NASCAR’s TV deal is entering its final stages. Steve Phelps hinted at it during the “State of the Sport” address, and John Ourand of Sports Business Jornal has given a timeline of the Awards Banquet as the soonest time when the deal could be announced. However, there have been some changes from what was expected, particularly in streaming where NASCAR has expanded the package from 6 races to 10 races. What does this all mean, and what could the streaming package look like?
Amazon and Turner are the two that NASCAR is reportedly down to as the favorites for their move to streaming in 2024. We have already discussed the benefits and detractors of both sides, but, the most interesting note is how these 10 races will be split. Ourand reports that NASCAR would like one company to take the full package rather than split it up between the two.
Now, having both split the package could allow NASCAR to reach both audiences. However, the problem with that is having too many TV partners for NASCAR races. That can be very confusing for the consumer to have a 12-race span throughout the summer split between 4 different media companies. Fox ends, then you move on to Amazon for five races, then Turner for five races, then NBC.
Under the current plan, NASCAR is split between two companies throughout a 36-race season. When FOX switches to NBC, it is one switch that casual fans can easily follow. However, Amazon and Turner provide multiple benefits.
Amazon provides 200 million subscribers, which puts NASCAR in front of many of the same people it already has with cable plus more. However, Turner offers a cable TV channel to broadcast races should NASCAR want to keep some cable presence. If NASCAR wants the best of both worlds, they will have to split.
Will NASCAR Be Behind a Paywall
Now, the move to streaming would cause many to think that NASCAR is going behind a paywall. To some extent, that will likely be the case. Pretty much every time sports has made the move to streaming, it has been behind a paywall to some extent. The Premier League on Peacock, MLB on Apple TV+, and IndyCar on Peacock, for example.
However, there have been instances where streaming services have allowed certain events to be streamed for free. The NFL allows any game televised nationally on either cable or streaming to be broadcast in local markets on free-to-air network TV. MLB offers a free “Game of the Day” on MLB.tv every day during the season.
It is possible that certain NASCAR races could have certain races be streamed for free, but, it will likely be behind some sort of a paywall on the platform because that is the business model that other sports have gone with. However, with so many people already on Amazon Prime, it may not mean an extra subscription for fans anyway, and the same story could be told for Turner’s Bleacher Report Sports on Max, formerly HBO.
How Will NASCAR Split the Cup Series Races Amongst the 3 Companies?
Come 2025, NASCAR will have 38 events to split between three or four media companies, 36 points races plus the All-Star Race and the Clash. As it stands right now, Fox takes the first 16 races plus all of the non-points events including the All-Star Race, the All-Star Open, the Clash, and the Duels. NBC takes over for the final 20 races of the season.
If NASCAR gives 10 races to streaming, that means 26 regular season races plus the non-points events are split amongst NBC and Fox. The Clash and the makes up a two non-points event, so, that means 28events could be split down the middle at 14 events for Fox and 14 for NBC. This would mean, on the 2024 schedule, Fox would go from the Clash through spring Darlington, where streaming would take over from the All-Star Race through the Brickyard 400, then NBC would take over from Richmond through the end of the season.
It is possible that NASCAR could go the route they did in the 1990s where TV networks were split depending on the tracks. Maybe NASCAR could do this to keep their marquee events such as the Coca-Cola 600 on network TV. That event would be on streaming under the plan explained before.
What will NASCAR’s new streaming package look like? Will there be any major changes to the package before it is announced? Could it look different than we expected?