It's done (in theory). Comcast has agreed to purchase NBC Universal for the hefty price of $13.75 billion, meaning that Versus now joins NBC Sports and Universal Sports in the Comcast-NBC sports lineup (Golf Channel is also in the sports tier).
We've touched on this subject a few times before, but it is worth repeating: this deal has the potential to boost the IZOD IndyCar Series' popularity and brand recognition. While it is unlikely that NBC Sports would take to airing every single IZOD IndyCar race, the cross-promotion and marketing opportunities this presents are boundless.Every year the starting grid for the Indianapolis 500 heads to New York City to create a general buzz. Last year, it was the launching point for Izod to begin earnest discussions with the series about a title sponsorship. Just as an example, could the Today Show be airing this live, promoting the Indianapolis 500 in 2010?
To be honest, it's doubtful. First off, ABC still has the rights for the Indianapolis 500 through 2012. But for the other 12 races, it is easy to think that NBC would aggressively push people to watch the IZOD IndyCar Series on Versus. As a direct result of NBC's involvement, it should push ABC to promote its five races more aggressively now that NBC could become a direct competitor for those races (including the 500) in a few years.
But would the Today Show or any other NBC platform promote the races on Versus? If they don't, I'll be shocked. Whether it's Ryan Hunter-Reay appearing on Today to talk about IZOD and the Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen (the closest race to New York City, mileage-wise), or promotions during golf, the Olympics, or any other NBC Sports program, the IZOD IndyCar Series will be receiving more promotions for their races on a network (Versus) that has a chance to be more visible than ever before.
So this offseason we have a more visible network (Versus), a title sponsor (IZOD) with a track record of energetic sponsorship and activation, and a growing car count (in theory). Not too shabby.