Fox and NASCAR have extended their current deal through 2022, meaning the Daytona 500 will remain on the net.
Biggest change from the existing pact is that Fox will receive new digital rights and can stream races beginning next year. It is unclear whether Fox would charge to view those races online.
This extension with Fox helps position the sport for future growth as NASCAR continues to be an anchor with one of the world’s largest and most influential media companies,” said NASCAR chairman-CEO Brian France.
“We’re extremely happy to have worked closely with Brian and his team at NASCAR over the last few months to expand and extend our relationship for what is without question the most popular motorsport in the country,” said Fox Sports Media Group toppers Eric Shanks and Randy Freer.
When the new deal goes into effect in 2015, Fox will pay approximately $300 million per year, or $2.4 billion over the eight years. That’s a significant bump up from the $220 million Fox is currently paying.
Steve Herbst, NASCAR’s VP of broadcasting and productions, said it’s “too early to tell” if signing the Fox deal now will increase the likelihood of NASCAR reupping with ESPN and Turner before their respective deals end. He added that NASCAR signed on with Fox at this time because the deal was “too good to ignore and the increased rights to digital was attractive to us.”
The pay bump is good news to NASCAR, which has seen on-track attendance fall and ratings slip across Fox, ESPN and TNT. However, there are indications those numbers are beginning to tick back up.
The 2012 Daytona 500, which was shifted to a Monday primetime slot due to weather conditions, drew 13.7 million viewers and was the most-watched in Daytona 500 history. There is talk that the race could become a permanent primetime event, which would bring in new viewers who normally wouldn’t watch a NASCAR race on a weekend afternoon.
“Every year we look at the schedule and explore all options as it relates to race date and start times,” Herbst said.
Not beneficial to NASCAR, however, is that Fox has long been rumored to rebrand its racing-themed Speed cable outlet to make it more of a general entertainment net.
Also, in August NASCAR teamed with Spanish-language Fox Deportes for coverage of its Sprint Cup Series.