• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Cheating Scandal and Media Rights Battle Loom Large Ahead of Indy 500

  • The IndyCar Series is still negotiating its next broadcast deal.
  • Roger Penske’s team was found to be cheating at the season opener.
Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden (2)
The Indianapolis Star

The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday will be the sixth broadcast by NBC, the network that took over the rights after ABC’s 54-year run of showcasing “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Whether NBC, whose contract expires after this season, will continue as the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500 is currently unclear. 

NBC and Fox remain the two main suitors for the media rights, which, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, are part of Roger Penske’s business empire. It’s expected that over the next month, IndyCar will announce a new media deal—and, while a rights-fee bump is anticipated, money won’t be the only major factor. 

“The financial side is a piece of it,” a source with knowledge of IndyCar’s negotiations tells Front Office Sports. “But the second piece really is who can guarantee the most exposure? That would mean being on network [television] as much as possible.” NBC is paying $20 million annually under its current three-year deal that expires at season’s end, and IndyCar has seen audience growth with the network. 

The 2023 season was the most-watched IndyCar Series season since ’11 and last Sunday’s Indy 500 qualifying session where Scott McLaughlin secured the pole averaged 1.2 million viewers on NBC, Peacock, and NBC Sports Digital—a 38% bump over last year.

The Captain’s Dilemma

Team Penske (above, right) swept the top three qualifying slots, the second time a team claimed the front row for an Indy 500 start in race history after two Penske cars did it in 1988.

It was a rebound for the team that has claimed a record 19 Indy 500 victories after Penske suspended team president Tim Cindric and three others earlier in the month for their ties to a cheating scandal uncovered weeks after the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“To see us come back from some adversity here shows how good our team is and what a deep bench we have,” Penske said.

Two-for-One Special?

Weather could complicate 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champ Kyle Larson’s attempt to become the fifth driver to pull off competing in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. The forecast in Indianapolis calls for a high likelihood of rain at the 12:45 p.m. ET start time Sunday and continues through the afternoon. His NASCAR team owner, Rick Hendrick, told Fox Sports that it would “be very disappointing” to pull Larson out of his Indy 500 ride to make it to the North Carolina track in time.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Marlins’ Free Streaming Offer to Fans Highlights RSN’s Financial Issues

The MLB club offers local fans two months of free streaming of its live games.

ESPN Bet’s Operator Is Reportedly Being Eyed in a Potential Takeover

Boyd Gaming has reportedly approached ESPN Bet partner Penn Entertainment about an acquisition.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Clock is Ticking to Restart Coyotes’ Franchise


Featured Today

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.
June 9, 2024

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.

Finals Draw Underwhelming Viewership, but NBA Juggernaut Rolls On

The impact will be negligible on the NBA’s $76 billion media-rights talks.
June 20, 2024

The NFL Could Be the Key to Stephen A. Smith’s ESPN Future

Can Stephen A. Smith become the next Howard Cosell?
June 20, 2024

TV Companies Losing Subscribers As Sports Rights Deals Continue to Rise

Four major TV provider companies reported huge losses.

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
June 18, 2024

Caitlin Clark Continues to be Enormous Box Office for the WNBA

Sunday’s Fever-Sky game was the most-watched WNBA broadcast in 23 years.
June 18, 2024

Roger Goodell Rips ‘Below Standard’ NFL Network Broadcasts in Trial Testimony

The commissioner testified in federal court that NFL Network was subpar.
June 18, 2024

ESPN’s Up-and-Down NBA Season Ends With Finals to Forget

The Finals are set to stay on ESPN through 2036.
June 17, 2024

Leagues’ Disclosure Demands Add Complexity to DSG’s Bankruptcy Exit

The bankrupt regional sports network operator makes an emergency motion for a discovery conference.