“Their Great Idea Is… Cable?” Fans Left Questioning NASCAR as Media Partners Band Together for a New Sports Streaming Venture

Published 02/06/2024, 9:45 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

As a sport, NASCAR has reacted well to digitization. Since the first flag-t0-flag broadcast of the 1979 Daytona 500 with the legendary Ken Squier in the broadcast booth, the sport’s ways of reaching the masses have changed drastically. Last year, NASCAR announced an expansion of its media presence after extending media rights to platforms like Warner Bros., Prime Video, and TNT Sports.

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In recent news, NASCAR’s new partner Warner Bros., a long-time stakeholder in FOX, and Disney are entertaining the thought of a mega-collaboration. This deal will likely mean NASCAR’s essential media partners, like FOX Sports and TNT Sports, can be viewed on a single application. If one looks closer, one can find an uncanny resemblance between the new sports streaming joint and a linear TV cable setup. NASCAR fans have viewed it through a similar lens as well.

What does the new sports streaming collaboration imply for NASCAR?

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The deal details revealed that the Cup Series live broadcast will be divided between the various platforms. With new partners like TNT Sports and Amazon Prime receiving a minor share of the 38 Cup races, the situation could change through the deal’s timeline from 2025 to 2031.

As for NASCAR viewers, the coalition of these media houses is a huge dilemma. NASCAR wanted to expand its presence by broadcasting TNT and Prime Video races. However, if the proposed deal goes through, NASCAR fans must choose between paying for two platforms. TNT Sports and FOX Sports can significantly cover the Cup Series season. However, the other half of the deal lies with NBC and Prime Video.

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It will require viewers to purchase two different subscriptions. Even though it differs from NASCAR’s original media rights plan, its semblance to old-school cable TV service is striking. Fans have questioned the cost of streaming races, and rightfully so. Three media houses combining to provide their coverage on the same platform will cost the viewers a hefty monthly amount.

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NASCAR has always catered to the fandom’s needs. With the landscape around the sport changing, it will be challenging to find the support of fans throughout the transition. However, fans will eventually get acquainted with viewing races on the available platforms after some time. Since the plan is still in the works, NASCAR fans have forecasted the intentions of this deal, while some have even gone as far as calling it a premium cable service.

Fans question the money-minded move of uniting sports streaming services

The historical sports broadcaster ESPN offers its fans a premium service, ESPN+. If the joint venture’s plans come to fruition, ESPN+ will become redundant as the new platform becomes the home of multiple sports streams. This is a considerable loss for existing users of ESPN+. Questioning the same, one of the fans wrote on Twitter, “What’s the point of espn+ then or bleacher report app. They’re just trying to find new ways to milk every cent.”

Another fan dramatically hinted that sports broadcasting has been infiltrated by commercialization and tweeted, “One step closer to the end of days.”

Commenting about the existing subscriptions becoming redundant and combining to cost NASCAR fans more money, one of the fans posted, “Ah yes. A 19th app that’ll cost $20 a month.”

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Linear TV is a huge part of NASCAR history. For a sport that is followed by passionate fans and reflects an unfiltered side of racing, its fans will have a big adjustment to make. Hinting at the ridiculous prices, NASCAR fans will have to pay for a product similar to cable. A fan tweeted, “It’s cable television, and it will cost even more than my old cable bill!!”

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However, the question remains: Will NASCAR find a way to appease its fans with an offer that reduces costs by a large margin? From the looks of it, NASCAR is expecting its fans to adjust to the changes slowly. Considering the new media rights deal begins next year, the sanctioning body has a year to make amends with its fans.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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