What sports can’t Mike Tirico speak on intelligently? That doesn’t seem like a long list. That list may not even exist. That’s probably why his bosses at NBC are trusting him to anchor coverage of the Indianapolis 500 in 2019, which will be the race’s first year on the peacock network.
The news comes from a report by Jim Ayello in the Indianapolis Star.
According to a source, IndyCar learned Tirico would serve as host during the series’ annual partner summit a few days before this May’s Indianapolis 500. Tirico was in attendance with Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports & NBCSN, as well as other NBC executives.
An NBC spokesperson declined to confirm Tirico’s appointment as 500 host, only saying, “We will be announcing our commentators for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 much closer to the start of the event.”
NBC acquired the rights to the entire IndyCar series beginning in 2019. It ends a 54 year run of the Indianapolis 500 being broadcast on ABC.
Ratings for open-wheel racing have been on the decline in the United States, so it was widely assumed that NBC would pull out all the stops to make the Indianapolis 500 broadcast feel special again. Tirico certainly is a good piece of that puzzle. NBC viewers have become accustomed to his presence on the biggest stages for the network, including the Olympics, the Masters, and a limited number of NFL games.