My INDYCAR broadcast time takeaways

INDIANAPOLIS — The NTT INDYCAR Series and NBC Sports announced the start times for the 17-race upcoming season. Here are my takeaways now that I’ve had time to look it over.

Plenty of NASCAR Conflicts

6 of the 17 races have a direct INDYCAR-NASCAR Cup Series conflict. Granted, there are reasons for that though too. For starters, that Long Beach and Martinsville head-to-head is just unavoidable for INDYCAR. It’s a west coast street race so you have to start it in the time slot that it’s in. NASCAR at Martinsville was moved back to a Sunday from a Saturday night race that flopped a year ago, so in all reality, that race should start at Noon and INDYCAR airing after on a different network granted. Instead, NASCAR has the same mentality to start races later in the day which is why this conflict occurs in April.

The next one is actually on INDYCAR. Barber at 3 p.m. would have been better suited for a Noon start but at 3, it goes directly against NASCAR at Dover. Same for the race on the streets of Detroit. That race would be better on the Noon time frame than head-to-head against the second Cup date at the World Wide Technology Raceway.

The Toronto-Loudon clash is unavoidable. The Iowa and Pocono one could be if the race was held on Friday and Saturday night’s instead of a Saturday-Sunday show and under no circumstances should the season finale go head-to-head but that’s a NBC Sports decision.

INDYCAR at Laguna is that west coast start, but a better version would be for it to roll off at 3 ET and NASCAR to have Kansas at Noon. But what do I know.

Action during July’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Mid-Ohio On USA Is Striking

I was always under the impression that the NTT INDYCAR Series race at Mid-Ohio was being bumped off network TV was due to the lower ratings from this past year and that NASCAR is racing on the streets for the first time ever on the same day. It made sense to have INDYCAR on USA in the early afternoon time slot and NASCAR midday on NBC.

However, with the Cup race at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC, why is INDYCAR on USA at 1:30 p.m. ET? Wouldn’t it be a better lead in with INDYCAR on NBC prior?

I like the start time as it allows fans to get back quicker to Indy, but to air it on USA spoke volumes.

INDYCAR drew a .57 rating with 643k viewers for the race at Mid-Ohio last year. This is a prime weekend for viewership and unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. As a result, they get bumped.

Nashville Moves Up

INDYCAR and NBC listened. The first two years of the Music City Grand Prix, the start time was WAY too late. I get the inaugural edition in a sense that the Olympics took precedence, but last year, it still wasn’t early enough. This year, it is. I absolutely love the Noon start and it’s one that gets fans back home to Indy or the surrounding areas for dinner.

Start Times Shifting Back

Nashville may have moved up but several other races moved back. Barber, Detroit, Road America and Mid-Ohio all shift back. As a result, just 4 of the 17 races (24%) will begin around Noon. 12 of the 17 events (71%) start at 2 p.m. or later now.

No Night Races

The World Wide Technology Raceway has lights. They won’t be used. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. locally. The Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway’s each have lights too. They also won’t be utilized. Texas’ race starts at 11 a.m. locally while Iowa is at 2 and 3 p.m. locally respectively.

That means that the entire 17 race slate will feature these Indy Car’s under day time conditions.

Start Times Better For Traveling Fans

Let’s face it, a majority of the INDYCAR fan base is located in Central Indiana. While I’d love to see a wider coast to coast fan base, it’s unfortunately not there yet. However, INDYCAR and NBC Sports realized that too and made the 2023 starts times adaptable for the fan base ahead.

Barber and Detroit being 3 p.m. ET starts is tough, but Road America (1 p.m. ET), Mid-Ohio (1:30 p.m. ET), Iowa (2 p.m. ET), Nashville (12 p.m. ET) and World Wide Technology Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET) make it all possible to go to the races at those tracks and to be home in more than enough time for a reasonable bed time hour. That’s a win-win because it opens the doors up for more families to come as well.

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