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NASCAR President: ‘Broadcast TV Has To Be Part Of Next Rights Deal’

“After the 2022 season, FOX and NBC would likely have an exclusive window to negotiate with the league.”

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The contract between NASCAR and its media partners, FOX and NBC, runs out after the 2024 season. Much has been speculated about what the sport’s media future looks like. Earlier this week, NASCAR President Steve Phelps appeared on the Marchand and Ourand Podcast to discuss exactly that.

Phelps knows that over-the-top streaming platforms are in the sport’s future. He was keen to mention that NASCAR is aware of the different levels of consumer control offered by various platforms. No matter what though, he says racing will be on traditional television.

“The team model is very dependent on sponsorship so we need to make sure that whatever partner that we would move, that we would go to… stay with or move to. There wasn’t any foreshadowing there, I promise you. We need to make sure that over-the-air is an important part of what that will be,” he said.

With three full seasons of racing still left on the current deals, there is plenty of time before NASCAR rights hit the open market. After the 2022 season, FOX and NBC would likely have an exclusive window to negotiate with the league. Steve Phelps is optimistic for the position NASCAR could be in by that point.

“I think that 2022 will be the best year that NASCAR has had on television in a long, long time. That certainly bodes well as we head into negotiations.”

The first two weeks of the season have shown growth. The Daytona 500 just delivered its best ratings in three years. Still, there is a long way to go to catch up with pre-pandemic numbers. In fact, that Daytona number becomes a little less impressive when you factor in that the 2020 and 2021 editions of the race were the least watched in history.

As for what media outlets could offer competition to FOX and NBC, Phelps was not specific. He did mention that he was happy with the E:60 documentary ESPN produced about driver Bubba Wallace and that he thought the network’s Daytona 500 coverage was excellent. He still expressed a desire to see ESPN give NASCAR more attention in the future.

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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