ESPN, NHRA extend multimedia agreement

ESPN and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) have agreed to extend their exclusive agreement across ESPN's multimedia entities.

The new seven-year pact, including a two-year ESPN option, will begin with the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and continue through the conclusion of the 2013 season, representing, at that time, a 13-year exclusive relationship between the two companies.

The agreement includes distribution rights for NHRA programming and content on numerous ESPN outlets, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN International and ESPN.com, as well as opportunities involving emerging media such as Mobile ESPN, ESPN360, video on demand and interactive TV.

ESPN2 will continue to offer coverage of all 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events on a same-day basis. In addition, the network will continue to televise the 16 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events, featuring the Top Alcohol Dragster and Alcohol Funny Car categories.

"This multimedia agreement represents our long-term commitment to the NHRA," said Kelly Laferriere, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. "NHRA has an incredibly loyal following, and as a result, delivered strong results for the network. We look forward to continue to bring the excitement of NHRA's two premier series to living rooms around the country into the next decade."

This year, ESPN2 became the exclusive home of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the network has posted significant audience growth. Through Oct. 25, ESPN2 is averaging 525,000 household impressions and a 0.6 rating, marking increases of 18% (vs. 446,000) and 20% (vs. 0.5) over last year at the same point.

"Clearly the benefits of being on ESPN2 are immeasurable," said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. "Since the relationship began with ESPN, we have seen very significant growth in nearly every area of the sport, including viewership, sponsorship and fans. This new extension promises to continue to build on the momentum the sport currently enjoys and, along with our recent extension of POWERade as the series sponsor through the next decade, assures a solid foundation for our future."