2024 is the last year of the current NASCAR TV deal.
Normally, that would mean that things would more or less stay the same. Or, if one of the TV partners were leaving, there would be a possibility of using their lame-duck status to slack off. That will not be the case this time around since both FOX Sports and NBC Sports will be back in 2025 and beyond.
That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be changes in the final year of the deal. Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced on his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, on Tuesday (Feb. 6) that his contract with NBC expired at the end of last year. As a result, he is a free agent.
“My contract with NBC is up, it ended at the end of last year,” Earnhardt said on the podcast. “I’m currently working through what that means for me. I definitely love being in the broadcast booth and want to continue.”
Note that I said NBC and not NBC Sports. Unlike boothmates Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, whose contracts are with NBC Sports, Earnhardt’s contract was with NBC as a whole. NBC generally saw Earnhardt as more than just a NASCAR personality. They thought he could do more. In addition to race commentary, Earnhardt appeared on Winter Olympics coverage in Pyeongchang, South Korea back in 2018, hosted Lost Speedways and appeared on additional programming.
There are cascading issues that come from the lack of a deal. For example, new episodes of The Dale Jr. Download will not be uploaded to Peacock until this impasse ends, if ever again. However, for fans of the podcast, full episodes of the podcast in video form will be uploaded to Dirty Mo Media’s YouTube channel for the rest of the year, as you saw above. If Earnhardt successfully negotiates a new deal with NBC, then they’ll conceivably start up with the Peacock uploads again. The existing episodes of the podcast are still up on Peacock as of this writing, along with both seasons of Lost Speedways.
The contractual issues could result in unexpected changes for NBC Sports in the final year of their current deal. There are three possible scenarios that could emerge from this situation.
One is likely the best-case scenario for NBC Sports. That would be Earnhardt signing a multi-year contract extension prior to the start of NBC Sports’ portion of the NASCAR season in June. That would maintain the status quo and give NBC Sports a sense of continuity going into…