Also unconfirmed is whether ESPN
has also picked up the online streaming rights that would enable the network to show the series to subscribers of its ESPN Player
It's likely that Sky Sports
did not try very hard to retain the rights to the US open wheel championship for another year, after details showing how poor the ratings were in 2012 emerged over the winter following an analysis of the situation by The F1 Broadcasting Blog
According to the assessment, the 15-race season won an average viewing audience of just 16,000 in 2012. That meant the races were generally watched by fewer people than even the qualifying sessions (let alone the races) of both the GP2 and GP3 Series being shown on the new Sky Sports F1
This may have had something to do with IndyCar routinely being tucked away on one of the minor Sky Sports
channels; the one race where IndyCar was itself switched to the Sky Sports F1
for Sao Paulo in April, figures shot up to the highest of the year with 39,000 watching.
By contrast, the Indianapolis 500 managed just 29,000 viewers, and the season hit a year low with the Milwaukee event that was held on the same day as the Le Mans 24 Hours in Europe and managed just 3,000 viewers. The IndyCar viewing figures are hardly likely to improve when broadcasts are switched to an even more niche channel in 2013.
Even worse, there are also strong rumours that ESPN'
s owners, Disney, are considering pulling the plug on the UK arm of the sports network after spiralling cost of securing sporting rights for ESPN
impacted Disney's global corporate profits in the past year. ESPN UK
failed to get any of the rights to exclusive premiership football matches next season.
If Disney did pull the plug on the UK market, then British fans might be without IndyCar coverage altogether from the middle of 2013.
The network also shows basketball, baseball and hockey games from the major US leagues as well as US college football, but it lost its final foothold in the NFL market when the most recent season was divided up between Sky Sports
, the BBC
and Channel 4
is available in the UK on the Sky satellite and Virgin cable platforms in various subscription packages. The main channel (but not ESPN America
) is also available on BT Vision and on Top Up TV, which broadcast over the Freeview network until 4am in the mornings.