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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

If we’re being candid, the NASCAR coverage we have seen from FOX and NBC in recent years hasn’t really been anything to write home about. So naturally, it was a sigh of relief for fans when NASCAR announced it would be diversifying its portfolio for 2025, partnering with Warner Bros. Discovery and Amazon. And if that was not good enough, we learned that Dale Earnhardt Jr will be returning to the commentary booth with Prime. However, amid all this excitement, there is one concern that has rained on fans’ parades. 

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced that Prime Video will kick off its Cup Series coverage with NASCAR’s Crown Jewel, the Coca-Cola 600, on May 25, 2025. Although this seems like another reason for NASCAR faithful to celebrate, there is more to this story. And the consequences we are talking about could leave NASCAR with the short end of the stick.

How is Amazon’s 2025 NASCAR announcement bad for Charlotte and the fans?

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After signing the media rights deal with NASCAR, Amazon seems to be firing on all cylinders. And this became quite apparent when they announced a documentary on Dale Earnhardt Sr called The Intimidator. The four-part docuseries, which Prime Video promised will have unparalleled access and never-before-seen archival material,will also have Junior’s involvement. Despite having all the ingredients for success, it looks like they forgot about a big piece of the puzzle.

What we are essentially hinting at is that fans will now require an Amazon Prime membership to view not just the docuseries but also the famed event – the Coca-Cola 600. Famous YouTuber and NASCAR insider Eric Estepp couldn’t help but address this. In his latest video, he said, “I empathize with the many fans out there who don’t have Amazon Prime and are not interested in subscribing. That is a hurdle that both Amazon and NASCAR are going to have to overcome.”

It’s no secret that streaming has become quite expensive. An Amazon Prime membership costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year. Although Estepp added, It is worth mentioning that there are more than twice as many Amazon Prime subscribers in the United States as there are cable subscribers. Cable subscriptions continue to dwindle, so Amazon is extremely popular,” there’s a good chance that fans who don’t have Prime membership wouldn’t want to add another platform to account for. But he did mention a silver lining.

“As streaming services go, there’s a high likelihood that many fans do have Amazon or know someone close to a family member who has Amazon Prime. So all things considered, it could be worse,” Estepp said, but added, I understand why this won’t be a super popular move amongst many existing NASCAR fans. I totally get it.”

As if switching between FOX, NBC, and USA Network wasn’t enough, fans now have another platform to account for. According to Estepp, this could hamper viewership numbers in the short run. The race had already witnessed a fall of nearly half a million viewers from 2022 to 2023, making it vital that all goes well in 2024. If not, the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Crown Jewel status for the Coca-Cola 600 may be in jeopardy.

While things may go south for now, the YouTuber highlighted how Amazon is playing it smart in the long run.

Why is Charlotte the perfect venue for Amazon’s debut?

It’s no secret that the Coca-Cola 600 pulls one of the highest viewership numbers every season. While Prime Video’s takeover could potentially lead to the numbers taking a hit, there are twice as many Prime members as cable subscribers. This inevitably gives the platform an advantage in the long run.

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To ensure that, Eric Estepp believes Prime Video has no choice but to make a Crown Jewel event their first race. He stated, “This is a fantastic opportunity to introduce NASCAR fans to a brand-new platform. It’s the greatest day in racing.” With Dale Earnhardt Jr’s presence as an added bonus, fans will surely transition, eventually. To back this up, Estepp also highlighted that Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football viewership is up 6%, year-on-year.

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He concluded, “Short-term, likely going to take a viewership hit but long-term, this is a great opportunity for Amazon to promote its new relationship with NASCAR – a Crown Jewel race to open its portion of the schedule. I can see why a TV executive somewhere signed off on this.”

After looking at Amazon Prime Video’s grand debut campaign, will you be a day one viewer?