Future Of NASCAR TV Rights Deal Discussed

Forecasting where the second half of NASCAR’s TV package will end up dominated conversation during a media panel at the ’12 Motorsports Marketing Forum. During an audience survey, nearly 70% of the voters felt that ESPN will obtain the rights to the second half of NASCAR’s season. NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller stressed the advantages of being an incumbent: “It’s very hard to take a property away from someone who wants to keep it." Media consultant Ed Desser said the size and influence of ESPN cannot be ignored. Desser: “Anything that they decide that they have to have, they are going to have."

Miller said that you cannot overlook the attitude of current rights holders: “A lot has to do with the rights holder. If you’re a rights holder, you look at it and ask, ‘What’s the best place to grow my sport.’" Desser agreed: “The days of looking at it as it’s only about the money is really wrong headed. It’s really about the relationship. The way the parties get along is really, really important." Miller acknowledged that NBC would have interest in the second NASCAR package: “I will say the best ratings that NASCAR ever enjoyed is when NBC and Fox shared the package. We would be eager to listen and have a conversation. It’s a great property."


— Fox Sports Exec VP/Research & Programming Bill Wanger, asked about the much reported launch of Fox Sports 1: “As soon as we have something to say, we will say it and call you and give John [Ourand] a tape."

— Asked why Fox paid a rights increase when ratings have trended down, Wanger said: “You have to look at the environment when you’re negotiating the rights. You can’t just look at it from a ratings perspective." Desser agreed: “You have to look at what’s going on in the sports environment. Live is what’s going on."

— Miller on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ Brad Keselowski’s interview at the conference in the morning: “I was so astounded by how adroit he was, and how he knows his audience. Those kinds of personalities and that kind of talent will serve NASCAR very well going forward."

— Desser said that ratings ebb and flow, and that being up or down 10% in viewership over a five-year period is no cause for concern: “There is nothing endemic from NASCAR or motorsports that people should be running for the exits."

— Miller, on NBC's relationship with IndyCar: “I think IndyCar will make a nice rebound this year. We think it will benefit from our F1 relationship."

— Miller, on NBC’s new deal with F1: “An interesting angle is the amount of Latino and Hispanic viewership."

— Miller, on viewer fatigue when it comes to NASCAR: “I think asking anyone to sit and watch anything for three-and-a-half hours is a lot. I think one of the things we found appealing for F1 is their races are an hour and 50 minutes. If you can try and keep your property under a three-hour window, you will do a better job of holding your audience."

— Wanger, on growing NASCAR’s ratings: “We have to get people to watch a little longer. That’s the way you grow your ratings." SportsBusiness Daily

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