Friday, February 8, 2013

NASCAR's Enhanced Course...Driving Fan Engagement

NASCAR is the second most-watched sport in America, yet TV ratings were in decline from 2005 to 2011. In 2011 ratings increased 10%.

In an attempt to continue to boost TV ratings and take better control of its message NASCAR has brought its interactive, digital, and social media in-house. Prior to this Turner was in charge.

Daytona International Speedway,
home to The Sprint Unlimited.
The other significant piece of this is that NASCAR wants to focus on fan engagement…relating to its fans in a new way. And, it’s re-designed website is a bold step on this new course.
The site re-launched January 3, 2013, and will always be in the development-phase based on fan feedback. According to Marc Jenkins, vice president of digital media for NASCAR, the site is all about the fans. “This digital experience is meant to constantly evolve based on user feedback, with the goal of creating a better digital experience for our fans.”

With a heavy focus on races, the site will include videos with in-car camera shots and driver commentary. The new website is also heavy on vertical scrolling, large photos, and interaction.
And, on race day the interactive live leaderboard will provide fans with in-depth information in real-time on each driver.

I sat down recently with Pat DeCola, who is Editor/Producer, Content at NASCAR, and who is an integral part of this new website.
PJ: The first thing I notice on your new site is the images are big and things seem a little more spaced out. Was this your intention?

Pat: Yes, the visual is going in a completely different direction. Before, the homepage was busy. I think this is very effective. It’s a completely different strategy from other sports sites. Eventually other teams and leagues will probably follow suit.

From what I’ve heard the old site wasn’t as user-friendly or streamlined. NASCAR wanted to simplify the site. Now it is clear, crisp, and huge images. The big pictures are called Hero images because they are big, hi-quality, hi-resolution images. They are vibrant. You are directed to click on these images. Compare these to ESPN and other sites…their images are kind of small. These are so big they take up the entire screen.
PJ: What is your overall strategy for the content?
Pat: If people are looking for information on NASCAR we are making it as easy as possible for them…easy to get to…easy to get directed. We are providing expanded coverage with four ex-beat writers, including Kenny Bruce. We want to be the source for all NASCAR…to find stories, even breaking news. This has been done with the fans in mind. We want to be a one-stop shop.

Stayed tuned for all the exciting things we have in store for this season. We will have fresh content, consistently…including features and power rankings. We will be more interactive as we get closer to Daytona. In fact, the Sprint Cup Unlimited fans are currently featured in a poll…either through text or our re-launched NASCAR mobile app. They can change the format of the race…how many laps…20, 40, or 60 and how many pit stops.
To see the changes check out the new NASCAR site