Confirming news that was first reported by the Indianapolis Star last June, NBC announced today that Mike Tirico will host the network’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500. NBC takes over this year for ABC, which had broadcast one of the world’s iconic races since 1965.
From NBC’s release:
With 100 days until the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, NBC Sports announced today that Mike Tirico will serve as host of its first-ever coverage of the event. The 103rd Indy 500 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 26, on NBC, the first time the race has ever aired on the network after 54 years on ABC.
As NBC also noted, Tirico has never worked on Indy 500 coverage, despite his lengthy ESPN career. It’s tough to imagine a better choice; Tirico has covered just about every major event in sports, from the World Cup to the Masters to the Super Bowl to the Olympics, and he’s always a welcome sight at an event.
Tirico offered this statement:
“I am thrilled to join our team as we cover one of America’s iconic sporting events,” said Tirico. “Having long enjoyed the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as a viewer, it will be fabulous to see it in person for the first time.”
There are few better hosts in the business than Tirico, and while it’s kind of a shame that he’s not used even more by NBC, this is definitely an event with a weight and history, and few broadcasters are more adept at conveying those things to an audience. The race’s ratings have declined steadily in recent years as well:
NBC clearly hopes they can inject some fan interest in the event, and Tirico is at the very least a household face for people tuning in. That definitely can’t hurt.