Motorsports properties retooling biz models
The motorsports industry is preparing for a seminal year in 2019, as several of the world’s foremost series are revamping themselves with key decisions set to be made in the coming 12 months.
NASCAR and Formula One are in the midst of some of the most consequential decision-making processes their respective series have ever faced.
This year will also see the debut of the new W Series, an open-wheel series for women that will race solely in Europe in 2019 before trying to expand to the U.S. in 2020.
NASCAR’s sales and marketing teams have been working behind the scenes to map out a new sponsorship model for the sport. The new model will be more akin to the NCAA’s, which features tiers of sponsors but no single brand that has its name attached to the league. But it also will be unique to NASCAR, including the integration of assets from other stakeholders.
Sponsorships make up about 75 percent of teams’ annual revenue and salespeople continue to face a tough market for selling their inventory. While new sponsors are still coming in, and there has been the occasional home-run deal like Hendrick Motorsports landing Ally Financial, many companies are either coming in with fewer assets or cutting back on some they’ve held. Because of this, and spurred by Furniture Row Racing’s closure, teams are now being audited by Deloitte as part of an initiative that could result in a budget cap or other measures to rein in spending.
The NASCAR industry is flooding casino operators with sponsorship opportunities related to sports betting in 2019, while the governing body finalizes new rules related to sports wagering. That sets up this year as the one in which deals should start being struck between motorsports operators and casinos and other gambling entities.
Although its identity has yet to be revealed, IndyCar is close to naming a new title sponsor to replace Verizon. The open-wheel series also enters its first year in which NBC — which is building itself into the new home of motorsports in the U.S. — will be its sole media rights holder.
F1’s quest to grow in the U.S. has likely come slower than Liberty Media was hoping for. While Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations, has run into major hurdles in his efforts to land a second U.S. race in Miami, he’s said to be having conversations with Las Vegas about possibly adding a race there. McLaren CEO Zak Brown also recently said that F1 plans to host a second demonstration event in another destination city in the U.S. in 2019 after debuting one in Miami last year.