NASCAR Rides Hot Rights Market to Increase With Fox

NASCAR has agreed to appear on Fox through the 2022 season

(from Sports Business Journal, October 15, 2012) Despite seeing declining rates for the fifth consecutive year, NASCAR has reached an agreement to extend its TV deal with Fox, a deal which will increase what Fox pays for TV rights annually by about $80 million. Since 2001 Fox has paid $220 million annually to broadcast the first half of the NASCAR season of races, which includes the legendary Daytona 500. However, starting in 2015 Fox will begin paying roughly $300 million to feature NASCAR races for the next 8 years on all its local affiliates, the web, and potentially its developing all sports network.

While the $80 million increase was not exactly comparable to what other leagues, such as college football or the MLB, have recently got for their newly signed TV deals, the bump up comes as a positive sign for a league who has seen its races Nielsen ratings decrease from 5.6 to 4.8 since 2007. Many industry insiders believe this increase sets a bargaining benchmark for NASCAR as they begins negotiations next summer with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting for the second half of their season. If ESPN and Turner flip their nose up at a similar increase to their deals, NASCAR can turn negotiations out to the open market where networks like CBS or NBC could begin bargaining. Fox could even potentially begin broadcasting a full season of races.

Fox negotiations were led by its Co-presidents, Randy Freer and Eric Shanks, while NASCAR was led by Vice President of Broadcasting and Production, Steve Herbst. Herbst also sought consultation from the sports advising firm, Sports Media Advisor. Former IMG and NHL executive Doug Perlman helms Sports Media Advisor. It is unclear whether Herbst and NASCAR plan to use one, two, or three networks to broadcast the remainder of the schedule. The duo says they are keeping their options wide open, and if this deal is any indication, the future appears to be bright.