Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sprint Excludes Fans From Special All-Star Coverage

There has always been a loud knocking on the NASCAR door when it comes to providing more behind-the-scenes coverage of the sport. Since SPEED basically eliminated the remaining weekly TV shows that used this type of footage, there has been almost no exposure for the fans of what happens during a race weekend "on the inside."

This content has proven to be quite popular when used in programs like the now cancelled series NASCAR Confidential, Beyond the Wheel and 7 Days. With little opportunity to break SPEED out of the "lifestyle" mode and with ESPN jammed full of stick-and-ball content, Sprint is using in-house technology to offer some exclusive NASCAR behind-the-scenes content.

In the new world media order, the Internet and cell phones can now compete with TV networks in many ways. This May, SPEED will once again televise the All-Star race from Lowe's Motor Speedway. This year, Sprint has decided to offer live coverage of the sometimes rowdy driver's meeting before the race.

This sounds like a lot of fun, but there are some issues. There will be no video as those rights are already owned by another party. There will also be no online streaming as, you guessed it, those rights were long since sold to a third party.

The only thing Sprint can do is make the audio available to cell phone users, which is still an interesting proposition. The ability to simply dial into the driver's meeting is brand new and perhaps something that can be done for future events.

Unfortunately, Sprint has taken a rather short-sighted approach to this project. This special offering will only be made available to current Sprint users who have signed-up for NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. This is Sprint's service that offers NASCAR content like race broadcasts, in-car audio and news.

Rather than offer it to anyone with a cell phone to show-off what Sprint Cup Mobile can do, only those already paying for the service can get the driver's meeting. This is a great example of simply servicing an existing audience rather than exposing a new one to what is a great product.

"The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has long been considered a signature event for the sport and we have partnered with SPEED to ensure fans can watch the race regardless of their location," said Sprint executive Steve Gaffney. "The latest advancements with NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile are an excellent demonstration of how the Now Network can instantly put the world of NASCAR at our subscriber's fingertips."

The only problem with Mr. Gaffney's comments is that he is only putting the technology at the fingertips of those who already have it. For the rest of the cell phone users nationwide, the opportunity to hear this special event will not exist.

At a time when NASCAR desperately needs as much exposure as possible, perhaps Sprint will use the company's technology to make this interesting NASCAR offering available to any cell phone user and then let them decide if Sprint Cup Mobile is a product worthy of further investigation.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below and follow the easy instructions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

Every corporation is now trying to keep their customers. I can see Sprint trying to keep their Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile customers by offering them even more. Just like they did in Bristol. They did not lower the prices, instead, Smith just said they were trying to give more value to their customers.

In these times, it's too much trouble/cost to change companies. Keep valued customers is the target this day in age.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Are you suggesting that offering this to non-Sprint customers would cause existing customers to leave?

How else can businesses like Sprint expand their customer base without making product available for preview?


Anonymous said...

Anon 2:26, I do agree, but Sprint is having trouble competing with AT&T and Verizon so while they need to minimize churn, they do also need new customers, or existing customers to upgrade.

Anonymous said...

Every company has a business model. I did not say people would leave BECAUSE of the offering, but rather Sprint is trying to KEEP customers by giving them MORE value.

I don't claim to be smarter than the suits at a multi-billion dollar corporation. I'm not sure bloggers are either.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Understand your point. Just wondered what the positives and negatives were in opening this up to everyone and then trying to pick-up some new customers.


Anonymous said...

I think this is nothing more than a ploy for Sprint to attract more NASCAR fans to buy their product, being that their the only ones who offer this sort of coverage. I think it's interesting to have the audio from the drivers meeting.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, most contracts, like Sprint, Verizon, At&T, etc have long contracts. The "better" the contract, the longer it is. If I have Verizon, and I get the All-Star feed free, that's great. Can I change providers? Not this week. Maybe not for 1 year.

To me, they have done it right. They give current customers more and as the word goes out, when contracts need to be re-newed, people will/might change.

If your contract is up, what a plus to change to Sprint. A one-time event is not going to steal customers from others, IMHO.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Not quite sure I understand the person who is making the same point over and over again.

Serving an existing customer vs. reaching out to others comes down to a business decision.

There is no demo for NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, why would sharing this event be a problem in terms of attracting new business?


kbaskins said...

I agree with JD that this would be a great opportunity for Sprint to attract future customers. Perhaps what Sprint could offer to those who are not subscribers is maybe the first 10 minutes of the meeting. That ought to give people an idea of what they're missing, but retaining the value-added nature of the product for subscribers, who would get the full audio of the meeting.

I'm loathe to purchase digital content without a demo or limited-use period. I want to know before I drop some of my hard-earned cash on a product that I'll find it useful or compelling. I try software before I purchase, I listen to the snippet of song on iTunes before I buy, and I tried out Trackpass for a race before I offered up my credit card to Turner.

Previews can be an invaluable selling tool, and Sprint is missing an opportunity by not offering at least some of the meeting to non-subscribers as a hook.


Anonymous said...

If I have Verizon, and I get the All-Star feed free, that's great. Can I change providers? Not this week. Maybe not for 1 year.

So if I don't use Sprint, am I going to be able to change to Sprint to get this new content? Not this week. Maybe not for 1 year.

Which is why NASCAR should not have sold the rights to this material to this kind of a company.

Newracefan said...

Well I was trying to figure out if my employer would notice I used my Sprint work phone then I saw the Nascar program piece, they would notice that guess I'm out of luck Bummer. So let use stream it for a charge or something and give it to those in the program for free.

Unknown said...

Wow! I chose my provider by the best coverage in my area. Not by a few minutes of some audio once a year. I wonder if this is successful, would more events be made available to the subscribing customers? Maybe, but still not enough to make me switch carriers based on this.

Dot said...

I so agree with KarenB and Anon 5:26.

I would rather see and hear the drivers meeting. Audio only? Certainly not enough incentive to change my cell phone provider.

@ Anon 3:08, Who knows? Maybe we are all smarter than the suits at a multi-billion dollar corporation. Notice the economy lately?

Anonymous said...

JD, who are the third party owners of the video and live streaming? I cannot remember anyone broadcasting from the driver's meeting. Am I missing something out there?

For sure, I would not give up my Crackberry just to hear a few minutes from the driver's meeting. Plus, even if you have Sprint, if you're at work or school, you're not assured that you're going to be able to use your phone.

Daly Planet Editor said...


The TV networks and the NASCAR Media Group own all the footage of everything that moves, regardless of whether it is used live.

All of the online NASCAR content is controlled by which is run by Turner from Atlanta.

Among other things, that is the reason Sirius channel 128 cannot be made available online. This is one of the bigggest gaffs in the NASCAR media contract world.


Anonymous said...

I think no matter what, whether or not its to attract future customers or not, the ploy isn't going to work too much. For most people in the country it all boils down to how many minutes a plan offers, how good the coverage area is, etc. It all depends on how much you're in to NASCAR and if you're cell phone contract is up soon.

Brian said...

Everyone needs to email the guy from the sprint commercials about how stupid this is.

Sprint has done a lot for NASCAR, however they continue to do BAD (not allowing sponsors that want to pay the huge price tag to support a team support said teams) things for the sport as well... Maybe they can use this instance to show the fans they really are fans, and not just money hungry corporate big wigs.

GinaV24 said...

If you want to broaden your customer base, why not offer this option as a one-time deal to all cell phone users? I have never been impressed with Sprint/Nextel in particular, but you never know what would change a person's mind to change their service. This decision only makes me say to myself, well, why would I bother with Sprint? Too bad, I'm sure this would be interesting to experience.

GinaV24 said...

JD, thanks for the explanation for why I can't stream channel 128 from Sirius. I have always thought this was a pain and it is still stupid. Trackpass gives an option to hear the radio broadcast that I use sometimes for qualifying and the races.

NASCAR really needs to get smarter about how they are using the various media options to show off their product. So many opportunities and NASCAR is very backward on all of this.

Anonymous said...

This is really no surprise...NASCAR sold exclusivity to EA Sports for gaming, and EA immediately excluded PC users. they make simulations for every platform but the PC. Not even a subscription service, unless it $50/mo.! So what about this is different? NASCAR even undercuts the racers driving in its series. Ain't nothin' new.

Anonymous said...

There are some technological reasons why Sprint just can't make Sprint Cup Mobile available to everybody.

Sprint Cup Mobile is an application developed for Sprint phones. Its not compatible with other phones. It would be like trying to run an Apple application directly on your Microsoft Windows based PC. It would cost $$$$ to port the application to other cell phone users, and Sprint will get nothing in return.

Secondly, part of what Sprint shows off with Sprint Cup Mobile is the power of their cellular network. AT&T users would be using AT&T's network, instead of Sprint's to access this sort of information.

I really like Sprint Cup Mobile. Its free to anyone with a Sprint data plan, and it gives you the same sort of information that Trackpass gets you and then some.

Glenn said...

Good for the Sprint users. Just a perk for having their service. Just like the Direct TV users. They get a perk of Hot Pass this year. Just as people at the track see things that us at home don't.
I am happy for the fans with the service, there will be something special for me some other time.