Since it was announced that ESPN was moving a couple NASCAR Nationwide Series races from ESPN2 to ESPNews, some NASCAR fans were upset. The debate about the subject was both healthy and enlightening as to why a switch was being made. What was lost is why NASCAR fans were upset over what is mostly a channel logistics change.
NASCAR fans only need to remember what happened to IndyCar racing when it was moved from National TV to an obscure cable channel, the VS. network. The VS. network took on the IndyCar series to not only give them credibility as a sports channel but to gain IndyCar fan viewers. This is a great idea for the VS. network.
The IndyCar Series presumably wanted an increase in revenue that was offered by the new partnership.
In the end it mostly achieved the results that were expected. One thing was forgotten – the casual IndyCar fan was lost.
A casual IndyCar fan just like a casual NASCAR fan is one that, when presented on their TV dial live racing will tune in and watch. These fans will not go out of their way to find IndyCar or NASCAR racing on their dial. They will not spend additional money to get those series on their dial.
A lot of serious NASCAR fans are IndyCar fans, the rest are casual IndyCar fans. They all know one thing for certain, when IndyCar switched to VS., now known as NBC Sports Network, they were no longer able to watch.
NASCAR fans everywhere fear the day that the ability to watch their sport gets taken away, moved to a channel that they cannot get or afford to get. Simply moving a race to another channel just stokes that fear. Fox Sports are you listening?
This article comes from a fan that could not watch NASCAR while growing up. I could not watch because Cable TV was not available and when it was my parents refused to pay to watch TV. There are more NASCAR fans in this same position, some who can’t pay even if it was available.
NASCAR needs a TV partner that recognizes the value in the sport. They need a TV partner that understands that they can unlock even more value by making the sport available to more fans. They need this availability so that a casual fan can be changed into a serious NASCAR, race watching, race attending fan. I was one of those casual fans up until after the big TV deal in 2001 when NASCAR became available in my home.