The Indianapolis 500 was a Memorial Day weekend staple in the youth of Rich Feinberg, who would rush home from the Jersey shore to catch Jim McKay calling the action on the ABC broadcast.
His initial visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was in 1986 as part of the TV production team, and he joined ESPN in ’93 as a coordinating producer. Feinberg has been involved in motorsports coverage (among other projects) ever since, and now as VP motorsports oversees the combined resources of ESPN’s studio and event production.
This year he’ll again be part of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast – the 48th consecutive year for the ABC-Speedway partnership – and five other IZOD IndyCar Series races, including the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (12:30 p.m. March 25). ABC’s race coverage will be expanded this year to include live streaming of onboard cameras on ESPN3.
The balance of the events will be televised on the recently rebranded NBC Sports Network.
“Our approach toward broadcasting the IZOD IndyCar Series remains intact,” says Feinberg, who notes that the producer and director team (James Shifton and Bruce Watson) return for 2012. “First and foremost, our obligation is to serve the fans by documenting the competition. We have a saying in the mobile unit that when there’s a pass for the lead it very well could be a pass for the win. We focus on our story-telling, our technology and most important the entertainment value to fans."
ABC and NBC Sports Network viewers will get a different perspective on IZOD IndyCar Series races thanks to technology implemented by Broadcast Sports Inc., which worked with Dallara Automobili to integrate the existing 360-degree HD roll hoop camera and three others into the chassis (on the rear wing for a panoramic forward-facing shot, one in the right-side radiator duct to offer suspension and side views, and one on the rear view mirror to provide a detailed view of the driver steering and shifting).
ABC and NBC Sports Network crews filmed elements at media day in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the ABC footage destined for domestic and international broadcasts and ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
“We’ll also produce a piece for 'Sports Science' that focuses on new chassis and the different dynamic elements that fans can expect,” Feinberg says.
ESPN International’s agreement with INDYCAR will provide coverage with a reach of more than 189 million homes in 143 countries and territories. With additional syndication in 31 countries and 38.4 million homes, and ABC’s U.S. reach of 114,700,000, television distribution exceeds 342.2 million homes in 176 countries worldwide.
In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world will be able to watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network, bringing the total to 213 countries and territories around the world. Also, TSN and TSN2 – along with French-speaking RDS and RDS2 -- will televise every race to Canadian viewers. TSN schedule
The ABC, ESPN International and NBC Sports Network contracts with INDYCAR run concurrently through 2018.
“(ABC gets) first pick. As part of our deal they have options where they consider races above the minimal number,” says Robby Greene, president and COO of IMS Productions. “The new agreement starts in 2013, but they have six races this year. That’s good for INDYCAR when you can get in front of that many people.
“I think we’re very lucky because the people that represent their brand and are responsible for promoting ours are INDYCAR enthusiasts. I think there’s a different between being an enthusiast and a fan -- especially from the promotional side. Enthusiasts, people who understand our sport, are genuinely interested. They get it; they consider it to be one of the staples in their building blocks of what their network represents.
“(When we were negotiating a new deal in 2011) what proof of performance is better for them to say off the cuff this is the deal we want to make? We think you’re worth more. You’re heading in the right direction, people are noticing and we’re going to position ourselves with you for that growth.”