This year is a big one for NASCAR as they begin negotiating their next media rights deal. If they want to get a good start on the next 75 years of the sport, NASCAR will need to stick the landing in negotiations.
Exclusive negotiations started between current rightsholders Fox and NBC, and according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, negotiations “appear to be progressing smoothly,” though it’s still in the “early days.” Both Fox and NBC, as well as NASCAR, want to remain partners.
That being said, it’s likely that NASCAR will let the exclusive negotiating window lapse in March without a deal. For one thing, it’s smart to cast a wide net to see how much interest there is in the media marketplace, but according to Ourand, it’s also because NASCAR is possibly “creating a third package” for a streaming company. Amazon was named as the “most aggressive streamer” for NASCAR rights, though there was nothing that indicated their interest level.
While this negotiation may go somewhat smoothly, things may not go as smoothly between the sanctioning body and the teams. Team owners are seeking a larger percentage of their media revenue. Teams currently get 25% and want a larger percentage in order to be less reliant on sponsorship, though that likely comes at the expense of the tracks, who get 65%. NASCAR keeps the other 10%.
The media landscape has changed dramatically since the last agreement was signed in 2013. A more competitive marketplace with streaming has spared very few and NASCAR’s Cup Series viewership has gone down over 40% in the last 10 years. There is evidence that NASCAR is starting an upswing, but that’ll be a smart negotiating tactic networks will use to try and avoid a price increase.
Even with the lower numbers compared to a decade ago, NASCAR is still a hot-ticket item for networks clamoring for live sports. NASCAR is still one of the most viewed events of the weekend, especially during the NFL offseason, and they fill a sizable block of programming for a network on the weekend.
NASCAR is optimistically looking to come to an agreement by the fall but they’ll have some time to work out a deal as the next contract won’t start until 2025.