BT Sport will not broadcast coverage of the IndyCar Series this season after losing the rights to the championship.
The series aired on Sky Sports as part of a longstanding relationship until the end of the 2012 season, with regular live studio coverage covering each race. As Sky ramped up their F1 involvement, IndyCar arguably suffered, and the series moved over to ESPN at the start of 2013.
IndyCar continued on ESPN, but under the BT Sport umbrella from August 2013 onwards. Whilst BT Sport’s agreement with ESPN’s international arm lasts until 2022, the decision by IndyCar to break away from ESPN and bring their international rights in-house placed BT Sport’s UK deal under threat.
This site can confirm that BT Sport have lost the rights to IndyCar with immediate effect. Writing on Twitter, BT Sport’s IndyCar commentator Tom Gaymor said “Unfortunately it looks like IndyCar will not be on BT Sport this year, no more information at the moment! I know a lot of you have been asking, so if it changes, I’ll let you know. I’m as disappointed as you are.”
Typically, IndyCar races average around 25,000 viewers, a figure that has remained relatively static in recent years. Most notably, IndyCar enjoyed its moment in the sun in 2017, when the appearance of Fernando Alonso at the Indianapolis 500 led to BT Sport’s coverage peaking with over 200,000 viewers, by far IndyCar’s highest UK audience in a generation.
For the IndyCar fans that have stuck with BT Sport’s coverage, the parting of ways between the two sides is a shame. Whilst BT Sport did not revolutionise IndyCar coverage as such (the budget remained small), what the motor sport team, led by Nick Kennerley off camera, did provide was a home for the series.
BT’s coverage was commercial free for the most parts with UK commentators Gaymor, Keith Collantine and Oliver Webb providing insight when their US colleagues were on commercial breaks. It is difficult to imagine another network doing the same thing as BT have done for the past few years.
However, if IndyCar’s new home does provide the championship with a wider platform, then overall this is a good move.
IndyCar have yet to announce a new broadcast partner for the UK. One possibility is that IndyCar finds itself back on Sky Sports. Comcast now owns Sky, and has done so since the middle of 2018. In the US, IndyCar is airing on NBC in a new deal starting this season. And Comcast also owns NBC…
I have reached out to IndyCar for further comment.