Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Sirius NASCAR Channel On iPhones


NASCAR fans with iPhones are discovering the problem that many of us with personal computers already know. NASCAR content from Sirius Channel 128 is not available online.

Sure, tons of other Sirius content is available to iPhone users, but the convoluted world of NASCAR media contracts has slammed the door on fans once again. Here is a statement from the Apple folks:

“Some select programming, including SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, will not be available on the iPhone and iPod touch. Listeners will continue to be able to access that programming through the platforms on which they are currently offered.”

TDP has already discussed the log jam that is in place between Sirius and the Turner Interactive Group that owns the NASCAR.com website. In simple terms, the current NASCAR deal with Turner allows Turner to control all online NASCAR content. That includes audio and video applications.

Among other things, this means that Sirius Channel 128's audio content cannot be streamed to desktops and laptops. Click here to view the online channel list. Sirius does not go out of their way to make this clear before sign-up.

In speaking with a customer service rep at Sirius, she told me that new users cancelling their online accounts because of the NASCAR restriction was commonplace. I asked her why this was happening and she told me to call NASCAR. She did not have a number and did not even know where that "company" was located.

Now, the spread of audio technology to wonderful gadgets like the iPhone has again revealed this problem in the NASCAR radio world. For many folks, the ability to carry a Sirius Satellite Radio receiver around is simply not available. Often, for a wide variety of reasons, it cannot be done in the workplace.

But, the one thing that most of us carry at all times is a cell phone. New models like the iPhone have a wide variety of wonderful applications available for all kinds of audio content.

ChannelWeb.com calls the new Sirius iPhone application a "choke job" because of the programming, including NASCAR, that is not included. Click here for the full story.

Ultimately, the folks who pay the price for all of this are the NASCAR fans. Sirius has come a long way in making their receivers smaller and much more portable, but there has to be a fix for this technology gap.

Wouldn't it be interesting to try and figure out just how many folks would listen to a NASCAR show or race on Sirius regularly if the signal was available online?

I wonder just how many NASCAR fans would use their laptops, desktops or iPhones to catch some NASCAR updates every single day? Count me among them.

This is a tough year for the sport. Opening a dialogue among the powers-that-be on this topic can hopefully result in some additional distribution of NASCAR's only 24 hour audio feed of news, interviews and racing.

Two years ago, this might have come down to a battle over money. Right now, it just might be the right thing to do.

Update: For those of you not familiar with Sirius it is a subscription service that provides multiple channels of news, music and entertainment. The signal is delivered directly by satellite to a receiver that can either be installed in a vehicle or carried by the user. The new Sirius iPhone application also requires users to pay a fee to access the available audio content. Should NASCAR be added to that package, fans would have to pay a monthly fee for the service.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. 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.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.justin.tv/bumpdraft

If they can get to this link on their iPhone, this will hook them up. Shhhhhh.

Anonymous said...

This is the most non-surprising story. OF COURSE you would have to pay for that content. I wouldn't expect in a million years that I could download a $1 iPhone app and get live NASCAR audio.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:37PM,

I think you missed the point. The money would have to change hands between Sirius and Turner.

There is of course a fee for Sirius programming. NASCAR content is not included and there are no current plans to provide it.

Sorry if I misled you in my wording.

JD

Haus14 said...

I heard about the Iphone app yesterday while listening to 128 in the car. I immediately wondered about the Nascar Channel since I had noticed it wasn't available on line when I logged into my account a while back. I remedied the situation by bringing my sat radio into the house and hooking it up to my radio, but it is very inconvenient and I only do that on the weekends. Basically, if I am not in my car, I don't listen. Imagine all of the advertising that isn't heard because the radio is only used while in vehicles. How sad that greed is stifling the growth of a product that would benefit both parties involved. Both Turner and Sirius Nascar are better off with a strong and popular NASCAR.

Haus14 said...

JD, is it possible that Turner is blocking the sirius-nascar channel because that would be a large part of the customer base that would no longer need some of the pay content on Nascar.com (scanner audio and radio broadcast)since they could now get it from the Sirius subscription they already have?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Haus, like a lot of folks, I wish I knew the answer to those questions.

If there was ever a time to step-up and recognize that the sport needs everything possible thrown at it in order to survive in its present form, this is it.

Having Sirius easily available online, even on an a la carte basis, would be a big step forward.

JD

Gary said...

Sirius totally shot themselves in the head by not getting Stern on the iPhone app. He is their exclusive signature star.

But as far as NASCAR and the other leagues though, there's nothing Sirius can do. Internet, radio, and TV rights are all separate... but with media convergence, that all starts to get murky with stuff like this.

NASCAR should be leaning on Turner hard though to develop their own mobile/iPhone app, with a lot more than a radio feed. We're talking live scoring, race highlights, stats, web shows, the works... just like MLB has done on their own.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Gary,

The big difference is that all three NASCAR series and the top radio shows are already packaged on Sirius now that the XM merger happened.

If NASCAR.com developed an iPhone app they would be starting from scratch.

Why not just open the online audio door and share the money made from offering the Sirius content?

David said...

JD they have been on Sirius 2 years before the merger.

Its a shame NASCAR.com really prevents Sirius from doing anything because I would most definitely add the online content IF NASCAR was included, but it is not so I don't.

Since switching receivers, I dont have the luxury to take it from house to car and vice versa which gets annoying because in my opinion the folks at Sirius have a heck of a NASCAR line-up when it comes to programming. Plus I miss out on voices like Buddy Baker and Ray Evernham who are on weekly and have quite a bit of insight into the inner workings of the sport that you can't always get out of a quickie tv interview or article.

Really wish NASCAR would press Turner to allow them to lax the restrictions, if they wanted to restrict the driver to crew audio or restrict the race broadcasts when they are on, fine. The NFL channel, on SIRIUS is able to do it. The channel I get in the car will hop from game to game, however if i listen to the channel online, its an NFL talk radio channel. Why cant Sirius and NASCAR.com make some kind of agreement that mirrors what they did with the NFL?

Gary said...

Turner could develop an iPhone app containing the live race radio broadcasts and scanner feeds in less than a week. They wouldn't need to "partner" with Sirius on that.

What would take longer would be a membership-based app with all the extras that I talked about. But they don't need to wait for all that to get started.

What I think would be the best compromise would be for Turner to get at least a basic iPhone app done ASAP, work on the big one over time, and allow to Sirius to broadcast their own NASCAR talk programming (which I think they probably can already if they wanted too). Just call the iPhone channel NASCAR Talk Radio to avoid false-advertising claims.

Everybody wins, no contracts broken.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I wondered why the Monday through Friday show content could not be offered as a first step?

Keep the quals and races out of the mix if that was the real money problem.

Photojosh said...

I was an XM subscriber for years when they had NASCAR. I canceled when they lost it and intended to switch to Sirius. But I was so annoyed that I couldn't get the NASCAR channel on my computer that I never subscribed to Sirius.

And I won't subscribe until I can listen on my computer. I don't have a home stereo system to connect to and I don't spend much time in my car. If NASCAR/Sirius doesn't want to recognize that the computer is the entertainment center for many people these days, then they can live without my money.

Anonymous said...

you missed one big problem with bringing na$car content to the Iphone and that is sprint…

It’s just not going to happen.

:)

Earl said...

"I wonder just how many NASCAR fans would use their laptops, desktops or iPhones to catch some NASCAR updates every single day? Count me among them."

John, I think tons of people would, which is why it will never happen.

NASCAR.com sucks the big one, everyone knows that. But they have the internet rights for another 5 years or so and until that contract is up, NASCAR fans are screwed as far as wireless content goes. We are stuck with a poor content provider that has absolutely no reason to change because of their monopoly.

FWIW, I have a Sirius Stiletto, which is WiFi capable. You can't even get 128 on that without the satellite signal.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Sprint, who is NASCAR's most important and invested sponsor, would not support NASCAR content being made available on AT&T's (iPhone) service, nor would Sprint's relationship with Turner allow it.

Robyn said...

There is a NASCAR.com app, at least for the Blackberry, that is leaderboard only. IMO it is horrible. It took too long to get through the running order for the Coke 600. I can't imagine using it for Bristol or Daytona. By the time you got to the 2nd screen, everything would have changed.

The contract with Turner interactive needs to be re-negotiated. Things have changed since it was signed, and things will continue to change. NASCAR should be able to demand that things be available. NASCAR should be able to dictate what they want. The same goes for the tv contract. Technology is changing rapidly and long-term contracts are not effective.

Besdies, a short-term contract may make the networks and/or Turner more receptive to change since they would have to re-bid for the rights every few years, not every 10 year. They would want to make sure NASCAR, and especially the fans are getting what they want.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Sirius sub and have been for several years having multiple receivers.

I have the luxury of being able to listen to Sirius in my office.

Having a south facing window that enables me to get the local repeater signal.

I'm with everyone else though, 128 should be available to all subs no matter what outlet you're using.

Unfortunately the iron fist of Turner is preventing it. They are not alone in the media world, Ala Carte pricing is something the media companies are fighting tooth and nail in order to extort more money out of providers and subs by demanding sometimes outrageous fees for carriage.

Look at the battle the NFL channel and TWC are engaged in over carriage fees and tier placement.

Unfortunately I don't think Turner/Nascar media think the subscriber base is big enough to warrant offering their "exclusive" content to a "niche" market despite the popularity of Channel 128.

I for one find myself rarely listen to local terrestrial radio and for some reason the tuner on my Sirius receiver always seems to stuck in channel 128 ALL DAY!

Dave in Milwaukee

Rodney said...

If Turner controls all online NASCAR content, why does ESPN.com and FoxSports.com have a NASCAR page? I don't understand why ESPN and Fox can produce their own online content and Sirius can't broadcast the weekday programming online. I can understand Turner not wanting the race and qualifying broadcasts on Sirius online.

Haus14 said...

just an fwi, the link from the first anon works and the sound is clear.

GinaV24 said...

Well, I have no plans to buy and iphone just to get special content, but I would like to be able to access the NASCAR channels through my computer. I have a sirius radio in my car and I have a boombox that I bought from them that it will fit into so I can use it inside the house, but this is a pain in the neck because I have to unhook the blasted thing twice.

If I could just stream this through the computer at home, it would be much easier. You're right, JD, I don't listen to it as much as possible -- usually only on the ride to and from work since I only move the unit in the house on the weekends.

I don't have trouble paying for a service, but I do get tired of having various companies make it so darn difficult OR for it Sirius to not make it known to customer's prior to SIGN UP that not all channels are available at all times.

Anonymous said...

I watched Wrestlemania for free on that link in the first post...so I assume there's some illegality involved????

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments. The justin link provided by an Anon in this comments section is an example of online retransmission.

It is one of the methods fans use to see programs and get audio information when it is being denied by these big companies who are locked into outdated contracts.

TDP is not promoting this activity, just allowing those who read the comments to try and get a realistic picture of what is going on.

Several years ago, I spoke to the NASCAR Media group's production folks in Charlotte. I tried to make the point that something is fundamentally wrong when they cannot offer any NASCAR content online but a 12 year old can post NASCAR highlights on YouTube.

Certainly is an interesting topic.

JD

Tracy said...

You bet I'd like to be able to get 128 on the computer or the iphone app. The whole deal is so backward - let's protect our turf at all costs and to heck with the fans - it makes me want to give up totally on Sirius. Right now it's just in the car and I don't think I'll keep it much longer. Don't get me started about nascar.com.

Photojosh said...

Of course, we should all note the irony of us bashing Turner on this post and praising them for stuff like RaceBuddy just a few posts further down the page.

But the fact remains, the TV/Radio/Internet contracts need to be reworked to better reflect the current entertainment world we live in. Of course, with the economy and revenue down, I bet the last thing NASCAR wants to do is open up the possibility or renegotiating the contracts. Contracts that were signed when NASCAR (and the economy) was blazing hot a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Months ago someone called into Sirius Speedway and asked when the channel would be available via the Internet. Moody's response was something along the lines of "We get asked this all the time, possible the most asked question in email." Either he or one of the other hosts said (paraphrasing) "Sirius and Turner attempted to work out a deal but Turner's requirements made the deal cost-prohibitive for Sirius."

I listen to Howard Stern and NASCAR most of the time on my in-car tuner. I used to take the tuner into the house if I wanted to hear a race and then need to run a cable out a window, down the lawn, and HOPE I received a single. I don't do that anymore. I moved to Sprint and listen to the stream via my Palm Pre speaker, but I miss the talk shows on Sirius.

When Sirius started charging for Internet feeds I swore I would never pay for them unless channel 128 is added to the line-up.

Robert said...

I would also have paid (and still would) if 128 was online on my computer at work. If it was just the NASCAR talk shows that would be good. NFL has a talk show and so should NASCAR.

I listen on my drive to/from work and that is about it. So yes, they miss out on advertising for about 9 hours. I have been with sirius for over 2 years now.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Josh,

The most ironic is that the only reason we get RaceBuddy is because Turner already owns those online video and audio rights.

The big bang coming up for NASCAR is when the high-tech TNT coverage is over and once again viewers are faced with the stone-faced formal ESPN coverage that features no online companion.

Ultimately, the question remains is RaceBuddy good for NASCAR as a whole? It is only there for 6 of 38 races and primarily serves only the interests of the very Turner group that cannot seem to get along with the other networks and media outlets.

On the Sirius iPhone topic: In my mind, spreading the Sirius signal all over right now at a low rate would then pay off when the sport rebounds and a higher rate could be charged.

Why not open the doors right now?

JD

allisong said...

I love SIRIUS Channel 128. It is the only thing I listen to when I'm in the car, and I bring the receiver into the house on the weekends to get the driver/crew chat channels during the races.

Not having it available online to listen to at work is probably a good thing, though, productivity-wise. Besides, during the weekdays, if you listen to it all-day, everyday, you will experience a lot of "equine abuse". For those who don't know, that would be "beating a dead horse".

I am able to listen online to all the channels that are available, and I'm not paying an extra charge for that. Is that a new thing?

West Coast Diane said...

Personally, don't care about NASCAR channel on iphones. We are still fuming just about what is offered and how much it costs.

As soon as our 3 yr subscription runs out I will not renew. I was so disappointed when XM lost NASCAR to Sirius. Then when they merged and I found out we needed to purchase the top tier and most expensive package I was furious. I don't want Howard Stern. Why is that packaged with NASCAR? Are all NASCAR fans Howard Stern fans? Definitely support ala carte style plans.

We got XM because of our motorhome travels. But we lost many of the programs we listened to with the merger. Between that and the unending ED/male enhancement commercials we will pass on renewing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long-time Sirius customer and I, too, think think this is BS. The problem is that Turner already OWNS THE RIGHTS to online broadcast for NASCAR. It's pretty simple. It sucks, but NASCAR is prevented from allowing this because of an existing contract. You go to NASCAR.com and you can live stream the races (for a fee, of course)

I hope that this will change when the contract with Turner expires.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:10PM,

I hope you are still here in over a decade when the contract expires.

I also hope NASCAR is still here.

JD

Anonymous said...

JD,
Are you a communist? What is your beef with a company holding on to their rights under a legal contract?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:41PM,

The reason some folks (including me) are bent out of shape about this is for the reasons listed in the column.

What good is having rights and not using them? There are 24 hours of Sirius content available to NASCAR fans, but not through the computer or cell phones.

There are two sides to every issue and the one we are exploring is why can't two big NASCAR media partners get together for the good of the sport in what may well become a full-blown crisis before long.

Get the message out and let fans get back involved with the sport. Make your money when the sport and the country gets back on its feet.

One phone call could make this happen.

JD

Anonymous said...

http://www.justin.tv/bumpdraft

If they can get to this link on their iPhone, this will hook them up. Shhhhhh.


This is, of course, illegal.

Funny how people are willing to break laws if they can rationalize it in their own minds...

Anonymous said...

Turner has the same issue as NASCAR Media Group. It's a control issue.
J.D., did you ever get anyone to open up about the real story behind why NASCAR Wives suddenly disappeared? Or at least three other TV deals that were all but signed before NASCAR killed them by being inflexible? Anyone want to put money on whether the BET show actually makes it to air?
Sort of ironic that NASCAR's hands are tied by Turner, but I have to say I get a little ironic karma satisfaction watching NASCAR chafe under the same restrictions that they heap on anyone who does business with NMG.

Haus14 said...

Maybe I missed it, but do you have to have a Sirius subscription in order to have the opportunity to purchase the iphone app or can you simply purchase the iphone app and pay a different fee for the same service?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:20PM,

Perhaps the real question is if this video and audio information was made readily available to fans, why would that website even exist?

Anon 9:47PM,

Agree that one of the players in this issue is NASCAR. The online rights are not really a NMG deal, but the other TV shows you mentioned certainly are. How things may change once the company all moves into the same building in downtown Charlotte shortly is yet to be seen.

Haus,

It is a different fee and enables service only on one iPhone.

JD

Tracy said...

I read in this morning's paper that Turner is investigating tying in with Comcast to provide online content to subscribers to Comcast. There'll be a test market of about 5000.

Haus14 said...

Maybe this isn't possible, but if I could get it on the iphone, i would drop my regular sirius subscription in a heartbeat.---maybe that is another reason the two entities can't come together on a deal. Sirius fears loss of subscriptions and Turner is fearful of a loss of subscriptions on their pay features on nascar.com

Stop Dreaming Start Action said...

I heard about the Iphone app yesterday,......but i don't have a money...



Best regard,...

stop dreaming start action