Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Taking A Look At Streaming With NASCAR Heading to FLORacing

During the NASCAR Awards festivities Thursday in Nashville, NASCAR announced that they have entered into a new partnership with FLOSports that starts in 2022.  As a result, live streaming of ARCA Menards Series races that air on MAVTV, along with ARCA Menards Series East, ARCA Menards Series West, Whelen Modified Tour and Pinty’s Series races will move to FLORacing.com. They’ll be joined by streams from various short tracks that are part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series. Think Bowman-Gray Stadium, Berlin Raceway, etc.

These broadcasts all previously aired on NBC Sports’ TrackPass service. That service, much like NBCSN, is being discontinued at the end of December.

“Our partnership with FloSports is a win for motorsports fans at all levels and doubles down on NASCAR’s commitment to grassroots racing — the foundation of our sport,” said Brian Herbst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of media and productions, in a press release. “We look forward to bringing fans all the racing they crave and investing in the tracks that provide lifelong memories to motorsports fans each weekend.”

For FLORacing (and FLOSports) in general, getting in concert with NASCAR is quite the coup. Despite how many race fans feel, NASCAR is still the biggest name in motorsports in the United States.

“NASCAR shares our mission to grow grassroots motorsports and bring these races and athletes to an even wider audience across America and the world,” said Mark Floreani, CEO and co-founder of FLOSports, parent company of FLORacing.com. “We are honored to align with NASCAR as we continue to invest in the future of this sport so that we build a home for fans to both watch and experience racing in completely new ways. We’re excited for what’s to come.”

In addition to the race broadcasts, there will be supplemental coverage from FLORacing that will include “driver interviews, behind-the-scenes access, on-site race day coverage, analysis and more.”  There will be more coverage of NASCAR’s regional and local racing (under the banner of NASCAR Roots) than ever before.  Of note, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series does not appear to be part of this.  That series has spent the past couple of years streaming on Motorsport.tv, but allowed American viewers access to the series’ official YouTube channel for live streaming earlier this year.

Ultimately, who is going to benefit from this move? FLORacing.com will get a lot of extra content starting next year. It also gets them into paved racing. Very little of their streaming product since the website launched has been on pavement. The only paved racing events on the site in 2021 have been drag racing events and USAC events (this includes a few paved open-wheel races on ovals and the Porsche Sprint Challenge, a USAC-sanctioned series that primarily raced on the undercard of SRO America events).

Existing subscribers to FLORacing.com, like our own Bryan Keith, will love this because they will get more content without having to pay a cent extra. The price to subscribe to FLORacing.com will not increase for 2022 despite the addition of NASCAR coverage.

That price is $150 a year. For those viewers who were subscribers to TrackPass and not FLORacing.com previously, that’s a rather substantial increase to be able to keep that content. I feel like a number of those fans will be turned off by the cost increase.

However, at that price point, you get a lot more since you would also get access to all the existing live streaming content, plus FLORacing.com’s archive, which is rather substantial (with the exception of that one race they streamed from Kossuth County Speedway back in July for reasons that have to do with the track’s substitute PA announcer that night). You would also gain access to the rest of FLOSports’ content, which covers 25 different websites’ worth of streaming content.  If you watched Bring It On recently and want to see cheerleading competitions, they’ve got that.  You want to see college basketball?  They’ve got that too, although it is lower-level content.  Then again, they ended up with live coverage of a top five women’s college basketball matchup recently on there.  Heck, they’ve even got a barbershop quartet competition coming up next month.

It is substantially cheaper than DirtVision.tv, which costs $39.99 a month or $299.99 a year and technically provides less content. Speedsport.tv has a subscription for $14.99 a month or $134.99 a year, but that does not provide access to live streams (you’d have to pay for a single pass for that).  When Lucas Oil Racing TV became MAVTV Plus back in March, prices increased from $59.99 a year to $99.95. Monthly memberships are $6.99, but don’t provide you full access to live events.

TrackPass provided the aforementioned NASCAR coverage, plus IMSA content and Progressive American Flat Track for $60 a year. Random discounts throughout the year could result in a lower price.

For many of us here at Frontstretch, including myself, we had free subscriptions to TrackPass. This is because five members of the Frontstretch staff were in Homestead in 2019 for Ford Championship Weekend. During the Championship 4 Media Day at The EDITION Miami Beach that Thursday, NBC Sports (with the help of NASCAR president Steve Phelps) unveiled the service (which replaced the free FansChoice.tv) during a press conference. I then proceeded to ask a flurry of questions to Phelps during the Q&A portion of the press conference that appeared to flummox him at the time. Phelps admitted to Frontstretch that he dropped the ball and was eventually able (with help from NBC Sports representatives) to provide the information on what would end up on there. Some of the promised content didn’t make it to TrackPass due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other providers, such as Idaho’s Meridian and Magic Valley Speedways, chose to move from the free FansChoice.tv to Speedsport.tv-affiliated services.

Inside of the large gift box given to each media member in attendance that day was a complimentary subscription to the service (Note: The gift box was so large that I couldn’t fix it into my suitcase to bring back to New York from Florida, so I had to empty it and take the individual products with me, most of which I still have). The paperwork in the aforementioned box mentioned that this was going to be a one-year complimentary subscription. After that, I would have been required to sign up for a $59.99 yearly subscription. That never happened. As a result, I got use the complimentary subscription for the life of the service. That should have been a warning to me months ago that something was up.

In November, it was revealed during a press conference at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta that the IMSA programming on TrackPass, most notably the live broadcasts of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge races along with simulcasts of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge races, got the highest viewership. As a result, the TrackPass-exclusive IMSA programming will be moving to Peacock in 2022. It will join content from INDYCAR, Nitro Rallycross, Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship that is already on the service.

Coverage of both the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires and the Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by Visit Cayman Islands was already aired on both IMSA.com and TrackPass. Those series may be exclusive to IMSA.com once again next year.

It is currently unclear what will happen to Progressive American Flat Track coverage, which is the only live racing that aired on TrackPass that does not currently have a home for 2022. In addition, there is also the on-demand content currently stored on TrackPass. This includes all of the broadcasts that aired on TrackPass since July of last year. That might disappear off the internet in a couple of weeks.

As far as motorsport streaming is concerned, it might as well be cable television in 1981 right now. New services come along seemingly every year, then they get swallowed up. FLORacing.com was a relatively small player early on with only the USAC rights and FIA World RallyCross (which they no longer have), then (in the words of Wikipedia) “…Tony Stewart awarded streaming rights to the Eldora Speedway and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions to FloSports.” In reality, FLOSports bought SpeedShift.tv, which was the official streaming site for All Star Circuit of Champions at the beginning of 2020 (FLOSports is now the title sponsor for the series).  They also acquired streaming rights to the preliminary coverage of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals and Tulsa Shootout, which were formerly the marquee properties of RacinBoys.com.

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed FLOSports to greatly expand their racing offerings as tracks needed to stream their races in order to have any chance of earning revenue as states did not allow tracks to have fans in the grandstands. With fans back in the stands (for now), many tracks have decided to continue streaming their races in order to expand their potential audience.

What is the endgame for motorsport streaming services? It is possible that more consolidation and shutdowns could happen, but the ownership appears to be pretty solid now.  At present, the primary streaming services for short track racing are FLORacing.com, DirtVision.tv for DIRTcar’s series (World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series and the Super DIRTcar Series), MAVTV Plus (formerly Lucas Oil Racing TV) for a bunch of the Lucas Oil-branded series and assorted other events, SPEED51.tv via the Race Team Alliance’s Racing America and SpeedSport.tv’s network of affiliates (DirtTrackDigest.tv, LowBudget.tv, IMCA.tv, etc.). There are others, but those are the biggest.  Something else could still come along that isn’t even in the fold at the moment and swallow up some of these.

For open-wheel racing and sports car racing, it’s some combination of MotorTrendOnDemand.com (the over-the-top service run by the Motor Trend TV network) and Motorsport.tv. To subscribe to all of those services would run you $864.94 a year. That’s a lot of scratch with how much everything else costs these days.

Am I a current subscriber of FLORacing.com?  No.  In order to critique that programming, I will have to ante up.  The media isn’t going to get a free ride here.  As a result, I will be giving FLOSports my $150 at some point in the near future, probably before the Chili Bowl comes along next month.  For the sake of both Couch Potato Tuesday and The Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter, I want to see what their coverage is like.  With the elimination of NBCSN, quite a lot of that coverage of NASCAR’s regional series will not air on television in 2022 anywhere.

While it wasn’t mentioned in the press release, the clear hope here is that having NASCAR content on FLORacing.com would hopefully benefit the rest of the site’s already substantial programming.  Having the extra eyes on the site for ARCA Menards Series West or Modified races could mean additional viewers for FLORacing All Star Circuit of Champions, Chili Bowl preliminaries, or even the Saturday night broadcasts from Fonda Speedway.

Essentially, FLORacing.com is betting on significant crossover between dirt and pavement fans to make this deal worth it for them.  In practice, this might be a little easier said than done.  While there are a lot of race fans that like anything with an engine, like that forgotten video game that Jimmie Johnson put his name on, there are more that are strictly dirt or strictly pavement.  Just having pavement racing available will likely help FLORacing.com’s subscriber numbers, but whether it helps the viewership of their existing programming remains to be seen.

I’m sad to see TrackPass go.  It was pretty good for what it was.  Viewers got live coverage of a number of events that would only get tape-delayed coverage at best.  Some of this coverage did differ substantially from what would ultimately air on TV.  Also, the ARCA Menards Series East/West and Modified coverage quality decreased substantially.  Having a quick archive actually helped me write race recaps for series like Michelin Pilot Challenge because their races often occurred while I was at Lebanon Valley covering dirt modifieds.  I could come home and look at everything that happened quickly.

The current downside of Peacock is that you cannot rewind a live broadcast.  While that’s ok if you’re watching something in the background while working, like Indianapolis 500 practice back in May, but if you’re watching something live and want to quickly go back to see something, you can’t.  You have to wait until the program ends to do it.  Rather weak.  That wasn’t a problem on TrackPass.  It’s probably one of the biggest gripes about Peacock for a lot of viewers these days.

This will likely be the final TV article of 2021.  I thank you for staying loyal to my columns for Frontstretch over the past 13 years.  I’ll be back for more next year, starting early in the year.  There are plans for some kind of a season preview piece, but the specifics are currently unknown at the moment.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

FOX Sports
NBC Sports

As always, if you choose to contact a network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via