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DATE News (chronologically)
03/08/13
TV news
No plans for a NASCAR channel  With Speed going away on Aug. 17, leaving race fans with no motorsports-focused network, this might seem like the perfect opportunity for NASCAR to begin its own cable property. But no plans are in the works.

“We still discuss it from time to time about having our own network — we still think about it and throw it around a little bit every once in a while,” NASCAR Vice President of Broadcasting Steve Herbst said in a phone interview. “But I think what we’ll find on FS1 is a consistent, strong, and maybe even an increased level of NASCAR programming as compared to Speed today.

“Without a ‘NASCAR channel,’ we’ll still have a very healthy and robust amount of NASCAR programming on there that will satisfy our motorsports fans and reach a broader audience.”

Fox plans to televise baseball playoff games and Sprint Cup races on the new Fox Sports 1, as well as college football and basketball, UFC and soccer.

While the Daytona 500 will always be on network television, some of Fox’s 13 Cup races each year could be moved to Fox Sports 1, which initially will be in 90 million homes.

Exactly how many Cup races could move to Fox’s cable network remain to be determined.

“We’re still working through it,” Herbst said. “There are a lot of discussions to have with Fox on that — more details to come soon but nothing to report on that yet.”

Herbst said having Cup races, practices and qualifying on Fox Sports 1 could attract general sports fans that wouldn’t necessarily tune into a motorsports channel.

“We view it as a huge plus,” said Speedway Motorsports Inc. President Marcus Smith, whose company owns eight Cup tracks.

“When you look at what Fox is going to be putting into the new Fox Sports 1, they’re going to transform their national network Speed channel into this great cable channel that really delivers all things Fox Sports. … It will be a significant place for sports fans to tune into.”

Still, there must be a balance between network and cable telecasts. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said last month that he hopes there are more network races in 2015 — indicating that either ABC will add races or, more likely, NBC will get some races as part of the new television rights deal that goes into effect in 2015. Though Fox has re-signed, NASCAR has not yet completed its next TV deal.

“We’re very keen in getting a nice balance between network and cable,” Herbst said. “We think our reach and performance on network has been good, and we think it has been on cable as well, that we’ve delivered good, solid numbers.

“Every league strives to be with solid TV partners who present the sport really well.”

Fox already has signed a new deal with NASCAR for 2015-2022 so that it could lock NASCAR into its new channel, while TNT (six Cup races) and ESPN/ABC (13 Cup races) will begin negotiating this summer. More at Sporting News
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