The New NASCAR TV Contract is a Step Backwards

In 2001 NASCAR started the season with a historic TV contract. Fox and NBC Sports were going to televise just about all of the Sprint Cup Series (Winston Cup Series as it was then) races on national TV. Set up your TV, adjust your rabbit ears and boom high energy NASCAR racing.

What followed was an unprecedented expansion of NASCAR fans watching the sport. Seats at the tracks were hard to come by as were campsites and motel rooms. Ticket prices for the same rising. Then something happened starting around 2007. Fan numbers visiting the tracks started dropping. Much has said that it was due to fuel prices and the economy in general but was it?

The 2001 through 2006 seasons saw most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series broadcast on either Fox or NBC which most everyone could receive for free without paying for cable or satellite service. In 2006 NBC indicated they would not seek renewal of their contract for the last half of the season. In 2006, the last year of the contract, 26 of 36 races, 15 on Fox and nine on NBC, were on free TV.

ESPN and TNT picked up NBC’s part and most of those races then moved to cable or satellite TV. Suddenly those new fans that did not have access to cable or satellite TV were cut off from regular viewing of NASCAR in the last half of the season. At least ESPN is a widely held channel in the pay TV area, available in most motels, bars and other places with cable or satellite TV.

Through the years there has been much discussion about how to keep NASCAR fans engaged in the sport and bring in new ones. Well first and foremost if a fan gets drawn in during the Fox part of the season via a Jet Dryer explosion or some other drama, only to be cut off in early June when the series moves to cable; that is a problem.

Sure people get busy doing other things during the summer months and viewership does decline naturally but moving to cable is a self fulfilling prophecy.

In 2015, Fox and NBC have the contract back, as in the movie “Back to the Future”. This is a great opportunity for getting back to past success for both networks. Unfortunately that opportunity is being used to sell their other Sports channels; Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Net.

During the Fox half of the season most of the races starting with the last race in April will be moving to Fox Sports 1 a cable channel. This is not only the races that used to be broadcast on TNT but also ones that were previously broadcast on Fox; a step back. Only 10 races will be on Fox in 2015 in lieu of 13 in 2014.

During the NBC half of the season 13 of their 20 races will be broadcast on their cable channel NBC Sports Net. This includes most of the summer races. This is the bright spot in the new contract as there will be seven races on NBC in 2015 compared to only three on ABC in 2014.

Don’t get me wrong, it is great that NASCAR is even on TV, but it just seems that a great product is being wasted by putting it on cable TV. If you’re a NASCAR fan in the Midwest or West that doesn’t have cable TV or satellite, the only way you will be able to stay engaged after May, is an AP piece in the paper on Monday morning.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 303102 Patrick Smith/Getty Images

 

2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule

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The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has some changes over previous year. This year the Southern 500 moves back to its traditional date on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway. The race at Atlanta moves back to March pushing the first Bristol race into April.  There is a new TV Contract with Fox and NBC sharing the season.

2015 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
Date Site Network
2/14 Daytona International Speedway (Sprint Unlimited) FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
2/15 Daytona International Speedway (Daytona 500 Qualifying) FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
2/19 Daytona International Speedway (Duel) FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
2/22 Daytona 500 FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
3/1 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
3/8 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
3/15 Phoenix International Raceway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
3/22 Auto Club Speedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
3/29 Martinsville Speedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
4/11 Texas Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
4/19 Bristol Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
4/25 Richmond International Raceway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/3 Talladega Superspeedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
5/9 Kansas Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/16 Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/24 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
5/31 Dover International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/7 Pocono Raceway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/14 Michigan International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/28 Sonoma Raceway FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM
7/5 Daytona International Speedway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
7/11 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
7/19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
7/26 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM
8/2 Pocono Raceway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/9 Watkins Glen International NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/16 Michigan International Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/22 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
9/6 Darlington Raceway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
9/12 Richmond International Raceway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
9/20 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
9/27 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
10/4 Dover International Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
10/10 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC, PRN, SiriusXM
10/18 Kansas Speedway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
10/25 Talladega Superspeedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
11/1 Martinsville Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
11/8 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, PRN, SiriusXM
11/15 Phoenix International Raceway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
11/22 Homestead-Miami Speedway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

 

2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

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The 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series has some changes over previous year. The biggest change is that the title sponsorship is no longer Nationwide Insurance. The Series is now the Xfinity Series. Other than the title sponsor change there are no major changes to the schedule other than date changes due to the dates of major holidays.  There is a new TV Contract with Fox and NBC sharing the season.

2015 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES SCHEDULE
Date Site Network
2/21 Daytona International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
2/28 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM
3/7 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM
3/14 Phoenix International Raceway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
3/21 Auto Club Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
4/10 Texas Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM
4/18 Bristol Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM
4/24 Richmond International Raceway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/2 Talladega Superspeedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
5/17 Iowa Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/23 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX, PRN, SiriusXM
5/30 Dover International Speedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
6/13 Michigan International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/20 Chicagoland Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
7/4 Daytona International Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
7/10 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
7/18 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
7/25 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC, IMS, SiriusXM
8/1 Iowa Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/8 Watkins Glen International NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/15 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
8/21 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
8/29 Road America NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
9/5 Darlington Raceway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
9/11 Richmond International Raceway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
9/19 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
9/26 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
10/3 Dover International Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
10/9 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM
10/17 Kansas Speedway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
11/7 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, PRN, SiriusXM
11/14 Phoenix International Raceway NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM
11/21 Homestead-Miami Speedway NBC, MRN, SiriusXM
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

 

2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule

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The 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to the dirt at Eldora Speedway this season. They also return to the road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. There are no major changes to the schedule other than date changes due to the dates of major holidays.  Fox Sports continues to the the home of the Camping World Truck Series.

2015 NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE
Date Site Network
2/20 Daytona International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
2/28 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
3/28 Martinsville Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/8 Kansas Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/15 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
5/29 Dover International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/5 Texas Motor Superspeedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/13 Gateway Motorsports Park FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
6/19 Iowa Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
7/9 Kentucky Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
7/22 Eldora Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
8/1 Pocono Raceway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
8/15 Michigan International Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
8/19 Bristol Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
8/30 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
9/18 Chicagoland Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
9/26 New Hampshire Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
10/3 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
10/24 Talladega Superspeedway FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
10/31 Martinsville Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
11/6 Texas Motor Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
11/13 Phoenix International Raceway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
11/20 Homestead-Miami Speedway FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

 

Brian Vickers will Miss the Beginning of the Season, Who should be in?

It was announced by Michael Waltrip Racing that Brian Vickers had surgery to replace a patch in his heart and will miss the beginning of the 2015 NASCAR season. It is not known how many races or how deep into the season he will be out. It also has not been announced who will temporarily replace him.

It only makes sense that the boss, Michael Waltrip, drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine in the Daytona 500 and race at Talladega but what about after that?  Why not take a very sad story and make it into a happy one? How about rotating some new talented drivers and stars of the Xfinity Series or Camping World Truck Series. This would help those drivers and the sport in general by providing some additional exposure.

The first race after Daytona is Atlanta Motor Speedway. The reigning Camping World Truck Series Champion, Matt Crafton would be a great addition to run with the Sprint Cup regulars at the fast, tire eating, 1.5 mile speedway.

The next three races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California would be a great place to show off Daniel Suarez, a young development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing who is driving his first full season in the Xfinity Series.

The short Paper Clip track, Martinsville Speedway shares the next weekend with the Truck Series. Erik Jones driving his first full season in the Truck Series would be a great story. He has three top ten finishes in three starts in the Xfinity Series but more impressive he has four wins in 22 starts in the Truck Series. It would be great to see what he could do with those Cup guys.

That takes the team deep into the Sprint Cup Season. Other drivers to consider if Brian Vickers misses more races would be Jeb Burton who currently doesn’t have a full time ride. If he misses races into June then John Hunter Nemechek, winner of the recently run Snowball Derby, can run after his 18th birthday.

We can’t wait to have Brian Vickers back. No one wants to see a drive have to miss out racing due to injury or health issues but it would be great to see it as an opportunity to showcase up and coming talent and veterans of the other Series.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 302427 Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images