Xfinity Drives NASCAR Title Sponsorship Deal

Xfinity has an affinity for NASCAR.

Comcast has reached a 10-year agreement to become the title sponsor of NASCAR’s second level racing circuit, currently called the NASCAR Nationwide Series.  

Beginning January 1, 2015, the circuit will be known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series and will serve as a multimedia platform for the brand to attach its name and various product lines to the stock car group’s 10-month competition for upcoming drivers and teams. The agreement, the longest title sponsorship of for any NASCAR national series in history, also makes Xfinity an official NASCAR partner in the multichannel video programming distributor and broadband ISP categories.

Neither party would disclose the price of the deal. Comcast officials called the pact the largest of its various sports sponsorship commitments spanning the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey Leauge. Published reports place the value at some $200 million over its course, when media expression, marketing and promotional considerations, are factored into its equation.

Officially announced today in Charlotte at an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the pact is co-terminus to the one programming arm NBC Sports Group signed with NASCAR. NBC Sports will drop the flag on a 10-year, $4.4 billion rights deal for the second half of the Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Xfinity series, beginning next July.

NASCAR COO Brent Dewar said the organization selected Xfinity given Comcast’s continuing pursuit of technological advancement.

“We think it’s a perfect partnership. Comcast is a leader in technology and entertainment and is constantly innovating,” he explained in an interview. “And at NASCAR, there is constant innovation on the track, with our drivers and cars. Our fans are also big users of technology and are interested in content-rich products.”

Peter Intermaggio,senior vice president of marketing communications at Comcast, in an interview said that Xfinity -- the company's residential services for video and broadband and its X1 entertainment operating system -- match up extremely well with fans of the motorsport.

“In today’s entertainment landscape, live sports are tremendously important and the NASCAR audience is very technologically savvy and loyal to companies associated with racing,” said Intermaggio. “We believe our Xfinity brand and X1 operating system will have strong appeal to NASCAR fans.”

Intermaggio said the NASCAR Xfinity Series will have a folder within X1’s operating system, wherein subscribers will be able to find circuit and driver stats, and espy look-ins and different camera angles that were previously only available on digital platforms.

Commercial placements in and around the races throughout the complete season on Fox and NBC’s coverage aside, Xfinity will showcase its products where racing fans convene. “We will activate trackside. There is no better way to appreciate our products than seeing and using them,” said Intermaggio, noting Comcast personnel will be on hand to accommodate sign-up and/or upgrade transactions.  

Comcast operates in 39 states and in areas home to NASCAR tracks in such markets as Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Miami. Should its proposed $45 billion union with Time Warner Cable pass regulatory muster, Comcast’s position in NASCAR strongholds in California, Texas and the sport’s home in North Carolina, would be enhanced.

Dewar said NASCAR weighed other offers – Autozone and Adance Auto Parts were reportedly in the chase – but Xfinity provides an array of services that will play well with NASCAR community.

“Our fans are very tech-savvy and want rich content about the sport and their favorite drivers and teams,” he said. “They will spend their weekends watching the races and engaging on various digital platforms. When they go to track they take mobile devices with them. They are high-tech users and Xfinity is a high-tech brand.”

According to NASCAR Fan Engagement Tracker 2013, which was commissioned by the racing organization and conducted by Toluna, NASCAR fans spend an average of four-and-a-half hours each week watching NASCAR on television and an additional two-and-a-half-hours each week following the sport on digital platforms.

Residential customer exposure notwithstanding, Dewar said that with many of the organization’s sponsors members of the Fortune 100 and 500, Xfinity will have opportunities to connect with the circuit’s high-end, business-to-business roster.

Dewar also said NASCAR is looking to increase its position with millennials and multicultural audiences,noting that the series provides a 10-month stretch for fans to get to know drivers and teams, which will also enable Xfinity to reach those key demographic groups.

"We’re excited about having Xfinity on board and believe they also will benefit from working with us," said Dewar. 

Added Intermaggio: "NASCAR fans are thoroughly engaged. They are committed to drivers and teams and the companies that support them. Xfinity certainly wants to connect to NASCAR fans. We’re looking to raise the profile of our brand and help NASCAR further grow its fan base."