ESPN’s NASCAR NonStop Gets Green Flag
As the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heats up, ESPN will take a page from Turner Sports’ playbook and provide nearly uninterrupted, flag-to-flag coverage of all 10 Chase races.
The network will debut NASCAR NonStop this Sunday from the Chicagoland Speedway. As Jimmie Johnson looks to stretch his consecutive Sprint Cup Championship streak to an unprecedented six, ESPN will cover the 48-driver field using a split-screen commercial format that will take effect approximately halfway through the race.
The first half of the race will be broadcast with traditional commercial breaks. Beginning at or near the race’s midpoint, advertisements will run on the left side of the screen while racing action continues on the right side, with a scoring ticker scrolling across the top of the screen.
Turner Sports introduced the uninterrupted-coverage concept in 2000. TBS’s No Brakes Coverage was rolled out for the fall race at Charlotte (NC) Motor Speedway, using a picture-in-picture format, with race action occupying the smaller box.
In 2007, TNT followed suit, creating Wide Open for its coverage of the summer Daytona race. Unlike No Brakes, Wide Open presented ads that had been shot in vignette form specifically for the race in an effort to give advertisers more value in exchange for sharing the screen.
ESPN began using split-screen in 2005, applying Side-by-Side to IndyCar coverage. Until this season, the network had never adapted the idea to its NASCAR coverage.
Also new this season, ESPN’s NASCAR television content is now available through digital platforms WatchESPN and WatchESPN.com. WatchESPN is available on computers, smartphones, and tablets through WatchESPN.com and the free WatchESPN app, which are accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider.
“ESPN has a history of taking a leadership position in finding new ways to serve sports fans,” says Julie Sobieski, VP, programming and acquisitions, ESPN. “NASCAR NonStop and WatchESPN are extensions of that philosophy.”
Through a partnership with Turner Sports and NASCAR, fans will be able to access NASCAR.com’s RaceBuddy through the WatchESPN.com platform and WatchESPN app, beginning with the Geico 400 from the Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 18.
“We view Race Buddy as a complementary enhancement for our NASCAR race telecasts and something that will help the fans enjoy the experience of watching a NASCAR Sprint Cup race on ESPN even more,” says Rich Feinberg, VP, motorsports, production, ESPN. “But it’s not going to alter the way we produce our telecasts or change our general philosophy. We’ll have the same focus as we have always had.”
RaceBuddy, NASCAR.com’s interactive live-video product, will feature two mosaics with a mix of eight in-car and stationary cameras positioned around the track for the nine Chase races airing on ESPN. After debuting in 2008, RaceBuddy has served predominantly as an enhancement to TNT’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“Enhancing the viewing experience and improving the sport’s digital and social presence for our millions of fans — at the track, at home, and everywhere in between — is a goal we never lose sight of,” says Marc Jenkins, VP of digital media, NASCAR. “Being able to offer this series of interactive products during the Chase will further engage our fans with a robust digital presence that will forever change how the championship-points battle is consumed.”
The Chase races will air on ESPN at 2 p.m. ET, with the exception of the Bank of America 500 on Oct. 15 (ABC, 7:30 p.m.) and the final three races of the year (all on ESPN at 3 p.m.).