ESPN/ABC Expand IRL Coverage9/04/2001 10:54 AM Eastern
ESPN and ABC Sports have extended their deals with the Indy Racing League and
Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an additional three years, the parties announced
The deal -- giving the networks domestic exclusivity for the IRL telecasts --
covers the 2005 through 2007 racing seasons. ESPN/ABC are currently in the
second of a five-year pact with IRL. Contract terms of the rights deal were not
For its part, Fox Cable Networks Group last month signed a three-year rights
deal with IRL competitor Championship Auto Racing Teams. The TV pact spans the
2002 through 2004 seasons and calls for Speedvision to provide live race,
qualifying and practice coverage of the CART FedEx Championship series, as well
as ancillary circuit shows.
As part of the package, CBS will also be home to live race coverage through a
CART time buy. ESPN had distributed CART races since 1992.
The ESPN/ABC agreement with IRL -- ensuring that the Indianapolis 500 will
remain on the 'Alphabet Network' -- will provide more live coverage of the
circuit. During the 2002 season, ABC will carry 10 races, while four will appear
on ESPN. This year, the networks are airing 13 races. ABC has carried the Indy
500 since 1965.
An IRL spokesman noted that coverage will rev to between 16 and 18 races
annually during the term of the contract extension, as more permanent oval
tracks are built. He added that the IRL will add a race at the Fontana Track
outside of Los Angeles over the next couple of years.
The new agreement will also encompass more live coverage from IRL events,
including daily programming originating from Indianapolis by ESPN2's RPM
2Night show in May for the Indianapolis 500. ESPN2 will also showcase
similar programming from several IRL events annually.
'The Indy Racing League is the leading American open-wheel racing circuit,
based upon the heritage of the Indianapolis 500,' ESPN programming senior vice
president and general manager Mark Shapiro said in a prepared statement. 'ESPN
has chosen to partner with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing
League as the future of open-wheel racing in the United