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.
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