MACON – If an auto racing fan lived in Brazil, could that person watch tonight’s stock car racing program live from Macon Speedway?
Thanks to an experiment the track will conduct during the final six races of the season, the answer is yes.
Pay-per-view has arrived at the 72-year-old dirt oval in a new package that is being called “Macon Speedway Live.”
Track co-owner Bob Sargent said they are working with an outside company called Stretch Internet, which does pay-per-view programming for college sports events, churches, concerts, beauty and baby pageants and, now, auto races.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for the last couple of years and with this company we were able to put something together than might let us bring our weekly racing action to people who can’t be here in person,” Sargent said.
Sargent admitted that he has many questions about what will work best. So he’s hoping this six-week experiment will help get a better handle on where they will go with it in the future.
“This is a great learning opportunity for us,” he said.
Among the issues he said he will study: the production side of the operation including placement of a camera or cameras, volume of the public address voices that will serve as the play-by-play call for the races, pricing, season subscriptions, use of a blackout radius, etc.
Here’s how it will tentatively work:
Beginning with tonight’s race, fans can order up the pay-per-view event at the same price as a grandstand adult admission. Tonight, the cost would be $15. And the order can be placed by visiting the track’s web site at maconracing.com and looking for the “Macon Speedway Live” logo.
The broadcast will start approximately 15 minutes before the green flag drops on the night’s racing and the early portion of the broadcast will include some driver interviews. The action will be broadcast until the final race finishes and will include the on-track interview with the feature winner.
After the race, the broadcast will go to an “on demand” section that can be purchased for $10. Sargent anticipates that many drivers will return home and quickly dial up the “on demand” broadcast to see how their race looked on television.
He said they’re likely to start out with a 30-mile blackout radius to assure that local fans still make Macon Speedway their Saturday night destination. But he’s also looking at exceptions and will study that before making a permanent decision.
Track videographer Chuck Flynn will handle the camera work and track announcers Larry Limbach and Brett Zerfowski will provide the commentary.
“I see it as a marketing tool for us, too,” Sargent said. “The more people who see the product, the more than will eventually come to the track at some point. Also, I can see us eventually doing about three commercials to let people know about upcoming events – one at the start, one at intermission, one at the end.”
It would be nice if Sargent could find a way to provide blackout exemptions for older, loyal fans who may live in Macon County but may not be in good enough health to attend the races in person. A chance to see the Macon Speedway race program from home on a Saturday night – or on Thursday for the Herald & Review 100 – would be a boost for those ill or confined to their homes.
The streaming video can be watched on phones, tablets, laptops or other computer-based devices. A cord can be run to put the image on a big flat-screen TV.
In the event of rain, a credit would be extended for a future pay-per-view broadcast.
“I think it’s exciting,” Sargent said. “We’ll be anxious to hear from our fans to see what they think.”