A Memorial Day weekend television tradition will continue with a new, six-year rights agreement that will keep the Indianapolis 500 on ABC through 2018, extending one of the longest-running relationships between a sporting event and a television network past the half-century mark.
"ESPN on ABC" will broadcast the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for the 48th consecutive year on May 27, 2012 and, with the new agreement taking effect in 2013, will also televise the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in 2016.
As part of the new agreement, ABC will be the exclusive broadcast network partner for the IZOD IndyCar Series from 2013-'18 and will continue to televise four races each year in addition to the Indianapolis 500. The balance of the schedule will continue to air on the Versus cable network, which next year will be re-branded as NBC Sports Network. Worldwide presence of the Indianapolis 500 and the series on television will continue as ESPN also has international syndication rights for all IZOD IndyCar Series races.
"The Indianapolis 500 and ABC have been together since 1965, and we are very proud to extend the relationship with this new agreement," said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports. "The 500 is a uniquely American event and a Memorial Day tradition, and we especially look forward to televising the 100th edition of the race in 2016."
The Indianapolis 500 aired as part of ABC's Wide World of Sports from 1965 until 1971, when it was broadcast for the first time as a same-day, stand-alone, tape-delayed telecast in prime time. It was shown on a delayed basis until the first live telecast in 1986. This past May, ESPN's production of the Indianapolis 500 telecast used 64 high definition cameras, a satellite-activated effects system and more of the most modern television technology available.
Beginning in 2012, ABC's coverage of the Indianapolis 500 and the IZOD IndyCar Series will be expanded to include live streaming of ABC's on-board cameras on ESPN3.com, ESPN's signature broadband sports network. The streaming also will be available to ESPN3 subscribers via www.indycar.com.
"We value our partnership with ABC and ESPN and are pleased that the relationship will continue into the future," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO. "Along with a vast understanding of the Indianapolis 500 and the sport of IndyCar racing, ABC's production team continues to seek out innovative ways to televise our sport. As broadcast technology advances and opportunities arise to implement new technology, we can count on ABC and ESPN to bring the best quality production to our viewers."
"IndyCar is very excited about our continued relationship with ABC," said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. "This allows the series long-term growth on the network. This new contract also helps us expand our presence around the world with ESPN representing our international rights. I want to thank ABC for its strong confidence and commitment in our brand and series. This deal will help our series, team owners, sponsors and fans for the long term with a much more solid foundation."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race airing on ABC will be this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., at 3:30 p.m. ET.