NASCAR TV QA

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It's only been a day since NASCAR's new television deal with FOX, ABC/ESPN, TNT and SPEED Channel was announced and already fans have questions about the new arrangement. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions we've received:

Q: How much money did NASCAR receive from the networks on this new deal?

A: Although NASCAR CEO Brian France wouldn't comment on the specifics of the contract, it is believed to be in excess of $4.8 billion, which is roughly $2 billion more than the previous arrangement signed with FOX and NBC/TNT back in 2001. However that was a six year deal, while the latest is for eight years and will expire at the end of 2014 season.

Q: During the last contract, NASCAR said it wanted to simplify the television coverage and consolidate to one or two networks, rather than have races all over the dial. Doesn't this deal contradict that?

A: Not really. NASCAR did say it wanted to end confusion of where each race would be every week when the current deal with FOX and NBC/TNT was announced. Prior to that, each individual track cut its own television deal and races were shown on ESPN, ABC, CBS, TNN, TBS and TNT, with a different network carrying the race every week. The new plan, although it does include a multitide of networks, still provides consistency with FOX taking the first 13 races, TNT the next six and ESPN/ABC the last 17, with all "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" races on ABC, which was a major selling point. That consistent grouping of the schedule will allow promotion with each network every week.

Q: If NBC bailed on renewing its contract because it was losing money, why did these networks commit so much money in the new deal?

A: The truth is most all television sports properties fail to make money, with the exception of the NFL. NASCAR's ratings have either risen dramatically or at the least stayed steady during the five years since the 2001 contract was signed, a claim that no other sport (again except the NFL) can make. The truth is, NBC commited a large amount to the new Sunday night NFL package beginning in 2007, which didn't leave funds to renew its NASCAR deal.

Q: Wasn't there bad blood between NASCAR and ESPN after the network was shut out of the last deal? Why would they want back in?

A: There were hard feelings when the landmark 2001 network deal was announced, which left out ESPN after the network helped build NASCAR in the 1980s and 1990s. But business is business and ABC/ESPN felt that NASCAR and its ratings were the right fit for the networks.

Q: Does ESPN coming back mean the return of shows like "RPM 2Nite" and "NASCAR 2Day?"

A: Ancillary and "shoulder" programming will be a big part of the new deal for all the network partners including ESPN. Although no official announcement has been made, the network is expected to create several shows around the new NASCAR deal.

Q: What current announcers will be part of the new packages?

A: Again, no official announcements have been made except that Dr. Jerry Punch will return to the ESPN NASCAR fold, where he's been working IRL telecasts and college football the last few years. The recently retired Rusty Wallace is almost certain to be part of the TV picture in 2007. It's also been rumored that the FOX announcing crew will remain on the air during TNT's six week mid-summer portion of the schedule.

Q: Doesn't having all its races on cable hurt rather than help the Busch Series?

A: The consistency of having ESPN2 as the Busch Series' new home will be very beneficial to the series and change its perception of playing second fiddle to the NEXTEL Cup circuit. SPEED Channel, while with nowhere the reach of ESPN/ESPN2, has helped the Craftsman Truck Series since the network became its permanent home. The Busch Series will benefit from ESPN's promotional weight and there will be over-the-air network telecasts on ABC as part of the package.

Q: Will ESPN bring the "side-by-side" coverage used in IRL telecasts to NASCAR so we don't miss any action while in commercial?

A: Probably not. Although it may be tried during some ancillary programming, like practice and qualifying, it's unlikely since advertisers pay much more for their commercials to air during NASCAR race telecasts, with their large audiences, than the IRL. However plans to run the last 30 or 40 minutes of the telecast commercial-free have been mentioned.

Q: Will the NEXTEL Cup schedule change by 2007 with races and markets switched at all?

A: That is a distinct possibility. More major markets like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, plus a better mix of tracks, rather than the mostly 1.5-mile layouts that populate the "Chase" portion of the schedule now, could be put into the mix.

Q: What about more prime time races? Will there be more?

A: Absolutely. Prime time races run at night bring larger audiences, higher ratings and more advertising revenue. Look for more late Sunday afternoon starts that wind up in prime time during the "Chase," and lights at places like Dover, Chicagoland and even Talladega.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2005

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