The Fox Hole

After negotiations ended this past Monday between NASCAR and FOX TV, the television station may consider ducking for cover as fans are left hanging with many questions. When Fox TV signed contracts on Monday giving it the right to air the Sprint Cup Races through year 2022, it failed to give fans and consumers the lowdown on how it will go about televising the races starting in 2013, with the first races during Speed Weeks at Daytona. Their new network, Fox Sports One, will be the rebranded name of the SPEED network, but will it provide the same satisfaction for fans?

In relation to the benefits for the motor sports industry, this deal with FOX TV will boost NASCAR’s income, as well as the income for tracks and teams. This income, in turn, will help maintain lower ticket prices for fans and increase race winnings for teams, which possibly reduces the level of corporate sponsorship. However, this scenario may be at cost to the fans watching at home. Not only will Fox have rights to air the first 13 Sprint Cup races and the entire Camping World Truck Series, but it also gets the digital rights for online streaming yet it is unclear whether fans will have to pay for online access. With FOX also announcing that the new deal will take some of Sprint Cup races off network television, internet access for fans will be even more crucial than before.

The next big issue for fans is the question of how FOX will go about televising the practices and qualifiers. With no official word on the status of televising these events, it leaves fans with the possibility of not being able to watch at all. Even though Fox could air those events on its subordinate stations like Fuel TV or FX, the fans at home will not be pleased having to watch multiple channels to get their fix, especially when they could previously watch everything on the SPEED network.

The biggest issue comes from the clash between what commercial sponsors want and what the fans want. Considering that Fox TV is such a highly rated network, commercial sponsors will be fighting to place their ads during as many NASCAR events as possible. Unfortunately for fans, this means more interruptions that could prevent viewers from seeing their favorite racer cross the finish line or catching the wreck they’ve been waiting for the whole race to see. With the amount of money spent on ads by sponsors, the proposal for a split screen for commercials will not go over lightly. In the end, Fox has a lot of people to please, and it’s a sure thing that not everyone will walk away happy. JH

THE COST TALLY OF THE FINISH AT TALLADEGA

The finish of this past weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega was mayhem. The 25-car pileup, which resulted from Tony Stewart’s careless maneuvers to try to block his way to a win, was a spectacle to the fans on the front stretch but could have been deadly for all of the drivers involved.
The Richmond Times Dispatch quotes Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as saying, “If this is what we did every week, I wouldn’t be doing it, I’ll just put it to you that way. If this was how we raced every week, I’d find another job… It’s really not racing. It’s a little disappointing. It cost a lot of money right there. If this is how we are going to continue to race and nothing is going to change, how about NASCAR build the cars? It’ll save us a lot of money.”
While watching the final turns into the front stretch and the pileup occur, I could only imagine how frustrated and outraged many teams would be that their cars would have to be dragged off the track as a twisted heap of metal.
I am curious to know, in a dollar amount, how much the teams could salvage from their car given the severity of the damage. I know that the price in salvaged parts would be nowhere close to the total cost of running the race, but each team must be concerned with getting the maximum amount of money out of its investment. Talk about a risky investment.
With increasing costs in racing, saving money has to be at the top of every team’s “To-Do List”. The point that Jr. made about having NASCAR build all the cars brings up a great point that may be heavily considered in the near future.
One may be surprised how much money could be saved by individual teams if NASCAR had a factory that churned out a pre-built models and then distributed them to each team to finish off. I am not sure if this is a concept that has been considered before but it would appear to be fair and cost effective. If NASCAR could save each team $100,000 a week then that would add up to a hefty chunk of change at the end of the 36-week race season.
At this point in time the money invested in each car may not be a big deal to the larger teams such as Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, but to many of the smaller teams it could be a huge step in helping reduce costs. If teams were able to reduce costs each week, possibly new opportunities would be opened up for sponsors. NASCAR may not like the idea of having to build the cars for each team. Many teams may be completely against the concept, but something will have to change in the future. Something must be done when a major figure head of the sport openly says that if something does not change, he plans to find another job. SP

NASCAR–fulfilling its role in CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) has become an integral part of business world now as huge corporations and even smaller businesses are now looked upon to show their commitment to their communities. NASCAR is not lagging behind in fulfilling its role of Corporate Social Responsibility. For example, the NASCAR Foundation came into being in 2006 and has been involved in charitable causes since its inception through different programs and with the help of various non-profit sponsorships. One of its emphasis has been on initiatives to help children to live, learn and play.

This time NASCAR has come up with the Coca Cola Chase for Charity Program in collaboration with its sponsor, the Coca Cola Company. This program involves auction of collectibles, autographed items from race tracks and Victory Lane, and drivers’ and teams’ personal collections. And since this auction is combined with a noble cause of charity, it has doubled the attachment of fans to this effort. This auction will conclude on December 3. I see this action plan of NASCAR executed at just the right time, when the audience is declining and reduction in viewership is occurring. It is a great way to attract fans in two ways, one by creating excitement of getting NASCAR related collectibles through auction and another by touching fans emotionally through this cause of being charitable.

Besides the NASCAR Foundation there are two more projects NASCAR is carrying forward in betterment of the NASCAR community. One is a “Green initiative” to reduce the environmental footprint of NASCAR and the other one is “Drive for Diversity” to increase minority and female participation in the sport. These efforts of NASCAR towards the good of the whole nation positions NASCAR distinctively in the minds of its viewers and fans. I, being fan of NASCAR, really appreciate the ways it is playing its role in CSR. I believe when our favorites come up with such good causes, the fans feel proud and the loyalty towards that brand increases. The current efforts of NASCAR towards the well being of community is once again making its hardcore fans feel immense pleasure in being associated with this sport and it may also help NASCAR regain some of the lost viewership and attendance. FA

NASCAR Diversity Programs

Diversity is one of the biggest issues facing NASCAR today. The sport is seen as a predominately white American sport, but I believe it is starting to change for the better. There are many different diversity programs in many areas that people rarely hear about. Some teams like Joe Gibbs Racing even have their own diversity programs. NASCAR itself has a diversity internship program that provides twelve internships for minorities and women in everything from business to engineering to technical positions. NASCAR’s primary diversity program is the Drive for Diversity. Drive for Diversity is the industry’s leading development program for minority and female drivers and crew members. The Drive for Diversity program currently supports drivers in two of NASCAR’s developmental series. Drive for Diversity also supports crew member candidates through a year-long pit crew training program. NASCAR more recently aired a show on BET, Changing Lanes. I tuned in and watched a couple episodes and was entirely impressed. It really tells a great story about these young drivers and what they really have to go through to compete at the highest levels of stock-car racing. Through the efforts of the sanctioning body and select teams, diversity is a word that is finally getting the attention it deserves in NASCAR. RI