With today’s media landscape, sports leagues are having to get more creative in the ways they market their product.
Numerous leagues have begun producing their own broadcasts, podcasts, and YouTube series just to try to compete for fans’ attention.
And this sports league is following suit, with plans to produce a new behind-the-scenes docuseries that they’re unfortunately doing all wrong.
With the rise of streaming platforms, and the mad rush by television networks and other media companies to put out as much content as possible, people have plenty of entertainment options.
That fact, coupled with many athletes’ and leagues’ endorsement of radical, anti-American political views, sports leagues have seen the viewership for their live events plummet in recent years.
Many have turned to alternate forms of entertainment centered around their sport, like the WWE’s app with hours upon hours of on-demand and live content and Formula 1’s incredibly popular Netflix docuseries Drive To Survive.
And now, NASCAR has finally received the memo that they should be doing more than broadcasting their races every Sunday to grow their fanbase, so they’re following in Formula 1’s footsteps by announcing that they too will be producing a docuseries.
However, where Formula 1 made the incredibly savvy decision to partner with Netflix and give them unprecedented behind the scenes access to everything going on in their sport, NASCAR is going about their docuseries all wrong.
According to an announcement by NASCAR, an eight episode docuseries on this year’s Cup Series playoffs called Race for the Championship will be aired on USA Network.
“With the backdrop and high stakes of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and Championship, Race for the Championship will take viewers inside the lives of NASCAR’s top drivers and teams on and off the track,” NASCAR’s announcement said. “Across eight thrilling episodes, the all-access series will chronicle the sport’s best as they balance their personal lives with the passion, pressure and perils of racing, all for a chance to make history.”
➖ The series will be called “Race for the Championship,” be stretched over eight episodes on USA Network and debut in 2022. pic.twitter.com/kgZhfeWw5b
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) July 8, 2021
While it’s wise of NASCAR to follow in Formula 1’s footsteps considering the incredible success the series had growing their sport, NASCAR is completely ignoring what made F1’s series the high quality, popular series it is.
First and foremost, does anyone even watch USA Network? Can anyone name even one show they produce? Where can you even watch USA Network? Is it a TV network or a streaming platform?
The fact that Netflix introduced F1 to millions upon millions of people around the world is what made their series so successful.
Netflix has a massive, worldwide audience, while USA Network, well, doesn’t have even a tenth of that level of popularity.
Second, why does NASCAR insist on simply doing this type of series for the playoffs?
There’s 26 other races run throughout the year that a lot of drama, controversy, excitement, and entertainment come out of that will be completely missed by simply focusing on the final 10 races.
NASCAR would have been far better served to feature many more drivers and teams, allowing the production team to follow a handful of drivers each race throughout the season, rather than only focusing on a few in a short amount of time.
And finally, it’s not on-demand!
When Netflix released Drive to Survive, every episode was available instantly, and people can watch on their own time.
But by airing this on USA Network, NASCAR has ensured that many fans, and potential new fans, who no longer do “appointment television” will completely miss the show.
In the end, because of the way NASCAR has structured this docuseries, only the most hardcore NASCAR fans are going to watch even one or two episodes of the series.
This isn’t going to be the massive hit that Formula 1’s Drive to Survive is, it’s not going to introduce the sport to millions of new fans around the world, and those who do watch are only going to get a portion of the story that is a NASCAR season and a fight for a championship.
It’s unfortunate to see NASCAR continue to have the right ideas, but only produce half-measures that seem to be aimed more at placating fans and their network partners than actually going about things the right way and growing the sport.
NASCAR has a huge opportunity with all of the momentum and the loyal, diehard fans base the sport currently has to take risks, try new things, and truly grow the sport.
They could easily be producing the exact same app that has generated WWE hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
They could also easily be producing a high level docuseries that rivals Formula 1’s and would be a hit amongst the fan base and those who’ve never given the sport a chance.
But for whatever reason, they simply won’t do it.
Hopefully, the drivers and teams that create excitement and intrigue every Sunday can carry the sport on their back, and help it grow into the future.
Because they’re apparently not going to get any help from the corporate stooges at NASCAR headquarters.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.