Now that the deal for the Brazil race is finally complete, the broadcast schedule for the IZOD IndyCar Series has been finalized and published. …sorta. The network allocations have been made, and the race dates have been finalized, but the race times are still being debated.
Many things remain the same as last year’s schedule including ABC showing the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Most of the races will be on Versus, with only five races, including the 500, being picked up by ABC. There are some notable changes from 2009, beginning with ABC’s airing of two races prior to the 500: The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the Streets of St. Petersburg, FL, and the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the Kansas Speedway. The other two ABC races are both in July: The Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen, and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Toronto in the streets of Toronto, ON. The recently announced race in Sao Paulo, Brazil will be aired on Versus.
Personally, I think its a wise move on ABC’s part to broadcast a couple of races prior to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. If they do it right, it will build excitement for the event, and hopefully improve viewership. The races on Versus continues to concern many, especially given the recent and as yet unresolved squabble between the network at DirecTV which has resulted in many fans, myself included, being shut out from watching the races. There’s no question that the broadcast product from Versus is outstanding, and certainly a cut above what the league was receiving from ESPN in 2008, but with ratings numbers around the 0.3 range, the sponsorship value of the series has taken a hit. If the viewership for the Versus-broadcast races do not improve in 2010, one has to wonder whether the continuance of the Versus relationship is appropriate for the series.