Can a TV network create a sustaining sports event?
Can an American television network create a sustainable sports league? That question will be answered in 2021 as CBS plans to partner with a sports super-agent, two former NASCAR drivers and a former NASCAR COO to start a race car circuit. The Superstar Racing Experience will have a six-week Saturday night prime time run during the summer of 2021. For CBS, it is inexpensive programming. It does not seem that SRE requires massive amounts of money to operate. A race will fit into a two-hour time block, all the cars will have the same technology and the six races will be held on short tracks scattered throughout the United States. CBS also has a financial stake in the venture so it is TV programming in the guise of a six-week series of racing.
There have been many startup sports businesses in the past half century. The names include the American Basketball Association, the World Hockey Association, the World Football League, the United States Football League, the various incarnations of the World League of American Football, two XFLs, the United Football League and the Alliance of American Football. Just one of those leagues, the 2001 version of the XFL was partially owned by a network, General Electric’s NBC TV. TV executives have placed very little money into the startups. It was in 1965 that David Sarnoff’s NBC TV money gave the American Football League the cash it needed to successfully compete with the National Football League. Eventually because of that the AFL had money where it could sign top players like Joe Namath and the two leagues merged in 1966. Ever since then investors have been looking to catch lightning in a bottle and establish a league or merge with an older league. The CBS-backed proposed racing circuit could work as it is cheap summer TV programming.