NASCAR president Steve Phelps says that the next television deal needs to be done before the industry can finalize a new charter agreement.
“I think the race teams have seen that,” Phelps said during his annual season-ending state of the sport address. “With that said, we’re currently having discussions with our race teams. We had a meeting last Wednesday with a team owner council where the entirety of the meeting was about charters and charter extensions.”
The business of charters and media rights are amongst the biggest matters NASCAR is navigating. Both the current charter agreement and media rights deal with Fox Sports and NBC Sports end after the 2024 season.
A charter not only guarantees a spot in each race but a portion of the television revenue. The value of a team’s charter is based on performance. The system was introduced in 2016.
“We’ve acknowledged that we want to change the paradigm for our race teams and we need to make sure our race teams are profitable, we need to make sure our race teams are competing on the racetracks,” Phelps continued. “We are interested in having their enterprise value climb. No timeline (on getting a deal done), but we are, as we’re finalizing our media rights, talking about other portions of what our charters would look like that are not financial.”
On the television side, Phelps admitted the ratings have been a mixed bag this season. The viewership numbers for Cup Series races were down, as much as 15% in March, but it’s now mid-single digits since the second half of the season.
“We’re happy with where that is,” Phelps said.
Fox Sports has been a partner since 2001 and broadcasts the first half of the season. NBC Sports took over the second half in 2015, signing talent like Steve Letarte fresh out of the garage, and later, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The next media rights deal would begin in 2025. NASCAR has not indicated which networks are in talks for the next rights deal.
“The amount of interest in attaining our media rights for ’25 and beyond exceeded our expectations,” Phelps said. “It is our expectation that not only having a great result with the CW with our Xfinity Series, and what’s going to be an incredible 33-race schedule on broadcast television that we’re going to have a very strong result with media partners that will look at a combination of broadcast, cable and streaming to some degree.
“What that looks like, I don’t know. Are we getting toward the end of this process? We are. Did I think we would have a result earlier? I did. But we haven’t. It’s an incredibly competitive marketplace. But with that said, I want to assure all our race fans, anyone who is listening, and certainly the media corps here, we have had tremendous interest in our sport from a media rights standpoint.”