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Volume 26 No. 230
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NASCAR To Buy Back Digital Rights From Turner, Take Over Management Of Website

NASCAR and Turner Sports announced a deal that will see NASCAR buy back its digital rights from Turner and take over the management of NASCAR.com in '13. Under the agreement, Turner will continue to oversee digital ad sales through '16. Turner has held NASCAR's digital rights since '00. "One of the keys for me was to have our digital relationship run beyond our TV deal," said Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy. NASCAR's TV deal with Turner ends in '14. "It was also important for me to keep quality content -- and NASCAR has quality content -- in our portfolio." NSACAR VP/Digital Media Marc Jenkins said the deal allows the sanctioning body to invest in its digital operations for the first time. Jenkins: "A third-party is not going to invest to build something out unless there are some economics there to drive it. From my perspective, we're going to put the fan experience first and build a level of engagement we just don't have and need to build." The deal immediately gives NASCAR more editorial control of NASCAR.com. The sanctioning body will spend the rest of the year developing plans for what it wants NASCAR.com to look like after it takes it over in '13. It will begin hiring staff and digital experts to support that vision, as well. Jenkins said: "This announcement allows us to go full steam into the market and figure that out." Jenkins said NASCAR averages 6.5 million monthly uniques, far less than the 50 million monthly uniques digital ad buyers typically look for when making media buys. That was primary reason NASCAR cut a deal that will see Turner continue to sell advertising for NASCAR.com through '16. Jenkins: "You need someone to aggregate a ton of traffic to go to advertisers with scale. Turner does that and in the digital space there's no better group than David and his team" (Ourand & Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

FOR THE FANS: Jenkins said, “This move is about the media, our sponsors and most importantly, our fans. We will build an innovative portfolio of platforms that strives to be as diverse as it is comprehensive. For our fans, our digital platform will become the online destination for all things NASCAR. For everyone else, it will be the vehicle we’ll use to turn them into fans.” NASCAR Media Group Entertainment Dir Scott Warfield said that the sanctioning body will use the ‘12 season “to gather feedback from within the industry and develop rules of engagement for its social and digital media platforms” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/31).