NASCAR, NBC Sports Group reach landmark deal
July 23, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR announced Tuesday an expansive 10-year media partnership with NBC Sports Group that will begin in 2015. It will be highlighted by multiple network broadcasts, including the season-ending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship event, which will be on network television for the first time since 2009.
Per the agreement -- whose financial terms have not been disclosed – NBCUniversal has the exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and the final 19 Nationwide Series events through 2024.
The new deal also includes broadcast rights to the NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremony and season-ending banquets as well as rights to certain NASCAR K&N Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) events and Spanish-language broadcast rights on Telemundo and Mun2 for national series events and the Toyota (Mexico) Series races.
KEY SUMMARY: 2015-2024
• NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Final 20 races (7 on NBC, 13 on NBC Sports Network)
• NASCAR Nationwide Series: Final 19 races (4 on NBC, 15 on NBC Sports Network)
• NASCAR K&N Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events
• NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series events
• ‘TV Everywhere’ live-streaming rights for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series
• Spanish-language broadcast rights on Telemundo and Mun2 for national series events and NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series
“With NBC, you’re joining a family at NBC Sports where you’ll be surrounded by incredible championship-type programming,’’ said Steve Herbst, NASCAR’s Vice President of Broadcasting and Production.
“Their football package on Sunday night is the number one show on television, and along with the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown, of course the NHL and the Stanley Cup playoffs, the French Open, they are the home to championship programming and we’ll be promoted and marketed and shown alongside those top tier events is a great day for NASCAR.
“We’re going to have the opportunity as we get into the fall season and the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to be on Sunday afternoons leading into NFL football, and that’s an exciting opportunity for us, given the obvious power of the NFL. We still have a ways to go to figure out what races and when, but it will be select races that go into Sunday Night Football.’’
NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France was equally excited about both the potential this partnership will have long-term for NASCAR and what it says about the health of the sport.
“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,” France said.
“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.”
NBC does have a rich history with NASCAR. It broadcast the second half of the Cup and Nationwide seasons from 2001-2006 in conjunction with Turner Sports. And it aired the Daytona 500 in 2002, 2004 and 2006 as well as the season finales in 1999 and 2000.
“Having worked on and off with NASCAR since 1990, I’ve seen this company evolve through the years, and the current management team under Brian France has a unique expertise for where it needs to go at this point in time,’’ said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazurus, who was president of Turner Sports when the network and NBC acquired earlier NASCAR broadcast rights in 1999.
“We’re excited about the prospect of building this sport together, as many of our employees have experience working on NASCAR, as well as a passion for the sport.
“NBC Sports has a great deal of experience in motorsports and NASCAR, specifically. We look forward to bringing our own skills to partner with all those involved with the circuit, from teams to tracks to drivers to owners. Finally, we look forward to interacting with NASCAR’s legendary, passionate fan base at tracks that have their own unique styles and reputations.”
The NBC partnership takes over for ESPN, which currently airs the final 17 Cup races -- beginning Sunday with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis -- as well as the entire Nationwide Series schedule through 2014. Likewise, Turner Sports has the broadcast rights through next year for a six-race summer stretch.
Both France and Herbst were quick to praise the longstanding relationship with ESPN and Turner.
“We have enjoyed very strong partnerships with both Turner and ESPN over the years,’’ France said. “We are committed to being great partners to them throughout the 2014 season and continuing the many friendships that we have with both companies for years to come.
“They are both first-class organizations that have brought their very best to NASCAR over the years and we have every expectation we’ll all work together closely to ensure this and the 2014 season is a great success and a great experience for the fans.”
Added Herbst, “We’ve had a terrific run with ESPN and Turner; they could not be better partners that are going to be with us through 2014. We’ve been very fortunate to have them in the mix for many years and it’s a little bittersweet but the good news is, those guys will be around through next year.’’
After the NASCAR-NBC Sports Group announcement, ESPN and Turner issued the following statements.
“ESPN has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with NASCAR,” ESPN President John Skipper said. “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 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,” Turner Broadcasting president of sales, distribution and sports David Levy said. “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."
Under France’s guidance, NASCAR announced last fall an estimated $2.4 billion, eight-year extension with FOX Sports to continue airing the first half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
“With that announcement (with FOX) and today, the puzzle is almost complete,’’ Herbst said. “We still have first-half Nationwide and some Cup races to place and we expect them to be placed very soon. Talks around that part of the package are going very well.’’
On a conference call Tuesday to announce the NASCAR-NBCUniversal deal, the possibility was raised of Nationwide races moving to FOX Sports Group. A NASCAR spokesperson said it is in an exclusive negotiating window with FOX, and while talks were going well, no deal for Nationwide races has been completed.
For its part, NBC considers NASCAR a prime platform in its ever-expanding and evolving opportunities with both its established traditional network and the newer NBC Sports Network.
“Acquiring the rights and bringing NASCAR back to NBC comes at an important point in time for NBC Sports Network, NBC, and all of our distributors and affiliates,” Lazarus said. “We look forward to working with Brian and his management team, who have brought a renewed focus to NASCAR's intersection of sports and technology.”
Herbst acknowledged the announcement and completion of the deal is well ahead of schedule considering another year still left on current contracts, but was complimentary of his dealings with NBC and specifically Lazurus, who does have a long history with the sport.
“When given the opportunity to speak to Mark Lazurus and his team about the opportunity to get with NBC things began to move quickly, and we were able to put the deal together. Mark is one of the true pros in this business, and we were just real happy it was able to come together.”