Kevin Harvick wins the 2013 Sprint Unlimited NASCAR season-opener in his new Chevy SS race carEnlarge Photo
On the surface, that may not sound like bad news, at least until you review the programming to be offered by FS1. Beginning in 2015, it will air “select” NASCAR Sprint Cup races, while the remainder will be seen on network television.
Beginning in August, FS1 will show NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races (including practice and qualifying), the Sprint All-Star Race, all Daytona 500 qualifying (including the Budweiser Duel races) and the Sprint Unlimited race.
Racing commentary shows like NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and Race Hub will remain on FS1, while shows like Wind Tunnel and Speed Center fade into the sunset. It’s not clear what will happen to coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Auctions, which have traditionally aired on Speed.
If you’re wondering what will round out the network’s airtime, here’s where the bad news comes in. In an effort to compete with ESPN, FS1 will focus on more mainstream sports, such as Major League Baseball, college football, college basketball, soccer and even Ultimate Fighting Championship coverage.
In other words, automotive and racing programming just took a back seat in order to fit in more stick-and-ball sports, which will (in theory) improve the network’s ratings. If you’re a NASCAR fan, the only way to watch all the races live may soon be via a combination of network and cable television.
We’re not experts, but that seems like a giant step backward for NASCAR at a time when it’s trying to increase viewers, not lose them. If NASCAR fans don’t have the disposable income to attend races like they did in the past, is forcing them into potentially-expensive cable television subscriptions the best way to foster series loyalty?