Xfinity’s title sponsorship of NASCAR’s secondary series begins this week as the brand embarks on a decade-long effort to woo race fans and win over cable subscribers.
The Comcast subsidiary’s mission from the drop of the first green flag is to get fans up to speed with its X1 platform, and Xfinity is rolling out a series of NASCAR-specific features to showcase the technology.
|Xfinity taxes over as title sponsor of NASCAR's secondary series.
Xfinity, whose deal with NASCAR is for 10 years and worth close to $200 million, is making a concerted effort to do all marketing around the series in a decidedly race-centric context.
At the track, Xfinity’s activation efforts will revolve around the Xfinity Zone, which will tout X1’s features in ways such as showing videos of drivers talking about their experiences with the operating platform.
“The great thing about the X1 platform is since everything is in the cloud, we can make changes and updates and get new functionality and content in front of our customers at a pace we’ve never seen before,” said Matt Lederer, senior director of sports brand marketing for Comcast. “So we’re kind of lucky that NASCAR has a long season because we’re going to have opportunities throughout the year to be able to introduce new things to the fans over the course of year one.”
Lederer did not want to reveal specific features that will be part of the X1 NASCAR package, but prior iterations of
For Xfinity’s coverage of NASCAR, a sport immersed in numbers, this theoretically could take the shape of showing live metrics of categories like lap speed, pit-road stops, laps led and biggest movers in the field of drivers.
A fan using the system would use his remote control to access the system and the additional elements.
“That’s the unique aspect of X1: It’s actually created through the new television interface that looks and feels more like a user interface from an iPad,” said Todd Fischer, vice president of client management at GMR Marketing, which is Comcast’s sports marketing agency. “So you would have apps on the main screen of your television, and then you would be able to view sports content in a totally different way through the X1 sports app. It would not only show you the program but also show you other sports events that are happening simultaneously.”
Another big part of X1’s NASCAR package will include video on demand. Comcast has been working with NASCAR to attain exclusive highlights for X1, and the brand will kick off the video-on-demand streaming at Daytona International Speedway with a series of the top 10 races of all time that have been run at the track. The brand also is working to create digital videos that will spotlight some of the Xfinity Series’ up-and-coming drivers.
|The Xfinity Zone will be the centerpiece of Xfinity’s trackside activation.|
At the track, Xfinity will activate at what currently is scheduled to be 14 race weekends throughout the season, including stops mostly in Comcast-wired markets plus a few at iconic tracks such as Daytona and Charlotte Motor Speedway whose regions don’t have Comcast capabilities.
At the Xfinity Zone activation area, an emcee will play music and drivers will make appearances as fans mull around different exhibits showing off the X1 platform in the context of racing. At one section of the zone, titled Driver’s Den, fans will get a behind-the-scenes look at drivers and how they “enjoy entertainment beyond just racing,” Fischer said. The first edition of Driver’s Den will feature Edwards and Chase Elliott.
An Innovation Station will feature a show car and Xfinity representatives outlining how both the company and NASCAR have used technology to evolve through the years. Furthermore, a retail experience will allow fans to try out the X1 platform and ask questions on the topic — cable television’s version of a test drive. Promotional efforts such as giveaways will be part of the zone as well.
Xfinity recently announced that it will continue the popular Dash4Cash promotion that sees money and prizes given out to both winning drivers and selected fans as part of a multi-race competition that occurs in season. As far as its search for return on investment, Lederer said Xfinity will be tracking results closely. He said Comcast’s ROI research includes both in-house and third-party metrics.
“We want to see impression levels of Xfinity increase with NASCAR fans. But maybe even more important, we
|Fans will be able to try out the X1 platform at the Innovation Station.
“Consideration from sports fans has grown tremendously over the last five or six years. We’ve been a lot more aggressive in our messaging around sports. … And now we’re going to look at taking that consideration of NASCAR fans and moving that in the same direction.”
The company also will be seeking to make inroads in the business-to-business space, which is one of NASCAR’s calling cards. Comcast will use hospitality assets as part of the deal to entertain groups including its business group, prospective and current customers, and other employees. B2B efforts will highlight Comcast’s portfolio of services such as Internet, ethernet, video, voice and Wi-Fi.
Overall, Lederer is steadfast in his belief that the at-track, at-home and mobile experiences will be improved dramatically for NASCAR fans thanks to the investment the company is putting into the sport. Xfinity is taking over the naming rights from Nationwide, and Lederer thinks the insurance company left the series in good shape.
From NASCAR’s perspective, Steve Phelps, executive vice president and CMO, said that having a technology-based partner will help move the sport forward.
“Creating this entertainment experience is going to be a very important thing for our fans. They’re going to bring the Xfinity Series, and NASCAR in general, closer to the fans,” Phelps said. “Not to kind of brag, but I think the choice of Xfinity was a very smart one for our fan base.”