NASCAR Turns To Video Games After Canceling All Live Events Due To Coronavirus – Setting New Record For Highest Rated Esports Broadcast Ever With Its First Virtual Race
- NASCAR drew the largest esports audience ever with its first virtual race
- 903,000 people watched the company’s first virtual event on Fox Sports 1
- After the distribution of COVID-19, the company canceled all its live events
- Instead, NASCAR continues to race with the video game iRacing
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
NASCAR has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by switching from real to virtual race cars.
The stock-car racing organization aired its first virtual racing event on March 22, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, with an audience of 903,000, the highest rated esports event of all time.
The event took place in a digital version of the Homestead-Miami Speedway with the simulation game iRacing and was won by Denny Hamlin.
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After closing all live events due to the COVID-19 outbreak, NASCAR held a virtual race with the simulation game iRacing and the event was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1
The previous high score for esports was set in 2016 by CW’s MK: Chasing the Cup, a tournament featuring the fighting game Mortal Kombat that aired against The Grammys and drew 770,000 viewers.
“This rapid collaboration between FOX Sports, NASCAR and iRacing has clearly resonated very positively with racing fans, gamers and television viewers across the country,” said Brad Zager of Fox Sports in a prepared statement.
“We have learned so much in a relatively short time and we are excited to extend the coverage of this brand new NASCAR esports series to an even wider audience.”
In addition to breaking esports records, the race was also a hit for Fox Sports 1, which had the highest scores in two weeks.
The event was also the most talked about social media sporting event of the day, something driven by many of NASCAR drivers who were streaming themselves live on Twitch.
“That’s a really good opportunity where you can create a little something for everyone and where you can definitely tune into the broadcast to see everything, but you can also tune into some of those channels like Twitch, which gives you the chance to maybe reach an audience that may not be watching television, ‘NASCAR’s Tim Clark said told NBC Sports.
NASCAR will continue to broadcast virtual racing events throughout the season and is scheduled for March 29, which will take place in a digital version of the Texas Motor Speedway.
F1 has also started running virtual races and broadcasting its first event, the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix, on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube.
The transition from a real car to a video game car was not easy for many drivers, with some drivers having only an hour to experiment with iRacing before starting the race.
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series drew an audience of 903,000 viewers, a new record for an esports event, beating a record previously held by a Mortal Kombat tournament broadcast on the CW in 2016
NASCAR’s first esports event brought a steep learning curve for many drivers, some of whom only had an hour to try and learn to play iRacing before the race started
“People don’t realize how we threw many of those guys directly into the fire because some just didn’t use the software or never used the software,” said Steve Myers of iRacing.
As the drivers become more accustomed to the game’s quirks, Clark expects the broadcast to look more like a real race.
“The more people see it and the more people get into the fact of, ‘Hey, I’m going to interrupt faith for two hours and just enjoy watching racing,’ I think it will grow from that aspect, ‘he said.
WHAT ARE SPORTS?
Esports are competitive video games. Many of the most popular video games have a multiplayer aspect, and people are now competing for bigger and bigger prize money in competitions and tournaments.
The most popular esports include Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike, where players compete regularly for millions of prizes, for millions of viewers.
Being a professional esports player is a full-time job because they have strict training regimes, have exercise schedules, and often have to travel long distances to play in tournaments.
Esports professionals tend to have a short lifespan even compared to traditional sports because response times are so important. Most players quit in the mid-1920s.
The world’s top teams are valued at hundreds of millions of dollars and are recruiting sponsorships from major brands.