Fox Expected To Pay 25% Increase Over Previous $200 Million Deal

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NEW YORK ( -- After reportedly nailing down eight-year agreements with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and ESPN, as well as cable’s TNT, Nascar is expected to wrap up a hefty rights increase for its TV package by announcing a renewal with News Corp.’s Fox within a matter of days.

Nascar’s take from TV rights is likely to be a combined $4.72 billion for eight years, a significant increase from the six-year, $2.4 billion deal it signed with NBC, Fox and TNT in 2001.
Nascar officials neither confirmed nor denied the agreements, saying only that no announcements were imminent. Many speculated that Nascar would take advantage of being in New York for its annual championship week celebration to make an announcement, but the racing league wants to wait until talks with Fox are completed and then announce the entire package, which begins with the 2007 season.

A Fox spokesman said talks were “progressing amicably, but we do not yet have an agreement.”

Done deals
According to several executives, Nascar has already completed its negotiations with ABC/ESPN and TNT to replace NBC’s portion of the package. After winning the Sunday Night Football package from the National Football League for the 2006 season, NBC decided to back out of the racing business after next year.

The ABC/ESPN deal is for eight years and $2.16 billion, or roughly $270 million per year. The TNT deal is also for eight years and $640 million, or $80 million per year. The combined $350 million annually is a whopping 75 percent increase over the $200 million that NBC and TNT paid yearly for the six-year deal that expires next year.

Fox is not expected to pay a 75 percent increase on the $200 million per year deal it signed with Nascar in 2001; sports marketing experts said a 15 percent to 25 percent increase would be more realistic. Even at 20 percent, that means Fox would pay $240 million a year for eight years, or $1.92 billion.

Big boost
Add it all up and Nascar’s take from TV rights would be a combined $4.72 billion for eight years, a significant increase from the six-year, $2.4 billion deal it signed with NBC, Fox and TNT in 2001.

For their cash, here’s what the networks will get in the deal that begins in 2007:

Fox: A continuation of the first-half package, with 13 races total. But instead of having to share the Daytona 500 every other year with NBC, Fox gets exclusive coverage of Nascar’s kickoff event.

ABC/ESPN: A total of 17 races in the second-half of the season, with ABC picking up the final 11 -- including all 10 “Chase for the Nextel Cup” season-ending races. ESPN will also televise all of the Busch Series events.

TNT: Six summer races in June and July, including the July 4th night race in Daytona.

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