Racing on TV Keeps Getting More Complicated, But There's a Silver Lining

10 wayne taylor racing with andretti, acura arx 06, gtp ricky taylor, filipe albuquerque, 6 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp mathieu jaminet, nick tandy start of race
A Silver Lining to Confusing Racing on TV OptionsIMSA Photo
  • One by one, sports leagues and racing organizations are upping their TV and streaming game, giving fans more options than ever.

  • Racing is not immune to this current wave of "there's no easy way to find some of the content on TV."

  • IMSA president John Doonan knows that TV and streaming options will keep his PR team busy as they try to educate fans on where to find the action.

Remember the days when we all had three networks on our TVs and we had to get up and walk across the room to change those channels?

And, still, with just three channels—and maybe a few affiliates and a UHF offering or two we we might be able pick up with the rabbit ears on a good day—we still needed the TV Guide to find our favorite shows.


Okay, maybe you're not yet in the "get off my lawn" age bracket—Gen Whatever—but finding your favorite sporting events or racing series content can be a challenge. At least these days, we can get frustrated without having to get up walk across the room to spin the dial.

The NFL recently announced its newest TV package that includes games on CBS, FOX, ESPN, ABC, Amazon Prime, Peacock, ESPN+, NFL Network and Netflix (apologies if I missed any, but you get the idea).

The NBA is reportedly close to announcing a deal with prospective TV partners Amazon, ESPN and ABC.

Don't get me started on MLB. Okay, I guess I'm already started. Baseball TV partners include FOX, FS1, ESPN, MLB Network, Roku, Apple TV and a host of regional partners (including one that just dumped me here in Michigan so I can't watch my beloved Detroit Tigers).

Racing is not immune to this current wave of "there's no easy way to find some of the content on TV."

NASCAR is adding Amazon Prime and TNT to its long-standing deal with NBC an FOX in 2025. (Some fans are going to freak out when then they find that the 2025 Coca-Cola 600 is going to be on Amazon Prime, and fans who don't have a subscription to Amazon Prime will be whipping out the debit card on race night if they want to watch the race).

NHRA has its deal with the FOX family for a few more years, and it has branched out to offer bonus content through its own wall-to-wall streaming service.

detroit, mi during the chevrolet detroit grand prix on the streets of detroit photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Want to watch Will Power’s IndyCar practice session? Might want to check out the Peacock streaming service on race week.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

IndyCar, which also has its own streaming service (, is working on a new TV deal, and at least one insider told Autoweek that that series is hoping for a fan-friendly deal that keeps the racing on one network. That might not be possible in this new sports a la carte landscape, but we can hope.

IMSA is also in talks with folks about its TV future after 2024.

IMSA's current package includes content on NBC, Peacock, CNBC and USA. It also has a nice offering for fans who want to watch practice and qualifying sessions as well as the racing series on IMSA's undercard, including the Michelin Pilot Challenge, Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and the Porsche Carrera Cup.

IMSA president John Doonan says that he understands the challenge that some fans face when trying to find and ultimately digest all that content. He is also excited about the future and the ability to offer the hard-core fans more bells and whistles than ever before with their racing.

imsa president john doonan
IMSA president John Doonan says once the TV deals are cut, communication with fans is key.IMSA Photo

"Obviously, we've had a long-term partnership with NBC, and we have the network shows that are tremendous. We have races like the show in Detroit on USA," Doonan said this past weekend in Detroit. "That type of linear television will continue, but we're also seeing—which gives me a lot of energy and excitement and hope for the future—a huge lift in our streaming audience.

"So besides the linear, we have Peacock, and the number of viewers that are choosing the Peacock option continues to grow. And that gives me hope that our next next generation audience, they want to view the IMSA content in a variety of ways."

That variety of ways is ever-changing, and the list of list of TV partners seems to grow with every TV contact cut by a major sports league or series.

"We've also done recently a little test on YouTube outside the U.S.—it's geo-blocked in the U.S., but users around the world to the tune of a half million of them were watching the 12 Hours of Sebring" Doonan said. "The key is that people are going to take in the IMSA content in a variety of ways.

"I think offering that up is key, but then communicating it so that everybody understands—HOW DO I WATCH? That's important."

One huge advantage of the streaming platforms is that a streaming platform has the capability of broadcasting the entirety of the longer endurance races. You can turn on Peacock for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and watch the entire 24 hours, commercial free. For linear TV, no partner is going to give up 24 hours of broadcast for one IMSA race.

"It's exciting for me on the positive side that we have a variety of options," Doonan said. "The key is communicating.

9 pfaff motorsports, mclaren 720s gt3 evo, gtd pro marvin kirchhofer, oliver jarvis, pit stop
Fans who want to know what tires just went on the car might find out on a dedicated streaming platform. IMSA Photo

"I think we're also getting multiple-screen viewers. They watch the broadcast, listen to the call, track live telemetry on our app to the point of knowing what set of tires they're on, and things like that."

"We do want to have it be a consistent experience, but the beauty of our fans is they are loyal and they'll take it in—in the manner that they want to."

Of course, fans can still go old-school, and watch the races at the race track. And at the same-time record the race on their platform of choice at home to replay when they get home.

It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Now, where did I put that remote?