NASCAR launched TrackPass, its direct-to-consumer streaming service, on NBC Sports Gold at the end of 2019 to monetize racing fans’ love of motorsports through live race action and hours of archived content.
Customers so far have rewarded NASCAR’s efforts in investing in its OTT market strategy, the organization says. Nearly two months after TrackPass’ debut on NBC Sports Gold, subscribers are responding positively to the content provided on the platform and the flexibility users have in accessing it.
NASCAR’s prior direct-to-consumer offering, Fanschoice.TV, lived only on the web and was not available on connected TV devices, unlike other OTT products. The free service later migrated and rebranded under the NBC Sports umbrella before relaunching on December 5.
“Anytime you take things from free to behind paywall, you take a risk,” Dan Barker, NASCAR’s senior director of media, said. “The same goes for moving people from one platform to another, but I think we have made a really good start.”
TrackPass offers on-site coverage of NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series practices and qualifying rounds during the NBC split of the NASCAR season. NBC and Fox share the broadcast rights for NASCAR through 2024.
Live race-day action from smaller motorsports series, including American Flat Track and International Motor Sports Association, is also available on the platform. The bundling of these services currently costs consumers $44.99 annually or $4.99 per month. Individual packages for fans begin at $10.99 a year for a single racing series.
“TrackPass can reach many more fans with high-quality, live coverage across a variety of devices,” Wendy Bass, SVP of rights integration at NBC Sports, said. “While it’s early on, we’ve been really happy with the initial reception for TrackPass from fans across the country.”
NBC and NASCAR didn’t provide details around subscriber growth or streaming data on TrackPass. However, the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500 – the unofficial start of 2020 season – provided an uptick in subscribers and engagement on the service.
“We’re seeing a very high rate of engagement per session, which shouldn’t necessarily be surprising given the avid nature of the grassroots racing fan-base,” Bass added. “We’re encouraged by our numbers to this point and expect those to increase as the AFT [American Flat Track] season starts.”
NASCAR and NBC view the start of the AFT season on March 14 as a major customer acquisition opportunity, Barker said. NASCAR will be marketing TrackPass to fans of American Flat Track over the next couple of weeks, both at races and through the use of social media campaigns.
NASCAR also remains committed to improving its live sports presentation on TrackPass rather than generating much original programming at this point. Every motorsports league on Trackpass will kick off by the end of this month, meaning multiple events will be available to stream on TrackPass every weekend until the fall.
“The live product you see today will not be the same thing you see in September and October,” Barker said. “We have more to do on live in showing the electricity at local track environments before we even start thinking too heavily around original content.”
For now, fans will have to make do with more than 50 long-form documentaries available on TrackPass.
“We’re constantly examining our products and looking at ways to enhance the viewer experience,” Bass said. “Right now, our focus is on delivering live content and providing high-quality coverage of these local and grassroots races.”