NASCAR Cup Series Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 20, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP
One of the more forward-thinking sports organizations, NASCAR is looking to seize on the increased exposure it received during the coronavirus pandemic with its introduction of a new virtual sports betting game. London-based and leading sports betting service and content hub IMG ARENA has been chosen as a partner with the resurgent racing league to deliver this new game which is scheduled to be distributed to NASCAR fans, audiences and betting providers worldwide. The deal is scheduled to last 10 years and includes markets outside of Canada and the US.
IMG ARENA's task in this new partnership deal is, along with content developer Leap, to provide live streams of NASCAR Cup Series races and new betting opportunities to licensed sports betting operators in emerging markets. Betting services will be provided to sportsbooks around the world along with a “virtual live stream” of NASCAR races.
Scott Warfield, NASCAR’s managing director of gaming, said: “The international sports gaming landscape is mature and vibrant, and this partnership allows us to offer compelling products that further enhance our international footprint.”
NACAR is one of the global sports leagues that broke the COVID lockdown of sports, allowing racing to get an early jump on the sports betting competition while increasing its overall exposure around the world. Last week marked its first live race after weeks of virtual racing which kept fans engaged and kept the stars of the sport relevant.
Fox reported viewership numbers of 6.3 million for last week's race which came in a the most watched NASCAR race outside of the Daytona 500 since 2017. IMG brings another level of not only fan-engagement to NASCAR but also a new product to enhance the overall NASCAR betting experience.
“IMG ARENA is the leading partner for global sports and entertainment media. We are excited to work together to provide a global audience the ability to engage with our sport virtually and in real-time,” said Scott Warfield, Managing Director of Gaming, NASCAR.
IMG ARENA is currently affiliated with 460 sportsbooks around the world, providing top-notch services 24/7. Services include live streaming and on-demand virtual sports offerings aimed at customer engagement and getting fans into near-authentic action. It combines a virtual experience with industry-best data collection and distribution in order to absolutely maximize its customers overall betting experience.
It's not IMG's first foray into virtual sports betting products – NASCAR joins virtual tennis, football, cycling, horse racing, motor racing and greyhound racing in IMG's portfolio. The new product will aim to replicate some of NASCAR's incredibly iconic tracks including Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International.
Freddie Longe, Executive Vice President and Managing Director at IMG ARENA, said: “Adding NASCAR to our client roster is a proud achievement. The brand is renowned in sport and entertainment with the high-octane race series providing must-watch, appointment-viewing content for more than 70 years.
The partnership significantly bolsters our streaming and official virtual sports offering with a product that we expect to be popular in a number of different markets.”
As for the uniqueness and overall viability of the product Longe commented that: “The virtual NASCAR will have universal appeal. The difference between motor racing proper and virtual motor racing is that motor racing proper is typically once a week on a Sunday throughout the season, whereas the virtual NASCAR product will be a 24/7 proposition.”
Virtual Sports staked a claim and emerged as a viable option to “real sports” during the COVID-19 shutdown. A virtual platform is now seen as a crucial sportsbook asset instead of a niche aspect of one. It has acted to keep current sportsbook customers engaged while at the same time attracting new audiences to sportsbooks.
Virtual sports have definitely gained in popularity the last couple of months – any virtual gaming, especially one that replicates famed racing tracks in the US is bound to gather some steam. With NASCAR’s popularity on the rise once again, IMG ARENA and NASCAR’s latest venture couldn’t have come at a better time.