I have written several times on this website’s sister page, InsideDirtRacing.com, that the landscape of dirt racing was forever changed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was around that time, with the restrictions placed on large gatherings, that streaming broadcasts began to proliferate across Dirt Late Model, Sprint Car, and Modified competition. Now, there is rarely an event to take place on clay surfaces that cannot be viewed live within the comfort of a living room, hotel room, or in a sports bar.
The way sporting events are being viewed by fans is most definitely in a state of transition. A few years ago, people were buying massive televisions with ever increasing screen sizes often for the purpose of watching sports. Now, many viewers seemed to have gravitated toward watching on much smaller screens such as those on a tablet or even a phone. This allows fans to watch on the go while located in a place with no available television, riding in the passenger seat of a car, on a bus, or even an airplane.
While many no doubt still do watch on those big screens while sitting in a living room, we do not have to be bound to a sofa to watch sports anymore. And like dirt racing, NASCAR is, or will, quickly move to the small screen as the primary means of viewing.
Of course, other sports such as the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball have been streaming for years. NASCAR has as well through applications such as FoxSportsGo or Peacock provided by their broadcast partners at Fox and NBC. But is there a chance that could change in the near future?
Dirt racing has a number of streaming services that offer a wide variety of events.
DirtVision covers the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series as well as other forms of motorsports. FloRacing.com shows the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as its primary offering along with many other types of racing while raceXR.plus features its own XR Super Series along with other divisions. Each of these streams charges a subscription fee with a variety of different packages available to the customer.
Unlike NASCAR’s situation with its broadcast partners, the dirt racing streams, for the most part, operate independent of television networks. But could a separation from the television broadcast partners in order to create an entirely unique streaming service be a possibility for NASCAR?
Recently, the NFL announced it was moving its ‘Sunday Ticket’ service away from DirecTV to YouTube to the tune of $2 billion per year. Those who have Sunday Ticket have the ability to watch out-of–market games meaning, of course, that fans of teams not within the area from which they are watching never have to miss their favorite team no matter where they live or happen to be.
A cable subscription or satellite package will likely not be needed to watch the NFL going forward. Simply having an internet connection and a subscription to a premium YouTube deal will allow a fan to watch games. If someone wants to watch football and not have to pay for channels that show home improvement, reality shows, or B-list celebrities performing unusual tasks, this could be the perfect option.
With the current NASCAR television package, a cable or satellite subscription is typically needed even to watch a stream. A deal similar to that of the NFL could allow fans to watch without a cable subscription further helping many to cut the proverbial cord.
And depending on the nature of the deal, those streamed broadcasts could offer fewer commercials than a typical network airing.
Of course, there are options such as SlingTV or even a digital antenna but those come with a cost or may bring other complications.
The real question here is whether or not some sort of streaming service such as those used in dirt racing would be viable. In other words, a streaming service solely dedicated to the coverage of NASCAR. The sanctioning body does already have a deal with FloRacing for showing lower divisions of racing. Would such a thing work for the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series?
Obviously, the key is just how many people would purchase such a service. Like anything else, if it is believed that such a thing would be profitable, those in charge will find a way to make it happen.
The current television contract with Fox and NBC is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. Negotiations will begin within this year with those two networks. Almost certainly, the various streaming options to be used going forward will be a major topic in those discussions.
There are as many as 16 different NFL games that take place over the course of a weekend where there is only one NASCAR Cup Series race. Still, having some sort of streaming package that exists outside of a network could bring in fans who may have already cut that cord.
It’s all about costs and profits. Would you pay for a separate streaming service that offered only NASCAR coverage including live races?
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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