ESPN win UK rights to screen the IndyCar Series

ESPN have won the rights to screen the IndyCar Series in the UK for 2013, it has been confirmed today.

The news was first broken by Sky Sports on their Facebook page this morning. In response to a question directed at them, the broadcaster said “Indycar has been signed up by ESPN, so all races will be on there from March.” Following an e-mail request from The F1 Broadcasting Blog, ESPN has this afternoon confirmed that they will be screening the series in 2013, ending Sky’s involvement. One thing to note is that the tweet does not contain the word ‘live’, indicating the coverage may not be live.

I’m afraid for all concerned, this is disappointing news. The viewing figures for IndyCar on Sky Sports were very low, despite the racing being fantastic for the majority of the time, and on ESPN the figures will most likely be in four digits most of the time considering all of Sky’s figures were in the five digit range.

Another complicated factor is that ESPN could well be exiting the UK in the middle of the year thanks to the arrival of BT Vision. If ESPN does exit the UK, then it is anyone’s guess where the series could end up, it could end up like WRC and without a home in the UK. It reminds me potentially of the GP2 situation in early 2009, Setanta Sports went into administration halfway through the season, and British Eurosport picked it back up. One does wonder if it was Sky’s move to drop IndyCar, I suspect it was their decision. Part of the reason could be that the rights were worth a lot less to them now that they had the Formula 1 rights, which of course they did not have when they previously re-negotiated the IndyCar deal back in February 2011.

Unfortunately, as it stands, I, and a lot of other people, will be without access to IndyCar in 2013 thanks to ESPN being an extra £10 on top of Sky Sports.

Update on February 8th – ESPN have today confirmed to me that they do indeed have the rights to screen every race live. However, and I quote “this depends on the programming scheduled for each day. If the race clashes with a higher profile event then the race will not be shown live but on delay.”

4 thoughts on “ESPN win UK rights to screen the IndyCar Series

  1. One of the things that has made me laugh, is the response from Sky subscribers who have been complaining about Indy moving to ESPN, but they were deadly silent about F1 moving to Sky.

    If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    If you don’t want fragmented motor sport broadcasting, you shouldn’t encourage it.

  2. You can’t compare the F1 and Indycar situation in that way Karen. I think most people can see through the crafty trick you are pulling.

    F1 was moving to a channel that would show all the sessions Live. Not only that but Sky’s HD picture quality is vastly superior to that on the BBC. It was actually an improvement in coverage over what the BBC were providing and something I was happy to pay for.

    For those that didn’t have Sky there was still the BBC option that showed a significant number of races Live and recorded highlights in a reliable and timely manner.

    The problem with the Indycar deal is that there is no dedicated Indycar channel. I am being asked to pay £10 per month to watch one sport which may be shown in the form of recorded highlights in the early hours of the morning. Plus that is the only legal option as far as I know so I risk having nothing and I’ve been watching it since the late 80’s I guess. The BBC F1 viewers had nothing to whine about in comparison to this situation.

    I’d happily pay £10 a month for live coverage of all the Indycar races as I accept that it is a minority sport with lower viewing figures but there are certain minimum standards I expect in this day and age. We now have internet (how I watch NASCAR on Premier Sports) which means that rights holders should be able to simultaneously show Live broadcasts of clashing events. As I say, all races Live and in HD is the bare minimum when paying that much per month.

    All we needed was a channel that isn’t due to go out of business mid year to buy the streaming rights and simply do a deal to show Live streaming Broadcasts with the US commentary which you can pay for on a race by race basis or as a discounted season pass. That might actually be profitable (unlike the current ESPN deal unless they paid £0 for the rights) as even Joe Public can broadcast Live streams these days via platforms like Twitch TV. Better still the governing body should have done that directly to all the smaller markets like the UK.

  3. Yes you can Gary.
    Some people on various forums were happy to tell people to subscribe to Sky if they wanted full F1, but strangely some of those people are complaining about Indy moving to ESPN, and when told to go and subscribe they claim they can’t afford it, but had no such compunction in telling BBC viewers to go and subscribe

    I’m lucky I get all myTV free, as its my job. But I wold prefer Motorsport to be watched by the largest audience possible, so hiding it away behind a pay wall is counter productive to that, and people advocating it one minute and complaining about it when it happens to them is a consequence of people not taking the big long term view.

    What goes around comes around.

  4. Is there any list of Indycar broadcasters for 2013. season in Europe, I know for French Motors tv and Sky Italy. Who else?


    Desperate Indycar fan

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