SBJ/April 30-May 6, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NASCAR makes initial hires as it prepares to bring digital in-house

NASCAR has begun filling out the executive team that will oversee its website and digital operations after it takes control of those operations next year from Turner Sports.

Marc Jenkins, NASCAR’s vice president of digital media, plans to have as many as six direct reports overseeing the sanctioning body’s digital business. NASCAR executive John Martin, who has managed the Turner relationship, will oversee group operations, and Jenkins recently hired longtime Raycom executive Colin Smith to manage the digital platform.

In addition to those positions, Jenkins wants to hire as many as four more executives. He is looking for a director of advertising services, who will work with Turner Sports and NASCAR’s New York sales office to develop sales inventory and content areas available for sponsorship. He’s also looking for a director of digital services, who will work with constituents such as teams and tracks to incorporate them into NASCAR’s digital efforts, and he may hire a director of content rights, who will negotiate syndication deals with TV affiliates and digital media platforms such as YouTube.

Jenkins said he will look to those directors to determine how many employees they need in order to carry out their respective jobs, so he won’t have a clear idea of how large NASCAR’s digital staff will be until later. The jobs will be based in NASCAR’s offices in Charlotte; Daytona Beach, Fla.; and New York.

“We’re trying to remain lean and entrepreneurial,” Jenkins said. “If we get a résumé in from someone who has the right experience and they’ve done distribution deals and have great ad experience, then we wouldn’t need to hire two [people] for those jobs. We might be able to hire one and then hire support staff.”

As managing director of digital operations, Martin will manage the technology that distributes live video, photos and print on Web, mobile and tablet platforms. Martin was a key member of the executive team that developed NASCAR Media Group’s production and office facility in Charlotte. He joined NASCAR five years ago after being at Turner Sports.

Smith joins NASCAR after a 17-year career at Raycom Sports, which sublicenses ACC broadcasting and digital rights from ESPN. He has served as the company’s vice president of new media and distribution since 2006, and he played a central role in its development of a mobile and tablet app that provide live streaming of ACC games.

“The thing that we found really exciting about Colin was that he’s been a leader in the digital space with a brand in the ACC that’s really rich with content,” Jenkins said.

As NASCAR’s managing director of digital platform, Smith will determine everything from what e-commerce platform NASCAR.com uses to what its mobile apps look like. He’ll also manage the site’s content. The role puts him a position where he will likely need to hire a director of mobile, a director of subscriptions and e-commerce and an executive editor, Jenkins said.

Smith sees a lot of similarities between Raycom’s role developing digital offerings for the ACC and NASCAR’s role in developing a digital platform for the entire industry.

“You have a lot of stakeholders, a lot of moving parts and a lot of vested interests in the sport,” Smith said. “You have a very avid and loyal fan base. Both have a product made specifically for digital.”

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