With the end of the Speed Network on August 17, race fans all across the USA have been wondering where they will be able to turn as their new source for racing coverage. There was some early speculation that perhaps ESPN would increase their motorsports holdings, and become as they once where in the Days of Thunder era as the center of televised racing. Recent announcements, however, have seemed to turn the tide against the Walt Disney Company, as well as TNT. Now, it looks like most motor racing roads will lead to the National Broadcasting Company.
In addition to their excellent Formula One, IndyCar, and AMA Motocross coverage, NASCAR and NBC Sports Group recently announced that they reached a comprehensive agreement which grants NBCUniversal exclusive rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content beginning in 2015.
With this partnership, NBC’s 20 Sprint Cup race schedule includes becoming the exclusive home to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s final 10 races of the season, including its season-ending championship event which will return to network television in 2015 for the first time since 2009. Of NBC Sports Group’s 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, seven will be carried on NBC annually, with 13 airing on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). Four of NBC Sports Group’s 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races will air on NBC, with 15 airing on NBCSN.
“NBC is known for being an exceptional partner and delivering outstanding production quality and presentation of live sports, as well as its broad portfolio of broadcast and digital properties so we are thrilled with the commitment they have made to NASCAR and its future,” said NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brian France. “We know this partnership will yield great value to our entire industry, provide a premium experience to our most important stakeholders, the fans, and help us achieve a number of strategic growth objectives. Our new partnership with NBC and the recent extension by FOX validate the strength of our fan base and the many bold steps we have taken the last several years to provide fans with better, more accessible racing.”
In addition to rights to NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races, NBC has also obtained exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for NBC’s national series events during their portion of the season, as well as rights to broadcast the NASCAR K&N Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series, the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and NASCAR’s season-ending banquets. Further, NBC has been granted Spanish-language rights, certain video-on-demand rights and exclusive TV Everywhere rights for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events.
“Acquiring the rights and bringing NASCAR back to NBC comes at an important point in time for NBC Sports Network, NBC, and all of our distributors and affiliates,” said NBC Sports Group Chairman, Mark Lazarus. “We look forward to working with Brian and his management team, who have brought a renewed focus to NASCAR’s intersection of sports and technology.”
“We are excited about the cross-promotional opportunities NBC provides, especially in the timeframes right before NBC’s NASCAR schedule and during the Chase,” said NASCAR VP of Broadcasting and Productions, Steve Herbst. “We’re confident NBC will utilize its powerful Championship Season lineup, including the NHL Playoffs, Premier League, the French Open, the Kentucky Derby and other events, to build interest and excitement for NASCAR. Those opportunities, combined with the opportunity to lead into the number one show on television – NBC’s Sunday Night Football – for select Chase races, were both very attractive prospects when considering this partnership.”
The weekend on July 26-28 is a good example of the networks new focus on auto racing. The NBC Sports Group will air 19 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend across NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Live Extra. Coverage is highlighted by the Formula One™ Hungarian Grand Prix live at 7:30 a.m. ET this Sunday on NBC Sports Network, followed immediately by F1 Extra, a half-hour post-race show.
NBC Sports Network’s F1 coverage begins on Friday at 8 a.m. ET with practice, followed by live qualifying on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will also air GP2, F1’s developmental series, on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call the Hungarian Grand Prix and will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from Hungaroring Circuit in Budapest, Hungary, and will also call the GP2 race.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), who leads the F1 driver standings with 157 points, aims for his fifth victory of the season and third in four Grand Prixes after winning in his native Germany earlier this month. No. 4-ranked Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) took the checkered flag in last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, and looks for his first win of the 2013 season.
In addition to F1, AMA Motocross will air live on NBC on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and continue on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET. NBC will also air Octane Academy at 5 p.m. Jeff Weigandt, Jeff Emig and Kelli Stavast will host AMA Motocross coverage from Spring Creek National in Millville, Minn.
NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets, will also provide comprehensive, live streaming coverage of motorsports this weekend, including off-broadcast coverage of AMA Motocross at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday. A vast majority of coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.
Fans of the excellent motorsports coverage on the SPEED Network website also have a new option to get some of their favorite auto racing news and analysis. MotorSportsTalk on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on Formula One™, IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and all other motorsports racing from around the world. The site also serves as the destination for all news, analysis and video from NBC and NBC Sports Network productions of F1 and IndyCar, including contributions from on-air commentators. MotorSportsTalk’s content is provided by top racing journalists and expert analysts, including:
- Keith Collantine, editor and creator of the F1Fanatic blog;
- Luke Smith, creator of the F1 site RichlandF1.com;
- Tony DiZinno, who has written for RACER Magazine and has covered IndyCar and NASCAR since 2006;
- Christopher Estrada, who has written for the Boston Globe, FoxSports.com, created the Indy Racing Revolution blog and is a contributor to IndyCar’s IndyCar Nation blog.
It will be interesting to see how the void created by the end of SPEED will be filled, but it looks like NBC is stepping up to the plate with a good team of analysts. We will see.
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