By Al Pearce, Crain News Service
DETROIT (July 26, 2013) — NBC Sports Group has outbid ESPN for rights to televise the second half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules, beginning in 2015.
The 10-year broadcast contract, announced July 23 between NASCAR and NBC Sports Group, gives NBC the rights to the final 20 Sprint Cup races, the final 19 Nationwide Series races, selected lower-tier races and other live NASCAR content. Financial terms of the agreement, which begins in 2015 and runs through the 2024 season, were not disclosed, but sources said it's upwards of 50 percent more than ESPN offered to stay with NASCAR.
Seven of the 20 Sprint Cup races will be on NBC itself, the other 13 on NBC's affiliate NBC Sports Network. Four of the 19 Nationwide races will be on NBC itself, the other 15 on NBCSN.
In addition, NBC will televise practice and qualifying sessions for Cup and Nationwide races during their portion of the season. It will have broadcast rights to the K&N, Whelen Modified and Toyota (Mexico) series, plus the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and NASCAR's season-ending banquets.
"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," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "We are thrilled with the commitment they've 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."
Fox Sports will continue to broadcast the first 13 Cup races of the season. It's unclear which network will carry the three mid-summer races between Fox's first 13 and NBC's last 20. (Turner Sports currently carries six Cup races in June and July, between Fox and ESPN). Several sources speculated Fox will expand its early-season presence to 16, with NBC moving seamlessly to cover races 17-36. It's also been suggested that Fox might pick up the first 14 Nationwide races.
"Acquiring the rights and bringing NASCAR back to NBC comes at an important point in time for us and all our distributors and affiliates," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group. "We look forward to working with Brian (France) and his management team, who have brought a renewed focus to NASCAR's intersection of sports and technology."
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.