SBJ/June 19-25, 2017/Media

Earnhardt talking to both Fox Sports, NBC Sports

NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in talks with Fox Sports and NBC Sports about joining one of their broadcast teams, according to industry sources, the clearest sign yet that Earnhardt is close to a move to the booth.

Fox and NBC are NASCAR’s two media rights holders, with respective deals that run through 2024. Earnhardt, NASCAR’s most popular driver every year since 2003 and the son of late icon Dale Earnhardt Sr., announced about two months ago that this would be his last year racing full time. He has stated he was open to getting into broadcasting after enjoying guest stints in the booth with both networks, but talks with the two networks had yet to be reported.

It is unclear which, if any, of the two networks is closer to a deal with Earnhardt, or whether he has definitively committed to getting into media. Industry observers for years have been expecting Fox to eventually seek a successor to Darrell Waltrip, the 70-year-old NASCAR Hall of Famer who has called NASCAR races for the network since it bought the sport’s media rights in 2001. NBC, meanwhile, is seen as having less of a natural move to make were the broadcast booth to stay as three-men teams. NBC’s two analysts, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, have received strong reviews and are under the age of 50.

Fox and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, co-owner, vice president and business manager of JR Motorsports, the NASCAR Xfinity Series team she co-owns alongside Earnhardt, declined to comment. NBC had not commented by press time.

Earnhardt started working with WME earlier this year, the first time in his career that he has worked with outside representation. But how involved WME is with the talks was unclear as of press time. NASCAR broadcasters typically earn low-to-mid-seven figures annually, according to media industry executives.


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