NASCAR President Sets Goals & Timeline for Next TV Contract

Steve Phelps

Getty Steve Phelps sets goals for the next TV deal.

The future of NASCAR broadcasts has been a key talking point for several months, especially with the rise of streaming services. The current deal with FOX and NBC will not end until after the 2024 season, but NASCAR President Steve Phelps has already set some significant goals.

Phelps appeared on “The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast” on February 23 and said that he anticipates an “eight to ten” year contract. He explained that the current TV deal is 10 years and that he wants to provide stability. Phelps noted the broadcast deals signed by the other big sports leagues as a reason for the time frame. He also explained that NASCAR has to do its part to maximize its revenue for the entire industry.

“How we look at the digital world versus over-the-air versus cable, and really kind of look at it… as we look at the partners that we have today, FOX and NBC, look at that world very differently based on, Fox really having Tubi so it’s not really a real direct-to-consumer play as NBC has with Peacock,” Phelps explained during his appearance.

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“Our sport’s very important to make sure that we have significant eyeballs. The team model is very dependent on sponsorship so we need to make sure that whatever partner that we would move, that we would go to… stay with or move to. There wasn’t any foreshadowing there, I promise you. We need to make sure that over-the-air is an important part of what that will be.”

NASCAR Will Begin Negotiations Very Soon

There are three full seasons remaining on the current broadcast deal. It will not end until after the 2024 season. However, the exclusive negotiations with both FOX and NBC will likely begin after the 2022 season. Phelps and NASCAR could wait, but he has faith in the sport’s future prospects after a successful Busch Light Clash and a sold-out Daytona 500.

“I think that 2022 will be the best year that NASCAR has had on television in a long, long time,” Phelps continued. “That certainly bodes well as we head into negotiations.”

Phelps added that he would like to see ESPN provide more coverage of races and the sport in the future, especially given the expertise of Ryan McGee and Marty Smith. He noted that the company has done a great job with its coverage of the Daytona 500 and the E:60 about Bubba Wallace.

NASCAR Has Tested Streaming Options for Major Races

The over-the-air options will remain a priority for NASCAR and Phelps, but there will be other factors that play a role. Specifically, there will be questions about whether streaming services want to get involved in the sport in the coming years.

The rise of streaming services will continue to create speculation about the future of NASCAR and its next broadcast deal. There is no clear answer as to whether the sanctioning body will embrace these platforms in the future, but NASCAR has tested out one particular service.

Peacock, the streaming platform owned by NBC, aired three Cup Series races at the end of the 2021 season. The October 17 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, the October 31 race at Martinsville Speedway, and the championship race at Phoenix Raceway on November 7 all became available for subscribers of the Peacock premium tier, which runs $4.99 per month. NBC also provided access to pre and post-race coverage.

Brian Herbst, SVP of Media and Productions, spoke to Awful Announcing prior to the races airing on Peacock and provided a glimpse at the future deal. He said that streaming will play a larger role in the next deal, but he clarified that NASCAR won’t jump to Peacock, Tubi, or any other platform. The reason is that these services are only available in an estimated 15 million homes while broadcast TV is in roughly “120 to 125 million homes.”

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