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Watching the races on television in 2020 -- What I know so far

Watching the races on television in 2020

Oakville, ON, Jan 17/20 (GRW): For me the start of the annual racing season comes with the Rolex 24 at Daytona race weekend. That comes next weekend with the four-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot GT4 race on the Friday, Jan 24 and the 24-hour IMSA Weathertech race starting on Saturday afternoon, Jan 25.

So, now seems to be a good time to update you on what to expect with respect to television coverage of the various series for Canadian residents this year. I’ll give you a quick rundown now and I’ll post a more detailed report later in the year when I feel more sure of how the various pieces of the television packages have fallen into place.

In general, I expect this year’s television availability, for good or bad, to be pretty much the same as last year.

I would remind you to keep track of this specific television broadcast plans for each series by checking my weekly Race Fan TV Listings (on this website), which I post each week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday.

Starting with the two IMSA series, I am confident that the IMSA WeatherTech series races will be available flag-to-flag on Discovery-Velocity Channel again this year. The IMSA Michelin Pilot will be available in Canada via direct streaming on imsa.tv (free of charge).

In addition, the World Endurance Championship races will also be shown flag-to-flag on Discovery-Velocity. Last year, the WEC races were also available via direct streaming on Motortrendondemand (about $5/month) but I think the DEVELO package is a better buy.

I have confirmation that TSN will be carrying the NASCAR Cup (formerly Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) and the NASCAR Infinity races – along with some pre-race practice and qualifying sessions through the year. I also expect TSN to carry the full Formula One season again this year.

I now have confirmation that the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races will all be on the Fox Sports Racing channel here in Canada. In addition, FSR will carry many of the ARCA races during the year beginning with the race at Daytona on Feb 8th. Many of the remaining ARCA races will be available on MAV TV.

This leaves the problematic series – IndyCar. I enquired and I received this statement from IndyCar’s Vice President of Promoter & Media Partner Relations Stephen Starks, who oversees their international television agreements: "INDYCAR will remain with Sportsnet in 2020, and we continue to have discussions and work with our broadcast partner to significantly improve our exposure in Canada for our NTT INDYCAR Series fans."

Even thought he did not specifically reference Sportsnet World, I have to assume that the deal this year will be the same as last year. Last year, you could get every IndyCar race via Sportsnet World on television or via the streaming service Sportsnet NOW+. Both of these services cost about $20-$30 per month.

Note that, last year some IndyCar races (e.g. the Indy 500) were broadcast of the primary NBC network channel which most of us get in our bundle of channels via our cable or satellite television service provider. As a result, race fans in Canada were able to watch about half of the IndyCar races in 2019 without paying the exorbitant charges to the SN World or SN NOW+ services. I’m guessing that this pattern will continue. Watch my weekly listings for more precise information about each IndyCar broadcast.

I suppose it might be a good idea if you were to send some feedback to IndyCar on how you feel about this stupid non-availability of their races in Canada. Maybe go to their website (https://www.indycar.com/) and send a message (the sooner the better). As for me, I’ve got my fingers crossed in hopes that Roger Penske will be the white knight and fix this problem; after all he says he is thinking of adding another IndyCar race in Canada ...

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