F1 on NBC crew makes pit stop to Milwaukee for 7 hours of IndyCar coverage


NBC Sports Network presents seven hours of 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series coverage this weekend highlighted by the Milwaukee IndyFest live on Saturday, June 15, at  4 p.m. ET. The race will be preceded by IndyCar qualifying on Friday, June 14, at 7 p.m. ET, and Firestone Indy Lights at the Milwaukee Mile racetrack on Saturday, June 15, at 3 p.m. ET.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske leads this season in points and aims to extend his lead this weekend. Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti, whose father, Michael, and grandfather, Mario, each won multiple times in Milwaukee, looks to continue the family legacy against fellow Andretti teammate and 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who topped the Milwaukee podium in 2012 and 2004. Tony Kanaan, who won his first Indy 500 this year, looks to get his third Milwaukee IndyFest win.

COMMENTATORS: This weekend, NBC Sports Group’s Formula One analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs and F1 insider Will Buxton will join the network’s IndyCar team in Wisconsin. Play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey will call the action and will be joined by Hobbs and, race analyst and former IndyCar driver, Townsend Bell, who won the 2001 Indy Lights in Milwaukee. Reporters Buxton, Jon BeekhuisKevin Lee, and Robin Miller will manage the pits.

Fri., June 14 IndyCar: Milwaukee Qualifying 7 p.m.
Sat., June 15 Indy Lights: The Milwaukee Mile 3 p.m.
Sat., June 15 Milwaukee IndyFest 4 p.m.
Mon., June 17 Milwaukee IndyFest  Encore 1 a.m.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS: NBC Sports Network will air a total of 12 one-hour telecasts of Firestone Indy Lights continuing with the 1-mile oval at the Milwaukee Mile, the oldest operating speedway in the world, on the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, Wis., on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Primarily run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone Indy Lights schedule features races on road courses/street circuitsand ovals, including the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

INDYCAR ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will live stream Milwaukee IndyFest on Saturday, June 15, at 4 p.m. ET. Coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

Coverage airing on NBC Sports Network will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

Click here for the participating cable/satellite/telco companies offering NBC Sports Live Extra:  http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/2013/06/06/nbc-sports-live-extra-providers/

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’

Photo: Chris Estrada, NBC Sports
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NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”