Why NASCAR Doesn’t Have a Cable Channel

EDITORIAL:

Here in the United States, Major League Baseball, the NFL, PGA Golf, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey ALL have dedicated TV Networks. NASCAR is not without it’s trials over the last decade to present an all motor sports entertainment network, but it’s time for NASCAR to pony up with the big boys and start investing in a NASCAR Network.

NASCAR TV or the NASCAR Network

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While NASCAR tried with a partnership with FOX via Speed and certainly has had network presence with NBC, NBCSN, FOX, FS1/FS2, TNT, etc.. But in this day and age, it’s time for NASCAR to consider new technology and the changing demographics of TV watchers and consider creating it’s own distribution capabilities that works in conjunction with their existing or future TV contracts.

Why then with today’s technology isn’t NASCAR working to present options outside the network contracts? Given the current business model and the need for engaging networks for lucrative tv deals, one thing is sure – it’s time for a change.

With today’s landmark Charter deal – In effect as the 2016 NASCAR season prepares to kick off this weekend, the new Charter system addresses three key areas – participation, governance and economics – to promote a more predictable, sustainable and valuable team business model. The agreement grants NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Charters to 36 teams, establishes a Team Owner Council that will have formal input into decisions, and provides Charter teams with new revenue opportunities including a greater interest in digital operations, according to the article. So where’s the discussion on putting money back into something that promotes racing to the fans?

According to the racing site Jayski, NASCAR’s TV contracts have been:

FOX / FoxSports1 (13 races thru 2014; 16 races thru 2024): signed thru 2024
NBC/NBCSN (20 races): 2015-2024
TNT/Turner (6 races): was thru 2014
ESPN/ABC (17 races): was thru 2014

NASCAR TV series could debut by late next year:

According to Jayski’s site; “The producers of a NASCAR-based drama series said this week in Las Vegas that they’re hopeful the show can debut in late 2016 or early 2017.

Husband-wife producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey made the comment this week at Sports Business Journal’s Motorsports Marketing Forum. Sports Business Journal reported that a writer for the series has been selected. Burnett, described this year by AdWeek as “the most powerful producer in television” for being responsible for such shows as “Survivor,” “The Voice,” and “The Bible,” said one storyline in the NASCAR drama viewers could expect to see would focus on the wives of drivers. Zane Stoddard, NASCAR vice president entertainment marketing and content development, said at the forum that the goal of the series: “While it can be about sports, we’re talking about a general audience, so at the heart of it, it has to be about characters, relationships and families – and our sport is laden with those things and some of the attributes that really drive great storytelling, like independence, rebellion and … family.”(NBC Sports)(12-6-2015).”

Reality TV – SPEED TV Lessons

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driving forceHow sad was it when you flipped on the tv and Speed was gone and you were staring at just another ESPN like FS1? It was like you lost a dear friend. Qualifying – GONE! Week long Daytona – GONE! – Mikie Wallace goofy NASCAR TV – GONE!

How great would it be to have NASCAR Reality shows supporting a NASCAR Network. We’re talking about the whole ball and wax. Shows that cater to the drivers, the techies, the speed freaks, the race travelers, the transporters all could provide great programming.

Don’t get us wrong – Reality shows are all the rage. Heck, who didn’t get a laugh watching “Driving Force”, the first known racing reality show. But that’s not what’s needed. Sure “Days of Thunder” and “Taladega Nights” were great entertainment, but what we’re talking here is RACING – ALL NASCAR ALL THE TIME.

Communications Company and Media

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Bloomberg News did a piece back in 2012 discussing challenges for NASCAR CEO Brian France after the passing of his father and NASCAR legend, Bill France.

“I wanted to grow the pie. One way to do that was consolidating the TV rights, which we did in 1999. We couldn’t be a national franchise sport without a broadcast package that reflected that. We needed the money to drive the commercial growth of the sport. The networks, like Fox (NWSA), NBC, TNT (TWX), weren’t thrilled with that.” I think he really has dropped the ball here.

Think about it. You’ve had one of the top three national mobile companies engaged with NASCAR and what has the fan gotten? Well, at the track, they’ve gotten more expensive devices to listen to races. That’s it! So there’s a partnership that’s not worth a whole lot. Maybe it’s time to align to the Viacom Cup! XFinity Cup (hint)?

What this looks like is that this sport will be getting about $820 million a season from TV, for 10 years beginning in 2015. The breakout would be 10 percent straight to NASCAR — $82 million a year — and 65 percent to the track owners, principally the France family and the Bruton Smith family — $533 million a year — and 25 percent for the 10 or so major team owners to share — $205 million a year. With TV money like that, who needs a live audience in the grandstands?

What Channel is the Race On?

And again, we’re just NASCAR fans. Sure it’d be great to just know where the races are on the tube, and what time they’re going on. Look at the YES Network – the home to the New York Yankees. Surely NASCAR could put a product out there that could be as big as just one baseball team don’t you think?

Time to Get Going – At Speed!

Fans are tired of the excuses. What NASCAR needs is a plan. It’s not like it’s going to hurt audience viewership (that’s been going down for years).

Seriously, with technology as simple as Periscope – it’s time to get started on a ALL NASCAR Network.