ERIC RYAN: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m Eric Ryan with NASCAR communications. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here with you here in Nashville for this special event ahead of the bulk of the championship week activities that we have.
Welcome to the media, the many special guests in attendance, and all the fans watching on NASCAR.com and those listening on Sirius XM NASCAR radio. This is a monumental day for NASCAR, the NASCAR industry, and most importantly, our loyal and passionate NASCAR fans, the very best in sports.
We are absolutely thrilled to be able to officially announce our new media partners, a group of best-in-class content distribution leaders which will lead to increased visibility growth and development in our sport for many years to come. Before we make the announcement and meet the folks who have joined me here on stage today, let’s roll a short video.
So as you can see, awesome things are in store for our great sport, and working alongside tremendous new media partners like the ones here today, we’ll have wonderful announcements shortly.
To my immediate left here is Mr. Bryan Herbst, NASCAR senior vice president of media and productions. Then we have Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR, and then next to him, we have Eric Shanks, chief executive officer and executive producer of FOX Sports. We have Jay Marine, Prime Video vice president and global head of sports, and Luis Silberwasser, chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers Discovery Sports, and lastly, Rick Cordella, president of NBC Sports.
Of course I want to recognize some special guests we have in the crowd, including Mike Beard, president and COO of the CW, our new partner for the Xfinity Series in 2025 who is here for today’s announcement. Thank you for being with us, Mike.
We are also joined by our three national series champions, Mr. Ryan Blaney, Cole Custer, and Ben Rhodes. Thank you, gentlemen, for being with us today, and congratulations.
With that, Steve, let’s jump straight into it and I’ll give you the honor of officially announcing these partnerships.
STEVE PHELPS: Welcome, everyone. It’s a pleasure to have you all here. A shout-out to our two existing partners who have been fantastic, Eric Shanks and his team and Rick Cordella and his team, world-class media companies that have really presented our sport in such a great way to our race fans, and I’d like to welcome Jay Marine from Amazon and Luis Silberwasser from WBD.
We are super excited about what 2025 is going to bring to us because of where the distribution that we now have across air, which is a combination of obviously broadcast, cable and streaming. We want to meet race fans where they are or potentially race fans where they are. We think this group does exactly that for us. So we couldn’t be happier to have them on board.
The other thing I want to talk about very quickly is what our industry, the NASCAR industry, has done to come together, whether you’re talking about drivers, racetracks, our race teams. Our industry comes together better than any other sports property when there’s a mountain to climb, and that’s what happened in 2020. That’s what happened honestly just for the sport overall.
You look at the growth of where the sport is, and I think it’s a testament to the success of the sport to have these world-class media companies all want to be part of our sport, plus the CW.
Thrilled to have these guys come. LA, Seattle, New York, New York, all coming here to say welcome, and excited to be part of our future in 2025.
ERIC RYAN: Thank you for that, Steve. You’ve said this quite a bit, but we’ve talked about the optimization of media rights. Could you talk a bit about how these partners fit that vision of optimization and what that is?
STEVE PHELPS: Sure, well, he didn’t ask that question before so we’ll just riff on this. I think it’s exactly right. When we set out to do the deals, the deals really were a combination of optimizing from a distribution standpoint, where NASCAR was going to be, and obviously there’s a financial component, as well, and we were thrilled with where we netted out on the distribution, and I think that optimization is going to be big for the growth of the sport that we’re going to experience in ’25 and beyond.
Q. Mr. Herbst, the fan is at the center of all this, so can you tell us what the fan can expect beginning in 2025?
BRYAN HERBST: Yeah, I think what we’ve seen over the last five years with the industry working together is you’ve seen schedule innovation, you’ve seen on-track product innovation, but we wanted to continue to push the envelope from a distribution perspective, as well.
Steve spoke about the mix of broadcast, cable, direct-to-consumer and streaming. We wanted to make sure that all the innovation we’re doing from a sport perspective that we were getting in front of new demos and that we were setting ourselves up well for the future.
With FOX starting off the season with the Clash and the Daytona 500, moving into a streaming opportunity with Amazon and Jay’s team that we’re super excited about, a lot of innovation in that summer series over the last two to three years as you guys have seen after Amazon moves off, then we go to Warner Brothers Discovery and Luis’s team with TNT and Max and then finally closing out the season with Rick and the NBC Sports Group.
We have special partnerships and special relationships with our incumbents at FOX and NBC. Steve spoke about how they were there for us through 2020. We think we were there for the networks, as well.
But we really welcome kind of the new partnerships with Amazon, with the CW and with Warner Brothers Discovery. Look forward to kind of what this means from a fan perspective, potential alternate broadcasts, potential to get in front of younger fans, as well, so super excited about the growth behind this new strategy.
ERIC RYAN: Eric, FOX Sports and NASCAR have been partners since 2001, which means when this new deal starts we’ll be celebrating 25 years together. Can you talk about why this is such a great fit and what you envision for the next seven years of this relationship.
ERIC SHANKS: Sure. First I’d like to say thank you to Jim and Ben and Lesa and Mike and Steve and Bryan and Steve for just being longtime friends and great partners, and we can’t wait to start this next new chapter and have great times at any track that we go to with you guys, especially Talladega. (Laughter.)
Look, we will cross three decades when this program, new chapter starts, and nothing makes us more proud than being the one that gets to kick off the season with the Great American Race, the Daytona 500. Everybody in this room has been to it, and everybody knows how special it is and unique it is to start off a sport with its biggest event, and we want to keep pushing and we want to keep making it bigger and better, and it really is one of the crown jewels at FOX Sports.
So we’re looking forward to that, and we know NASCAR is investing a lot to make it even bigger and better, as well.
I’m actually excited to work with all three partners here. This sport is really unique in that we’re not going at the same time. We’re handing off — we’re kind of drafting like off of each other and pushing each other, and I think we each bring something unique to it, whether you’ve been doing it for a long time or whether you’re new and going to bring something new that we can all steal, and we’re going to be collaborating and pushing and helping promote to make this sport successful for all of us. So that’s what I’m excited about.
ERIC RYAN: Thank you. So Jay, Prime Video has quickly become a destination for direct-to-consumer live sports, most notably the NFL and Thursday Night Football, as well as your recent Black Friday Football. What does NASCAR bring to the table in terms of live sports in your programming mix?
JAY MARINE: Yeah, first of all, Eric was not joking about stealing, for anyone who knows Eric. Did you see that? That’s truth. Like that’s truth coming through.
I do want to echo what Eric said, though, and really thank the whole NASCAR team. It’s been fantastic to get to this point, and as Jim just said earlier, it’s really the starting line, again, and I can’t wait for 2025 to get here.
In terms of why NASCAR for Amazon, what we really look for are premium tier 1 sports that can move the needle for Prime, and NASCAR fits that. A sport that has passionate fan base, a large fan base, where the sport is must-see for them. That is extremely valuable.
Ultimately what we’re trying to do is make the Prime membership program more valuable for our Prime members. That’s what we try to do in every decision we make.
So NASCAR fits perfectly with that.
Then we really want to go innovate. We look at this as a seven-year-plus partnership, and we’ll talk about the renewal later, but that’s how we want to invest so that we can innovate for the long-term, and we’re excited to do that. We’re excited to reach a younger audience who may have cut the cord and not watching as much, which we’ve been able to do with Thursday Night Football as an example. We’re excited to be part of it and excited to work across this partnership group, as well.
ERIC RYAN: Thank you for that. I like we’re already talking renewals here. Luis, at WBD sports, you continue to expand your live sports portfolio which is accessible via Max as well as across cable platforms such as TNT and TruTV. What is it about NASCAR that made sense as a pillar in your sports programming?
LUIS SILBERWASSER: Thank you. I think we looked sort of at three big things, I would say. One was through the value of the audience, the very passionate audience that NASCAR has, the large audiences that it brings, and I think to Jay’s point, stealing a little bit of what you said, the idea that we’re in the tier 1 sports business. If you look at what we do, we don’t have a 24-hour sports channel. We really concentrate on a few and big things, and NASCAR fits right in because of the audience, because of the sport. It’s a high-stakes sport. When you watch it, it’s great viewing experience, and I think those are the kind of sports that we want to get behind.
The second one was what could we bring to the table, and when you have a portfolio that has TNT, one of the best cable channels, we have TruTV up and coming as a channel that is going to have more and more sports, we just recently put all of our sports on Max and now it’s becoming one of those primary streaming platforms for sports. We have Bleacher Report and House of Highlights, which is going to play a big role in bringing younger viewers to the NASCAR family.
So from a portfolio perspective, it fits right it with what we want to do.
I think the third thing is the partnership, and I thank the France family for trusting us. It is a big part — we were rightsholders until 2014, I believe, so we know what the combination and the partnership can do together. We’re already imagining sort of new ideas and what we can do differently, and I think that partnership for us was very important.
We look at this as a very long-term partnership, and I know that our sort of world to the best class production team working hand in hand with NASCAR can bring great things to the table, and then when you put all of our assets together, it’s part of the formula here to try to make the sport bigger and better, not only for NASCAR and for the fans but also for us, as well. Very excited about it.
ERIC RYAN: Rick, NBC Sports and NASCAR have a deep and prosperous history. Can you talk about why continuing to have NASCAR as a significant part of your portfolio made sense?
RICK CORDELLA: Well, I think a few things. It starts with the partnership, first and foremost. NASCAR is right at the very top of our portfolio in terms of the tightness, the relationship that we have with the France family, Jim, Lesa, Ben, certainly Steve and Bryan, working with them every day to improve the sport, to continue to drive ratings for NBC Sports.
We know working with them over a long period of time there’s going to be a certain amount of innovation over the last 10 years, stage racing, tweaks to the playoffs. All of that really plays into our wanting to be partners with NASCAR.
Then you look at the product itself. It’s exciting racing. A young crop of drivers hitting the circuit. We’re incredibly excited about how it fits into our Q3 and Q4 schedule, and working with these guys, too, as the anchor leg of the four-by-four relay we’re in here, we couldn’t be more excited about where the sport is going to be in the future.
ERIC RYAN: Thank you for that. Mr. Phelps, I’ll turn it back to you for one last word.
ERIC SHANKS: Wait, I forgot one thing I’m super excited about. As much as it sucks that he’s no longer on the track, what’s going to be new this coming year is that Kevin Harvick is going to be joining us in the booth, and I think he’s here today, and I think I heard Clint somewhere. I’m super excited that Kevin is joining us, and I think you’re going to make not only FOX’s coverage but NASCAR as good as it possibly can be that you’re not on the track. Forgot about that before. Sorry.
ERIC RYAN: Welcome, Kevin.
STEVE PHELPS: I’ll close it out. Interesting listening to these guys talk, and hopefully everyone got as excited as I did listening to them and the unique pieces about what they’re going to bring to our sport. There was a common theme throughout all of them that was really our fans and the quality of our fans, the size of the fan base. They are the best fans in all of sports.
For our fans, what they can expect moving forward is world-class production, distribution that is going to be the same in many cases, and new and others.
It is our job at NASCAR collectively as the stakeholders to bring more and more people into this great sport, and I think what we have just announced today is going to do exactly that.
ERIC RYAN: Thank you to everybody on stage and those in the crowd that helped make this historic announcement happen. We’re thrilled for what’s in store for 2024, and we’re equally excited to embark on this next chapter of our great sport working together with these partners on stage.
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