Wednesday, April 17, 2024

NBC touts record-breaking IndyCar viewership amidst media rights negotiations

The fifth campaign of full-season IndyCar Series coverage on the NBC family of networks and streaming platforms has concluded, and according to a Wednesday morning press release by the corporation, it was a good one.

According to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics data, 2023 was the most-watched IndyCar season since 2011, when Television coverage was split between ABC and Versus (later known as NBCSN, now USA). The 17-race season was also the most watched since NBC took full broadcasting rights of the series in 2019. Peacock, NBC’s subscription-based streaming service also broke viewership records, airing a full race, most qualifying sessions, and all practice sessions from March through September, despite viewer complaints about commercials.

The Indianapolis market unsurprisingly led all markets nationwide in viewership with an average rating of 3.26 across the season. May’s Indianapolis 500 broadcast showed a slight bounce back from 2022 (4.93 million viewers compared to 4.84) but joined 2020 and 2018 as the only races to see less than 5 million average viewers since reunification in 2008.

Credit: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment/Courtesy of IndyCar

Despite the relatively low viewership numbers, 13% of eligible households tuned in to the race, matching 2008’s record.

The announcement comes in the middle of negotiations between the series and broadcasters for media rights after the conclusion of the 2024 season, the last of IndyCar’s current contract with NBC. Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported earlier this month that Penske Entertainment, the parent company of IndyCar, has hired Endeavor, a Nashville-based media company to consult in the upcoming negotiations. Endeavor recently assisted the NCAA and NWSL in a similar role.

While Penske CEO Mark Miles went on record to say that IndyCar is “enjoying its relationship” with NBC, all options remain on the table starting in 2025, according to Stern’s report. NBC seems to be the most likely option for the deal, with the network being involved with IndyCar since 2009 in some capacity.

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