SBD/June 5, 2012/People and Pop Culture

NASCAR Restructuring Media Group; COO Jay Abraham Leaving Company

Five years after bringing all of its media operations under one roof, NASCAR is recasting NASCAR Media Group as four independent departments: NASCAR Broadcast, NASCAR Production, NASCAR Digital and NASCAR Entertainment. They will have separate financial goals but continue to share the same P&L and revenue with racetracks. The sanctioning body in its announcement today described the move as a rebranding. The change brings with it several shifts in personnel. NASCAR CMO STEVE PHELPS will assume oversight for three of the four departments, taking over the responsibilities once held by NASCAR Media Group President PAUL BROOKS, who left the organization in March. He will have two direct reports: MARC JENKINS, VP/Digital and STEVE HERBST, VP/Broadcasting & Production. Managing Dir of Entertainment Marketing & Business Development ZANE STODDARD will continue to report to VP/Strategic Development ERIC NYQUIST. Herbst takes over responsibility for production from longtime NASCAR Media Group COO JAY ABRAHAM, who is leaving the organization. Phelps said, "It doesn't mean the group from a functional standpoint is going to change all that much. If you look at the core group in terms of the talent we have and product they produce, it's an incredibly high quality and that's something we want to continue." Herbst said that he will spend more time in Charlotte as a result of his new responsibilities and will rely on several recently promoted execs there. Also, as part of the changes, STEVE STUM was promoted to VP/Operations & Technical Production, TALLY HAIR was named Managing Dir of Production & Programming and SETH BACON was named Senior Dir of Broadcasting. Herbst said, "We have a world class facility in Charlotte and a lot of talent."

FOCUS BACK ON NASCAR: As part of the change, NASCAR's production division will cease production of college sports and other content and focus exclusively on NASCAR programming. Phelps said that NASCAR Media Group's revenue from production of non-NASCAR programming was insignificant. Phelps said, "It's the right thing that those folks are going to focus on NASCAR. We need to build our NASCAR audience. We need to focus on our fans. We took our eyes off the ball a bit." The change is not a significant one for NASCAR's digital and entertainment divisions. NASCAR's digital division had been brought into its marketing department a year ago in anticipation of its agreement last December to regain control of NASCAR.com from Turner Sports. The production department, however, had remained a central part of NASCAR Media Group. Phelps said that changing its name to NASCAR Production signals to employees that they're part of NASCAR, not a separate entity. Phelps said, "That may seem like semantics but I don't think it is. There was a separation from the name as ridiculous as it sounds."
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