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USA vs Peacock: Will NBC Bring NASCAR Over Sometime Soon?

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Joshua Lipowski

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It’s seemingly inevitable that sports will make the move over to streaming in the near future. However, is that time coming for NBC sometime in the near future? NBC has its own streaming service, Peacock, and is the time coming for NBC to move some NASCAR races exclusively to Peacock?

Where NBC is Going with Sports Coverage

NBC has changed how they go about their sports coverage in recent years. NBC Sports Network became the catch-all cable network for most of NBC Sports’ coverage of different sporting events including NASCAR, but that network shut down at the end of 2021. USA became the network that would broadcast cable sporting events, but, another platform for NBC emerged during this time.

Peacock emerged, and now it has been used for sporting events. In 2019, NBC started being the exclusive broadcaster of the IndyCar Series. Within that TV deal, NBC negotiated to broadcast a race exclusively on Peacock in exchange for a larger presence on the big network, NBC.

In 2022, NBC upped their network presence for IndyCar to 13 races on the big NBC with the remainder of the races being on USA and Peacock, promising that two races would be on Peacock exclusively. NBC also did something very similar with college football.

Now, some college football games, including one Notre Dame game per year, and typically at least one game per week exclusively on Peacock. In exchange, more college football games are being shown on network NBC.

NBC is going in that direction, even if they have not gone that way with NASCAR yet. That is primarily because NBC signed their deal with NASCAR before the start of the 2015 season, well before Peacock was a thing. Is it time for NBC to make the shift to more races on Peacock?

The Issue of Ratings and Viewership

Races on cable networks just do not pull in as large of an audience, and cable networks just do not have the same pull that they once did. People are cutting the cord at a large clip, and that is a large reason why NBCSN is no longer a thing.

NASCAR TV ratings are going down as well, and that is across the board. Whether the races are on network or cable, NASCAR has seen a downturn in TV ratings for races run on schedule for 15 of the 29 races run this season. Any live programming exclusively on Peacock does not currently outdo what is on cable or network TV, but, the issue is not necessarily the viewership.

The bottom line is that cable subscriptions are dropping, and companies have two options. Either they try to get ahead of the curve now and establish themselves in the streaming market, or they can fall behind and try to play catch-up when streaming eventually takes over.

That is why NBC wants to slowly shift things over to Peacock like they are now. In exchange, they are giving their sports more events in front of a larger network audience rather than putting them on cable. Sports sacrifice a few smaller events from a viewership standpoint for more viewers on their bigger events, and that is the business model that causes this weird hybrid model to work.

The Issue of the Fans

However, this does mean that the fans are the ones who are left out to dry oftentimes. Now, if an IndyCar fan wants to watch every IndyCar race, they need cable and a subscription to Peacock. That is a frustrating place for the consumer to be.

NASCAR fans would probably decry having to pay an extra subscription to watch a few races in a season. NASCAR also has a much older fanbase, which means less of their fanbase is likely to use these new entertainment options like streaming services.

However, this is not so much about keeping older fans as it is about creating new fans. Moving more races over to Peacock means that NBC and NASCAR can capture that audience that bought Peacock for other reasons, and NASCAR can reach a new fanbase. In exchange, again, more races on network TV probably help some of the die-hard fans have an easier time finding more races on Sunday.

It may be tough for a while as things transition, but, eventually, streaming will take over cable. As that happens, NASCAR fans will be able to look at streaming exclusively instead of back and forth between cable and streaming.

With all of this in mind, it would not be surprising to see NBC potentially decrease some of their NASCAR cable presence in favor of more races on the network, with the exchange of a few races on Peacock. It may not be the most popular thing amongst the fanbase, but NBC seems to be going that route.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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