FOX Sports looking to expand NASCAR programming

SPARTA, Ky. — FOX Sports is looking to expand its NASCAR programming beyond its recent eight-year, $2.4 billion extension of broadcast rights of the Sprint Cup Series.

FOX is involved in discussions to broadcast at least half of the Nationwide Series as well as adding some additional Cup races beyond its current extension, sources close to the negotiations told the Observer.

Currently, ABC/ESPN broadcasts the entire Nationwide schedule. However, this week Nationwide Insurance asked for an extension of its exclusive negotiating window to extend its current deal so that it would know what the series’ TV partners will be.

Sources said FOX is looking to perhaps add some of the Cup races broadcast by TNT to its lineup and broadcast the Nationwide Series during the same period on the schedule. The Nationwide races would likely appear on FOX Sports 1, which replaces Speed Channel in August.

FOX Sports spokesman Lou D’Emilio said he could not address the NASCAR questions directly.

“As a sports media business we’re naturally interested in acquiring as much quality content as makes sense for FOX Sports from a programming and economic standpoint,” he said.

ESPN/ABC has not yet started negotiations with NASCAR on extending its TV deal covering the Nationwide Series but is expected to by next month.

Asked if the network wanted to retain the rights, ESPN spokesman Andy Hall said, “We have a good relationship with NASCAR. It’s good programming for us and we’d like to continue.”

When NASCAR’s first TV deal debuted in 2001, the Nationwide Series races were split among the television partners but have been aired exclusively by ABC/ESPN since 2007.