Comcast to replace Nationwide as racing sponsor in 2015
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What is now the NASCAR Nationwide Series will have a new name next year — and for the next 10 years.
But Wednesday’s announcement of Comcast’s XFINITY brand as the title sponsor of NASCAR’s secondary series merely scratches the surface of a deal that includes XFINITY as an official NASCAR partner in the multichannel video programming distributor and broadband ISP categories.
The 10-year term matches the longest entitlement agreement in NASCAR history and it represents the longest single title sponsorship deal for what debuted as the Busch Series in 1982 and transitioned to the Nationwide brand in 2008.
There is considerably more depth to the agreement announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, however, than merely branding a racing series. Comcast also owns NBCUniversal, and NBC Sports will embark on a 10-year deal as a NASCAR broadcast partner next season.
XFINITY is Comcast’s residential service brand and is also the nation’s largest video and high-speed internet provider. Accordingly, the partnership with NASCAR will enable race fans to consume video of the sport from a broad variety of stationary and mobile platforms.
To NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, the technological possibilities of a deal with XFINITY and the existing relationship with NBC Sports were primary tipping points.
“It was the deciding factor — not to mention what a great company — that we’re already partners on the television side with Comcast and NBC,” France said at the announcement in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Great Hall. “But beyond that, the fact that they’re an innovative company in this (technological) space… and they’re leading their industry with both distribution and technology, video, being the lead internet provider — that’s exactly what we’re trying to do at NASCAR in a different way.
“We’re trying to embrace technology and innovation wherever we can to either lower costs or make the experience for our fans a better one. So the idea that this relationship met that criteria is a pretty easy decision at the end of the day, and we’re thrilled to be partners with XFINITY.”
That the 10-year term of the agreement dovetails with the TV deal is no accident.
“You have to really step back and look at the broader Comcast relationship with NASCAR, with NBC Sports, the transition of broadcast to FOX and NBC Sports,” said Peter Intermaggio, Comcast’s senior vice president of marketing communications. “But also we looked at the relationship that NBC Sports had worked with NASCAR; that’s a 10-year deal. We said, for our company, it’s best to align that term.”
On a broader scale, Intermaggio said the partnership was an ideal match for the technological giant, a Fortune 50 company.
“We start with the interest in live sports and the importance of live sports,” Intermaggio said. “We just think NASCAR as a sport, as a cultural phenomenon, is a great venue for live sports. These fans want to engage anywhere and everywhere. That’s what really made NASCAR stand out for us, is the opportunity to partner with NBC Sports, within our family company of Comcast, but also to be able to bring live sports more dramatically to the customer.
“Secondly, our X1 Entertainment Operating System is a tremendous way to experience live sports. We think that NASCAR will be a tremendous demonstration platform for us, to show our products, to show our technology, to let people experience what is different with XFINITY than what they might have with other providers.
“The third thing is simply the fan engagement. You can’t talk about NASCAR without talking about the fans. This is really a committed group of passionate and loyal fans. We looked at those things, live sport, technology, fan base, and said, ’This is the place we have to be.’”