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- The first TV mega-deal came in 1999, when NASCAR turned the sport’s popularity boom of the 1990s into a six-year TV rights deal with FOX, NBC and TBS worth $2.4 billions of dollars.
- The deal started in 2001 and it put 70% of the races on network television, and NASCAR has never looked back.
- All eyes are now on the negotiations for 2025.
The first NASCAR race to air wire-to-wire on network television was the 1979 Daytona 500. It was hosted by CBS and is considered one of, if not the most important, races in the history of stock cars.
It was a race that got everyone talking and put NASCAR on the national map. Richard Petty won the race, and two other prolific figures in the sport, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison, fought a street fight on the straight before the eyes of the whole country.
This show also introduced the onboard camera, fast shooting, lots of product placements, all of which are still seen in TV shows today.
Now NASCAR appears to be on the doorstep of a TV deal that could net the sport up to $1 billion a year.
Yes, television is a big deal for NASCAR.
The first TV mega-deal came in 1999, when NASCAR turned the sport’s popularity boom of the 1990s into a six-year TV rights deal with FOX, NBC and TBS worth $2.4 billion. of dollars. The deal started in 2001 and it put 70% on network television, and NASCAR never looked back.
Prior to 2001, NASCAR had separate racing agreements with ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, TNN, and TBS.
“This whole development has debunked that old redneck stereotype,” NASCAR General Manager Mike Helton said at the time, announcing the deal. “I think we can stand tall and feel really good about the age range, economic level and gender balance that we have now. It’s all about exposure.”
The next TV deal which began in 2007 was another massive one – eight years, $4.8 billion with FOX/Speed Channel, ABC/ESPN and TNT all getting in on the action.
In 2015, NBC returned to the fold and has shared the NASCAR stage with FOX ever since. The current agreements run through 2024 and will bring NASCAR a report $8.2 billion for this 10-year period.
All eyes are now on the negotiations for 2025. This time around, ESPN could be a player. The wildcard is streaming services. After all, if Amazon Prime can grab NFL football games on Thursday night, that’s not out of the question and a streaming service might want a slice of the NASCAR pie.
Don’t think drivers aren’t paying attention.
Earlier this year, NASCAR Cup driver Chase Briscoe signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing. Some in the paddock said Briscoe should have waited to see what the TV deal would bring.
That’s where Briscoe and his camp had things covered. His deal with SHR includes a clause that calls for both sides to come back to the table for possible renegotiation, depending on the upcoming TV deal and the amount of money that reaches the teams.
“We had to put a lot of provisions in this (contract) if it (the TV money) was restructured,” Briscoe said of the deal. “It’s not fair for the team and it’s not fair for me either if the whole structure of the money invested in the sport changes. We just have to have a lot of words in it to know where if that’s changed and when that’s understood, we’ll obviously come back and sit down and try to figure out what’s right for both of us.
If past TV deals are any indication, it’ll be more than fair.