NBC's NASCAR team begins to take shape
December 02, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
NBC is in the initial stages of assembling the team that will begin broadcasting NASCAR events in 2015, and the first major addition is someone well familiar with the world of stock car racing.
Jeff Behnke, who worked in NASCAR production for over two decades during a long tenure at Turner Sports, on Monday was named to head the day-to-day operations of the group that will air races on NBC and NBC Sports Network. Behnke, who will carry the title of vice president of NASCAR production, will operate out of Charlotte, N.C., marking the first time the head of a network's NASCAR production team will be based in the sport's hub.
"Jeff Behnke's talent, creativity and experience make him the kind of leader that we want on our team," Sam Flood, executive producer of NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, said in a release. "Jeff is going to add a great deal to our partnership with NASCAR, and I am thrilled to welcome him to the NBC Sports family."
Behnke's expertise covers all aspects of production, including live remotes, studio broadcasts and on-air talent acquisitions. Behnke, who has amassed a record of leading production teams covering NASCAR as well as several other sports, will work closely with Flood during the lead-up to NBC Sports Group's highly anticipated return to NASCAR.
"It's an honor and a privilege to join NBC Sports," said Behnke, an Emmy Award winner who will start in his new position in January. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity to be a part of NBC's history of excellence in sports television and unmatched leadership."
Prior to joining NBC Sports Group, Behnke served as executive producer of Turner Sports for seven years, where he coordinated and provided strategic direction for all productions and personnel covering NASCAR, NBA, Major League Baseball and several of golf's major championships. Behnke's appointment to executive producer was the culmination of a 27-year run at Turner that included more than two decades of NASCAR production experience. Behnke began his production career at ABC, where he worked on a variety of events including the Indianapolis 500.
This past July, NASCAR and NBC Sports Group reached a comprehensive agreement that grants NBC Universal exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, select NASCAR Regional and Touring Series events, and other live content beginning in 2015.
With this partnership, NBC's 20 Sprint Cup race schedule includes a designation as the exclusive home to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The season finale will return to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009. Of NBC Sports Group's 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, seven will be carried on NBC annually, with 13 airing on NBC Sports Network. Four of NBC Sports Group's 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races will air on NBC, with 15 airing on NBC Sports Network.