The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and ESPN have mutually agreed to end their television coverage agreement following the 2015 season. NHRA and FOX Sports officials jointly announced that starting in 2016 the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be televised by FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with four events airing on the FOX national broadcast network during each season of the long-term agreement, providing the world’s fastest motorsport with live coverage of a majority of its events.
The 2016 season was to be the final year of a five-year rights extension deal that took effect in 2012. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has aired exclusively on ESPN networks since 2001 and is currently in its 15th season on ESPN.
“We thank ESPN for its many years of service to NHRA fans,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA president. “We look forward to finishing out this exciting 2015 season with ESPN showcasing the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.”
“The NHRA is an exciting form of racing with a very loyal fanbase,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming. “Unfortunately, we have had scheduling challenges with NHRA programming due to other commitments in the fall.
“We look forward to continuing our event coverage for the remainder of the 2015 season, and to serving fans with the stories of the NHRA on our news and information platforms for many years after that.
“We have tremendous respect for the NHRA and its history and we wish them all the best in the future.”
FOX Sports, which is already the home to high-profile races in NASCAR, Monster Energy Supercross, the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the fully electric FIA Formula E Championship, among others, will significantly expand on its annual motorsports coverage when it adds NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series programming to the lineup next season.
The new agreement calls for FS1 to provide coverage of Friday and Saturday qualifying and Sunday eliminations for each NHRA Mello Yello Series event, with a minimum of 16 Sunday eliminations shows to be presented in a live coverage format, and the remainder shown either in weekend afternoon or primetime time slots. Four of those live elimination shows will air on the FOX national broadcast network.
“This really is a game-changer for NHRA regarding the presentation of our marquee product, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA president. “FOX Sports promises to be just the right media partner we’ve been looking for to help give our professional series the stage it deserves and to provide our passionate fans the timely, quality coverage they are craving.”
The Sunday elimination shows will consistently be presented in three-hour programs and the Friday/Saturday qualifying shows will be two-hours of coverage. In addition, FS1 and FS2 will provide multiple re-airs for all of the events. FS1 also will provide coverage of select NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Sportsman Series events. In total, FOX national networks will feature more than 450 hours per year of NHRA programming.
The deal also includes NHRA racing on FOX Sports Racing in Canada and the Caribbean, as well as FOX Sports GO, the critically acclaimed app that provides live streaming video of FOX Sports content at home or on the go, and now available in 70 million households. Customers of participating video providers may access the live stream of FOX Sports’ NHRA programming through the FOX Sports GO app for iOS, Android, Fire Tablets and Fire Phones, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, select Windows devices, and on desktops through FOXSportsGO.com. Fans can download the mobile app for free from the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store and Windows Store.
“Committing to 16 live events, including four on the FOX broadcast network, certainly demonstrates the commitment and excitement level we have for the National Hot Rod Association,” said Jamie Horowitz, President of FOX Sports National Networks. “As home to the strongest and most diverse collection of racing properties on television, adding NHRA drag racing to the weekly lineup absolutely solidifies FOX Sports as the leader in motor sports television.”
FOX Sports has also committed to heavily promoting all NHRA Mello Yello Series shows throughout its media platforms. NHRA will sell advertising and sponsorship packages and assume responsibility for the production of the shows in concert with FOX Sports, with the creation of an in-house television production group as well as handle all international distribution for the programs.
FOX Sports will join the NHRA in offering this exciting addition to the FOX Sports racing portfolio to the linear and digital marketplace.
The NHRA was represented in connection with this transaction by Desser Sports Media, Inc. (www.desser.tv).
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FOX Sports 1; FOX Sports 2; Fox’s 22 regional sports networks, their affiliated regional web sites and FSN national programming; FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, which includes FOXSports.com, FOX Sports GO, Whatifsports.com and Yardbarker.com. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as licensing agreements that establish the FOX Sports Radio Network.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.