Report: ESPN & TNT Could Leave Early
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on August 26, 2013 | 11:42 A.M. EST
The Sports Business Journal reports that ESPN and TNT officials have talked to NASCAR about exiting their agreements a year early to avoid "lame-duck status.'' (Photo: Getty Images)
ESPN and Turner Sports are talking to NASCAR about ending their agreements after this year, which would allow Fox Sports and NBC Sports Group to broadcast NASCAR races a year ahead of schedule, according to a Sports Business Journal report.
The report states that it’s unlikely the networks will be able to reach a deal, according to sources, but notes that such conversations are “precedent-setting.’’ The challenge, according to the report, would be for all four networks and NASCAR to agree to a deal even though there is interest in a such a switch.
ESPN and Turner Sports (TNT) have told NASCAR they are prepared to broadcast next year’s races but prefer to avoid such “lame-duck status,’’ according to the report.
Adding NASCAR races next year would help bolster Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network, should a deal be done for next year, while also putting some races on Fox and NBC.
“No current or future broadcast partner has presented anything substantive to NASCAR regarding desires to alter any of our TV agreements and/or arrangements,’’ said Steve Herbst, NASCAR vice president of broadcasting and production, in a statement. “We will continue to have open dialogue with all of our broadcast partners and at the end of the day will always do what’s best for them, our track partners, team partners and most importantly, our fans.’’
A spokesperson for ESPN said the network would not comment on “speculation.’’ A Turner Sports spokesperson declined comment.
Fox Sports recently signed an extension to broadcast NASCAR races through 2024. NBC Sports Group signed a contract to broadcast NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races from 2015-2024. With those deals in place, next year is scheduled to be the final year of NASCAR races on TNT and ESPN.
The Sports Business Journal reports that NASCAR will collect more than $8.2 billion in media rights from its deals with Fox and NBC. The networks will pay NASCAR an average of $820 million from 2015-24.