NBC Sports will return to televising part of NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup stock-car racing series starting in 2015 under a 10-year deal announced Tuesday.
The deal means ESPN and Turner Sports (TNT), which currently share NASCAR coverage with Fox Sports, no longer will carry Cup events after next year.
Financial terms weren't announced. But the NBC pact is valued at about $440 million a year, or $4.4 billion overall, according to people with knowledge of the deal who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
"Obviously [it is] a very exciting and huge day for the sport of NASCAR," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said on a conference call. "There's a real excitement about partnering with NBC."
The deal calls for NBC to carry the final 20 of the Cup series' 36 annual races — seven on the NBC broadcast network and 13 on the NBC Sports Network cable outlet.
That stretch includes NASCAR's Chase for the Cup title playoff over the season's final 10 races.
Fox Sports broadcasts the first 13 races of the Cup season, including the Daytona 500. In October, NASCAR signed a $2.4-billion contract extension with Fox, also starting in 2015, that runs through 2022.
That leaves three Cup races whose television rights starting in 2015 are still being negotiated. "We plan to place that [segment] very soon," said Steve Herbst, NASCAR's vice president of broadcasting and productions.
ESPN currently carries the final 17 races of the Cup schedule — the first of which is this Sunday's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — and Turner Sports has six Cup races in the summer.
ESPN is paying about $270 million a year under its eight-year deal for its NASCAR rights and Turner Sports about $80 million, or a combined $2.8 billion over their full contracts.
NBC, which formerly carried NASCAR from 2001 to 2006, also acquired rights to the final 19 races of the season in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series, whose full 33-race schedule currently is carried by ESPN. Rights to the first half of the Nationwide schedule are still being negotiated.
With its new NASCAR deal, NBC suddenly has become a major source for U.S. motor-racing viewing. The company also carries Formula One and many races in the Izod IndyCar Series.
TV ratings for NASCAR's Cup races have been flat in recent years, but they still averaged about 5.8 million viewers last year.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun