Fox Sports and Nascar have inked an eight-year extension of their media rights deal, a move that will keep the first half of the Sprint Cup Series on the Fox broadcast network through 2022.
Under terms of the new deal, Fox will continue to air the first half of the Nascar season, a slate of 13 races that kicks off each February with the Daytona 500. The pact also provides a significant upshift in Fox’s digital package, allowing the broadcaster the right to stream its live races to authenticated devices.
While financial details were not disclosed, sources said Fox agreed to pay in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion over the eight-year duration. The network’s annual payout will jump to around $300 million per season, up 36 percent from the $220 million it pays under the terms of its current deal.
“Nascar has been in very good hands and has enjoyed tremendous success the last 12 years in large part because of our fantastic partnership with Fox,” said Nascar chairman and CEO Brian France. “We are thrilled to be able to extend our relationship in such a significant way.”
Fox had two years left on its Nascar contract, as do fellow rightsholders Turner Sports and ESPN. While the Fox deal will provide Nascar with the necessary leverage to secure rate increases from Turner and ESPN, negotiations with the incumbents aren’t expected to proceed until next year.
ESPN’s 2007-14 contract is valued at $270 million per year, while Turner pays $85 million for its slate of six Sprint Cup races.
With the NFL and MLB rights sewn up through the beginning of the next decade and the NBA locked in through 2016, Nascar represents one of the last high-impact rights packages to go to market. As such, NBCUniversal is expected to kick the tires after ESPN and Turner pass through their respective negotiating windows.
Fox’s 2012 Sprint Cup slate delivered 7.9 million viewers, down 8 percent from the year-ago average. Ratings in the males 18-to-34 demo fell 20 percent, according to Nielsen.
Co-presidents Randy Freer and Eric Shanks steered the negotiations for Fox Sports. “Nascar has been a staple at Fox for more than a decade and we consider it one of the signature sports we cover,” Freer and Shanks said, by way of announcing the deal. “With our commitment renewed, we look forward to presenting Nascar thoroughly, professionally and creatively for many years to come.”
News of the Fox-Nascar pact comes on the heels of NBC Sports’ four-year deal with Formula One. NBCU wrested the rights to the popular international motorsports series from Fox Sports’ Speed channel.