According to a Sports Business Journal report, ESPN and Turner ditched NASCAR — not the other way around.
ESPN and Turner Sports each informed NASCAR in early July that they did not intend to bid on the available television rights packages, Sports Business Journal reported Monday. The rationale was similar for both organizations — declining television ratings made NASCAR a less attractive property.
Turner, according to the report, “ultimately decided that more NASCAR races weren’t worth the investment.” ESPN, meanwhile, “had soured on the sport because of declining TV ratings, an aging fan base and a tough ad sales market.”
The report casts a somewhat negative light on both NASCAR — apparently abandoned by two high-profile broadcast partners — and NBC Sports, which will pay $440 million per year for rights through 2024.
Of course, NASCAR will be hard pressed to shed tears over being spurned by ESPN and Turner. Fox and NBC alone will pay NASCAR a combined $740 million per year through 2022, up nearly a third from the current annual haul of approximately $560/year on Fox, ESPN and Turner. That does not factor in the remaining package of three Sprint Cup races and 14 Nationwide Series telecasts.
(Mon. news from Sports Business Daily)