Thoughts on NBC Sports losing another property after Roland Garros with IndyCar now likely to be on FOX Sports next year

by Sports Benches

Well, the next IndyCar broadcast rights deal is set to wrap up soon and it looks like FOX Sports will be taking over for the next couple of years rather than stick around with NBC Sports following its 14-16 year commitment that began with its parent company Comcast’s takeover of the then Versus cable channel back in 2011 (original 10 year deal to air the cable races began from 2009-18). NBC has been great all along when Versus became NBC Sports Network a year later and then NBCSN throughout the 2010s before they were able to get the full rights including the Indianapolis 500 off ESPN on ABC towards the end of the decade and into the early 2020s up until now – even though NBCSN ran its course at the end of the 2021 with USA Network, CNBC and Peacock (streaming only) becoming the network’s main sports subscription content channels since then.

Now IndyCar is expected to swap networks by airing all of the races live on FOX throughout the year and free-to-view as well since the network will only be able to show five free-to-air NASCAR Cup races including the Daytona 500 with the rest (nine races) being on cable via FS1 from next year to at least through 2031. It looks like it’s the beginning of an end from NBC as they will be left with the second-half NASCAR Cup races and Supercross/Motocross racing while they still have IMSA SportsCar Racing at the moment whose existing seven-year deal also expires at the end of the year. With NBC losing a bunch of sports lately such as the MotoGP at the start of the year and the Roland Garros Tennis tournament a few days ago to TNT Sports, we wouldn’t be surprised if IMSA SportsCars ends up on TNT’s hands next year – who also has a great line-up of sportscar racing through Motor Trend – like the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (this weekend).

Looking at FOX picking up IndyCar, congrats to them on picking up a top-level open-wheel series with the most money offered than NBC which has the historical Indianapolis 500 value alongside some great competition on-track. Things won’t be the same next year when it comes to airing the annual Coca Cola 600 NASCAR event after 24 years (2001-2024) but they can continue airing the biggest day of motorsports by airing the Indianapolis 500 event earlier on at midday rather than late afternoon to night. They’ve also aired the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix race in the past throughout the 2000s and early 2010s but that was through the former Speed Channel cable network as it never was on FOX unlike NBC and now ABC these days.

Who will be commentating the big Indy 500 race and all other races throughout the IndyCar season? We know Mike Joy has been commentating the Daytona 500 for so long but it looks like Adam Alexander will be the favourite to take over – who hails from Indiana and also started his media career there – before he made the step up on Fox Sports for a long period of time, having also just wrapped up co-hosting its flagship weekly show NASCAR Race Hub with Shannon Spake following its final 90-min episode this week. We will also expect to see a few people from NBC coming over like Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee but we can definitely see Jamie Little returning home alongside Adam as the one of leading pit reporters. She used to be around at the 500 when ABC was airing the races until FOX hired her to replace Krista Voda after ESPN/ABC lost the NASCAR rights at the end of 2014 & Jamie’s been great with FOX ever since including calling a couple of Truck & ARCA races now.

On the NBC side post-IndyCar, it seems more and more likely now that Rick Allen is still expected to hand over the main commentary duties to Australia’s own Leigh Diffey after the Olympics while staying on to call all other Xfinity Series races at the end of this season including the last few Playoff events on The CW. While it won’t be the same for Leigh to not call the Indy 500 anymore having been the first overseas caller to do for a few years now, but at the same time, he’s getting the chance to be front and centre for the network’s NASCAR coverage. He’s done Formula 1, Rugby, IMSA SportsCars, Supercross and whole bunch of other sports before including being the network’s leading track and field caller for a few years now that began from the previous Summer Olympics back in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Calling the Daytona 500 would’ve been great since it’s the greatest race there to kickstart the season every year but it looks like FOX is staying for a bit longer until at least 2031.

And lastly what does it mean for its International coverage including Australia? As it stands, Stan Sport via Nine Entertainment Co. currently holds the exclusive rights there that started back in 2022 with every practice, qualifying and race LIVE, ad-free and on-demand including every hour-long race highlights during the following weekend via free-to-air on 9Go. This could have a huge impact going forward as should IndyCar end up on FOX in the US, we will expect to see IndyCar moving back to Foxtel through Fox Sports and Kayo Sports’s streaming service. It looks like these die-hard motorsports fans who subscribe to watch the Supercars and Formula 1 races will be able to watch IndyCar on the same platform again, which is going to be great news without having to subscribe to another subscription service. You never know including Europe, Asia & Africa but this is going to be a possibility with FOX already having a few International affiliate cable channels in Australia, Mexico & Argentina.

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