NASCAR to unveil entitlement partnership

NASCAR has been looking for a new title sponsor for its second-tier series.

Nationwide Insurance has been the corporate name on the No. 2 series since 2007.

Last year the firm announced it would not return as the title sponsor but would be increasing its involvement in the sport with car sponsorships, track sponsorships and would remain as the official insurance provider of NASCAR.

NASCAR officials have called a press conference for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, “to Unveil a Historic National Series Entitlement Partnership.”

Comcast’s Xfinity has been in contract negotiations with NASCAR to become title sponsor of the sport’s secondary series. The company’s broadband, TV and phone division is considering a five- to six-year deal valued at more than $100 million.

The potential agreement would see Xfinity pay approximately $9 million in rights fees and $9 million in media and activation in its first year as title sponsor. Its annual spending would increase in subsequent years. Comcast declined to comment.

Discussions moved into the contract phase and executives have begun telling officials in the sport that a sponsorship is done, but the deal still faces obstacles.

Fox Sports and Comcast-owned NBC Sports are slated to split television rights to the series from 2015 to 2024. Sources said that Fox wants assurances that Comcast will spend equally on advertising across both of the series’ rights holders,

The sport’s secondary circuit would be labeled the Xfinity Series. The deal, which is valued at close to $100M, is expected to be announced on Wednesday in Charlotte, according to sources.

The announcement follows several months of negotiations and represents a major achievement for NASCAR

Comcast emerged as a viable replacement after the company’s sports TV group, NBC, signed a 10-year, $4.4 billion rights deal with NASCAR.

As part of the deal, Comcast agreed to spend $10 million 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 decline.

Comcast approved a rights fee in 2015 of approximately $9 million, with media and activation commitments that would take the total spend to more than $18 million.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com