Will TV Deal Help NASCAR Branding?
Last week, NASCAR made a huge announcement concerning their TV deals. NBC outbid ESPN and TNT, gaining a 10 year deal for a large amount of NASCAR TV rights starting in 2015. Things are starting to look very similar to what NASCAR had in 2001-2006. Coverage was split between two different networks, NBC and FOX. With this deal, it looks like the full NASCAR schedule will be split up between the same two networks, and distributed through three channels: NBC, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), and Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
All of FS1’s broadcasting rights will start this August. In 2015, the TV schedule should look like this:
Surprisingly, The NBC network has scored the majority of NASCAR TV broadcasting rights. They will cover 20 Sprint Cup races with 13 being shown on NBCSN, and 7 on NBC. FS1 is scheduled to show 13 races, and is expected to pick up the last three, which do not have a provider yet. On the Nationwide Series side, NBC network is slated to cover the final 19 races, 15 on NBCSN, and four on NBC. Who will cover the beginning of the Nationwide Series schedule has not been announced yet. It is highly expected to be FS1, especially after Brain France “slipped up” and said there would be Nationwide Series races on that channel.
FS1 will also have all of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. NBC picked up the broadcasting rights to some regional touring series, including the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series. Additionally, NBC will cover the NASCAR Hall of Fame Ceremonies and season-ending banquets. They also have obtained the rights to air their series coverage on Spanish broadcasting and “TV Everywhere”, which is a live-streaming platform they own. Finally, whichever channel provides race coverage will also show practice sessions and qualifying.
The NBC announcement had mixed reactions and many concerns. Some think this wasn’t a good move at all. I disagree. In the end this very well might be a smart move.
Here are my thoughts.
The biggest concern about NASCAR’s announcement is the availability of NBCSN. Some cable providers only carry NBCSN on more expensive packages. In today’s economy, some people won’t be able to afford these premium packages or be able to watch races that way. This is incredibly unfortunate, and hopefully they can find an alternate way to watch. I don’t think this issue will last, though. I saw a tweet from NASCAR.com writer David Caraviello, which really caught my eye. He said: “This is similar to what ESPN did to build ESPN2. Started placing premier events there, forced providers to lift it out of cable wilderness”. This might be NBC’s goal. By placing multiple races on NBCSN, they might very well get cable companies to place the channel on cheaper packages. I can’t say this dilemma isn’t a concern of mine, but I think in the end, it will all work out.
With that being said, I think NBCSN has major potential for great branding. With this channel already covering IndyCar, F1, and motocross, this could easily become the “motorsports hub” with the new addition of NASCAR! This would be great for all four series. When fans of one series have an off-week and they are craving some racing, they might try watching another series with the possibility of creating an increased fan base. We could have die-hard NASCAR fans watching F1 or IndyCar fans watching NASCAR. It would be beneficial to the whole world of motorsports!
There is also another plus in this deal: Less confusion. Fans will now know that anything NASCAR will be on one of three channels. Right now, we have practices and qualifying, on SPEED or ESPN, depending on the series. When it comes to races, it’s either on FOX, TNT, ABC, ESPN, or sometimes even SPEED. At times, I get confused with this. With this new deal, the race, practices, and qualifying will be all on one channel each week. This will make it much easier on the fans.
There might be some bugs to work out with this new deal. In the end, this might be a great opportunity for not only NASCAR, but all of motorsports. I’m looking forward to it.
Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist