The 2023 IndyCar season has put the racing circuit into a good position heading into the last year of its media rights deal with NBC Sports.
Per NBC Sports, IndyCar’s 16 races on NBC and USA this season averaged 1.32 million viewers. That’s IndyCar’s best average viewership for a season since way back in 2011, when the series averaged 1.388 million viewers across ABC and Versus, per the Sports Business Journal.
Over half of IndyCar’s races this year surpassed one million viewers, the most since 2008, and the average minute audience for races streaming on Peacock was 58,000, the best streaming average for an IndyCar season.
IndyCar is in the hunt for a new media rights deal after the 2024 season. Last week, it hired IMG Media to consult on rights agreements. Per SBJ, “all options from 2025 onward are on the table,” with IndyCar owner Penske Entertainment seeking increased rights fees in the next deal. IndyCar was reported to be making $20 million annually from its initial three-year deal with NBC, running from 2019-21, but the value of its current deal from 2022-24 has not been widely reported.
Where will IndyCar’s rights end up from 2025 and beyond? ESPN could be a contender, pairing IndyCar with Formula 1 on Sundays (at least in 2025). The CW could be a shock contender – they partnered with IndyCar on a docuseries in the spring, have reportedly inked a deal for NASCAR’s Xfinity Series beginning in 2025, and are being aggressive towards adding more live sports. The relationship between incumbent NBC Sports and IndyCar seems strong, and they should be considered the clubhouse favorite at this point.