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NBC Sports Is Dead: What Will NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA Do?

Sad news this week that NBC Sports Network is shutting down. Home to motorsports coverage like IndyCar, NASCAR, and IMSA, what will those sanctioning bodies do? Will there ever be motorsports broadcast on mainstream networks? Is motorsports racing dying so quickly NBC is bailing on all that it supports?

With the growth of ESPN and Fox Sports, NBC Sports Network’s popularity dwindled

The dedicated sports network has been around for decades. But in recent years with the growth of ESPN and Fox Sports, it has seen its popularity dwindle. NBCSN will move its broadcasting schedule over to the USA Network at the end of 2021. 

USA already has some car-related content with Proving Grounds, Caffeine and Octane, and coverage of Mecum auctions. Can the USA Network stab still more content into its already crowded schedule? We’re thinking “of course.”

NASCAR
NASCAR | Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

NASCAR signed a $4.4 billion, 10-year deal with NBCSN back in 2014

There will still be some NASCAR events broadcast on Fox Sports. It split racing coverage between itself and NBC in years past. Since NBC owns the USA Network that move makes sense. At least for now. NASCAR signed a $4.4 billion, 10-year deal with NBCSN back in 2014. So the two are bound by the hip for the next few years. 

“We are committed to ensuring that NASCAR and IMSA races are carried and distributed smartly to our broad and loyal fan base,” NASCAR said in a statement. “NBC is a best-in-class partner and we will work together to ensure continued high-quality delivery of our events now and in the future.”

As for IndyCar, it has been offered streaming of its practice sessions through what is called IndyCar Gold Pass. NBC just started Peacock, which is a streaming network. It requires a subscription. And this arrangement might only last this year as NBC’s contract with IndyCar ends at the end of this year. 

Streaming is considered by some to be the future of broadcasting

A general view of the pagoda and front stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Getty

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Streaming subscriptions are considered by some to be the future of broadcasting. Not just sports, but entertainment, in general, being made available to the public will increase in this form. Boxing has been set up like this for decades. So maybe NBC’s move is prescient? What happens to its broadcast staff hasn’t been revealed. 

As for IMSA, it might be lucky to get the same offer. So far, nothing has been mentioned as to its broadcasting fate. We’re expecting the same arrangement as NASCAR is getting. At this point, NBC will be adding a lot of content to see what plays and doesn’t. With luck, these early moves toward motorsports racing will do well. If so, it could potentially open up room for more motorsports coverage. 

So right now NASCAR, IndyCar, and hopefully IMSA, will all be stalking horses for more to come. If motorsports are your deal tune in to further your own best interests. Keep the flame alive, otherwise, it could all go away once contracts end.