NASHVILLE — NASCAR will continue having a large majority of Cup Series races televised by Fox Sports and NBC Sports as part of its next media rights deal, but has also struck a first-ever agreement with Amazon Prime that calls on it to exclusively stream five races, and with Warner Bros. that will see races simultaneously broadcast on TNT and streamed on its B/R Sports on Max streaming platform.
The deals NASCAR reached with Fox, NBC, Amazon and Warner Bros. take effect beginning with the 2025 season and run for seven years. The total sum paid by the four carriers is $7.7 billion, according to industry sources, which parses out to $1.1B per year, nearly a 40 percent increase over NASCAR’s current deals.
NASCAR’s current 10-year media rights contracts with Fox and NBC to televise its 38-race Cup schedule (36 points races plus two exhibitions) will expire after the 2024 season. The terms of those deals generated NASCAR a record $8.2 billion.
While Cup races airing exclusively on a streaming platform is a first for NASCAR, it follows a path paved in recent years by other prominent sports properties. The NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, the Big Ten Conference and the English Premier League each have select games broadcast exclusively on a streaming platform, among others.
As NASCAR sorted through securing its next media rights contract, a point of emphasis within the company was to strike a deal with a digital media company. To fulfill this goal, the league carved out a slice of midseason races to take to the marketplace.
Because these races were previously carried by Fox and NBC, each network will broadcast fewer races beginning in 2025. Fox (and its cable channel, FS1) will annually televise 14 races each season, while NBC (and its cable channel, the USA Network) will televise 14 races.
Amazon will stream its five races right after the Fox portion of the season — spanning the first 14 races — and Warner Bros. will then carry its five races. NBC’s coverage consists of the final 14 races, which include the 10-race playoff.
The new deal will make Fox Sports the all-time leader in both live, flag-to-flag Cup Series races and Daytona 500s.
NASCAR’s negotiations were complicated by several other high-profile sports properties also coming up for bid, all while consumers continue to cut the cord and media companies seek to decrease expenses. Another hurdle was that NASCAR teams rely heavily on corporate sponsorship, with many of these deals negotiated under the premise that every Cup race would be broadcast on either network or cable television.
In 2023, Cup races averaged 2.87 million viewers. This represented a 6 percent decrease from the number of average viewers during the 2022 season, with the caveat that four races in 2023 scheduled for Sunday were concluded on Monday due to inclement weather.
An average of 3.315 million viewers watched Cup races on Fox/FS1 in 2023, a 10 percent decline versus 2022 (3.690 million viewers). The NBC Sports portion of the 2023 schedule had a 1 percent uptick in viewership compared to the 2022 season.
“NBC came back in a powerful way. Those metrics are up. If you consider back in March we were down 15 percent, now we’re down mid-single digits, we’re happy with where that is,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said during his State of the Sport address on Nov. 2 at Phoenix Raceway.
Unlike NASCAR’s previous deal struck with Fox and NBC (agreed to in the summer of 2013 and going into effect in 2015), neither network will carry races for NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series in 2025.
NASCAR is separating the media rights for its top two series. The CW, a broadcast network accessible nationwide via over-the-air television, acquired the exclusive rights to 33 Xfinity races beginning in 2025. That deal is for seven years, with the Sports Business Journal reporting that The CW will pay approximately $115 million per year for the rights that run through the 2031 season.
(Photo: Jay Biggerstaff / Getty Images)