The NASCAR/NBC reunion will not have a negative effect on the channel's IndyCar coverage when that league returns to the network beginning in 2015, according to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus.
In a conference call with NASCAR officials announcing the deal on Tuesday afternoon, Lazarus explained that IndyCar had a 10-year agreement with the former Versus network and that NBC Sports Network inherited that deal in the merger.
According to that deal, IndyCar does not control the network broadcast rights of their product; ABC/ESPN does.
"We do not own the rights for broadcast -- those are held by ABC and ESPN -- by ABC," Lazarus said. "So we are only the cable partner there, so we are not able to do what we do with other sports by wrapping around it fully.
"This will have no impact there, other than...us now being the home to the second half of the NASCAR season, the home for cable for Indy and the home to Formula 1 -- that we are probably the most dominant home for motorsports."
With the NASCAR acquisition, NBC Sports has become a destination for motorsport fans, as it will broadcast NASCAR, Formula 1, IndyCar and ARCA Racing Series events starting in 2015. Lazarus says that this wasn't the intent, but with the changing media landscape (SPEED transforming into Fox Sports 1), NBC was in a position to capitalize on acquiring additional racing properties.
"Well, you know, a design would be probably too forward thinking," Lazarus continued. "As we saw the way rights were developing over the last 24 months, we saw an opportunity, and as SPEED Channel decided to make its migration to something more multi-sport, we saw an opportunity to potentially fill a gap in the marketplace that might not be satisfied, and so we set forth, not knowing whether NASCAR would ever be available to us... We inherited the IndyCar deal. We were able to acquire the F1 deal, and that gave us the base."
"But then seeing the opportunity that might exist with NASCAR, we believed that we can fill a gap in the marketplace for fans, for marketers and potentially with our cable operators and affiliates."
With the closure of the NASCAR deal and its continued commitment to open-wheel racing, has NBC Sports become the new "Motorsports Authority?"