NBC is quickly becoming the new face of motorsports television. They already hold the rights to Formula 1, Indycar, a few other forms of racing and will soon be broadcasting over half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series & Nationwide schedule. The 10 year deal with NASCAR will give NBC the television rights to the final 20 Cup and the final 19 Nationwide races of the season. They will also be broadcasting the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the season-ending banquet, some regional touring NASCAR races and practice and qualifying sessions for the races they will cover.
Sports Business Journal broke the news on this major story earlier today and I was shocked that ESPN has been ousted. ESPN and Turner Sports have had a relationship with NASCAR that dates back to the 1980’s and it’s surprising me that they will no longer broadcast any races although I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s no secret that ESPN’s number one priority is stick and ball sports while auto racing takes a back seat to that.
NBC has held the rights to NASCAR races in the past and seem to really care about motorsports coverage. With the demise of SPEED Channel, NBC Sports is quickly becoming the new No.1 destination for racing fans across the country.
Fox and NBC will share the Nationwide races as well as the Cup races and Fox has a deal to keep televise all Truck races through 2022. ESPN and Turner Sports both wanted to try to keep their NASCAR coverage but they weren’t willing to pay as much as NBC which was 4.4 billion dollars by the way. ESPN/Turner Sports paid 2.85 billion for the same races in their last deal with NASCAR.
In the end, this is good for NASCAR and it will bolster the quality of TV coverage for NASCAR races. This shakeup in television deals is also a perfect time for NASCAR to make some much needed adjustments to their schedule. Both Fox and NBC care a great deal about auto racing while ESPN is more stick and ball oriented so this is a will be for the better. NBC is no stranger to using split screen coverage during their open-wheel races so I’m assuming they will put that to good use with NASCAR which would be fantastic for the fans that are tired of watching five minutes worth of commercials every ten laps or so. I could see a motorsports themed show similar to the soon to be cancelled Speed Center popping up on NBC Sports in the future too. The only negative with this new deal is the fact that a contingent of race fans out there don’t have NBC Sports or Fox Sports 1 (SPEED) while practically everyone has ESPN.
ESPN on Losing NASCAR TV Rights
“ESPN has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with NASCAR. We have tremendous respect for the France family, the drivers and all in the sport and wish them well. We will continue to serve NASCAR fans through SportsCenter and our other news platforms as we continue to enhance our industry-leading collection of quality assets.
“We are looking forward to the start of our Sprint Cup season and will continue with our deep commitment to the highest quality coverage.”
Turner Sports on Losing NASCAR TV Rights
“Turner Sports is proud of the partnership we’ve built with NASCAR over the past 31 years and the role our company has played in helping to grow the sport. We think NASCAR is an attractive property but we are disciplined in our approach to negotiating sports rights and could not come up with a business model that was financially prudent for our company.”
Brian France on New TV Deal With NBC
“NBC is known for being an exceptional partner and delivering outstanding production quality and presentation of live sports, as well as its broad portfolio of broadcast and digital properties so we are thrilled with the commitment they have made to NASCAR and its future.
We know this partnership will yield great value to our entire industry, provide a premium experience to our most important stakeholders, the fans, and help us achieve a number of strategic growth objectives. Our new partnership with NBC and the recent extension by FOX validate the strength of our fan base and the many bold steps we have taken the last several years to provide fans with better, more accessible racing.”