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Racing

NASCAR TV Deals Brings Mega Bucks, More Eyeballs to the Sport

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  • The first mega-TV deal came in 1999, when NASCAR parlayed a the sport’s boom in popularity in the 1990s into a six-year TV rights contract with FOX, NBC and TBS that was worth $2.4 billion.
  • The deal began in 2001 and it put 70% of the races on network television, and NASCAR has never looked back.
  • All eyes are now on negotiations for 2025.

    NASCAR’s first race to be aired wire-to-wire on network television was the 1979 Daytona 500. It was put on by CBS and is considered to be one of, if not the most important race in stock car history.

    It was a race that got everyone talking and put NASCAR on the map nationally. Richard Petty won the race, and two other prolific figures of the sport, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison, put on a street fight on the backstretch in front of the eyes of the entire country.

    That broadcast also introduced the in-car camera, the speed shot, plenty of product placement—all of which are still visible in TV broadcasts today.

    Cale Yarborough and Pepsi hit the NASCAR victory lane for the TV cameras in 1981.

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    Now, NASCAR appears to be on the doorstep of a TV deal that could bring the sport as much as $1 billion a year.

    Yes, TV is a big deal to NASCAR.

    The first mega-TV deal came in 1999, when NASCAR parlayed a the sport’s boom in popularity in the 1990s into a six-year TV rights contract with FOX, NBC and TBS worth $2.4 billion. The deal began in 2001 and it put 70% on network television, and NASCAR has never looked back.

    Prior to 2001, NASCAR cut separate deals for its races with ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, TNN, and TBS.

    “All that evolution has debunked that old redneck stereotype,” then NASCAR chief executive Mike Helton said in announcing the deal. “I think we can stand pretty tall and feel real good about the age range, economic level and the male-female balance that we have now. It all comes from exposure.”

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been coming into the living room of millions of fans on FOX TV since 2001.

    Robert AlexanderGetty Images

    The next TV contract that began in 2007 was another whopper—eight years, $4.8 billion with FOX/Speed Channel, ABC/ESPN and TNT all getting in on the action.

    In 2015, NBC returned to the fold and has shared the NASCAR stage with FOX ever since. The current deals run through 2024 and will bring NASCAR a reported $8.2 billion for that 10-year run.

    All eyes are now on negotiations for 2025. This time around, ESPN may be a player. The wildcard is streaming services. After all, if Amazon Prime can grab Thursday night NFL football games, it’s not out of the question and a streaming service might want a piece of the NASCAR pie.

    Don’t think the drivers aren’t paying attention.

    Earlier this year, NASCAR Cup driver Chase Briscoe signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing. Some in the paddock said Briscoe should have waited to see that the TV deal brings.

    That’s where Briscoe and his camp had things covered. His deal with SHR includes a clause that calls for both parties to come back to the table for possible renegotiation—depending on the upcoming TV deal and how much money filters down to the teams.

    “We had to put a lot of provisions in it (contract) if it (TV money) gets restructured,” Briscoe said about the deal. “It’s not fair to the team and it’s not fair to me, obviously, either if the whole structure of the money going into the sport changes. We just have to have a lot of wording in there to where if it does get changed and when it gets figured out, we’ll obviously come back and sit down and try to figure out what’s fair for both of us.”

    If past TV contracts are any indication, it will be more than fair.

    Read the full article here

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