×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox, NBC drive NASCAR

Webs to pay $2.4 bil for rights over six years

Fox, FX, NBC and Turner Sports will pay at least $2.4 billion to lock up NASCAR rights for the next six years.

Fox and sister cable network FX will split the broadcasts with NBC and cable partner Turner beginning in February 2001, with the four outlets combined paying approximately $400 million annually to carry NASCAR’s Winston Cup and Busch Series events.

Fox and FX have an option to pick up rights for another two years.

That gives NASCAR auto racing, the nation’s fastest-growing sport, one of the most lucrative contracts in television. The new pact is worth four times NASCAR’s previous deals, which were set at about $100 million a year.

The pact is also higher than ones for the National Hockey League, which receives $120 million annually from ABC and ESPN, and Major League Baseball’s $340 million deal with NBC and Fox.

“This is a historic announcement for NASCAR,” said Brian France, senior vice president of the stock car racing organization. “All three companies will be able to build a national franchise around NASCAR.”

Fox and FX will air NASCAR races the first half of the year and then hand off rights to NBC and Turner at midseason. But Fox and NBC will alternate carrying the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s crown jewel. Fox carries the event in odd years, NBC in even years.

The move shuts out longtime NASCAR television partners ABC, ESPN, CBS and TNN. Those networks were clearly disappointed by Thursday’s announcement.

“As the original cable home of NASCAR, we are very disappointed with this decision,” read a statement from CBS Cable, which owns TNN.

“We made an aggressive and appropriate bid,” said ESPN spokesperson Mac Nwulu.

The move does give ESPN and CBS more money to battle for rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, which is up for renewal next week.

Sources said the NASCAR deal came down to network scheduling, not money. With a clear slate through the spring, the Fox network will be able to air as many as 17 Winston Cup events, while rival bidders like CBS don’t have as much room for a large number of races due to other programming commitments.

As a result, under the new pact 70% of NASCAR races will be broadcast.

“Both of these partnerships presented to us an unparalleled opportunity to expose our sport across network TV,” said Bray Cary, vice president, broadcasting and technology at NASCAR.

Org officials noted that Fox’s portion of the coverage can be heavily promoted during NFL finals, while NBC’s portion can be promoted during the NBA finals. Also, NBC’s coverage of the Daytona 500 in 2002 will air during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, giving it an added promo boost.

“You have two of the biggest events in sports perfectly sitting there right in front of it,” said NBC Sports prexy Dick Ebersol.

Fox Kids Network had already picked up the animated series “NASCAR Racers,” which debuts as a 90-minute movie on Nov. 20. The half-hour skein will air weekly on Saturday mornings beginning in February.

The new pact also streamlines NASCAR’s broadcasting scheduling. In recent years the sport has appeared on six networks, including NBC, which airs its first event in years this weekend.

“You won’t have to figure out where to find NASCAR,” France said. “We’re an appointment sport. We want to make it very easy and comfortable for fans.”

Said Fox Sports chairman David Hill: “You almost had to have ESP to figure out where the races were. We firmly expect that you’re going to look back at NASCAR figures on television in 10 years and say, ‘This is where the growth really started.’ ”

NASCAR has become a major sporting force in recent years, ranking second only to the NFL in ratings on the broadcast networks.

“NASCAR is the only major sport that has shown continual growth through the ’90s, and that’s with six TV partners,” Ebersol said. “NASCAR has made itself one of the major brands in American sports.”

More TV

  • Mediapro Unveils The Mediapro Studio, With

    Spain's Mediapro Unveils New Studio, With 34 Series in Production (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Mediapro Group – the Barcelona-based multinational co-founded by Jaume Roures – is unveiling The Mediapro Studio, with 34 scripted series already in production worldwide. The new production company will be based in Fuencarral, northern Madrid, just a few miles from Netflix’s soon-to-open European production hub. It will be overseen by Javier Méndez as chief [...]

  • BBC Drama and Comedy Box Sets

    BBC Drama and Comedy Box Sets Coming to Sky, Now TV

    BBC Studios and Sky have joined forces to add a raft of catalogue comedy and drama from the pubcaster to the Sky platform and its Now TV streaming service. The deal kicks in next month and includes dramas “McMafia” and “Spooks” and classic BBC comedies “The Vicar of Dibley” and “Only Fools and Horses.” The [...]

  • Jim PackerPRESS PLAY: Variety Home Entertainment

    FilMart: Jim Packer Says Liongate Ready to Support Starz Global Rollout

    A keynote speaker at Hong Kong’s FilMart this week, Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution, shares plans to support Starz’ international expansion. And he recounts his experience of watching Netflix change up through the gears. Back in 2012, when Lionsgate was still casting “Orange is the New Black,” Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s [...]

  • Hong Kong's TVB Boosts OTT Plans,

    Hong Kong's TVB Boosts OTT Plans, Sets 'Court Lady'

    Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts is set to boost its OTT platforms locally and abroad with new packages and initiatives targeting the Southeast Asian market. The city’s biggest broadcaster has also renewed its partnership with China’s Huanyu Entertainment following the wild success the two enjoyed last year with palace drama “Story of Yanxi Palace.” The new [...]

  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert Cancels 'Late Show' New Zealand Trip After Mosque Shootings

    “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” had been scheduled to make a surprise trip to New Zealand this week — but those plans have been put on hold in light of last Friday’s terrorist attack that left 50 people dead. On Monday’s show, Colbert revealed the now-shelved trip, which had been kept under wraps but [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: L-R: Monster (T-Pain)

    New-Model Murdochs: Fox Corporation to Emerge Tuesday

    A new era for the Murdoch clan and the media business begins with the debut of Fox Corporation on Tuesday, a day before Disney completes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The new-model Fox will begin trading Tuesday on the NASDAQ under the FOXA symbol. On Tuesday, 21st Century Fox will initiate a complex transfer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content