Fox star Darrell Waltrip (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Mike Mulhern
Quick, somebody give Brian France a big cigar.
Make that a big, big cigar.
Because this is amazing.
The hits just keep on coming....
The NASCAR boss, barely a week after signing NBC to a 10-year deal for an estimated $4.2 (B) billion to $4.5 (B) billion, just signed an extension with Fox, for the rest of the other half of the Sprint Cup series' 36-race tour through 2024.
Fox just agreed to stretch its eight year contract to 10 years, matching NBC's timeframe. And Fox just agreed to pick up those last three Cup weekends still dangling.
The contracts include a potpourri of other races, including the Nationwide series.
The math is mesmerizing: it looks like France has now guaranteed this sport $23 million race weekends through the end of 2024.
That's about $8.2 (B) billion: it looks like $4.5 (B) billion from NBC and another $3.7 (B) from Fox...give or take a few zeros here and there.
Another big-money deal: Brian France, tough at the negotiating table (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
With TV money like that, who needs a live audience in the grandstands?
That appears to be quite the conundrum:
Stock car racing crowds are down, most vividly seen just Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the smallest crowd ever to watch the 20th running of the classic Brickyard 400.
Yet NASCAR's Brian France just pulled out yet another big-dollar payday for the sport -- getting Fox to sign for another two years and also to sign up for those last three Sprint Cup events.
That means, when the new contract kicks in with the 2015 season, Fox and NBC will be sharing the NASCAR tour, Fox covering the first half, beginning with the Daytona 500, NBC kicking off the second half with the July 4th 400 at Daytona.
Both networks' coverage will run through the 2024 season.
Presuming Fox is paying the same price for the contract, about $23 million a race weekend, Fox executives just agreed to spend another $1.3 (B) billion on NASCAR.
What this looks like is that this sport will be getting about $820 million a season from TV, for 10 years beginning in 2015.
The breakout would be 10 percent straight to NASCAR -- $82 million a year --- and 65 percent to the track owners, principally the France family and the Bruton Smith family -- $533 million a year -- and 25 percent for the 10 or so major team owners to share -- $205 million a year.
The downside looks to be that Fox, like NBC, will be pushing a large number of Cup races to cable, rather than carry them on the network.
Fox this season carried all 13 Cup races on its flagship channel; under the new deal it looks like Fox will carry nine Cup races on network, the other seven on its revamped Speed cable channel, being rebadged as Fox Sports 1.
NBC will apparently carry seven of its 16 Cup races on the network, 13 on cable, its new NBCSports channel, the rebadged Versus channel.
This season ABC is carrying three Cup races on network; ESPN carries the other 14.
Fox will continue carrying the NASCAR Truck series; NBC and Fox will share the Nationwide tour.
Brian France's new TV deals appear to be worth more than $8 Billion through 2024.