Sportsnet Will Show IndyCar from 2013

Rumours have circulated on Sportsnet showing IndyCar for some months now (I think Bruce Dowbiggin first reported it in the spring). Sportsnet have now confirmed that they will show all IndyCar races starting next season, including the Toronto Indy and Indianapolis 500.

TSN’s coverage was often tape delayed (seemed to happen multiple times per year) due to commitments to football and NASCAR. Since Sportsnet really only has the Jays in the spring and summer, the new deal should provide IndyCar a more consistent presence on Canadian television.

I’ll have more on this later in the week.

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2012 IndyCar on TSN Schedule

TSN has released details of their 2012 Indy Car broadcast schedule this morning. TSN and TSN2 will combine to show 12 races live. The other four races will air on tape delay on TSN2 (it is worth noting that two of these races are live on ABC).

ABC will broadcast six races in 2012. Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear return as their commentators. Rick DeBruhl, Jamie Little and Vince Welch will join them as pit reporters. Eddie Cheever will join Reid and Goodyear in the broadcast booth for the Indianapolis 500.

NBC Sports Network, who will broadcast the other 12 races in America, have not revealed their 2012 commentary crew yet.

Here is TSN’s press release.

Open-wheel racing returns to TSN and TSN2 as the networks deliver complete coverage of the 16-race 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series beginning with the HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG on Sunday, March 25 at 12:30 p.m. ET live on TSN (see complete broadcast schedule below). TSN and TSN2 also have coverage of the INDIANAPOLIS 500 on May 27 as well as back-to-back races on Canadian soil with the HONDA INDY TORONTO on July 8 and the EDMONTON INDY on July 22.

TSN is coming off a successful year of IndyCar coverage that saw the network attract record ratings for the INDIANAPOLIS 500 and HONDA INDY TORONTO.

The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series features rising star James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, ON. The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year replaces fan-favourite Danica Patrick at Andretti Autosport. Last year’s top-three point leaders – four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, Will Power, and two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon – return to the field along with the 2011 Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, QC.

Highlighting the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series is the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the INDIANAPOLIS 500 – airing live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 27 at 11 a.m. ET on TSN. On top of the big race, TSN2 brings fans Pole Day Qualifying on Saturday, May 19 beginning at 11 a.m. ET, along with Bump Day Qualifying on Sunday, May 20 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. In addition, TSN2 has Carb Day coverage – which includes the Firestone Indy Lights race – on Friday, May 25 beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

RDS and RDS2 have French-language coverage of all races from the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, including live coverage of the prestigious INDIANAPOLIS 500, HONDA INDY TORONTO and the EDMONTON INDY.

Continue after the break for the 2012 IndyCar Canadian broadcast schedule.

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IndyCar Makes Stops in Toronto and Edmonton on TSN

The IndyCar Series will make a pair of stops in Canada this July. First up is the Indy Toronto, this Sunday at 2pm ET on TSN. Then the series heads west for the Edmonton Indy, Sunday July 24 at 2pm ET on TSN. Versus will be broadcasting both events in the States, and TSN will use their coverage. Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Dan Wheldon will call the Indy Toronto; while Wally Dallenbach will take over Wheldon’s spot for the Edmonton Indy after his 6 week stint with NASCAR on TNT. The pit reporters for both races include Lindy Thackston, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller. They will be joined by Robbie Floyd for the Indy Toronto and Marty Snider for the Edmonton Indy.

TSN will also show coverage of the Indy Lights race from Toronto at noon ET this Sunday. TSN Radio will also be broadcasting the Indy Toronto.

A Busy Weekend of Sports: In Need of Review

It has been a very busy first 12 days of June in the world of sports. The start of the month has been chalk full of major sports events and new sports broadcasts. Here is my rundown of the month so far, in particular the past few days.

  • IndyCar had a very good idea in having back-to-back half distance races at Texas last night. The only problem was the execution. After the first race, there was a draw for starting positions for the second race. This process took over a half an hour. Even though I’m a huge IndyCar fan, I simply lost interest and went to bed between races. Had there been one race, I wouldn’t have even considered it. A suggestion for next year, have the draw during the pre-race show and make it a bit quicker.
  • Also on Saturday, 2011 Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon made his commentary debut on Versus. He was filling in for Wally Dallenbach who was busy with NASCAR on TNT duties in Pocono. I thought Wheldon did spectacular considering it was his first crack at commentary. Wheldon also brought in a sense of humour when Wade Cunningham crashed his Indy 500 winning car during the first race. He seemed to stay unbiased and had a good inside view of what the drivers thought on issues.
  • The Formula 1 Grand Prix du Montreal took place earlier today. I was fairly vocal of what I thought of TSN’s coverage (or lack-there-of) last week. However, based on the coverage they did air, they did a good job. For the most part commercial breaks were kept to a minimum and were inserted at good times. Of course this was easy since more than half of the four hour broadcast was spent under red flag conditions or behind the safety car. Fox also deserves credit for sticking with the broadcast past 3pm ET, instead of moving it to Speed.
  • BBC’s Martin Brundle and David Coulthard had the impossible job of keeping viewers entertained for 2, commercial free, hours of the rain delay in Montreal. For the most part they did a good job. The broadcast did hit a low when David asked Martin if he knew that “racecar” is spelled the same way frontwards and backwards.
  • TSN was also stuck with the impossible situation of having its coverage of the big England-Spain game at the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championship delayed due to the Formula 1 race running over two hours long. I don’t think they made the right decision by delaying such a big game to midnight ET, while only showing the 2nd half this afternoon. I would have replaced the Ukraine-Czech Republic match at 6pm ET on TSN2 with the England-Spain affair. Then they should have aired Ukraine-Czech Republic at midnight on TSN.
  • And that leads to my next point. TSN has almost grown to the point again where they have too many broadcast properties. This was first an issue a few years back when NASCAR fans constantly bickered with IndyCar fans, while soccer fans bickered with tennis fans about what sports should be shown live, and which ones should be forced into late night oblivion. The creation of TSN2 alleviated these concerns from all sides and fans of all sports have co-existed in peace for the past few years. However, now TSN is slowly starting to run out of space again. Fans might benefit from an online version of TSN, much like ESPN3.com in the States.
  • TSN has tapped Nigel Reed to cover the UEFA Under-21 Championship. Reed, a regular in the past on CBC’s MLS coverage, has now appeared on CBC, Sportsnet and TSN this year, along with a weekly radio show on The Fan 590. He may no longer have full time employment, but he is certainly keeping busy.
  • While Reed may not be the best football commentator in the world, he much better than the alternative: the UEFA provided commentary feed. Anyone who has heard Tim White or John Bradley (who called the games on Saturday for the international feed), knows what I’m talking about.
  • TSN will produce a pair of MLS doubleheaders in July. The first on July 6 and the second on July 20. Luke Wileman and Jason de Vos will obviously be one of the commentary crews. At least half of the secondary crew is now known; former Canadian National Team coach Dale Mitchell should be the analyst. Either Nigel Reed or Vic Rauter could join him in the booth.
  • The newest edition to Sportsnet’s Blue Jays broadcast crew has brought some good and bad. Alan Ashby is a very good analyst and I thought he worked well with Buck Martinez during the Blue Jays-Royals series. On the other hand, he is a terrible play-by-play. Watching the Red Sox-Blue Jays game yesterday was grating. He asks unclear questions of his analyst – there were multiple times where Tabler had to ask him to clarify what he was talking about – and he talks too much in general. Baseball is a game that can tell its own story. There is no need to fill every second with chatter.
  • Amazingly, I have been turned back to CBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals. I can’t really pinpoint whether their coverage has been better this year than in the past, or if NBC’s has been worse. I think it is probably a combination of the two. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson have been superb. Glenn Healy has been better than usual (maybe the right word would be, not as grumpy) and Don Cherry has (surprisingly) made some good points. And, of course, nobody can beat the pre-game atmosphere that CBC creates. They let the game tell the story. Meanwhile, NBC has tried to create storylines that aren’t there (ex. USA vs. Canada) and Mike Milbury has referred to the Bruins as “we”.
  • ABC’s ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Finals has been okay. Mike Breen and Magic Johnson continue to be bright spots. It is also nice to see Stuart Scott, who is battling cancer, working these broadcasts. Otherwise, ABC’s coverage continues to lack behind NBC’s coverage from 10 years ago and TNT’s current coverage.
  • Also over at ESPN, #1 analyst Mark Jackson has been hired by the Golden State Warriors to be their head coach next season. ESPN will have a couple of choices of what to do with the top team. One choice would be to leave it as a two-man booth with Breen and Jeff van Gundy. Another would be to throw Hubie Brown on the Breen/van Gundy team. Personally, I’d take van Gundy off the top team and have Breen/Hubie work the big games, with Mike Tirico and van Gundy working as the secondary crew.

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing Celebrates 100 Years on TSN

The first ever Indianapolis 500-mile was was run on May 30, 1911. This year on May 29, the races celebrates 100 years since its inception. TSN and TSN2 have all of the coverage of the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500 (5 races have been canceled due to World Wars) beginning this weekend with qualifying. The 2011 Indianapolis 500 features 3 Canadians trying to qualify: Veterans Paul Trace and Alex Tagliani along with IndyCar rookie James Hinchliffe. The top contenders include defending champion Dario Franchitti and Will Power, who is still trying to figure out ovals. Mike Conway, who won his first IndyCar race in April at Long Beach, returns to Indianapolis after a crash last year that ended his season.

TSN2 will air Pole Day Qualifying on Saturday, May 21 from 11:00am-2:30pm ET and 4:30-6:30pm ET. TSN2 will also have “Bump Day” on Sunday, May 22  from 4:30-6:30pm ET. The race itself airs on Sunday, May 29 at noon ET, with a prerace show airing at 11am ET.

Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Wally Dallenbach will call qualifying, with Lindy Thackston, Marty Snider, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller reporting from the pits. The race will be called by Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, with pit reporters Jerry Punch, Vince Welch, Jamie Little and Rick DeBruhl. Brent Musberger will host the prerace show.

IndyCar Series Returns to TSN in 2011

It’s about time to fire up the engines on the 2011 North American Open Wheel Racing season as the IndyCar Series kicks off its season this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida. Every race of the 2011 season will be seen live or on delay on TSN or TSN2. Five of the races will also be seen on ABC. The rest of the races will be produced by Versus.

The highlights on the IndyCar calendar for 2011 include the Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 17), the  100th running of the Indianapolis 500 (May 29), the Indy Toronto (July 10), Edmonton Indy (July 24) and the World Championship at Las Vegas to finish the season on October 16. In addition to the new race at Las Vegas, races in New Hampshire and Baltimore have been added for this season. Two races will take place outside of North America in Brazil and Japan.

Two time defending IndyCar Series champ Dario Franchitti returns to defend his title this season. The Canadian contingent is formed by Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani.

The ABC broadcast team will be comprised of Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear in the booth. Andy Cheever will join them for the Indianapolis 500 and the World Championship in Las Vegas. Vince Welch, Rick Debruhl and Jamie Little will report from the pits. Jerry Punch will also be a pit reporter for the Indianapolis 500.

A re-vamped Versus broadcast crew will consist of Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Wally Dallenbach in the broadcast booth. Lindy Thackston, Kevin Lee and Marty Snider will report from the pits. Robbie Floyd will fill in for Snider when he has NASCAR on TNT duty in June and July. Beginning this year NBC has named a completely new production crew for IndyCar on Versus broadcasts.

The complete 2011 IndyCar Series TV schedule is available here.