NASCAR fans got a treat during the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20. Once again, NASCAR rolled out a VOD package that enhances viewing. Subscribers can almost jump behind the wheel with some of the country’s hottest drivers for the 36 races that comprise the Nextel Cup series. Jeffrey Pollack, NASCAR managing director, broadcasting and new media, talks with B&C’s Ken Kerschbaumer about how the biggest sport in America caters to fans.
When the VOD package came out two years ago, it seemed like an interesting experiment. Has it worked?
Both consumer and critical reaction have grown. This is a new type of TV experience, and we’re realistic in terms of how quickly it will be adopted. For us, this is all about increased viewer choice and control.
Any changes to the package this year?
It hasn’t changed much. It’s still seven channels of dedicated in-car cameras, live telemetry data and live in-car communications. The focus is on the fans’ ability to switch from car to car.
How much does it cost?
A full-year subscription is $99, but we have an early-bird special through Feb. 27 of only $79.
Will you add more channels in the future?
Right now, we’re limited by the number of cars with cameras in them. On any given weekend, it could be eight to 12, so we settled on seven channels. But as the seasons roll on, this venture will grow and change. We’ll have more room for things, to the extent that set-top box interactive applications become more widespread.
Is this kind of offering something other sports should be looking into?
I don’t want to comment on others, but we’re pretty unique. NASCAR is very fan-friendly. I look at this as akin to strapping a camera onto an NFL or NBA player during the heat of competition.
You have broadband and wireless services. Is NASCAR a natural fit for new-media technologies?
We’re very bullish on our portfolio of new-media ventures. We have 75 million fans in the U.S., and about 40 million consider themselves hard-core. They spend an average of nine hours a week on NASCAR media. Our job is to make sure we’re bringing the sport to fans on platforms that are meaningful, interesting and real.