As the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series prepares for its 29th season, it begs a ponder of the league’s future. Specifically the next generation of sports coverage.
There is a sense of rejuvenation and happy returns as the NASCAR Truck Series gets ready to return. 23-year-old Zane Smith of Huntington Beach, California will return to Front Row Motorsports to defend his 2022 series championship. Backed by Stanley Black & Decker, tool line Craftsman returns to the league as title sponsor. 17 teams will enter a combined 29 full-time trucks to be driven by different athletes. And FOX Sports returns to present LIVE coverage across their platforms for the 21st consecutive season.
As NASCAR begins to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the sanctioning body continues to look ahead to the next generation of spectators. With discussions moving full speed ahead about the next set of NASCAR Media Rights, it is overlooked, at times, that each league within NASCAR’s sanctioning body has its own separate rights deals. Deals that allow each to stand out on their own. Unique, these deals provide exclusivity towards particular outlets over others. Deals that keep each league grounded as minor (in this case AA), yet allow the outlet to showcase what the product is all about.
As generations evolve, so does live coverage. How does one look to that future with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series?
Correlation: Combining Two Outlets Into One
For the past 53 years, the Motor Racing Network has been the voice of stock car racing. Syndicated throughout United States radio across 328 stations, the Voice of NASCAR provides live flag-to-flag coverage of racing events while also providing daily shows and podcasts discussing the latest in the worlds of stock car racing, sprint car racing, and much more. Unlike NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series radio coverage, live radio coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is exclusive to the Motor Racing Network. As with its FOX Sports counterpart on the television side, it is the voice of the MRN that is presented over the loudspeakers at each NCTS event.
The difference? Unless the viewer at home is able to listen to live coverage on their phone, tablet, or computer on MRN.com, viewing ANY live event on television is not the same as viewing the event in person.
A Turn-Key Presentation
As ESPN explores how NASCAR would potentially fit within its slate of programming, it presents an idea of beneficial promotion for all parties involved. Sensible, it allows the event to be brought to the viewer as if they were physically present in the grandstands.
The strategy? LIVE flag-to-flag coverage of practice, qualifying, pre-race, event, and post-race coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series exclusively on ESPN+.
The turn-key presentation of Sky Sports’ Formula One coverage across ESPN platforms has been a roaring success. Why not utilize the same philosophy in coalition with the Voice of NASCAR? Cost-efficient, it would see a format that brings spectators together no matter where they are. What would be seen by the viewer on ESPN+ would be the same seen at the track on ISM Vision. Combined with the storytelling voices of the MRN talent, it would provide the viewer the chance to feel as if they were present at the venue. A visualization once described by David Hill, the former Chairperson, and CEO, of the FOX Sports Media Group as:
OH!!! I GET IT!!!…This is actually REALLY Exciting!!!
An outsider might look upon this strategy as detrimental. It is not. Combined with proper promotion, it is the hope that the broad viewer would tune in to ESPN+. A hope that they see these up-and-coming drivers for who they are. A showcase of what Craftsman Truck Series racing is all about.