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August 02, 2005
NASCAR News: Oh Joy!
Nascar CEO Brian France says his organization is planning to launch a Nascar news service, which he calls the "AP of Nascar," because he feels his sport is under-represented and under-covered in the media.
And to think, just yesterday, I was having coffee with a big-time executive telling him my theory of how big and trusted consumer brands will become bigger and more robust portals of information. Why? Because--and this is painful for me to say--the evidence is clear in the marketplace that an increasing number of consumers, especially young ones, don't care much about the source of their news and information. To many, unfortunately, www.nytimes.com equals www.businessweek.com equals www.joeblowblog.com equals www.family.org equals www.nascar.com.
Of course, conservative groups like Focus on the Family and the drug industry have pefected this model. Create a "news service" that creates content that under-resourced "media outlets" will run in their pages, on their websites or even on their "news" shows because the "news" editors either feel the story is of interest to their readers/viewers no matter what it says, or because they get paid to run it, or because they are too lazy to discern whether the story is any good or properly reported.
Take www.SpotlighHealth.com, for example. This website distributes all manner of health/information content to outlets, besides being a destination site itself. While it says on the site that it "derives revenues from many sources, one of which is sponsorships associated with our Web site health issue communities," it takes an inquisitive eye to determine that the site is really a PR firm for health product and service related companies. Spotlight uses a "news service" and web community to get its clients' messages out instead of those clients simply relying on advertising on one side of the equation and traditional PR (getting legitimate reporters interested in your story) on the other.
Nascar's "media company" is in the conceptual stage of what could include a wire service and, potentially, a cable network. “I’ve been told by our organization that you can’t control [editorial coverage],” Mr. France told 3,400 cable marketers last week. “So you’re going to see us get into the content business, not to distribute live events, but similar to the NFL channel in that it is a 24/7 promotion channel.”
Nascar thinks that a lot of mainstream media outlets don't spend "enough" space and time covering Nascar because most outlets are populated by blue-state liberals who would rather hang out in a Starbucks or Barnes & Noble than a track or in front of their TV sets watching cars speed around an oval. Here is another possibility. Nascar, with exceptions few and far between, just doesn't generate that much interesting copy. It is a passtime that lends itself much more to fansites and fan magazines than journalism--again, with some exceptions. Nascar also tends to have regional popularity. It's big in the South. No Nascar races I know of in Vermont, though there are two races a year, I'm told, in New Hampshire.
“We are redoubling our efforts to educate editors, producers and reporters on the sport and to help to make Nascar easier to cover,” said a Nascar spokesman.
We know full well that many local TV stations and newspapers will carry packaged news. Besides its own channel, if that's the way Nascar goes, there will also be loads of stations willing to take Nascar "news" packages because it's free. The U.S. government has been getting away with it very successfully with content about education. Private corporations, too. About two years ago, a relative of mine said they saw me saying good things about Sirius Radio on the "News." Turns out the company had taken a soundbite from a press event I spoke at, and that they said would only be used "internally." Sirius recycled my comment for a video news release, which was picked by an Erie, Pa. TV station. That's the way the local "news" business in rural markets--Nascar country--are operating these days.
What's the big deal? Will Nascar's content services talk about or report when drivers behave badly or the details of sponsorship deals? Will the biggest sposors get the most screen-time in this "news" context? We'll see. Mr. France pretty much spells it out that it will be a "promotion" vehicle. But let's just see how much turns up in local papers and TV stations as "News."
It's no wonder Nascar is turning to producing its own content, which it will put out in the marketplace as "news." Everyone else is.
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Mr. Kiley, It always amazes me when people write about things they know NOTHING about. Your comment about watching cars go round and round shows they you are not a fan. You didn't know that we run two sell out events each year in Louden. Why not stick to some thing you know a little about. By the way try to buy a ticket this weekend at Indy. The same holds true in Vegas,LA,Chi.Town,St.Louis,Dallas,Kansas City And soon to be in New York City and the pacific North West. Property has been optioned in both sites for a multi million dollar track. Four or five cities are fighting over a national museum site. They are offering millions in incentives. We love racing! Go back to whatever you love! Can you imagine what enough property to build a racetrack would cost on Long Island? Joe Edd Smith
Posted by: Joe Edd Smith at August 2, 2005 04:47 PM
David Kiley's article on the NASCAR news service is very interesting He makes a good point on a health organization using deceit to push a product but is the point valid for a sports network? He mentions fans are regional but they are not. I lived in VT. and while there were no Nascar events there were racing events. If you attended these you saqw support everywhere for their favorite Nascar Driver. Since races are limited they are not everywhere but go to a race and you will see license plates from far and wide.I know of many families that plan their vacation around a Nascar race. Unforyunately, with space being limited sports news is reserved for local teams from elementary on up to the pros. The few national stories about sports are AP copy churned out by sports reporters that are beholden to the teams for interviews and coverage. Any bad boy that gets caught will still make the news just like in the NFL and Baseball scandals but it will not come from the networks and neither do the NFL stories. A sport is not a news stort but an event I do not feel it is necesary to except the same level of investment as political and crime stories. Afterall no matter how it is spun the same guy is still reported as the winner. Who cares if some good writers get to earn a good salary writing copy and making it available to an industry that has no concern for the people who pay their salaries?
Posted by: Dave Horchak at August 4, 2005 12:47 PM
Interesting article. I have to agree that the health organizations out there are putting feer into people to get them to buy their products.
Anyways as for the NASCAR thing, there just are not a whole lot of NASCAR fans on the Internet, so thats why they arent getting as much publicity. As for News on TV like ESPN, there isn't a whole lot to report. Just a handfull of driver compaired to 100's of players in other sports.
Posted by: Jim at October 23, 2005 08:45 AM
Do you think Ricky Rudd will be in the #42 next season...???
Posted by: Tony at October 31, 2005 05:31 PM
Seems funny to me that Brian France is pushing for more publication of NASCAR news because when you try to gain media access to the NASCAR media website and never receive a response. Someone, somewhere is undermining the apparent goal he is trying to achieve.
Posted by: Jerry at November 24, 2005 01:51 PM
Throughout much of the 2005 season we had access to the NASCAR media web site. Then one day it stopped working. After several e-mails and several months of waiting I get the following response.
"We do not give access to fan-based web sites".
Our "fan-based" web site is a news aggregator offering RSS feeds to hundreds of subscribers AND offering commentary. Futhermore, our parent company is involved with several firms helping them with online promotion and marketing in the racing industry.
Now...call me crazy, but there is only one time each year when NASCAR is the top story in sports on the news -- the Daytona 500.
I kind of think that NASCAR needs "fan-based" sites like Jayski (and hundreds of others) to build it's fan base.
Posted by: Chris Knudtson at January 30, 2006 03:03 PM
Damn! I love that Jack Daniels car, sweet!
Posted by: karen jones at April 21, 2007 10:29 AM