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All of the Questions Surrounding the Xfinity Series and CW TV Deal

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series now has a new TV partner, The CW. With a new TV deal always means some unanswered questions, and we are here to answer all of them.

What Does This Mean for NASCAR Streaming?

The CW is an interesting player when it comes to streaming. As opposed to other streaming services that are behind a paywall, The CW is free. Yes, its streaming option is completely free.

This opens up an interesting opportunity for NASCAR to get into streaming. The general consensus has been that NASCAR will dip their toe into streaming in some form or fashion with their next TV deal.

The CW offers an opportunity to make some unique NASCAR content on a free platform. Not necessarily broadcasting races, as those will be exclusively on The CW TV network, but moreso discussing the off-track programming.

Could there be more programming related to the grass roots of NASCAR and the rising stars of the sport through the Xfinity Series? Could there be a NASCAR version of “Drive to Survive” that exclusively looks at the Xfinity Series?

There may not be the largest audience for it out there, but The CW being the exclusive broadcaster for the Xfinity Series motivates them to promote the series through unique means. As opposed to the current TV deal with NBC and FOX, the Xfinity Series tends to be a lower priority on shows and programming just because the Cup Series brings in more TV viewers.

The CW, on the other hand, will have Xfinity and only Xfinity to market and broadcast. This means more energy put towards the series from a single entity, rather than one network spreading out resources between two or three series. Which, in turn, means more freedom for unique content on streaming.

Who Will Be the Commentators?

According Adam Stern and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, The CW will be responsible for hiring the broadcasting talent. There are plenty of options for them out there to choose from, and here are a few of the people The CW can look to.

Ralph Sheheen

Ralph Sheheen has plenty of experience as a motorsports commentator, and he is currently not employed by anyone that currently broadcasts NASCAR. If anyone within the current NASCAR broadcasting ecosystem is apprehensive about leaving their current place, then Shaheen is a good option for a lap-by-lap commentator. He does not have any other major broadcasting commitments to worry about, and he could become what Rick Allen once was to the Truck Series.

Phil Parsons

Phil Parsons exclusively broadcasts as a color commentator for the Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series for FOX and FS1. Parsons has 285 career starts and two career wins in the Xfinity Series, and he would be an interesting person to bring over for these races. He also happens to be the brother of the late Benny Parsons, a former beloved NASCAR commentator.

Adam Alexander

Adam Alexander is currently a lead commentator for the Xfinity Series and Truck Series on FOX. If there is already a broadcaster who does these races on one network, then why not bring them to another network? Alexander has done a good job with the Xfinity Series on FOX, and he could be a good choice if he is okay with leaving FOX.

What Does This Mean for Xfinity Series Teams?

Putting their series on broadcast TV and not behind a paywall should make it easier for Xfinity Series teams to sell sponsorships. The TV audience is the biggest thing that teams are able to sell to sponsors because that is the bigger audience than there is on TV.

According to the press release, the Xfinity Series brings in an average of 1 million viewers per race. For comparison, the Cup Series has drawn in an average of 3.2 million viewers per race this season. Regardless, being able to draw in 1 million viewers per race, and now it being on free-to-air broadcast television? That could have a big impact.

That is a much easier sell to sponsors than streaming, and it could arguably be considered easier than the current model. With the majority of Xfinity Series races being on cable TV, not every race is within the reach of the entire county. The CW at least has an app that you can watch the network live for free.

The more easily available the product is, the easier a reach that it is for sponsors. The more sponsors that are attracted to the series, then the easier it is for teams sell sponsorships to fund their season. It’s a win for everyone, if the TV viewership stays the same or improves.

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Joshua Lipowski

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