It’s a funny old life being a sports fan, there’s the ups and downs you get when watching your team play or your driver race, there are the ups and downs you get from your team when they release/sign someone or make a strange a decision and then there are the ups and downs you get when the governing body makes a decision. It can sometime seem that not a day goes by without you either being happy or sad at something going on in the world of sport.
The last couple of days in the world of NASCAR have been a perfect example of this emotional roller-coaster that us sport fans have to put up with. First we had the major announcement from NASCAR and Brian France that a new TV deal had been agreed, that will run from 2015 to 2024 and see NASCAR get paid a very healthy $4.4 billion. I’m not going to go through each point but a general breakdown of the deal is:
- Final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (7 on NBC, 13 on NBCSN)
- Final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series races (4 on NBC, 15 on NBCSN)
- NASCAR K&N Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events
- NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series events
- NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony and season-ending banquets
- ‘TV Everywhere’ live-streaming rights for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series
- Spanish-language broadcast rights on Telemundo and Mun2 for national series events and NASCAR Toyota (Mexico) Series
The emotions kicked in straight away, first there was the happiness at the amount being paid which is a fantastic sum of money and one that will surely help the sport grow. But then came the realisation by some fans that NBCSN is a channel that requires an extra subscription to receive and will therefore cost more money, coupled with the worry that races might now get shuffled around to cater for F1 and Indycar (it has since been confirmed that this wont happen). Then the worry comes about what will happen to NASCAR and its media reach when a company of ESPN stature is no longer involved with the sport. ESPN have confirmed that Sportscenter will still cover the sport, but fans will have to wonder just how committed to the sport they will be if this is their only link to it. Many fans have argued that NASCAR already gets short shrift from SC, a point I wrote about over a year ago and fully agree with, so are we going to see it fade into even more obscurity?
I’m not effected by this deal as we already have to pay for an extra channel, that isn’t included in any subscription package, if we want to see any Cup races. In fact it has been a good few years since we got one season that was not on a subscription channel and it is just something that we British NASCAR fans have got used too. Of course the hope will be that NBCSN gets moved onto a different subscription package that will make it more affordable for fans to watch, but it’s still an added worry that we as sport fans come to accept happens as a loyal follower of the sport.
But then as if to lift the doom and gloom that some fans were preaching after the announcement was made, the excitement came back when we were treated to the NASCAR Truck Series having their first two practice sessions on the dirt track of Eldora Speedway. Even when the season gets under way with the Daytona 500 I have never seen twitter so full of excitement and anticipation than I did yesterday as fans eagerly waited to see NASCAR take to a dirt track in the first time in 43 years. Any animosity that fans had from earlier seemed to instantly disappear as we watched drivers and trucks step out of their comfort zone and get to grips with the challenges a dirt track presents.
Ever since it was announced earlier in the year that this even would happen it has probably been the one race that every single fan has said they couldn’t wait for. It would be interesting to see what the audience viewing figures are for the second practice (the first practice session wasn’t televised) as I bet it beats all other practice sessions this year including those ones in the Sprint Cup Series. These are the type of decisions that we love NASCAR making, the type that make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up when we think about them, the type that gets maximum publicity for the sport and gets even non NASCAR fans excited about watching a race.
While yesterday was a day filled with the ups and down of sport, it was one that was ultimately a day of wonder and amazement. One that started off with a slight worry about how the sport will progress in the future and fans getting priced out of the sport but ended with an agreement that if NASCAR can make the type of decisions that they did to bring the Truck Series to Eldora than the sport can grow and thrive. After all as much as these ups and downs play havoc with our sporting emotions we love having our heart-strings tugged and it makes us even more passionate fans.