Well, it seems like NASCAR fans are going to get what they wanted.
After a miserable, commercial-filed six-race stretch, NASCAR fans don’t have to deal with the inconsistency of TNT race broadcasts anymore. Guess what? After next season, NASCAR won’t have to deal with the Turner Broadcasting company for at least another decade.
TNT has announced that it will back down from NASCAR after their contract with the sport expires at the end of the 2014 season. This is good sign for NASCAR as it shows that their marketing price has risen above expectations set by TNT, who has produced the lowest ratings for NASCAR over the past few years, according to the Nielsen rating system.
Besides TNT dropping out of NASCAR, ESPN has done so as well. ESPN has been highly criticized for not supporting their NASCAR program such as they do with other sports. Though they have the final portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season plus the entire Nationwide Series slate, they haven’t advertised such as NASCAR would have liked as ratings are low for them as well.
NASCAR just announced that NBC will pick up the second half of the Sprint Cup Series schedule starting in 2015 with an agreement lasting until the 2024 season. NBC will have the final 20 Sprint Cup Series races, with FOX having the first 16 races. The agreement also puts more races on network television.
Besides having the final 20 Sprint Cup Series races, NBC will also carry the final 19 Nationwide Series races. Four of them will be on NBC while the rest will be on the NBC Sports Network. As of now, it’s unknown if ESPN will re-sign their agreement to broadcast the other Nationwide Series races, which they’ve been doing for several years.
NBC will have the rights to broadcast practice and qualifying events for the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series as well as being able to broadcast the K&N Pro Series East and West, Whelen Modified Series, NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico, the season-ending banquets and the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The announcement isn’t surprising by any means. With FOX having a new long-term agreement, the addition of NBC just makes sense. It’s better for the sport to branch out to NBC, who played a large role with NASCAR in the past.
Though there will be races on the NBC Sports Network, FOX will probably have some races on Fox Sports 1, which will debut on August 17 and will have exclusive coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.
It’s sad to see ESPN go away from the sport especially with all that they’ve done, but when they can’t even put the championship races on network television with ABC, maybe it’s better for NASCAR to part ways with the world wide leader in sports for now.
Well, at least until ESPN recognizes NASCAR’s true potential.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.