NBC Sports Group Wrestles NASCAR Rights Away From ESPN, Turner

NBC Sports Group secured a major addition to its slate of sports rights Tuesday, inking a 10-year deal with NASCAR for the exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, selected NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events, and other live content beginning in 2015. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal pushes ESPN and Turner, which are both in the seventh year of eight-year agreements, out of the NASCAR business. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the NBC agreement marks a 50% increase from what ESPN paid for the Sprint Cup series and half of the Nationwide Series.

“Acquiring the rights and bringing NASCAR back to NBC comes at an important point in time for NBC Sports Network, NBC, and all of our distributors and affiliates,” says NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. “We look forward to working with Brian and his management team, who have brought a renewed focus to NASCAR’s intersection of sports and technology.”

With this partnership, NBC’s 20 Sprint Cup race schedule includes becoming the exclusive home to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s final 10 races of the season, including its season-ending championship event, which will return to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009. Of NBC Sports Group’s 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, seven will be carried on NBC annually, with 13 airing on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). Four of NBC Sports Group’s 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races will air on NBC, with 15 airing on NBCSN.

NBC has also been granted Spanish-language rights (on Telemundo and Mun2), certain video-on-demand rights, and exclusive TV Everywhere live-streaming rights for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events.

“NBC is known for being an exceptional partner and delivering outstanding production quality and presentation of live sports, as well as its broad portfolio of broadcast and digital properties so we are thrilled with the commitment they have made to NASCAR and its future,” says NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “We know this partnership will yield great value to our entire industry, provide a premium experience to our most important stakeholders, the fans, and help us achieve a number of strategic growth objectives. Our new partnership with NBC and the recent extension by Fox validate the strength of our fan base and the many bold steps we have taken the last several years to provide fans with better, more accessible racing.”

In addition to rights to NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races, NBC has also obtained exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for NBC’s national-series events during their portion of the season, as well as rights to broadcast the NASCAR K&N Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series, the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and NASCAR’s season-ending banquets.

“We are excited about the cross-promotional opportunities NBC provides, especially in the timeframes right before NBC’s NASCAR schedule and during the Chase,” said NASCAR VP of Broadcasting and Productions Steve Herbst. “We’re confident NBC will utilize its powerful Championship Season lineup, including the NHL Playoffs, Premier League, the French Open, the Kentucky Derby, and other events, to build interest and excitement for NASCAR. Those opportunities, combined with the opportunity to lead into the number one show on television — NBC’s Sunday Night Football — for select Chase races, were both very attractive prospects when considering this partnership.”