After televising the sport from 2001-2006, NASCAR is making its return to NBC. After Fox had announced last year it was extending its agreement with NASCAR till 2022 to televise the first 13 races of the season including the Daytona 500, speculation began as to what would happen to the TV rights for the rest of the NASCAR season. Since 2007, TNT had aired several races in the summer with ESPN airing the closing stages of the season including the Chase/Sprint playoffs.
John Ourand and Tripp Mickie of Sports Business Journal report that NBC has won those rights back starting after the 2014 season, beating ESPN and Turner Sports to the line:
"ESPN and Turner Sports will be out of the NASCAR business after next season, according to several sources. NASCAR is planning a press conference later today to announce that Fox and NBC will share rights to the sport starting in 2014. Financial terms of NBC’s deal and its broadcast plans aren’t known, but the network had been pitching NASCAR on returning the Sprint Cup series to broadcast TV and could air races on Sunday afternoons on NBC prior to "Sunday Night Football." NBC also picked up rights to the second half of the Nationwide Series. It’s unclear if those races will be on NBC or NBC Sports Network."
NASCAR ratings have been going down since the sport's peak several years ago. However, NASCAR is still quite a powerful TV entity. To put it in perspective, NASCAR races still averaged 5.8 million viewers last season in spite of ratings declines in recent years. The Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC only averaged 1.467 million viewers. NASCAR represents four times the audience of the NHL. The 5.8 million average viewership also beats every NBA regular season game and greatly surpasses MLB regular season numbers.
NASCAR has a press conference this afternoon where the deal will be officially announced, but this will be NBC's biggest rights victory since the launch of NBC Sports Network. Make no mistake - NASCAR is a major American sport. And with IndyCar and Formula One and the dissolution fo Speed, NBCSN may be becoming the network of choice for American racing fans. NASCAR immediately becomes NBC's most valuable sports property after the Olympics and Sunday Night Football.
If NBCSN picks up just a few Sprint Cup races and the Nationwide schedule it will be a huge victory for a sports cable network that's been somewhat forgotten in the wake of Fox Sports 1's impending launch. After missing out on MLB and various college rights, it's a statement by NBC that they're still a player in the great sports rights arms race.
UPDATE: NBC and NASCAR made it official this afternoon. Here's what we know:
-NBC has rights to the last 20 races beginning in 2015 including the entire Chase. This leaves the first 3 races that currently air on TNT still up for grabs. (Possibly back to Fox?)
-13 of the 20 NASCAR races will air on NBC Sports Network with 7 airing on NBC. This is massive for NBCSN. Massive. It's a risk for NASCAR though facing declining ratings and a move to a cable network that has much less awareness than ESPN.
-NBC will air the last 19 races of the Nationwide calendar with a 15/4 split between NBCSN and the NBC mothership.
-Rights to various NASCAR regional series and the end of season awards banquet.
And for the record, here is ESPN President John Skipper's response on losing NASCAR rights.
And in a "cat out of the bag" moment, NASCAR head honcho Brian France revealed the first half of the Nationwide schedule will be on Fox Sports 1. That would lead me to believe it's very likely the final 3 NASCAR races unaccounted for will end up on Fox in some capacity as well.
Now ESPN can fill its Saturdays with college football without tiptoeing around Nationwide Series races.
This is a HUGE win for NBC, and I agree, the more live content they get, that can help NBCSN get more viewership, when in turn they can get the network in lower tiers with cable and satellite providers.
I think if ESPN really wanted to keep Nascar, they would've done so. I think that since they're not making as much money with it, so they said forget it. Look at their show Nascar Now, it comes on at late night. Also they have MLB, NFL, college football and basketball, and now they can now concentrate on the NBA television contract coming up.
Unfortunately, after next year, ESPN will probably treat Nascar as an after thought.
NBC's hope is by getting enough premium live content that there would be enough momentum to increase the number of locations where NBCSN is available. If they can get some part of the Big Ten package or even NBA, then it might work.
Here's the thing about NBC SportsNet. I have directv and NBC SportsNet is not a part of the package that I subscribe to nor will I pay extra money to get it.
NASCAR is going to lose a lot of Directv viewers who are in my situation and choose not t upgrade their package.
First of all, I didn't know I had a channel called NBCSN. Is it on my regular tv listings?? If not, that will suck for me and most people.
Next.. I am glad NASCAR is leaving ESPN. ESPN sucks in the Nascar department. I just hope that ESPN's announcers don't go to NBC. Hopefully NBC recruits new people, or even brings in the TNT bunch or maybe bring back Bill Weber, or Bob Jenkins since they are both on the NBC payroll.
I'm sad to see FOX not getting more of the races out of this deal. If I had my choice, I would rather watch the FOX broadcast. Mike Joy to me is the VOICE of NASCAR.
Anyway it can be 2015 by this weekend :)
@BillPayne I completely agree. Fox is top notch when it comes to NASCAR and Mike Joy is up with any play by play man in any sport in my opinion. I have Direct TV and its channel 220 used to be in the 600's and I don't have any special package and its on there.
Here is the full press release:
At least 28 races in total will be on NBCSN. That is BIG for that channel and will help them pare down ESPN a bit more. I have to think it also helps them get into more households with the NASCAR demographic demanding that channel for the races.
I'm thinking NBCSN get almost all Sept. Cup races since NBC has the PGA Playoffs and Ryder/Presidents cup
@BrianCullather Agreed. My guess is that NBC will have the Firecracker 400, the Brickyard 400, the fall Atlanta race, the fall Talladega race, the season finale at Miami, and two more Chase races in Oct. or Nov.
I can't believe 4 times as many people watch cars make left hand turn than watch playoff hockey. That's just silly
@MontyDAztec If they made right hand turns too, would it not be silly then?
@MontyDAztec they guys making left hand turns can DIE. That's why people watch.
@Funzo @ClayKirchenbauer @MontyDAztec I'll give you this.. nascar cars are padded tanks, they are incredibly safe and we haven't seen a death in 12 years. (I'm more of a sprint car fan, which has had 4 deaths since last summer (not that I'm proud of that..but still)). BUT, the skill and athleticism it takes to drive a Nascar car is still extreme, and to say it's just turning left is like me saying hockey is just a bunch of toothless dudes figure skating. There's so much more to it than that.