In a notable example of how sports are working to use social media to more closely engage NASCAR fans, NASCAR.com has launched its first social game, the NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint. The free Facebook game will be featured within Car Town, an automotive and motorsports game on Facebook that attracts about 9 million unique visitors.
NASCAR.com is managed by Turner Sports, which has been aggressively developing digital properties for various sports, leagues and associations, including NASCAR, the NBA, and the NCAA.
As part of that strategy, Turner has generally pushed to bundle sponsorships across both broadcast and other digital media. The NASCAR Pro Championship game will be promoted in the broadcast on TNT of NASCAR events and Sprint will be heavily integrated into the game, which will run through the conclusion of the Sprint Cup Series on November 20th.
To launch the game NASCAR.com decided to partner with an existing game rather than build its own because of the popularity of Car Town game and close with between NASCAR fans and the auto enthusiasts that play Car Town, notes Justin Williams, senior director of business operations for NASCAR.com. Cie Games, the developer of Car Town, was also willing to work closely with an outside brand.
Williams notes social games are very different than console games. "It is not virtual racing like a console game," he explained in an interview. "This is more about the social aspect of completing activities and gaining points and experience through the social interaction."
Those features fit in well with NASCAR.com's overall strategy of adding activities and additional features that enhance the TV experience, Williams stresses. "It enhances the engagement with the sport when the races aren't running and hopefully it exposes some of the fun parts of NASCAR to people who may not have been exposed to it."