NASCAR’s new direct-to-consumer service, TrackPass, is aiming to give fans more options in how they stream original programming with both live racing and hours of archived video content from multiple motorsports series.
The service, which will go live on NBC Sports Gold on December 5, was announced by NASCAR in November as part of a decision to move its Fanshoice.TV web service to NBC. The sport now joins the likes of the PGA Tour and English Premier League as professional leagues offering over-the-top streaming services to customers through the network.
“Transitioning the Fanschoice.TV product was an opportunity for us to extend our broadcast partnership with NBC to digital,” said Dan Barker, senior director of media strategy at NASCAR. “We now have the full force of NBC’s marketing and programming support. This also represents a quantum leap from a technological perspective.”NASCAR signed a multi-year television distribution deal with both NBC and Fox back in 2015 through the end of the 2024 season, severing ties with both ESPN and Turner Sports. Fanschoice.TV was launched by NASCAR in the year prior, but was limited in its consumer reach as a web-only application, Barker said. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will offer much of the same content, just across more devices.
The service will include on-site coverage from NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series practice and qualifying rounds that NBC has media rights to distribute. Live races from popular motorsports leagues, including American Flat Track and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship operated by the International Motor Sports Association, will also be available beginning in January.
At launch, TrackPass will cost consumers $4.99 per month or $44.99 each year. Cheaper sub-packages are also available for purchase through the NBC Sports Gold app for customers that only want to watch specific product offerings.
“We’re interested in making sure we can cater to fans of various series,” said Portia Archer, vice president of direct-to-consumer services at NBC Sports Group. “We won’t assume that an IMSA fan is also an AFT fan, for instance. But we do see an opportunity for fandom crossover.”
According to Barker, NASCAR has no immediate plans to launch new original programming on its streaming service in the near term, noting that live content is what fans want most.“Once we get comfortable with our NBC partnership, we will naturally look to expand into original content a little bit more,” Barker said. “But we believe live content is what drives engagement on OTT platforms.”
Heading into next season, NASCAR will also be switching to a tiered sponsorship model that will see a bundling of deals with NASCAR, the tracks, and television broadcasters, the sanctioning body announced earlier this year. That shift also will end Monster Energy’s exclusive endorsement of its flagship racing series. It is unclear if TrackPass inventory will be part of NASCAR’s new sponsorship model.
TrackPass’ availability on connected TV devices like Roku and Apple TV will also enable NASCAR to reach a growing demographic of consumers that prefer to stream content at home, he added. NBC, for example, has witnessed the consumption of its OTT service on television double and sometimes triple in recent years.
“There’s certainly a strong appetite among sports fans to enjoy sports on the best screen available,” said Archer, “We expect healthy consumption on connected TV devices for the various TrackPass series available.”
To get the word out about TrackPass, NASCAR held fan events to market what it’s calling the sport’s most significant undertaking in the direct-to-consumer space. Towards the end of the 2019 season, NBC also promoted the new service on linear television during the playoffs.“We ran several on-air promotions when we had the largest NASCAR audience watching,” said Archer. “It was a good use of that time, and made people aware of what was coming.”
Similar marketing tactics will also be deployed at the start of next season in February to grow subscribers, she added. NBC is also marketing TrackPass to subscribers of its other services on NBC Sports Gold. Original Fanschoice.TV members now additionally have free trials available to them to test out the new service and potentially migrate over.