ESPN, Turner may try to get out of their NASCAR deals a year early

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The two nets are currently slated to keep the sport through 2014.

Over the years, you hear stories about lame duck networks with sports rights they don't really have the motivation to sell anymore. The most notable is when Fox had the NHL in the 90s and were outbid by ESPN/ABC in less than a up-and-up manner. The network reportedly try to get rid of their last season of hockey coverage, but did not succeed.

We may see two of those lame duck companies get out of their final year in the negotiations for NASCAR TV rights. According to a report, ESPN and Turner are attempting to negotiate a deal with Fox and NBC to hand the rights to the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series over in time for the 2014 season. ESPN currently owns the rights to the entire Nationwide Series season as well as the second half of the Sprint Cup season. Turner has a six-week "summer series" of races that air on TNT.

There are a ton of difficulties when it comes to making this transaction happen. Here are all the ways in which NASCAR would have to appears four massive media companies:

ESPN and Turner Sports are willing to sell their rights back to NASCAR for some sort of compensation. Fox Sports and NBC Sports Group are willing to buy the rights from NASCAR, but they feel they should be compensated for letting ESPN and Turner Sports out of their deals early. As the middleman, NASCAR would have to navigate those opposing interests.

ESPN and Turner didn't even bid in the most recent NASCAR rights negotiation, which saw NBC and Fox win the rights to basically split the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series down the middle. Fox will pay $3.8 billion over the next ten years for the first half, while NBC will pay $4.4 billion for the second half of the season until 2024. ESPN had held rights to NASCAR since 2007, while TNT had been involved with the sport since 2001.

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