With NASCAR having awarded its TV rights for $2.4 billion to Fox
(eight years) and a partnership between NBC and Turner Sports
(six years) beginning in 2001, the Web site NASCAR.com (now
operated by ESPN.com) is its next property up for grabs. Fox and
NBC indicate that they will bid for the NASCAR Internet rights,
as will tech-savvy Quokka Sports, which already produces CART
Webcasts. For its pitch, NBC will partner with Total Sports. The
checkered flag is likely to go to the entity that offers the
best combination of rights fees and hot technology.
There's plenty of the latter around the next turn if NASCAR.com
wants to use it. Pit crews monitor myriad information about
their cars and drivers--peak speed, speed into turns, g-forces,
oil pressure--and the next incarnation of NASCAR.com could feed
such data into fans' computers. The winning bidder might offer
to put a real-time camera into each car. The chance to take a
peek at the minutiae of any driver's performance could prove
irresistible to racing's famously passionate fans.
Many details, though, will need to be ironed out. For instance,
who has rights to all this tantalizing data: NASCAR, the Web
partner, the tracks, the individual teams or the drivers? Will
team owners, drivers and pit crews want to share crucial race
data with the rest of the world? Finally, will they want to let
the World Wide Web listen in on their salty trackside language?
"There can only be one Marvin Gaye. There can only be one Queen
of Soul. And there can only be one Prime Time."
--Seahawks wide receiver DERRICK MAYES, apotheosizing the
Cowboys' Deion Sanders in answer to the question "Who is the
best corner in the NFL?" during a chat on NFL.com last Thursday.