Earlier this month, the Fox and NBC exclusive negotiating windows with NASCAR on a new deal (which would begin in the 2025 season) expired. Those networks are widely expected to largely keep their existing content in new deals, with a Fox package covering most of the first half of the season and a NBC one covering the second half and the playoffs, but there’s long been talk of a streaming company coming in as well. And that’s now closer to fruition, and has more specifics. John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote Friday that the entire second-tier Xfinity Series is likely to head to streaming, as well as a midseason package of top-tier Cup Series races:
NASCAR appears likely to move its Xfinity racing series exclusively to a streaming company.
SBJ's story: https://t.co/qI1QSx1RZ0
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 19, 2023
Here’s more from that piece:
NASCAR appears likely to move its Xfinity racing series exclusively to a streaming company, according to several sources.
At least two companies have showed interest in that second-tier package. NASCAR also is shopping a midseason package of NASCAR Cup races to streaming companies, loosely patterned after the six-race package that TNT carried until 2014. Amazon is considered a strong candidate to land these streaming packages.
Nothing is close to being finalized, but sources predict that NASCAR will have handshake deals before the July 4 holiday on its new broadcast and streaming deals.
The possibility of some of these events on a streaming service has been around for years, including with NASCAR SVP of Media and Productions Brian Herbst telling AA’s Phillip Bupp in 2021 “Some streaming element will definitely be in place, and it will play a larger role in the next deal cycle.” And the idea of the Xfinity Series going there has also been well-discussed. But the midseason Cup Series package (similar to what used to air on TNT from 2007-2014) for a streamer is interesting.
Ourand had discussed the midseason Cup Series package idea before, but many in the motorsports world were skeptical. Part of that is because teams there were already complaining about lowered sponsorship revenue, which would likely drop further still under the lessened reach of a streaming-only broadcast. However, there are ways to compensate for lessened reach if the rights contract value is high enough, which is why (for example) the NFL’s Amazon Thursday Night Football deal and Peacock playoff game deal (both of which are bringing in huge premiums in rights fees relative to broadcast TV) are not the “disaster” Fox’s Lachlan Murdoch (who has a strong stake in promoting broadcast TV and diminishing streaming) claims.
It’s all about the numbers, and if a streamer is willing to pay a large enough premium to compensate for diminished reach, that can work. But it is notable that we’re seeing quite a few sports teams and leagues take the opposite tack, accepting less money in order to gain reach. However, there’s some crossover here to what the NFL has done too, with the games (often international series ones) and packages (Thursday Night Football) they’ve put exclusively on streaming being less-viewed ones in the first place.
And that’s NASCAR’s thinking here too with this specific Cup Series package, as per Ourand. These summer races already draw fewer viewers than most (thanks at least partly to the overall diminished TV audience in the summer), so drops may not look as bad. And the more hardcore fans watching these races may be more eager than the average fan to find a way to watch them on streaming, and that’s also true for the Xfinity Series. At any rate, it will be interesting to see what eventual deal is struck here, and which streamer it lands with.