What to Watch for in NASCAR 2023 - Media Rights
2023 will be a critical year for NASCAR thanks in no small part to their next impending media rights deal, set to take effect in 2025, but expected to be announced later this year. Current rights partners Fox and NBC are signed through the end of next season - 2024 - as part of a deal that was signed back in 2023. Financial terms were never disclosed, but it was widely believed that Fox and NBC paid upwards of 50% more than the $2.7 billion that Turner and ESPN paid alongside Fox for the 2007-14 deal, placing the current deal at around $4 billion.
This next NASCAR deal will likely push the price tag even higher and with streaming possibly becoming more of a factor, broadcasters will no doubt pony up to have the stars of the sport grace their screens for the next decade plus. Here, we'll go over the favorites, the likeliest to land the sport, who might be dark horses and who might be out.
Let's be clear - FOX needs NASCAR. Sure, they have NFL in the fall, Major League Baseball in the spring alongside Major League Soccer as well as the Pro Bowlers Association. But what do they have in the late winter to bridge the gap between the NFL playoffs and MLB Opening Day? Nothing except NASCAR. It's become clear that NASCAR and FOX need each other. FOX needs that stopgap between the end of the NFL playoffs and the start of the MLB season - that's where NASCAR comes in. NASCAR needs that first half ratings surge to lead into the summer stretch and that's where FOX comes in. Expect FOX to re-up with NASCAR as part of the next deal.
Now the last run of NASCAR on ABC and ESPN as part of the 2007-14 contract may have left a sour taste in many NASCAR fans' mouths but since then, ESPN has started to recover as they not only snatched NHL rights from NBC but also took SRX on Thursday nights from CBS. By putting SRX on Thursdays, ESPN is likely telling NASCAR 'Hey, we know SRX is taking your drivers on weekends, so we're gonna move the races to midweek so that doesn't happen.' This is a show of good faith to the sanctioning body to perhaps get negotiations started early, get them out of the way and announce the deal sometime before the Chicago Street Race. With F1 already on the ABC/ESPN roster, the addition of NASCAR could potentially bring back the SpeedWorld branding ESPN had in the 80s and 90s. Now if only we could hear that iconic theme song again...
Dark Horse: CBS/Turner
A CBS/Turner team-up just makes sense considering the two media conglomerates already work together on another major sporting event in March Madness. Just one problem and it's a problem that hit NBC in the tail end of their 2001-06 run. That problem is the NFL. Not only does CBS have NFL during NASCAR's playoffs, but they also have college football, college basketball and golf clogging up their schedule throughout the year. CBS might only be able to take about 5-7 races with either TBS or TNT taking the rest if this team-up were to come to fruition.
While NBC has made strides in NASCAR coverage over the past eight seasons, they'll probably out after the 2024 season. Reason being is the same reason that took them out of the 2007-14 deal - Sunday Night Football. SNF draws big ratings for the network and there is absolutely no way NBC is giving that up especially when the network is potentially in the running to take the NBA back from ABC in 2025. If you're NBC, you have to start thinking about what's more important in your sports properties - NASCAR or the NFL. 10 times out of 10, the answer is the NFL.
With this in mind, we could be looking at a FOX/ABC/ESPN triad in NASCAR when we get to February 2025.
Michael has been a motorsports fan since the age of 5. His childhood favorite drivers include Jeff Gordon and Helio Castroneves. In the past, he has written for Metsmerized Online and Frontstretch. He is an avid Chase Elliott fan, enjoys Taylor Swift and is an avid New York sports fan. Michael graduated from Hightstown (NJ) High School in 2012, Mercer County (NJ) Community College in 2016 with his Associates’ Degree in Journalism and graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2019 with his Bachelors’ Degree in Communication Studies.
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