NASCAR opts for smaller role in esports venture
NASCAR declined to join the joint venture between 704Games and the Race Team Alliance that owns the eHeat Pro League esports series, according to sources, but the sanctioning body remains involved in the effort.
The three entities jointly announced the new esports effort last December, and it was originally thought that NASCAR was an equal partner. The league is unique in that it represents the first time actual teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series have jointly backed and gotten involved with an esports series, which the industry views as a way to drive growth.
But while NASCAR remains involved in the league as a licensing partner, sources told Sports Business Journal that the sanctioning body ultimately decided against becoming an ownership partner in the original joint venture.
NASCAR’s decision was made in part because it felt that its resources were already devoted to other initiatives, a source familiar with the matter said. The decision was made this past offseason, but had not been reported. At that time, NASCAR was preoccupied with structural changes that resulted in dozens of layoffs, among other time-consuming matters with teams. The series was also wary about becoming an equity partner in an esports league because it’s involved with a separate esports series, the eNASCAR Peak Antifreeze iRacing Series.
Still, sources emphasized that all parties were happy with the decision and did not view it as a negative development. Executives involved declined to comment for this story.
The eHeat Pro League uses 704Games’ “NASCAR Heat” console game, which is aimed more toward casual fans and video game players, as opposed to the iRacing Series, which is aimed toward hardcore simulator drivers.
Despite not being a partner in the joint venture, NASCAR remains deeply involved in contributing to the eHeat Pro League, licensing its marks and helping provide manpower and advertising inventory for free or reduced prices. For example, the sanctioning body worked with International Speedway Corp. track ISM Raceway to hold the series’ draft there.
As part of the licensing relationship between NASCAR and the joint venture, NASCAR receives 10% of the profits from the series. NASCAR also is on the series’ advisory board with an equal amount of seats as the other partners.
Through five races so far this season, 704Games says it’s averaging 75,000 combined live views per race across streams that appear on Facebook, Twitch and NASCAR’s digital channels. The game maker also said that orders of the new “NASCAR Heat 4” game coming out in September are up 90% versus last year after the first two weeks of orders.
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