The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is on victory lane after completing new eight-year TV-rights deals with Fox/Speed Channel, Turner Network Television and ABC/ESPN.
The agreements, announced during a conference call Wednesday, set the track for NASCAR’s top-level Nextel Cup, its Busch Series and the Craftsman Truck Series from 2007-14.
Contract terms were not disclosed. However, AP reported that the value of the deals over eight years would total some $4.5 billion, versus network outlays of $2.8 billion over the current six-year pact that expires after next season.
Published reports have ESPN/ABC paying $270 million annually, while TNT will earmark some $80 million. That would put Fox’s per-year payout in the $210 million range.
As part of the new lineup, Fox will air the first 13 races of each season, and it has parked exclusive rights to the sport’s centerpiece, the Daytona 500, which it had been alternately covering with NBC under the current contract.
FX, which had been airing a number of Nextel and Busch Series events, is out of the mix, with Speed gaining the Nextel Cup Series All-Star Challenge and the Gatorade Duels that precede Daytona. Speed also retains the rights to the Craftsman Truck circuit, save for a pair of events that will gain exposure on Fox.
TNT -- which saw its current partner, NBC, pull out of the NASCAR negotiations in October -- will air six consecutive Nextel races, after Fox’s run, under what’s being called the “midsummer” package, highlighted by the Pepsi 400 in primetime.
ESPN and ABC have re-entered the NASCAR-rights race in a big way, securing the final 17 Nextel races, with the 10 making up the season-ending “Chase for the Nextel Cup” all airing on ABC.
Moreover, ESPN2 is going to become the principal home to the second-level Busch Series, 35 races, which ABC/ESPN sports boss George Bodenheimer said on the call would become that network’s highest-rated series.
Noting that the agreement would enable ESPN/ABC Sports to leverage NASCAR assets across 18 traditional and new-media platforms, Bodenheimer said he was “extremely confident” that parent company The Walt Disney Co. would make money on the deal.
Video-on-demand rights to the races are held by the appropriate rights-holders, according to NASCAR executives.