When DirecTV's Hotpass service launches its five Nascar channels next month for the 2007 season, a unique opportunity for team sponsors comes with it. Each channel will be dedicated to a specific driver (the lineup will change each week), whose team sponsor will have exclusive logo space throughout the race, with the possibility of even more airtime during commercials.
A minute during local breaks
During every local break, the corresponding channel's team will have one minute to devote to advertising of its choice, be it team-related or sponsor-driven.
"Some teams may choose to talk about merchandise, some may choose to talk about their driver's winery," said Eric Shanks, exec VP, DirecTV Entertainment. Either way, "no corporate sponsor has ever had the opportunity to have their own channel for three-and-a-half hours."
Each channel will also come equipped with its own pair of announcers tailoring their commentary specifically toward the channel's driver. Calling the race all day from the perspective of Dale Earnhardt Jr., for example, presents another unique opportunity for embedded advertising, said Jon Gieselman, senior VP-advertising and public relations.
'It comes naturally'
"There'd be plenty of opportunities to talk about things Budweiser's doing or the team's doing. It comes naturally as part of the race broadcast. It's a much more specific, much richer experience for your individual team."
Hotpass will also give DirecTV a piece of the consumer-generated pie when it allows fans to vote on which driver gets their own channel. "It's not going to be the exact same drivers every week," Mr. Shanks said. "There's a lot dictated on the storyline -- who won here last year, who performed here well in the past, who's hot right now. For everyone that wants to participate, they'll at least get a shot during the season to be featured on Hotpass."
And so far, participation is in high demand. "We're getting a ton of e-mails and calls saying five channels is not enough and we haven't even started yet," Mr. Shanks said.