NBC to Air Cup Races in 2015
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 23, 2013 | 12:11 P.M. EST
NBC will air seven NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2015 with NBC Sports Network airing 13 more. (Photo Getty Images)
NASCAR will have a new look beginning in 2015. Welcome back NBC. See ya later ESPN and TNT.
NBC’s properties will broadcast 20 Sprint Cup and 19 Nationwide races, replacing ESPN and TNT.
“This is about the future,’’ NASCAR Chairman Brian France said about the 10-year deal with NBC. “With all the assets NBC and Universal and Comcast, (it) made a very compelling point to us that we’re better together going forward.’’
NASCAR stated that it has the first 14 Nationwide races and three Cup races left to sell for 2015 and beyond, but France let it slip in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that Fox Sports 1 will broadcast Cup and Nationwide races.
What does all of this mean to you? Let’s examine the deal more closely.
# So in 2015 what channel am I watching the races?
We'll look at the NBC portion of the schedule since Fox Sports 1 hasn’t announced its plans yet.
NBC will broadcast seven Cup races and NBC Sports Network will air 13 Cup races as part of the 20-race package.
For Nationwide races, NBC will air four races and NBC Sports Network will show 15 races.
# Is that it or what other NASCAR programming will the NBC networks show?
NBC also obtained the exclusive rights to practice and qualifying for its Cup and Nationwide events. NBC also has rights to broadcast the NASCAR K&N East Series, the Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series and the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony along with the season-ending banquets.
# Isn’t this a bad deal? Does anybody have NBC Sports Network?
NBC Sports Network claims to be in more than 80 million homes in the U.S. TNT is in 99 million homes, while ESPN and ESPN2 are in 98 million homes. Understand that cable channels gobble up such programming to get more subscribers. NASCAR will be among the many programs used to help NBC Sports Network grow by the it airs NASCAR races in 2015.
# OK, why was this deal done?
Why are any deals done? Money. Sports Business Journal, which first reported the deal, cited sources familiar with the contract as saying that NBC’s offer was as much as a 50 percent increase from what ESPN paid for half the Cup series and all of the Nationwide Series for the 2007-14 seasons.
# Now that NASCAR will be leaving ESPN after next year will anyone watch? Look at what happens to sports that ESPN doesn’t cover. They don’t get as much treatment as sports ESPN covers. Won’t that hurt NASCAR?
Here’s what NASCAR Chairman Brian France said a key reason for moving to NBC: “First of all, I think it’s the commitment (NBC) made in terms of how important NASCAR is going to be within their already robust properties they have.’’
And as for the issue that ESPN will begin to ignore NASCAR, France said: “It’s a different time now. They have different thinking about how they want to cover sports. The reality is they have to cover the big events that people watch every weekend. We didn’t think that was something that would hold us back from making this deal.’’
# So who will be the announcers for NBC? Allen Bestwick was in the booth for NBC, will be back with Wally Dallenbach? What about the pit announcers?
Remember, it’s still two years before NBC needs those people in place. Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, did address the issue, although he admitted it’s too early to name names.
“What I do promise is that when we hire talent, we do it with the thought of being relevant to the core fan but also being welcoming and open to the casual or new fan,’’ Lazarus said. “I think when you look around our Mount Rushmore of broadcasters, whether it's Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Johnny Miller, Bob Costas and others ... we are second to none both in play‑by‑play and analysts, and we will continue that with NASCAR as we move towards the beginning of our contract.’’
# This deal includes live streaming rights for NBC. So what does that mean for fans?
Expect to see action from the track on your phone, tablet and computer. Here’s what Steve Herbst, NASCAR vice president of broadcasting and production, said about that topic:
“NBC will have exclusive TV everywhere rights for its events and highlight rights for all of its NBC digital platforms. Some of those are still developing and working through our digital chief Mark Jenkins, but that's generally the snapshot there.’’
# So what will NBC’s first race be in July 2015?
Lazraus mentioned that the NBC networks have all the races beginning in July. They’ll want to make a big splash and what better way to do that than Daytona ... and July 4 that year happens to be on a Saturday night. As for the other six NBC races, one would expect the Brickyard and then maybe the opening Chase race and possibly the last four Chase races.
# Won’t NASCAR get lost in the fall on NBC with its “Sunday Night Football’’ and even weekend NHL games?
It can be a busy time for NBC but Lazarus isn’t too worried.
“When you get to the fall, when you have not only our wonderful NASCAR schedule but our “Sunday Night Football’’ schedule and the beginning of our NHL season, our ability to promote across all three of those to each other we think will be beneficial to all three of those. As we get closer and as the race schedule and the sanctions come through, we will work with NASCAR to lay out the schedule. But we don't anticipate any disruption in coverage for either NASCAR or the NFL due to this deal. There's enough latitude that we have with NBC and NBC Sports Network to make sure that doesn't become an issue. But we do see greatly the benefits of all of our fall properties being able to promote each other, somewhat overlapping but also to somewhat differentiated audiences, with the help of growing them all.’’