The 2025 NASCAR Chicago Street Race May Not Be On TV
In 2023, NASCAR took to the streets of Chicago for the first time. In doing so, the sport had an instant classic, both in the setting and because of Shane Van Gisbergen’s shocking win in his first-ever NASCAR race. That set the stage for big things in 2024, but a new TV deal means the 2025 version of the race might not even be on TV at all.
NASCAR reportedly looks to expand its streaming presence
Currently, NASCAR races air on TV networks like Fox, Fox Sports 1, NBC, and USA. Select races are also simulcast onto streaming services like Peacock and Fox Sports Go. However, no race on the NASCAR calendar is exclusively offered on a streaming platform.
That may be about to change.
First reported by Adam Stern and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, NASCAR is shopping a 10-race streaming package for the summer stretch of 2025. And while we don’t currently know what the season schedule will look like, NASCAR tends to keep dates in roughly the same part of the calendar each year.
A potential streaming deal could push NASCAR’s second-most popular race off TV entirely
A lot of speculation is in play here since we don’t currently know the state of the 2025 NASCAR schedule or which 10-race stretch the sanctioning body is shopping to potential streaming partners. However, such a package would likely include Races 13-24 of the Cup Series schedule, handing the playoff run to a traditional TV partner. The same is true for the early part of the season, including the Daytona 500.
Looking at the 2024 schedule, that would mean some of NASCAR’s biggest races wouldn’t be on TV for the first time in 2025.
Using the ‘24 schedule as a reference, the most likely stretch of races would include the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, the Coca-Cola 600 (NASCAR’s longest race), and the Chicago Street Race, which arrived to great fanfare in 2023 and was a huge success with fans.
Streaming NASCAR races is a big leap for the series
The world of entertainment is pivoting to streaming services. But for a sport like NASCAR, streaming is still relatively unexplored. Even the Chicago Street Race, which was both on NBC and streamed live on Peacock, earned just 3.5% of its viewership from the streaming service. That’s just 163,000 people compared to the 4.62 million tuned in on NBC.
Iit’s hard to say what that figure might look like if it were stream only.
NASCAR’s current demographic likely won’t migrate to streaming services
The unfortunate truth for NASCAR is that in its current state, the fan base is unlikely to migrate to a stream-only platform. Moreover, NASCAR is already facing a decline in viewership, losing 5% of its audience in 2023 compared to 2022, according to Sports Pro Media.
This continues a decline that began nearly 15 years ago when the 2008 economic crisis sparked a dip in NASCAR viewership. After a brief recovery in 2019, NASCAR’s ratings have continued to slip from a peak of nearly seven million viewers in 2008 to just 3.7 million in 2023. Pushing a chunk of races to a streaming partner will likely further diminish those figures.
Is NASCAR playing the long game with streaming?
NASCAR is indeed gaining a loyal younger audience. But there isn’t growth to go with it, and there’s no guarantee that a push to streaming will help.
That said, NASCAR is in a state of flux right now, with a new car, street courses, and social initiatives aimed at appealing to a younger audience. But it takes an established and loyal audience to make such a big change in venue work. NASCAR doesn’t have that today. Streaming is probably a necessary risk for the series, but doing so as early as 2025 is likely to come with some big growing pains.