Nascar has turned to esports while races are postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic
Fox Sports has agreed to broadcast the entirety of the eNascar iRacing Pro invitational Series, after success with the first race.
The broadcaster aired the first event on Sunday, 22 March, and drew 903,000 viewers to FS 1 – according to Nielsen Media Research. This made it the most watched telecast on the channel since the sports shutdown caused by coronavirus pandemic began on 12 March, and the highest rated esports TV programme in history.
In addition, Nascar-owned content related to the race produced over one million engagements on the weekend.
This has led to the decision to continue airing the series, which will resume at 1pm eastern time on Sunday (5pm GMT). It will be simultaneously broadcast to the Fox broadcast network, FS 1, and the Fox Sports app. In Canada it will be available through Fox Sports Racing.
Named Fox Nascar iRacing, the simulation races will involve competitors drawn from a cross section of the Nascar Cup series, Nascar Xfinity series, Nascar Gander RV & Outdoors Truck series, and a group of Nascar dignitaries. The first race was won by three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin last week.
Normal Nascar commentary team, Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds, work on the broadcast alongside Nascar Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer – who provides ‘in-car’ commentary.
Brad Zager, Fox Sports executive producer, EVP/head of production & operations, said: “We have learned so much in a relatively short period of time, and we are excited to expand coverage of this brand-new Nascar esports series to an even wider audience.”
With many sports and teams turning to esports during the covid-19 postponements, this could be proof that the simulations can draw in viewers during the hiatus.