NASCAR Thursday announced a significant restructuring designed to streamline its business operations and position it for its upcoming television rights negotiations, CEO BRIAN FRANCE said. The organization hired STEVE HERBST as VP/Broadcasting & Global Media Strategy, filling a position that has been vacant since former broadcasting VP DICK GLOVER left in ‘08 to become CEO of the OrDie Networks. Herbst, who will be based in NASCAR’s N.Y. office, most recently worked as Exec VP & GM of CBS College and spent 19 years prior to that at the NBA where he rose to Senior VP/Broadcasting & GM of NBA TV. At NASCAR, Herbst will manage broadcast relationships with rightsholders Fox, ESPN and Turner. He also will be critical to its television rights negotiations process. Its current rights agreements end in 2014. France said, “There’s nobody that we have interviewed that’s better suited to assess that (broadcast) situation and get our broadcast partnerships at the highest level they need to be. We’re really excited to have him on board.” Herbst will report to NASCAR Media Group President PAUL BROOKS. France said NASCAR does not plan to launch a network of its own despite recently building a production facility in Charlotte and hiring Herbst, who has experience launching a network. France said, “We’ve got a unique situation in that we’ve got a relationship with the Speed Channel, which is in 74 million homes, so we’re going to build on that relationship before we consider trying to go a long way around. We’re going to make sure that relationship serves the purpose of us having our own network.”
STREAMLINING OPERATIONS: NASCAR also streamlined its business operations by shifting responsibility for sponsorship, licensing, auto aftermarket and new business to Chief of Sales JIM O’CONNELL. Licensing and auto aftermarket previously reported to Brooks. France said Brooks will continue to sit on the board of NASCAR’s licensing trust, the recently formed licensing clearinghouse composed of representatives from NASCAR and 30 teams. VP/Licensing BLAKE DAVIDSON and Managing Dir of Auto Aftermarket TODD ARMSTRONG will report to O’Connell. NASCAR plans to hire additional senior-level sales staff to support the consolidated intellectual property division. O’Connell will continue to report to NASCAR CMO STEVE PHELPS. In addition to overseeing those efforts, Phelps adds responsibility for NASCAR’s digital operations to his duties. MARC JENKINS, who has been promoted to VP, will manage the digital business and report to Phelps. Turner currently holds NASCAR’s digital rights as part of an agreement negotiated in ‘05.
TIME TO INNOVATE: Brooks will continue to serve as NASCAR Media Group President and will lead a newly created NASCAR Innovation Group that is tasked with driving innovation and integration of technologies across everything from cars to media platforms. France said, “Paul’s going to have a huge job in terms of the broadcast still reporting to him. He’s going to be instrumental in getting Steve Herbst up to speed, but Paul’s going to have to sell technology and innovation through the entire industry. Nobody’s better suited than he (is).” In addition to those changes, NASCAR promoted JILL GREGORY to VP/Industry Services, GEORGE SILBERMAN to VP/Regional & Touring Series and MARCUS JADOTTE to VP/Public Affairs & Multicultural Development.