Dear NASCAR on NBC (and Fox in 2024): Please Do These 2 Things, and Fans and Advertisers Will Love You
Any NASCAR fan who has ever attended a race in person, just like any sport, understands nothing compares to the real thing of being there. The sights, the smells, and oh, that sound. There’s nothing quite like the building roar and a pack of cars blowing by at 190 mph.
The television viewing experience is dramatically different. But that’s how most fans take in each season watching their favorite drivers and teams compete in the 36-race Cup Series schedule. NBC and its family of networks are broadcasting the races for the second half of the season. Here are a couple of suggestions for the Peacock in its coverage for the rest of 2023 and for Fox at the start of next season that will make fans and advertisers happy and help improve the overall viewing experience.
Incorporate side-by-side for ALL commercials
If there’s one complaint you can count on every race weekend from NASCAR fans, it’s this: too many commercials. Every week. Check out social media.
Earlier this year, we tracked the commercials for multiple races on Fox and NBC. Each race would include more than 100 commercials displayed over 15 or more breaks lasting more than 45 minutes, or a typical average of 25% of the broadcast. Fans would miss between 15 and 60 green-flag laps, all depending on the size of the track. And sometimes that included missing important lead changes or crashes.
During each broadcast, there would typically be four or five side-by-side commercial breaks, which showed the racing action in one box and the ad in the other. Fans want more of this, or, more like, all of this — as in show side-by-side commercials for the entire race.
Here’s why it makes total sense to the network, the advertiser, and the fan.
In the current format, fans have three real options during a regular full-screen commercial break, and all of them are not good from the advertiser’s perspective. That’s because fans can:
- Leave the room and do any number of things, including a bathroom break, or grab another cold beverage.
- Pause the action during the break and stay or leave the room (do No. 1 above), only to skip through the commercials and go straight to the racing action.
- Watch but mute the commercials and turn on radio coverage, resent the network for showing so many ads, and complain about it on social media.
Now, if the networks switched to full-time side-by-side commercials, there’s a mutual benefit — fans won’t want to leave the room or they’ll pause when they do need to leave because they don’t want to miss any action, and all the companies’ commercials will, at a minimum, at least be viewed (still might be muted). That’s a win-win for both the fan and the advertiser. Oh yeah, and the networks won’t have to hear fans complain about it again.
Show the 10-box view displayed by NBC at Daytona
Late last season before the playoffs, NASCAR announced that it would provide in-car cameras for every car in the Cup Series field. That was unsurprisingly a hit with fans because it allowed them to watch their favorite drivers online in each race. They could watch things happen in real-time that would later become headlines.
During Saturday night’s race at Daytona, NBC incorporated those in-car cameras into its coverage in a creative and informative way, showing nine of them at one time, all arranged around the larger main box in the middle of the screen that featured the racing action on the track.
NBC has shown a willingness this season to experiment with various multi-box views, including shots of different battles on the track, replays, and in-car cameras. That 10-screen view at Daytona was next level.
If NBC, and Fox next season are smart and want to give the fans and advertisers what they want, they’ll incorporate more of the multi-box views into future coverage, including running side-by-side commercials for the entire race.
It still won’t ever be as good as what a fan experiences at the track, but it will certainly make viewing it on television a much more entertaining and enjoyable experience.