Fox Sports

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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Well, it has been a while when watching white-ball International Cricket on Free TV, but Australia’s 2022 T20 World Cup campaign defense kicks off tonight at the Sydney Cricket Ground v New Zealand aka Black Caps.

And the Nine Network is onboard once again alongside Fox Cricket as the ICC’s Australian Free TV partner to bring you all the action with Australian games, a couple of other Super 12 games, two semi finals and the final to round off such a great next few weeks ahead of T20 World Cup on show.

I’m glad that Roz Kelly is onboard as the host who knows cricket so well, thanks to her husband who was also really good back in the his day with his fast bowling for South Africa in Morne Morkel. She also hosted Network 10’s Big Bash League coverage in the past before the rights were taken away by the Seven Network in 2018. But again, great to see Roz get the opportunity to present cricket on Nine after she came back here at the start of last year to host Rugby Union, Tennis, reading the sports news for Nine News Sydney (Fridays & Saturdays) and Sports Sunday.

It’s also good to see former Opening Batsman Mark “Tubby” Taylor provide his insights on the game once again as Nine’s primary cricket expert, even though they no longer hold the home summer matches anymore. But he’s still well liked here for over two decades since his retirement from the game, especially when he pops up on Sports Sunday for most of the year with Roz.

Although there isn’t any ex-Nine cricket faces currently hired on Seven and Fox Cricket these days following the tragic death of Shane Warne (Fox Cricket) earlier this year – as well as Michael Slater (Seven) whose life gone has upside down not long after Seven dismissed him over the past year due to budget constraints – but Nine will have two new analysts for this tournament in former spinner Steve O’Keefe and former batsman Callum Ferguson.

And oh, Michael Clarke may not have been picked up by Seven or Fox at all since Nine no longer airs the summer of cricket four years ago, but he will be on the world feed commentary nonetheless alongside Fox Cricket regulars in Mark Howard, Mel Jones and Adam Gilchrist.

It will be interesting to see what the cricketing community here will say about this commentary team in the next few weeks. I’m sure they will enjoy having a female presenting the coverage in Roz including Tubby and two fresh faces, before Nine will be back on the crease next year with The Ashes in England (Mid June-August) & the next Men’s 50-Over World Cup in India (October-November).

Then we’ll wait and see if Nine will get some help from Network 10 once the current domestic deal expires in 2024, so Nine can hopefully get Test Cricket back & 10 picks up the rest with the Big Bash & white-ball International Cricket – while keeping the Australian Open Tennis which has been working for them so well since they shocked Seven and the Australian sporting community in 2018/2019.

For now, enjoy the next few weeks of T20 World Cup Cricket. Plus, shout out to Ian Chappell who recently announced his retirement from commentary at age 78, after a illustrious spell for over a few decades following the end of his playing career with Nine and other International TV/Radio outlets.

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In addition to IndyCar being aired on Free TV in Australia, NASCAR was also aired for free nearly a decade ago on Network 10’s former digital channel, One, when Australian Marcos Ambrose was around at the time.

But Fox Sports/Kayo only show highlights nowadays via subscription, while the only way to watch live and on-demand NASCAR here is the sport’s in-house paid Trackpass service.

If Stan Sport was to add NASCAR, it’s going to be a tough ask since NASCAR has a similar service here & both of them offer $20 a month unless NASCAR discontinues Trackpass for the Australian market. But it’s possible though, with Trackpass unavailable in New Zealand right now due to an exclusive streaming deal with Sky Sport to prevent direct competition.

Time will tell as Stan Sport has quickly increased their suite of motorsports content in no time against Foxtel/Kayo Sports’ offering of Formula 1, Supercars, World Superbikes & MotoGP.

P.S. Foxtel/Kayo now returned airing live NASCAR Cup Series races again predominately on Monday mornings this season, having aired selected races in 2020 & 2021 when the series was abruptly paused for a while between early March to mid-May due to COVID-19. I guess Foxtel/Kayo used the unexpected break when they got the revised agreement they wanted with NASCAR, as explained above in addition to highlights every week.

Then you look at the recent loss of IndyCar, Australian Superbikes, World Rally Championship & some Motocross rights to Stan, which opened the return of live NASCAR Cup racing for all races on Foxtel/Kayo. They just re-added them in a bid to boost competition and prevent subscribers from switching to Stan, so race fans can watch the best of motorsports on Kayo/Foxtel if they don’t want to pay more than one streaming service. There’s Formula 1, MotoGP, Supercars, World Superbikes, and AMA Supercross content there other than NASCAR Cup racing.

And regarding the Xfinity & Truck Series, there may be no plans to put them back on Foxtel/Kayo like it was in the past. However, Trackpass is still the only way to tune in to these other two national series, with both Trackpass & Foxtel/Kayo currently showing all Cup races live here in Australia.

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Image Reference: Box Repsol via Wikipedia, 16/5/21

Fox Sports/Kayo have retained the MotoGP broadcast rights in Australia for another few seasons during a press release early yesterday, but this time it’s under an exclusive deal through free and paid content.

That marks the end of Network Ten’s relationship with the sport as their Free to Air partner after 24 years when they first acquired the rights from the Nine Network back in 1997 & will still air eight Premier Class events left (Live) on 10Bold until the end of 2021.

Although there is a possibility that Network 10 could still the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix as part of the government’s anti-siponing laws that must be available for Free, but they will need to deal with Fox Sports/Kayo first rather than Dorna Sports, the sports’ commercial rights holder.

As it stands, Network 10 will only have one motorsports product after this year which is the Formula 1 with every round as highlights & one live race at home (not happening this year due to COVID).

Now these rights are also up for renewal at the end of 2022 in conjunction with Fox Sports/Kayo with no comment made at this stage but they have recently changed their sports strategy after the exclusive acquisition of Australian Soccer that will be available on their own Paramount + subscription for the majority as well as a game every week on 10.

So it’s probably unlikely from my assumption that 10 will just keep airing MotoGP as a one-off event at home alongside a shared paid TV partner, the same goes for Nine who launched Stan Sport as their paid OTT service earlier this year which leaves either Seven or SBS as the frontrunners for the annual Australian GP package.

It’s been great seeing Daryl Beattie provide his take on MotoGP for many years after he finished his professional riding career as well as the late Barry Sheene beforehand, plus there’s a couple of hosts to thank ranging from Bill Woods, Greg Rust, Mark Howard & at present until the end of this year both Sam Charlwood & Scott Mackinnon.

We will miss their contribution to MotoGP after the loss of Supercars & RPM at the end of last year with Formula 1 set to follow if not renewed, but there’s a bright future on 10 Sport when it comes to the Melbourne Cup, Soccer & potentially other products that can provide exclusivity on its own paid/free services.

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