What happened: After months of speculation, NASCAR and Monster Energy announced a one-year extension of the Cup Series title sponsorship. Monster’s deal was up at the end of this season, but it will now run through 2019.
What it means: Monster seemed to have all the leverage after reportedly requesting two extensions on its decision deadline. It already had the Cup Series sponsorship at a steal of a price in the original deal (at least compared to Sprint) and since has spent parts of two seasons as a relatively quiet sponsor. When NASCAR and Monster first announced the deal in December 2016 at a hastily arranged news conference in Las Vegas, there was talk of a culture change and injection of Monster’s youthful, “fun” approach into all things NASCAR. But that hasn’t happened. Today’s NASCAR is the same as it was when Sprint was around, and aside from a Monster display area and Monster girls in victory lane, the sponsor has had little impact on NASCAR itself. Nevertheless, it was crucial for NASCAR to try and extend the deal, because the optics would have been terrible had there been yet another title sponsor change after just two years. At this point, the value of the naming rights themselves seem diminished compared to a decade ago, which could be why NASCAR told reporters it is looking at a different model starting in 2020. It might just be better to try something else than to engage in an annual dance of will-they-or-won’t-they when it comes to signing a new deal, and that seems to be the direction NASCAR may go.
News value: Six. It’s above average because it’s the series title sponsorship, but there’s a lot of fatigue around this story since it dragged on for so long. It would have been much bigger news at this point had Monster decided not to come back, because NASCAR would have been in a real bind.
Three questions: What was the holdup in signing the deal that prevented Monster from meeting the original deadline last December? What other options would NASCAR have had if this deal hadn’t been worked out? Will Monster do anything to increase its role, or will its investment stay relatively the same over the remaining two seasons of its sponsorship?