Despite losing some ground in the TV ratings race, NASCAR was flooded with offers for its media rights package, which is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. But for all the interest in the stock car circuit, the new deal is largely consonant with the legacy setup. Longtime partners Fox Sports and NBC Sports are re-upping for the next stretch of road, while TNT and Amazon will join them as rights-holders in a seven-year deal running through 2031 that, with escalators, has a total value just shy of $7.75 billion.
Having split NASCAR’s $8.2 billion TV contract for the better part of the last decade, Fox and NBC have renewed their deals in a configuration that is similar to the current arrangement. Under the new pact, Fox will air the first 14 races of the 2025 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while NBC will retain stewardship over the final 14 events.
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In keeping with the usual run of things, the Fox portion of the deal includes coverage via the broadcast flagship as well as the cable network FS1. For its part, NBC will share the road with its cable cousin USA Network and the streaming service, Peacock. The two returning partners quietly worked out the framework of their respective deals over the summer, at modest price increases over the legacy arrangement.
Fox Corp. executive chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch earlier this month told investors the NASCAR renewal was effectively wrapped up, before adding that the 23-year partnership continues to “exceed expectations from an ROI point-of-view.”
The middle cluster of 10 races will be shared by Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT and Amazon. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but additional information is expected to be forthcoming when NASCAR makes its official announcement later this afternoon. NASCAR is expected to break the news at around 5 p.m. EST, at the top of its year-end awards ceremony in Nashville.
The new four-way pact marks a return to the circuit for TNT, which carried NASCAR races from 2001 through 2015. Prior to that long run, TNT sibling TBS served as a key cable partner from 1983 through 2000.
WBD’s contract also includes race coverage care of the company’s streaming service, Max.
Earlier this month, NASCAR president Steve Phelps told reporters that the organization was closing in on the end of its rights auction, chalking up the long lead time to an “incredibly competitive marketplace.” NASCAR has been in talks over the rights package for nearly a year, with Phelps confirming that the new slate would feature a “combination of broadcast, cable and streaming, to some degree.”
While NASCAR’s TV ratings were down this season—with an average draw of 2.86 million viewers, overall deliveries slipped 5% versus the 2022 campaign—the Chevrolet-dominated circuit remains the most popular racing series in the U.S. By comparison, the much-ballyhooed F1 this season averaged 1.12 million viewers per race, down from 1.21 million in 2022.
Between the shoulder programming that is the Netflix doc series Drive to Survive and the brand new, $600 million Las Vegas Grand Prix, F1 has pulled ahead of NASCAR in the PR battle, if not the ratings fight. NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500, averaged 8.17 million viewers on Fox this spring, while the Vegas F1 event (which kicked off just before 1 a.m. ET on Nov. 18) managed 1.31 million viewers on ESPN.
Speaking of Netflix, NASCAR’s profile is set to get a major upgrade next year, when the streamer plans to bow a five-part doc about the Cup Series that’s being co-produced by Words + Pictures and NASCAR Studios. Words + Pictures is the nonfiction studio launched in 2021 by former ESPN content wiz Connor Schell and Chernin Entertainment.
The Cup Series haggle closed out just a few months after NASCAR inked a seven-year, $800 million deal with the CW for its slate of 33 Xfinity Series races.
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