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Volume 20 No. 46
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NASCAR Media revamps business model

After years of working for teams on a project-to-project basis, NASCAR Media Group is revamping its business model to allow teams to hire it on retainer for year-round video production services.

The NASCAR-owned company recently began pitching teams on the new business model, and Michael Waltrip Racing became the first to sign NASCAR Media Group on retainer.

Michael Waltrip’s team is the first to sign NASCAR Media Group on a year-round basis.
As a result of the deal, Michael Waltrip Racing has a dedicated producer working to develop video content for its website throughout 2011. It has used the NASCAR Media Group team to shoot and edit videos of everything from Michael Waltrip appearances to recaps of Martin Truex’s performance in the recent Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The team decided to hire NASCAR Media Group after hearing its sponsors like NAPA and Aaron’s emphasize the importance of new media to their marketing. Its leadership team hopes investing in a more robust website will offer partners a better return on their investment and make the team more attractive to future advertisers.

The retainer offerings fit into NASCAR Media Group’s ongoing effort to diversify its revenue. The company last year moved into a $43 million facility in downtown Charlotte that provided a major upgrade to its production capabilities. It has become more active in supplying NASCAR and racing-related programs to networks ranging from Speed to ESPN and also developing non-racing programming such as a “Hard Knocks”-style show about the University of Virginia football team.

“What is different is that we’re starting to look at this as a business partnership rather than one-off project work,” said NASCAR Media Group Chief Operating Officer Jay Abraham.

The retainer packages are priced based on a team’s need. Costs are determined by the amount of producer time, edit time, custom shooting and travel expenses a team will need.

NASCAR Media Group splits all of its profits with tracks (65 percent), teams (25 percent) and NASCAR (10 percent).

While other leagues and teams own and control their own content, NASCAR’s decentralized structure means that it has the rights to at-track content. It sold its digital rights to Turner Sports, and teams are restricted in how they use video content as a result. Videos can’t be monetized with traditional, pre-roll or banner advertising, but they can be used to promote the sport and the team.

The Turner agreement ends in 2014, and Abraham said NASCAR is reviewing options ranging from selling its digital rights to creating a trust where all the teams bundle their rights together with the league.

“As we look at the world come 2015, those are valid questions being addressed internally within the walls of NASCAR,” Abraham said.