The back half of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series schedules will feature a significant change. All of the races that don’t take place on NBC will move from NBC Sports Network to the USA Network.
NBC confirmed the change on Tuesday, November 2, with a press release. The broadcast giant noted that NASCAR is one of many “premium sports” heading to the USA Network, a list that also includes IndyCar, the Olympic Games, Premier League, cycling, and many others. All PGA Tour events will remain on the Golf Channel and NBC.
“USA has always been home to big, iconic characters – on reality shows like ‘Chrisley Knows Best,’ premium scripted dramas like ‘Chucky’ and ‘The Sinner,’ and of course the high-octane energy of our WWE personalities – and larger-than-life pro athletes will fit right in,” said Frances Berwick, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television & Streaming. “We expect this expansion of our live sports offering will both engage existing fans and bring in new communities to USA, further cementing the network as a top destination for the best and broadest entertainment in all of its many forms.”
The move to the USA Network coincides with NBC Sports Network ceasing operations after December 31, 2021. The changes will not impact the Camping World Truck Series, which airs exclusively on FS1 for the full season.
There Will Be a Potential Avenue for More Streaming Races
NBC Sports reporter Dustin Long revealed on October 7 that three of the remaining races would simultaneously broadcast on the Peacock streaming platform. Subscribers of the premium tier ($4.99 per month) would be able to tune in for the trips to Texas Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
According to the press release, more races could be available in 2022. NBC noted that “Peacock will continue to offer an array of live sports coverage including Super Bowl LVI and Olympic competition.” NBC did not explicitly say that NASCAR will return to Peacock in 2022, but SVP of Media and Productions Brian Herbst told Awful Announcing in late September that streaming will have some role in the broadcast deal that goes into effect in 2025. The upcoming seasons provide an avenue for NBC and NASCAR to test out streaming races.
“Some streaming element will definitely be in place and it will play a larger role in the next deal cycle,” Herbst said in September. “When you think about when we did our TV deals back in 2012, 2013, there were really just two different platforms where our content was going to be distributed to… Now, there’s a third bucket and that’s direct-to-consumer or over-the-top platforms. The balancing act for us as a sport is there’s a third economic driver that wasn’t necessarily there in 2012 or 2013, being these OTT platforms.”
NBC will provide more updates about the upcoming season schedule after NBC Sports Network ceases operations. The broadcaster will unveil tune-in details, starting on January 1, 2022.
NBC Will Take Over the Broadcast Schedule in June
Just as in previous NASCAR seasons, there will be a clear delineation point. FOX and FS1 will air the first portion of the schedule, which includes the season-opening Daytona 500 and the return of Auto Club Speedway after a year-long hiatus. Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer will provide coverage for the biggest Cup Series races in the first half of the season, as well as the ongoing fight for playoff spots.
FOX will continue to provide coverage for Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series races until the race at Sonoma on June 12. At that point, NASCAR will take a break for Father’s Day Weekend (June 18-19). This off-week will serve as the virtual handoff between networks.
NBC and USA Network will begin airing Xfinity and Cup races after the off-week, starting with the race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway (June 24-26), while FS1 handles the rest of the Truck Series schedule. Rick Allen, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Steve Letarte will cover the rest of the regular season, the playoffs, and the championship race at Phoenix.