NASCAR Extends With In Demand

In Demand will continue to distribute its multi-camera National Association for Stock Car Racing pay-per-view package through 2006 as part of an agreement reached last week with NASCAR Digital Entertainment.

The content purveyor will continue to distribute the seven-channel “NASCAR In Car” digital sports package exclusively to cable through 2006, said In Demand president Rob Jacobson. He would not disclose how many subscribers have actually purchased the product, but said In Demand has carriage deals with every MSO.

“The package has been successful in giving NASCAR loyalists what they want,” Jacobson said. “From a qualitative and transactional standpoint, it’s been successful. Like any product, you wish you could sell more of it, but it’s performed in accordance to what we anticipated.”

With the extension now completed, Jacobson said In Demand will focus on extending the appeal of NASCAR In Car beyond stock-car racing fans. To support next year’s sales push, Jacobson said the company in January will drop the flag on a major marketing campaign.

“In Demand’s commitment to NASCAR has helped us create a best-of-class television experience, increase access for our fans, and innovate for the benefit of our entire industry,” said NDE managing director of broadcasting and new media and NASCAR In Car executive producer Jeffrey Pollack. “We have a terrific partnership, and extending our agreement makes good sense.”

The pact expires in 2006, concurrent with NASCAR’s TV-rights deals with NBC and TNT. (The Fox/FX deals with NASCAR carry through 2008, but the racing group has the option to open the contract after the 2006 season. Negotiations are expected to begin next year, with ESPN expressing interest in a NASCAR return.)

Jacobson said he’s confident NASCAR will continue to offer the digital PPV package, even when it reaches new agreements with other networks.

“For NASCAR, [the package] offers valuable brand extension and provides a way to tap into their most loyal fans,” Jacobson said. “From NASCAR’s perspective, I would hope they would want to continue to have this package.”

Pollock also was bullish about the package’s future. “This deal goes through 2006, but we’re committed to the long term,” he said. “We expect this program to become more sophisticated as the years roll by.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.