NASCAR wanted to a build a website for super fans that streamed rich media directly to their desktops and mobile devices. Chris Witmayer is NASCAR’s Director of Broadcast, Post Production and New Media Technology and he was given the task of creating the super fan portal. Witmayer had been accustomed to taking on large scale projects in his role but this project was a bit different. While Witmayer originally thought this project would take 6 months, upper management has other ideas. They wanted the site done in 14 days.
“I’m not a cloud guy,” said Witmayer. This candid admission coupled with the tight deadline led Witmayer to think outside of his comfort zone. Witmayer did what any other technical professional would do in his circumstance. He looked at what other technical professionals had done and replicated their success. Witmayer found that NBC used Microsoft Azure to broadcast the Olympics from Sochi. Azure’s agile platform played nicely with NASCAR’s already existing media infrastructure. In fact, many of the infrastructure challenges were already addressed and NASCAR had Microsoft engineers on hand incase anything went off course. What was the end result?
In 14 days, FansChoice.TV was born. Hundreds of thousands of fans flock to race tracks each weekend to get a glimpse of auto racing’s premiere talent. Now super fans have a portal where they can follow and obtain access to live feeds from inside of their favorite driver’s car, and get on demand stats and special insight that other fans do not have access to. This easy to use interface has received rave reviews. On its first day, the site successfully handled 61,000 views and in its first week, FansChoice.TV had 200,000 hits with over 20,000 of those hits coming from international IP addresses.
Like any new website, FansChoice.TV still has work to do. For example, most video is only in 360p and much of the QA work has been crowd-sourced to the user’s themselves. When a super fan submits a bug, Witmayer’s team gets to work on the problem immediately. Witmayer still contends that he isn’t a cloud guy, but we’re sure that Azure has certainly helped change his view as this technology continues to mature.