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Will NASCAR fans have to pay to watch some races in next TV deal? UPDATE

UPDATE: For NASCAR, streaming is on the horizon and SVP of Media and Productions Brian Herbst revealed that there will be “some streaming element” when the new rights deal comes into effect in 2025. That being said, potential fears about moving everything to a service like Peacock might be unnecessary.

“Some streaming element will definitely be in place and it will play a larger role in the next deal cycle,” Herbst told Awful Announcing. “When you think about when we did our TV deals back in 2012, 2013, there were really just two different platforms where our content was going to be distributed to… Now, there’s a third bucket and that’s direct-to-consumer or over-the-top platforms. The balancing act for us as a sport is there’s a third economic driver that wasn’t necessarily there in 2012 or 2013, being these OTT platforms.”

“Think about Peacock, ESPN+, Paramount+ under the CBS side, obviously Amazon Prime as well,” Herbst continued. “There’s a third bucket to help underwrite investment by the networks in some of these big sports deals.

“However, for us as a sport, we’re a little bit more sensitive to shifting premier content over to those digital direct-to-consumer platforms just because the penetration level isn’t as high right now in terms of platforms. It’s really just a numbers game for us. For broadcast TV, penetration that’s 120 to 125 million homes, cable TV is 75 million, and the direct-to-consumer platforms are somewhere in the 15 million range.”

Whatever streaming strategy is put in place for 2025, it’ll be a gradual shift of content. NASCAR is trying to grow and to do so, that still means being on broadcast and cable TV. This is only speculation but the most likely form of NASCAR programming that could go to streaming is potential docuseries and events that aren’t going to attract casual eyeballs in the first place.

Practice/qualifying and the occasional Truck and Xfinity race could move off linear TV because they’re more niche within the NASCAR landscape. If people are diehard enough to watch that now, then they’re more likely to hop on a streaming service to watch as opposed to a casual fan who occasionally watches a Cup race.

At the same time, NASCAR must be careful about putting Truck and Xfinity races on streaming because those teams rely on sponsorship too and it’s already difficult for those teams to get sponsors and survive.

See much more at Awful Announcing.

ORIGINAL POST 7-26-2021: The NTT IndyCar Series and NBC Sports announced a multi-year contract extension [last week]  that will expand the sport’s footprint across the media landscape.

Under the deal, NBC will continue to broadcast races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital, and streaming platforms, including its new streaming service Peacock.

NASCAR’s TV deal with Fox and NBC runs through 2024. Jon Miller was asked about the possibility that when the new NASCAR deal is negotiated some of the races might be on the Peacock subscription service. Miller pointed out that the $4.99 a month fee for the service delivers much more than just a couple of races.

“They are not paying to see a couple races,” he said. “They are buying a subscription to Peacock which gives you not just the racing but also gives you an enormous amount of other programming. I believe at last count, Peacock has over 18,000 hours of programming, other entertainment, sports and news, so that you pay 4.99 a month for Peacock, and you get all of that, all of that product.”

Thus, the possibility that NASCAR fans might have to subscribe to the service to watch a few NASCAR races after 2024 is very real.

“That may be down the road,” Miller said. “We haven’t gotten into that yet because our deal is not up for several more years with them. I would assume and have every reason to think that they will want be part of the NBC Sports family that are all existing on Peacock.”

See more at Forbes.