SBD/May 16, 2011/Media

NASCAR Seeing Gains In Viewership Among Key 18-34 Male Demographic

Fox Sprint Cup ratings up 19% among males 18-34 compared to last year

A year after Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill "cited the decline of the young male TV viewing audience as NASCAR's biggest problem, that group is starting to return to the sport," according to Dustin Long of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. Heading into yesterday's Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400, Fox' ratings were "up 19 percent among males 18-34 from this point last year, helping the network's overall ratings increase 2 percent in the same period." Fox Sports Exec VP/Research & Programming Bill Wanger: "To us, it's a very important step and a great sign for the sport that those young guys are starting to come back in a much greater degree than some of the other demographics." However, Long reported as much as the 18-34 male audience has increased, its number "remains lower than in 2009, showing that NASCAR has more work to do." Viewership among males 18-34 "averages 641,300, down about 100,000" from '09. The 18-34 audience is "one of three key groups NASCAR targets." NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps said that the others are "those younger than 18 and a multicultural audience." NASCAR "has tried to reach those groups with an updated fantasy game that debuted this season and a video game that was released in March." Phelps said that "other programs will be introduced over time." He said, "We need to make sure that we continue to be relevant to this group. We need to make sure we are doing a better job in digital and social media, which we've done, but we need to work even harder at it. We will need to make sure we are using technology both at track and off the track to create a great experience for this young male demo" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 5/15). Yesterday's race earned a 3.8 overnight Nielsen rating on Fox (THE DAILY).

RUNNING SIDE BY SIDE: The VIRGINIAN-PILOT's Long noted the "biggest thing" to come from yesterday's FedEx 400 telecast was Fox' "experiment in showing the race and commercials together late in the event." The split-screen coverage came during the "last commercial break before the checkered flag." Fox had "never done that before during a NASCAR race broadcast," but the net found "three sponsors in Sprint, Fed Ex and Pizza Hut willing to share part of the TV screen with the race." A Fox spokesperson said, "The idea re-surfaced earlier this week and after some discussions it was decided we would experiment with it if we could get enough advertisers to go along with it." Sprint Dir of Sports Marketing Tim Considine added, "We like the concept. If it's something that enhances the experience for fans, it's something we certainly want to support." Long noted NASCAR fans "have been wondering for years why they couldn't see the race and commercials together." TNT had been the only network to do that for NASCAR races, and they only do it for the July race at Daytona Int'l Speedway. A Speed spokesperson said that he was "unaware of any plans for Speed to show a split-screen of commercials and racing action" during this weekend's Sprint All-Star race (HAMPTONROADS.com, 5/15).

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NASCAR, Media, Fox

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