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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

NASCAR Turns to VR to Engage Remote Fans

Deployed at the Homestead-Miami race, the initiative wants to bring fans at home closer to the action.

Image via NASCAR.com

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ended on November 19th, but that date marked the beginning of NASCAR’s virtual reality activation.

Race fans took to their smartphones and devices that day to experience the final drivers’ meeting and atmosphere of the 2017 championship without even attending.

“For anyone that wasn’t in Miami for the race, our goal here was to bring them the next best thing,” said Tim Clark, managing director of NASCAR Digital Media. “With live VR, 360 [degree] video, fans at home or on the go had a front row seat for the final drivers’ meeting of the season.”

NASCAR’s fan engagement is regarded by many as top of the line, allowing intimate access to the sport. With this new activation, fans at home can now dabble into first person experiences.

To pull the feat off, NASCAR teamed up with Ultracast, the world’s most efficient 360 degree broadcaster to leverage its capabilities.

“What we liked about this technology is that it was available to fans on PC, tablet, phone and via VR headsets,” said Clark.

“Ultracast was recommended by one of our key partners, Omnigon, and we felt very comfortable collaborating around Miami,” added Clark. “They worked very well with our team and operated ahead of schedule.”

By using Ultracast’s camera technology to stream the 360 degree views and create an immersive experience; fans were “teleported” into the drivers’ meeting and Monster Energy Cup Series garage area.

This video was then leveraged through the NASCAR Mobile app.

Step-by-step instructs on use. 1) Select your venue, 2) Select your camera, 3) Enjoy the event and 4) Get a full VR experience. (Image via Ultracast.com)

Clark and his team’s aim is to create great experiences, and Homestead is a top event each year on the track, and with fan engagement at the racetrack.

NASCAR’s digital media team does not intend on just providing access to drivers’ meetings, rather a more integrated away from the track race day experience.

“Our goal is to evaluate this experience and, like everything else we do on the digital platform, identify ways we can improve moving forward.”

Digital immersion provides the outlet to build off of what Clark calls the ‘Ultimate Experience’ of being live at the track while attending a race. Immersion is vital for new fans as it introduces unique video opportunities and a sense of personal engagement with the drivers and the atmosphere.

“The bottom line goal is to elevate the fan experience with unprecedented access,” added Clark. “When it comes to our race weekends and content opportunities, the track provides us with a limitless supply.”

What separates NASCAR from other sports is the experience before and during the event. With fans having access to the pits and garage, NASCAR delivers an end-to-end immersive experience that is hard to imitate.

“It’s our job to find new, innovative ways to deliver that great content and all-access experiences to our fans — both avid fans as well as audiences who are just getting to know us — wherever they are.”

NASCAR plans to go even deeper with 360 degree video at the 2018 Daytona 500. With the ground layer set, future activations and personal engagement will be welcomed by NASCAR’s digital media team.

“Homestead-Miami Speedway put on a top-notch event, NBC ran a top-notch broadcast and our goal was to do the same for fans, wherever they are, via the digital platform.”

This piece was presented to you by AudienceView.

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