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Indy 500 Averages 5.34 Million Viewers on NBC and Peacock

The Indianapolis 500 broadcast performance occurs as INDYCAR’s three-year media rights deal with NBC is set to expire at the end of the season.

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(Illustration) | Indianapolis 500 Logo – Courtesy: Penske Corporation | NBC Sports Logo – Courtesy: NBC Sports | Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Courtesy: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Despite enduring a four-hour weather delay, the 108th Indianapolis 500 accumulated a total audience delivery of 5.34 million viewers on NBC, Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms on Sunday, along with a 2.6 rating, according to data from Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics. The performance marks the largest audience for the Indy 500 in the last three years and is up 8% year-over-year from the 4.93 million the race averaged in 2023.

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske won the Indianapolis 500 for a second consecutive year and became the first driver to win consecutive iterations of the event since Helio Castroneves attained the feat in 2002. The event also set a record with 18 drivers leading at least one lap, and the outcome was ultimately decided in the final lap of the 200-lap, 500-mile race.

NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR broadcast team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe called the action, with reporters Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Dave Burns, Dillon Welch, Jeff Burton and Kim Coon. Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick broadcast studio coverage for the sixth consecutive year and were joined by Jimmie Johnson for pre-race and race coverage from the Peacock Pit Box on Pit Lane.

The Indianapolis 500 on NBC peaked at 6.46 million viewers in the 15-minute broadcast window from 7:30 to 7:45 p.m. EST. Additionally, the competition is the most-streamed INDYCAR race ever, garnering an average minute audience of 286,000 viewers on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms. This is the most-watched Sunday sporting event for NBC Sports since the NFL playoffs in January when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ matchup against the Detroit Lions amassed a total audience delivery of 40.4 million viewers.

NBCUniversal also secured the most-streamed event in U.S. history in January with an average of 23 million viewers tuning in for the exclusive broadcast of the NFL Wild Card matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins on Peacock.

Six races have taken place within the 2024 NTT INDYCAR series and are collectively averaging a total audience delivery of 1.95 million viewers. Five of these broadcasts have been on NBC while one was on USA Network. Viewers can watch NBC Sports’ coverage of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on USA Network and Peacock on Sunday at 12 p.m. EST.

Throughout the weather delay, NBC Sports provided viewers with live updates and an encore presentation of the 2023 race. These programming adjustments ultimately resulted in more than nine hours of broadcast network coverage taking place throughout the day. INDYCAR removed the local blackout of the race in Indianapolis, Ind., which ended up securing an 18.15 household rating and 54 share. The race also coincided with the broadcast of the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on FOX, which will move to Amazon’s Prime Video following the season.

The Indianapolis 500 broadcast performance occurs as INDYCAR’s three-year media rights deal with NBC is set to expire at the end of the season. NBC is reportedly interested in renewing the media rights deal; however, the network could face competition from other broadcast conglomerates. The company has had exclusive rights to INDYCAR since 2019 for a reported $20 million per year after it had previously split those rights with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC).

NASCAR agreed to seven-year media rights deals for the NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2025 that includes NBC Sports, FOX Sports, Amazon’s Prime Video and TNT Sports. The Walt Disney Company currently broadcasts Liberty Media-owned Formula 1 as part of a three-year deal with the property that continues through 2025.

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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