The motorsports world is facing some extremely difficult challenges in 2020. However, there is exciting progress being made as well.
Internet streaming of motorsports events has absolutely exploded this season. While live streaming certainly is nothing new to short track racing, it has grown and evolved rapidly in recent years.
This year has provided a unique set of circumstances that, in my opinion, will take things to the next level.
There are two strategies to the business side of event streaming. The first business model, which up until few years was the standard, charges viewers per event. If you wanted to watch race X at track Y you would pay somewhere around $20 to stream that event.
This is a very cut and dry strategy and makes it easy for the company providing the stream to cut the track promoter or sanctioning series into the profits from the broadcast.
The promoter would get a certain percentage of the revenue, which helps offset the mentality that live streaming might keep fans away. For the fans, this can get awfully expensive and requires a conscious decision to spend money every time.
The second model is the subscription strategy. In this model, the viewer pays a monthly or yearly fee and every event from that service is included at no additional cost. There are several companies currently utilizing the subscription model and their prices range from around $15 dollars per month to just under $40 a month.
This approach is quickly becoming the new standard, and is obviously much more economical for the race fan.
Behind the curtain, this becomes slightly more complicated for the service provider and promoter, because revenue isn’t tied directly to each individual event.
A number of services such as SPEED SPORT TV, FloRacing, and DIRTvision enable a fan to watch nearly every major dirt short track event in the country, either live or on demand.
From touring series such as the Outlaws, All Stars, USAC, and POWRi to weekly tracks from Skagit in Washington to most tracks in Central Pennsylvania, and even several micro tracks, anything an open-wheel fan could want is covered.
Forms of racing outside of open-wheel, like late models, modifieds, and even snowmobiles, are typically included with various providers. With subscriptions automatically renewing, the fan does not have to think about money when he or she decides to tune in, and will most likely tune in much more frequently.
As the content of each provider diversifies, it opens a whole new world for race fans. Fans are beginning to watch events that they would have never attended in person or bought on PPV because they are included in their subscriptions. This exposes fans to different types of cars, drivers, series and tracks that would not have gotten any of their attention otherwise.
Promoters will hopefully be able to capitalize on these new fans to produce money in their pocket. If the race tracks provide a worthy product, it will make these casual fans compelled to come to these new tracks in person because of how much they were entertained when tuning in online.
Streaming, in general and in all types of sports, has been increasing in popularity, especially as the “cut the cord” movement gains momentum. 2020 has provided racing, specifically, an extremely large stage, as motorsports is the only professional sport that has been able to operate during the coronavirus restrictions.
If we as an industry can make lemonade out of the lemons this year has given us, we can reach a broad new world of fans and hopefully turn them into race fans for life.
As event streaming continues to become more accessible and common, the number of viewers could possibly increase dramatically. SPEED SPORT TV has even set up programs to help get new tracks and series started in streaming by helping them finance the proper equipment and providing a landing spot for their content, which will cultivate more interest deep into grass roots racing.
Substantial viewership could lead to interest from major sports networks and be the catalyst that brings corporate sponsorship back to the tracks and race teams.
As event streaming continues to evolve, the sky’s the limit for how it can benefit the sport.