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New ABC contract with IndyCar: Fan reaction
ABC just extended the contract with IndyCar for another six years; bringing the agreement up through 2018 (IndyCar.com). The extension is six years: from 2013 to 2018. The contract coverage consists of the Indy 500, plus four other races during each season and makes the network an exclusive partner.
The partnership ABC has with IndyCar and the 500 will have covered more than 50 years in a row with this extension - longer than any other network and sporting event continuously.
My first thought is that ABC is probably getting the better end of the deal. IndyCar is growing, which makes the Indy 500 more valuable every year. Except for a handful of races on network, IndyCar isn't getting much out of the joint venture. The coverage is never very good because let's face it; if they only do these few races, they aren't dedicated to the series. Plus, the commercials are numerically mind-numbing.
This all hurts to admit because again, as I just mentioned, I believe the series is heading in the right direction but this contract just keeps the status quo. I don't like it as I think IndyCar needs to be under one roof so they're dedicated to the sport. I hoped that either ABC or NBC (Versus) would acquire the broadcasting rights to the entire season.
As anyone who watches motorsports on television knows, ABC/ESPN does very little cross promotion. NASCAR may be the only one that gets any decent promotions. Plus, ever turn a race on ESPN and instead there's women's soccer from China? Motorsports has a low priority at the network.
Does Danica matter?
Now what about Danica Patrick? Supposedly she has a much bigger fan base than anyone else. Did this deal get done because IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard felt he had to strike a deal sooner rather than later when Danica, theoretically, takes her base with her to NASCAR next year? Or did the thought of a bidding war with NBC (who purchased Versus) scare ABC into re-upping? Either way, it isn't to the benefit of the fans.
I believe IndyCar has a contract with Versus that runs through 2018 also. But because of exclusivity, none of the races on Versus can be moved over to the NBC network.
Overall, the television deal lends a solid basis to sell other marketing partners on. But since poor coverage will have a direct bearing on how the sport moves forward, it's hard to understand just how this is good for the sport. Didn't I hear Randy Bernard say he would listen to the fans? I can't imagine there were too many fans raving about the TV coverage.
IndyCar fans are stuck with the deal and in the end, they pay the bills. But if these brand loyal consumers are turned off and if they leave, it could be that the bills may NOT be paid in the future.
Was it worth it?
Sources - IndyCar, SpeedTV
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