Sprint to end Nascar sponsorship in 2016

Sprint (NYSE: S) will not renew its sponsorship of Nascar when its current contract with the auto-racing series ends in 2016, the carrier said. "As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless," Steve Gaffney, Sprint's VP of marketing, told USA Today. "Sprint has long benefited from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in NASCAR, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports. Without question, the NASCAR sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor."

Nextel began sponsoring Nascar in 2004, and Sprint changed the name on the sponsorship to "Sprint" in 2008 after it acquired Nextel. Prior to Nextel, Winston sponsored Nascar for 33 years.

According to USA Today, Nextel's deal in 2004 with Nascar was valued at $70 million per year.

"The Nascar Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint's partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons," Nascar spokesman Brett Jewkes told USA Today.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Sprint and Nascar collaborated on the second phase of an over-the-air trial of a TD-LTE hyper-dense small cell network during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the Phoenix International Raceway. The trial, conducted in March, showcased how silicon from Qualcomm Atheros and related software solutions, including Qualcomm's UltraSON software, can be used to improve the aggregate throughput of a cellular network as well as provide other benefits.

That Sprint is dumping its Nascar sponsorship comes as little surprise. Since taking over command of the carrier this summer, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has been reworking Sprint's service pricing, executive team and brand messaging. Indeed, Sprint CMO Jeff Hallock is leaving the company early next year after 15 years with the company; Sprint is currently looking for a replacement.

In a recent memo, Claure said Sprint will now have four key business units: postpaid and general business; prepaid services; enterprise solutions and Hispanic/multi-cultural. The company's Hispanic/multi-cultural unit is notable as it represents a renewed focus by the carrier to appeal to that demographic.

For more:
- see this USA Today article

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