NASCAR is taking a page out of March Madness and trying to get fans more engaged with the Chase for the Sprint Cup. This year, fans can get involved through the Chase Grid Challenge. The process is akin to trying to fill out a perfect bracket for the NCAA Tournament. Fans create their entry by picking the winners of the races along with the correct order of finishers, accumulating points through the final races in the NASCAR season.
The challenge, designed in partnership with Omnigon, has an obvious goal: Keep fans engaged. These types of games create competition among fans because they can choose to compete against their friends. This automatically creates a social component, where fans can use Facebook, Twitter and other social media to brag about their skill at picking races. If fans are engaged outside of just watching the race, it provides more incentive to tune in.
Fans aren’t the only ones who benefit. NASCAR sponsors will be engaging fans as well. Sprint’s branding is prevalent on the main page, and other official NASCAR sponsors such as Toyota will also be involved. It also helps the companies that sponsor NASCAR teams (but not NASCAR directly or the game itself). If fans pick Jimmie Johnson to win, they’ll be more aware of the Lowes’ car during the race, even though Lowes is not directly associated with the game.
NASCAR is actively seeking a more tech-savvy fan base, and this is another way to engage them. Another example includes a Dogecoin-sponsored car, done through donations from Reddit users. NASCAR continually battles the perception that its fans are not technologically inclined, but second-screen engagement like the challenge could change that.
The Chase Grid Challenge still has a long way to go to catch up to the million dollar bracket challenge, but it is a start. There is little doubt that gamification works to engage fans. A look at the different NCAA bracket challenges, or how the NFL has taken advantage of fantasy football, shows how valuable this type of game can be.