SBD/Issue 144/Sports Media

NASCAR Brings The Ride Along Program To Digital Subscribers

NASCAR and iN Demand officially announced yesterday a three-year partnership where iN Demand will offer to approximately 12.5 million digital cable subscribers a multi-channel TV package to complement broadcasts of NASCAR Winston Cup races. The package, which is a season-long package and not a pay-per-view race-by-race service, offers seven channels — one with a simulcast of the race, one offering statistical data and other race enhancements and five dedicated to views from in-car cameras with live team audio and real-time car data displayed on animated dashboards. The "NASCAR In Car on iN Demand" service will cost $99 in '02 and will first be available for the June 16 Michigan 400. The package will include all 36 races next season. NASCAR VP/Broadcasting Paul Brooks told THE DAILY that the in-car camera channels will use the feed from the main broadcaster of the race, either Fox/FX or NBC/TNT. Therefore, when the main race broadcast goes to a commercial, all of the "NASCAR In Car On iN Demand" channels will also break. Accordingly, ad inventory will continue to be sold by the networks. Brooks would not give an estimate on the number of subscribers NASCAR is aiming for in year one, saying, "We're going to leave that up to iN Demand, who are the experts in selling these kind of packages. Our focus at NASCAR has been in developing a good solid product that fans are going to like and appreciate. ... If we make the product right, then it will be successful." More Brooks: "We don't think it takes eyeballs away from the broadcast. We think it acts as a complement to the broadcast. Fans are going to have a pretty cool new use for picture-in-picture on their TV sets. ... Fans will be able to act as the director and move around from car to car or back to the race coverage as they want to." NASCAR Managing Dir of New Media Jeffrey Pollack added, "This is a first for NASCAR. We really don't have out-of-market events to sell on a subscription basis, so we've had to think creatively about the content." Asked what NASCAR will do to promote the new service, Brooks said, "The best promotion is going to come from the local cable operators and iN Demand that are offering the packages in their specific markets, because that is where we really need to promote and reach out to fans and let them know the package is available on their local cable system and how to order it. We will certainly do our part of promotion — whether it is or Speed Channel — on getting the word out that this package is available" (THE DAILY).

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