Sky Sports will continue to air the IndyCar Series in the UK until the end of the 2024 season, the broadcaster has announced.
The broadcaster made the announcement on Friday 29th October via their German arm Sky Sport. Sky have yet to make a formal announcement via their UK outlet.
Sky’s new exclusive deal also covers Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, and Italy. It is the first time that Sky has covered IndyCar in Germany, the series currently airing on Sport1+.
Sky says that the deal covers live coverage and highlights of IndyCar, as well as “extensive exploitation rights for numerous other content, such as highlight clips or archive material,” although it is unclear whether this element of the statement covers all territories or just Germany.
Charly Classen, Executive Vice President of Sport for Sky Deutschland said, “With the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, we have secured the exclusive rights to the largest motorsport series in the USA, which also has a large fan base in Europe.”
“The racing series is a perfect addition to our strong motorsport range.”
The 2021 season finished in September at Laguna Seca, with Alex Palou crowned Drivers’ Champion. Next year’s season is set to begin on February 27th from St Petersburg, the earliest start to an IndyCar season since 2000.
IndyCar continues to support strong Sky F1 portfolio outside of core content
2022 marks a decade since Sky Sports F1 first hit the airwaves in the UK, and the shape of the channel outside of F1 race weekends has changed somewhat in that time.
The most noticeable change is the increase in supplementary content to the core F1 action. In recent years, Sky have aired, in either live or highlights form, the British GT Championship, the Ferrari Challenge, GT World Challenge, with IndyCar also joining the fray since 2019.
Sky goes beyond the basics, the broadcaster opting to air IndyCar qualifying and practice live (yes, practice) where possible.
The partnership between Sky and IndyCar makes logical sense, considering Comcast owns both Sky and NBC in the US.
Earlier this year, NBC and IndyCar announced a multiple year extension to their rights deal, making the Sky arrangement in Europe more of a formality than originally anticipated.
Sky have promoted IndyCar more in the UK this season through their F1 programming, with viewing figures benefiting as a result.
The 105th Indianapolis 500 averaged 125,000 viewers across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event according to consolidated data from BARB. The impressive figure takes into account Sky’s marathon two-hour build-up, with the race itself likely equalling 2019’s record figure for the 500.
Later in the season, IndyCar’s debut outing at Nashville on Sunday 8th August brought 66,000 viewers to Sky’s F1 channel, with 62,000 tuning in a week later to watch an IndyCar race round the Indianapolis Road Course.
While these figures are lower than Formula Two, IndyCar has built a loyal following over the past few years, a statement supported by IndyCar’s UK audience figures this year on Sky.
However, longstanding problems with IndyCar’s broadcast remain, including the lack of a consistent English-language commentary feed for the duration of the race which, in this writer’s view, prevents the series from growing further outside of America.
In addition, Sky have begun to air limited commercials following a sponsorship deal with Arrow, title sponsors of McLaren’s IndyCar outfit. It remains unknown if Sky intend to air commercials next season during their IndyCar coverage.
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