TAKE: NASCAR’s Amazon Prime Deal Costs Longtime Fans, Won’t Garner New Support
NASCAR recently inked a seven-year deal in which select races throughout the Cup Series season will be streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime. Five of the final races of the regular season will only be available on the subscription service beginning in 2025. It’s likely a big win for Amazon shareholders and NASCAR’s coffers. But it comes at the expense of longtime, casual, and interested fans of the Cup Series.
Those who don’t have an Amazon Prime membership will have to dish out $139 for an annual subscription (if prices remain the same) to watch five races. That’s nearly $28 per race on top of what fans already pay for cable or a live TV streaming subscription service to watch the other six-sevenths of the season. Or they will have to pay $30 for two months of streaming to watch the five races.
Some hardcore fans might be willing to dish out that dough — NASCAR and Amazon are banking on it. But many likely won’t, particularly those who are only casual fans of the motorsport. Effectively further pay-walling five races of the year isn’t going to draw much interest from those merely interested in the sport, either. And in a corporate culture of “grow or die,” exclusively streaming on Amazon is unlikely to bolster NASCAR viewership stats. Viewership for the 2023 season was down five percent, and it was generally stagnant in the years before.
The sport could feasably garner interest from those who have already have a Prime membership but don’t have cable/live TV. NASCAR is probably hoping these people will think, “Hey, I pay for this service, might as well see what this NASCAR thing is all about.” Even if that proves to be true for some, it still leaves out some in the most important base — longtime fans. These viewers are consistent draws for NASCAR garnering sponsorship and ad revenue. They might attend a few races a season. These fans will shop for merchandise. They will keep up the discord on the storylines of the season. These fans might be understandably upset at the deal. They might just not watch, and suddenly there becomes an effective five-race gap in interest of the NASCAR season.
There are some potential positives of the deal to note. Prime Video will stream pre- and post-race coverage, offer exclusive coverage of practices, and qualify for much of the first half of the season (presumably before the midseason switchover to NBC/USA). A documentary highlighting NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports’ “Garage 56” entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans is also in the works. These are certainly draws for dedicated fans. Yet, it still might not be enough to make them punch in their credit card info for a membership.
Still, NASCAR isn’t alone in making it a more expensive proposition to be a motorsports fan in the U.S.
Two races in the 2024 IndyCar season will be streamed solely on Peacock, another subscription service. Those who want to watch the full IMSA slate for 2024 will also need a subscription. Sure, it’s only $6 a month, but we are all being nickel and dimed by such “low monthly cost subscriptions.”
NASCAR’s Amazon Prime deal is another one.