NBC Sports returning to NASCAR in 2015

NBC Sports is back with NASCAR, starting in 2015.

Officials from NASCAR and NBC Sports Group announced on Tuesday they have reached a 10-year agreement that grants NBC the exclusive television rights to the final 20 Sprint Cup Series races, the final 19 Nationwide Series events, select NASCAR regional and touring series races and other live content from 2015-2024. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

NBC will replace ESPN and TNT's coverage of NASCAR. FOX Sports will televise the first 16 Sprint Cup points-paying races, including the season-opening Daytona 500, before NBC takes over. TNT wrapped up its six-race coverage of Sprint Cup earlier this month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. ESPN's Cup season begins with the Brickyard 400 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Under the agreement, NBC will become the exclusive network for the championship Chase in NASCAR's premier series. It will be the first time NBC covers the 10-race Chase since 2009.

Of NBC Sports Group's 20 Sprint Cup races, seven will be carried on NBC annually. NBC Sports Network will air 13 of them. The 19-race package for Nationwide includes four on NBC and 15 on NBC Sports Network.

"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," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. "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."

NBC's coverage of select Chase races in the fall will lead into the network's "Sunday Night Football."

"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," NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus said. "We look forward to working with Brian (France) and his management team, who have brought a renewed focus to NASCAR's intersection of sports and technology."

In addition to its coverage of Sprint Cup and Nationwide races, NBC has obtained exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions for the network'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 awards banquet.

Furthermore, NBC has been granted Spanish-language rights, certain video-on- demand rights and exclusive TV Everywhere rights for its Sprint Cup and Nationwide races.

"We are excited about the cross-promotional opportunities NBC provides, especially in the timeframes right before NBC's NASCAR schedule and during the Chase," NASCAR VP of Broadcasting and Productions Steve Herbst said. "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."

ESPN covered some races in NASCAR's top circuit during the 1980's, '90s and 2000 before FOX, NBC and TNT had exclusive coverage of the series from 2001-06. ESPN returned to NASCAR in 2007 and has been with the sport since then.

"ESPN has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with NASCAR," ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement. "We have tremendous respect for the France family, the drivers and all in the sport and wish them well. We will continue to serve NASCAR fans through SportsCenter and our other news platforms as we continue to enhance our industry-leading collection of quality assets.

"We are looking forward to the start of our Sprint Cup season and will continue with our deep commitment to the highest quality coverage."

Turner Sports has been covering NASCAR events for 31 years. TNT aired its first Cup race in July 2001.

"Turner Sports is proud of the partnership we've built with NASCAR over the past 31 years and the role our company has played in helping to grow the sport," David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports at Turner Broadcasting, said. "We think NASCAR is an attractive property but we are disciplined in our approach to negotiating sports rights and could not come up with a business model that was financially prudent for our company."