IMSA President Scott Atherton says they are “actively involved” in dialogue for the next TV deal for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is set to begin in 2019.
Its current five-year contract with FOX Sports, signed in 2013, concludes at the end of next year, which gives the sanctioning body an opportunity to explore other possible options in the ever-changing media landscape.
“If you go back to the earliest announcements of the merger and the partners that we had committed at that time, we were thrilled to be able to announce a five-year commitment with our media partners at FOX,” Atherton said this week’s Sportscar365 Double Stint Podcast.
“If you do the math from those early days to where we are now, you arrive at the conclusion that 2018 is the end of that five-year term. We’re actively involved in dialogue.
“The industry is expanding at a pace that is hard to describe. It’s moving quickly, and a lot of new opportunities are developing, which doesn’t imply anything.”
While it’s understood different options are being evaluated, Atherton has praised its current relationship with FOX, which has seen year-over-year gains, thanks largely in part to additional network TV broadcasts and more live races on FS1.
This year has seen a 37 percent increase in unique TV viewers, with 1.1 million people tuning into the live FOX broadcast of the Long Beach round in April.
“The relationship we have with FOX is second to none,” Atherton said. “The increases that we’ve been able to report are because of that very solid, strong relationship that we have with FOX.
“We’re meeting with them again in the near term to plan our 2018 strategies.”
Atherton declined to comment any further on possible changes for next year and beyond.
“I don’t want to provide any more speculation because it wouldn’t be appropriate at this time because of the relationship that we’ve got,” he said.
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report