Scheduling: The 2017 Indianapolis 500

And now… we go green, green, green!

The spectacle that is the Indianapolis 500 is here. This year, there is more attention and intrigue on the event as two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso attempts to add the blue riband event to his resume. Even if Alonso does not win, the 500 as always, promises to be a fantastic event.

As with the other IndyCar events, BT Sport will be screening the race exclusively live, which marks round six of the 2017 IndyCar season. There was some hope that another television or radio station would broadcast the Indianapolis 500, but that has not yet materialised. One source commented that the upcoming general election had reduced the chance of covering the race, with resources now dedicated to other areas. If plans change, including methods to watch the race legally, live via ‘other means’, I will update this post.

Whisper Films, who currently produce Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage, have been brought in to oversee BT’s Indianapolis 500 coverage. As of last week, I understand that Suzi Perry will present coverage from their studios on Olympic Park, helped by the fact that there is no MotoGP action that weekend.

Preparation commenced earlier this month, with key personnel interviewed. BT’s MotoGP reporter Gavin Emmett interviewed Fernando Alonso prior to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, whilst Whisper conducted filming at McLaren HQ on May 5th. It is likely that BT will bring in special guests to give the race itself a bigger feel compared to your typical IndyCar coverage.

For qualifying, Keith Collantine and Ben Evans will continue to provide commentary whilst American colleagues are on commercial.

Thursday 18th May (YouTube)
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice 4

Friday 19th May (YouTube)
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice 5

Saturday 20th May
13:00 to 14:30 – Practice 6 (YouTube)
20:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 1
=> 20:00 (YouTube)
=> 21:00 (BT Sport/ESPN)

Sunday 21st May
17:00 to 19:00 – Practice 7 (YouTube)
19:45 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 2
=> 19:45 (YouTube)
=> 21:00 (BT Sport/ESPN)

Monday 22nd May (YouTube)
17:30 to 21:00 – Practice 8

Saturday 27th May (YouTube)
15:30 to 16:30 – Public Drivers’ Meeting

Sunday 28th May (BT Sport/ESPN)
16:30 to 21:00 – Race

If anything changes regarding the UK television coverage, I will update this post.

Update on May 20th at 11:50 – Keith Collantine and Oliver Webb will be commentating on qualifying for UK viewers. Furthermore, as noted above, Suzi Perry has confirmed she will be presenting BT’s coverage next Sunday.

Update on May 20th at 13:10 – Perry will be joined by Mike Conway and the Guardian writer Richard Williams next Sunday, with Collantine and Ben Evans on commentary during the US adverts.

Update on May 22nd – Further confirmation from Perry that Gavin Emmett and Jonathan Green will also be joining Perry in the studio. Also confirmed is that Collantine and Evans will not be part of BT’s Indianapolis 500, which is a real shame considering both have been part of BT’s coverage of IndyCars for a while now. Loyalty clearly does not count for much.

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16 thoughts on “Scheduling: The 2017 Indianapolis 500

  1. As I’ve said before on this blog, the idea of a free to air channel showing the Indy 500 purely because Alonso is making a guest appearance is absolute pie in the sky. The majority of the public are not motorsport fans and have no idea who Alonso is. When Franchitti & Wheldon were in US open wheel racing their Indy victories never got a mention in the British press. I think BT Sport should show only the ABC output as bits and pieces with Suzi, Gavin, Keith & Ben are guaranteed to feature insults to the intelligence of die hard Indycar fans like myself (I’m glad i don’t have BT Sport anyway; i don’t mind waiting for the YouTube upload of the race by Indycar a few days after the race).

    • Keith and Ben are way more knowledgeable than their US counterparts. However, in principal I agree with You. I’ve always preferred the ‘Eurosport’ approach of simply cutting to the feed from site rather than all the bells, whistles, frills and fancy that broadcasters feel compelled to add once a ‘wider audience’ has to be catered for…

      • Mansell was 1 week delayed edited highlights on ITV. None of his races were broadcast live on free to air. Back then Indycar was on Eurosport.

    • It was a bit daft to think that a FTA Channel would show the Indy 500 because Alonso was making a guest appearance if it had been Hamilton or Button it might have been different…

      • The Indy 500 will never be live on a free to air channel in the same way that the Australian F1 grand prix will never be live again on FTA.

  2. No FTA coverage means no attention from the vast majority of F1 viewers.
    I shall still be seething at the moron who puts the subtitles over the top of the leaderboard when the Indy 500 starts.

  3. @ChrisWilliams

    I think a few people may have thought that because Alonso was racing in the Indy 500 that there would be a free-to-air channel that would be showing it. It’s a shame yes that the Australian Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix will not be shown to FTA once the 2018 season ends.

  4. I don’t understand BT. Make the Indy 500 pay per view (e.g. £5.99), let non-customers try it and it could lead to new subscribers. If nothing else, they’ve made a few bob on PPV, whereas nobody is going to sign up for a minimum of a month at £20+ just to see one race, As it stands (and I certainly wouldn’t do this myself) but I can see people looking for illegal streams just to be able to watch it.

    • Oh my… I’ve just looked at the pricing. I get sky sports for a month during the Ashes and I thought maybe I’d take BT sport for a month to get the indy 500.

      £23 per month! Plus £20 activation charge. And you’re tied in to a year long contract… Ouch!

      Never gonna happen. I’d pay up to a tenner for an individual event that I really wanted to see (and have been a Sky HD subscriber since it started showing F1). But it seems that the only way to legally view the indy 500 live is too fork out £276 (and 8p). Utterly ridiculous.

      I’m afraid I may be hunting other sources. BT have shot themselves in the foot.

      • It’s the reason that we stuck with BT for broadband. Not only do we get 76mb download we get all of BT Sport for £9 per month in HD available through SKY and on my iPad. We couldn’t do without Premiership Rugby or Indycar so it’s a no brainer. I also rang and got Sport for 50% off for 6 months because I had Virgin chasing me.

  5. Looks like Sunday will be a wash out so prepare for a Monday afternoon slot. As to what channel I have NO idea. I’ve asked if they might make it a FreeView and the answer was…. ‘HA. No way pal.’ Anyway I’m hoping Suzi and all her talking head studio pundits are previously engaged and we’re back to Ben and Keith.

    I’m rambling.

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