SBD/August 28, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Comcast, NASCAR To Announce 10-Year Deal Next Week For Xfinity To Title No. 2 Series

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Comcast and NASCAR plan to announce a 10-year sponsorship agreement next week that will turn the sport’s secondary circuit into the Xfinity Series. The deal, which is valued at close to $200M, is expected to be announced on Wednesday in Charlotte, according to sources. Comcast and NASCAR both declined to comment. The announcement follows several months of negotiations and represents a major achievement for NASCAR. The sanctioning body began looking for a title sponsor late last year after current sponsor Nationwide Insurance decided to discontinue its sponsorship. Comcast emerged as a viable replacement after the company’s sports TV group, NBC, signed a 10-year, $4.4B rights deal with NASCAR. As part of the deal, Comcast agreed to spend $10M marketing and promoting the sport. Its marketing team saw title sponsorship of NASCAR’s secondary series as a way to fulfill that obligation and also promote its cable TV, broadband and phone business unit, Xfinity. Comcast initially wanted a shorter-term deal and resisted NASCAR’s push for a 10-year agreement. However, in recent weeks, it decided to commit to 10 years to match the length of NBC’s broadcast deal. NASCAR was asking for $12-15M a year in rights fees, with media and activation commitments that would take the total value of a deal to more than $25M. A deal of that size would have been an increase from the approximately $10M in rights fees Nationwide spent for title sponsorship of the series. NASCAR was unable to find a replacement partner willing to pay more for a series that had seen its average TV viewership per race fall from 2.06 million in ‘08, when Nationwide started its sponsorship to 1.7 million this season. Comcast approved a rights fee in ‘15 of approximately $9M, with media and activation commitments that would take the total spend to more than $18M.

FOOTPRINT KEY TO THE DEAL: The company’s ability to make the deal work will depend on the size of Xfinity’s national footprint. Xfinity currently operates in 40 states and provides cable and broadband services in several U.S. cities with NASCAR tracks nearby: Atlanta, Miami, Chicago and Detroit. But Comcast is waiting for regulatory approval of a $45B merger with Time Warner Cable, and that merger would expand Xfinity’s footprint into traditional NASCAR areas such as Texas and the Carolinas. NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell spearheaded the sale. Comcast Senior Dir of Sports Brand Strategy Matt Lederer and Senior VP/Marketing Communications Peter Intermaggio led Xfinity’s negotiations. GMR Marketing serves as Xfinity’s sponsorship consulting and activation agency.
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