Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: New TV Deal a Step in the Right Direction

The CW will broadcast the final eight races of the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season instead of the originally planned NBC broadcast, NASCAR announced April 11.

This comes following the announcement that the entire series will be broadcast by The CW in 2025.

This was of course quite the bombshell in the TV world, given that broadcast partners don’t tend to switch up after a season has begun. And as such, it’s high time for a primer for those who might not be aware of who the new kid on the block will be come the Xfinity playoffs.

The network itself was born out of a merger between the Warner Brothers Television Network and the United Paramount Network in 2006. The two entities had found some success with a few series, but ultimately lost billions. They decided to combine efforts, and The CW was born.

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The mid-2010s were a period of reinvention for The CW, as the network was becoming the shiny new toy on the back of shows like The Flash. In short, the company was starting to make some real money. The CW entered the streaming era guns blazing, and to spare the nitty gritty, came out way ahead.

Fast forward to 2022, and The CW was sold to Nexstar Media Group, the same company that more than likely owns one of your local news stations.

This purchase led to Nexstar wanting to expand the network past what it had been doing and into a focus on sports. The network began by attaining the rights to LIV Golf, followed by Atlantic Coast Conference football and basketball games, Inside the NFL, and then the Xfinity Series before adding WWE’s NXT.

What does that mean for NASCAR and its fans, then? For now, not much outside of different channels to watch. NBC Sports will still produce the Xfinity races, with Rick Allen, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton as commentators. Practice and qualifying will be moving to USA and/or the NBC Sports app.

However, it means much more than that from a long-term perspective. The debate about NASCAR broadcasts has been hotly discussed. Deciding between the two, quite frankly, is night and day and near impossible. It doesn’t make a difference since it has always had to be one or the other.

If the brass at The CW has kept its listening ears on throughout the entire process (or even have an X [formerly Twitter] account, for that matter), it should know very well what NASCAR fans want to see less or more of in their broadcasts, and now have the time to plan accordingly (albeit less than originally anticipated). The final eight races of this year may be just a test, but eyes should be glued to the screens either way for one simple reason.

What if it’s much better?

Competition is the name of the game. For comparison, when EA Sports was awarded exclusive rights to the NFL to produce a simulation-style video game, the Madden series became the only title to produce a game of its nature in the space. The most recent game currently has a 1.4 user rating on Metacritic. Without competition, what reason is there to innovate? The product that race fans are forced to sit through on some weekends now is a product of the exact same situation.

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With a new entrant into the space, NBC and FOX could very well be forced to innovate once again and actually listen to the griefs of fans across the country. Just think: no more cutaways during heated battles for the lead. No more missed camera shots on spins or crashes. No more random cautions without explanation or seeing what actually caused it. Does it not sound glorious?

What The CW brings to the table is a fresh set of eyes, a fresh crew and a fresh perspective on what the broadcasts should be. Yes, NBC will still be producing, and the names in the booth probably won’t see that much change. But with time, The CW could be exactly what NASCAR needs at exactly the right time.

A new home for race fans sounds quite nice, even if it’s just repainting the walls at first glance.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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Hope springs eternal.

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