The deal between NASCAR and NBC turned out to be yet another stockpile in the arms race between the sports cable networks.
In a joint press release, NASCAR announced a 10-year media rights deal with the NBC Sports Group. The deal takes over for ESPN and ABC, which had the rights to most of the late-season NASCAR races. NBC also won the rights to the second half of the Nationwide Series season. Turner's TNT package of six summer races, as well as the first half of the Nationwide Series season, is still up for grabs, with Fox reported to be leading bidder.
"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," said NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brian France.
"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," said NBC Sports Group Chairman, Mark Lazarus. "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." Lazerus formerly ran Turner Sports, where he dealt with NASCAR in their own broadcast deals.
ESPN President John Skipper offered the following statement on the agreement:
"ESPN has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with NASCAR. 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."
NBC will air seven Sprint Cup races per season beginning in 2015, and it has already been hinted that those races will air on football Sundays. They will also air four Nationwide Series races per year. NBC Sports Network will air 13 Sprint Cup races and 15 Nationwide Series races per season, which is a huge game changer for a network that already has the NHL eight months a year, just added the English Premier League, and now has this as an excellent way to bridge between the two, and keep audiences watching the network during the summer.
NBC Sports Network also gains rights to the NASCAR K&N Series, Whelen Modified Tour events, Toyota (Mexico) Series events, NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as various season-ending banquets. NBC will gain 'TV Everywhere' rights for the NBC Sports Live Extra app. They will also have Spanish-language rights for Telemundo and Mun2.