Mobile

NASCAR wants your phone to be a vital second screen during races

NASCAR's Colin Smith talks to VentureBeat's Jolie O'Dell at MobileBeat.

Above: NASCAR's Colin Smith talks to VentureBeat's Jolie O'Dell at MobileBeat.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — The TV is simply not big enough to capture the enormity of NASCAR in all it’s live, real-time glory. And this is the gap that NASCAR hopes its mobile app will fill in a few different ways.

NASCAR managing director of digital platforms Colin Smith said as much today during a session at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat 2014 conference.

Smith said that the television, which regularly broadcasts to more than 8 million viewers during each Sprint Cup race, just can’t capture the in-person feel of the stadium, the track, the engines, the crashes, and the noise (few sounds compare to 43 stock cars revving at once) of a race.

The NASCAR app gives dynamic views of the track and drivers, customized news and headlines, a leaderboard, and live cameras at the track. It also has an animated 3D view of the race that enables viewers to look at specific cars from lots of different angles.

“The mobile app allows the fan to customize what they want to do,” Smith says. “If they have a favorite driver like Jeff Gordon, they can tailor their experience around him, even if he isn’t highlighted in the television broadcast.

“At a certain point it gets a little creepy if you’re not careful.”

Smith says 65 percent of NASCAR’s viewer traffic comes from mobile devices on race days. But, Smith says, only 10 to 15 percent of its revenue comes from mobile commerce, a stat NASCAR is trying to improve.

NASCAR originally thought about outsourcing its mobile app development to a third party, but it soon realized that mobile was too important not to control itself. However, NASCAR has worked with a partner, Telescope, to build some of the personalized and dynamic aspects of the app. NASCAR also worked with HP to build its fan and media engagement center.

Smith says his company has been able to learn a lot about what consumers think of races and sponsors by listening to the chatter.


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