston and Toronto) and the final 11 races of the season.”
ABC/ESPN has yet to appoint a lead anchor for its broadcasts next year.
By Anne Proffit