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Fox Sports to broadcast the full season of NASCAR’s virtual race series

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Fox Sports to broadcast the full season of NASCAR’s virtual race series

Esports racing, helped by record-setting viewership, is hitting the large time.

Fox Sports mentioned Tuesday it would broadcast the remainder of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series, following Sunday’s digital race that was watched by 903,000 viewers, in line with Nielsen Media Research.

While these numbers are far beneath the hundreds of thousands of viewers who watch NASCAR’s official races — the final one at Phoenix Raceway reached 4.6 million — it nonetheless hit quite a lot of firsts that Fox Sports discovered notable sufficient to decide to broadcasting the digital racing sequence for the rest of the season, starting March 29.

The races will probably be simulcast on the FOX broadcast community, Fox Sports iRacing and the FOX Sports app. Races will probably be accessible in Canada by FOX Sports Racing.

Virtual racing, which lets opponents race utilizing a system that features a pc, steering wheel and pedals, has been round for years. But it’s garnered extra consideration because the unfold of COVID-19, the illness brought on by coronavirus, has prompted sports activities organizers to cancel or postpone reside occasions, together with the NCAA March Madness basketball match, NBA, NHL and MLB seasons in addition to Formula 1 and NASCAR racing sequence.

Classic. @JimmieJohnson checks in reside with @JeffGordonWeb through the #ProInvitationalSeries and says he must “study completely different automobiles” for his 2021 schedule.

(And Jeff helps him discover a bit of harm ) pic.twitter.com/5gFgl1f0e3

— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 22, 2020

NASCAR ran its first digital race within the sequence on Sunday in lieu of its deliberate race on the Homestead-Miami Speedway, which was canceled attributable to COVID-19. Not solely was it probably the most watched esports occasion in U.S. tv historical past, it was Sunday’s most-watched sports activities telecast on cable tv that day.

50 seconds of #ProInvitationalSeries digital engines. CRANK IT UP! pic.twitter.com/wyG1JhFkPQ

— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 22, 2020

“This rapid-fire collaboration between FOX Sports, NASCAR and that iRacing clearly has resonated with race followers, players and tv viewers throughout the nation in a really optimistic means,” Brad Zager, FOX Sports govt producer mentioned in an announcement. “We have realized a lot in a comparatively quick time period, and we’re excited to increase protection of this brand-new NASCAR esports sequence to a fair wider viewers.”

Granted, there aren’t any reside sports activities to observe on this COVID-19 period. Still, it bodes properly for the way forward for esports, even perhaps after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“The response on social media to final Sunday’s race has been unbelievable,” mentioned four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who’s announcer for Fox NASCAR. “We have been capable of broadcast a digital race that was thrilling and entertaining. It introduced slightly little bit of ‘normalcy’ again to the weekend, and I can’t wait to name the motion Sunday at Texas.”

NASCAR isn’t the one racing sequence to show to esports. Formula 1 introduced final week that it might host an esports sequence, the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix sequence, with quite a lot of present F1 drivers alongside quite a lot of different stars.

The digital Formula 1 races will use Codemaster’s official Formula 1 2019 PC sport and followers can comply with alongside on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, in addition to on F1.com. The races will probably be about half so long as common races, with 28 laps. The first race happened March 22. The first-ever digital spherical of the Nürburgring Endurance Series kicked off on March 21.

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