“This Is a Huge Mistake”- Fans Pass Harsh Verdict on NASCAR’s Prime Video Deal Amidst Growing Fear of the Sports’ Alienation
A new concern has grabbed the attention of the NASCAR community. Since time immemorial, NASCAR has attempted to lure new fans into following the sport with expansion and globalization. However, with the existing set of fans beginning to lose interest in the sport, it has affected the viewership by a great deal. Platform viewership has been on the decline since the change of the decade. While NASCAR has taken responsibility and struck new deals with broadcasting platforms, the situation only seems to have worsened.
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The championship race at Phoenix promised the fans an incredible display of racing. But even with four contenders evenly matched and Ross Chastain delivering the goods, more was needed to appease the fans into tuning in to the race. The grand event averaged only 3 million viewers, the lowest for any Cup Series championship race since 2004. Amid rising concerns, NASCAR has partnered with Amazon Prime Video and Bleacher in an effort to expand their digital streaming services and garner some views.
NASCAR strikes major deals to gain pace in digital streaming
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As per recent reports, in a bid to improve viewership, NASCAR has already taken some dire steps. In the current scenario, digital streaming platforms have been on the rise and trounce TV by a distant margin. The ease of accessibility and portability also play a major factor in it. In a hope to capitalize on this growing digital phenomenon, NASCAR has sought the services of Prime Video and Bleacher Report.
The midseason digital streaming package was for a mere six races. However reports suggest, the new deal sees an expansion to 10 races, about one-third of the season’s races. Prime Video has been touted to get a major chunk of the races and will allow only users with a subscription to stream the events. Bleacher Report will also contribute to the cause, and the deals are waiting to be announced by next week.
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Prime Video has had prior experience working with NASCAR after collaborating on a documentary about NASCAR’s historic return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier this year with the ‘Garage 56’ project.
🔲 NASCAR could announce deals as soon as next week's banquet. https://t.co/EuDj0KYD6J
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) November 20, 2023
The decisions come in the wake of a fading viewership statistic. There has been a drop in the viewership by 5 percent since 2022. NASCAR has resorted to NBC, Fox Sports, FS1, and USA Today networks to broadcast its Cup Series races. The average number of viewers dropped from 3.03 million in 2022 to 2.86 million viewers, which is a concerning decrease.
The latter phase of the season saw a rise in viewership for NBC. The last 20 races of the season experienced 2.47 million views on average, close to 2.45 million in 2022. In the second-tier Xfinity Series, NASCAR has received almost similar numbers, but the Truck Series viewership has also gone down by 5%.
NASCAR had signed a seven-year deal with CW Network for Xfinity Series broadcasting earlier this year. In a deal worth $800 million, CW will telecast all 33 races with pre-race sessions from 2025 to 2031. The plans have been in place for NASCAR, but the numbers still need to. As for the latest deal with Prime Video, fans have expressed displeasure at NASCAR incentivizing fans to take costlier subscriptions.
Fans slam decision-making body for ‘alienating’ the sport
NASCAR has been a niche sport for a long time. It has significantly less viewership and fanbase than other globally successful racing sports like Formula 1. On top of that, the decisions from the upper management have created a gap between the viewers and the sport as a fleeting interest has emerged even among the long-term fans.
“Makes sense…if you want to alienate and have even less viewership. They are so out of touch with the fanbase.” commented a fan, lamenting the already bad situation about TV viewership.
Another user targeted the scarce availability of Prime Video subscriptions in the fanbase. Calling the decision a wrong step, he said, “I know a lot of people, and nobody has Prime Video. IMO, this is a huge mistake.”
So they take a 5% decrease in viewership and want to lock it behind a paywall??
Absolutely incredible sanctioning body we have.
How does this grow the sport at all?
— KLG NobleWarrior88 (@NGaming88) November 20, 2023
Another fan wrote that despite having a Prime Video membership, he would prefer to watch it on the TV like it should be watched. This view has been a general opinion within the fanbase. Focusing on TV broadcasting could pay dividends for NASCAR. However, with that also failing, one must surely explore the options. The fan wrote,
“Ridiculous!!! Even though I have prime Video. Not how I want to watch a race. My TV package is over $200 a month with direct TV. And I’m on a fixed income.”
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A certain fan put it bluntly and relayed that the best option would be to research the viewership pattern and obtain insight into which TV network brings the most viewers. “Stick to network TV that everyone has,” commented the fan.
Nascar knows we hate this right??
— Texans/Rangers/Texas A&M (@TexansRanAggies) November 21, 2023
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It remains to be seen how NASCAR will handle the situation. With decreasing viewership, is shifting to digital media platforms a safe option? The answer will be visible with time, surely.
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