NBCU races away with major Nascar package

NBC Sports Group, operated by US media company NBCUniversal, has agreed a 10-year rights deal, from 2015 to 2024, with the Nascar motor-racing series.

The agreement grants NBCUniversal exclusive rights to the final 20 Sprint Cup Series races every year, as well as the final 19 events from the second-tier Nationwide Series, some Nascar regional and touring series events and other live content.

Under the deal, NBCU will become the exclusive broadcaster of the Chase for the Sprint Cup – Nascar’s final 10 races of the season – including its season-ending championship event that will return to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009.

Of the 20 Sprint Cup Series events per year, seven will be shown on NBC, with 13 broadcast on pay-television channel NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). Four of NBC Sports Group’s 19 Nationwide Series races will be broadcast on NBC, with 15 shown on NBCSN.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Los Angeles Times newspaper said that NBCU is likely to have paid a “substantial premium” for the rights of a total of at least $4bn (€3.1bn).

NBCU takes over from ESPN, which currently shows the final 17 Sprint Cup races, as well as the entire Nationwide Series schedule until the end of the 2014 campaign.

In addition to rights to Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races, NBCU has also acquired exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for national series events during its portion of the season, as well as rights to broadcast the K&N Series, Whelen Modified Tour, Toyota (Mexico) Series, the Nascar Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Nascar’s season-ending banquets.

NBCU has been granted Spanish-language rights, certain video-on-demand rights and exclusive TV Everywhere rights for its Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series events.

Nascar vice-president of broadcasting and productions Steve Herbst said: “We’re confident NBC will utilise its powerful championship season lineup, including the NHL Playoffs, Premier League, the French Open, the Kentucky Derby and other events, to build interest and excitement for Nascar. Those opportunities, combined with the opportunity to lead into the No. 1 show on television – NBC’s Sunday Night Football – for select Chase races, were both very attractive prospects when considering this partnership.”

The NBCU deal comes after October’s announcement that the Fox Sports division of the Fox network had sealed an eight-year rights extension, from 2015 to 2022, with Nascar.

Fox Sports will continue to show the flagship Daytona 500 race and 12 other races from the top-tier Sprint Cup every year, as well as other Nascar events such as the Sprint All-Star Race, the Daytona Shootout, the Duel at Daytona and the entire lower-tier Camping World Truck series.

Herbst added: “With that announcement (with Fox) and today, the puzzle is almost complete. We still have first-half Nationwide and some Cup races to place and we expect them to be placed very soon. Talks around that part of the package are going very well.’’