SBD/November 6, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Survey: NASCAR Drivers Half As Likely As Other Athletes To Engage Avid Fans Online

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Study finds more than half of avid fans use social media regularly for NASCAR content
Avid NASCAR fans over the last year reported that they were "twice as likely to have engaged and interacted with athletes of other sports through social and digital media than they were with NASCAR drivers,” according to a study cited by Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The sport’s teams and sponsors “historically have had drivers make appearances at retail outlets in race markets but are only beginning to make drivers available online.” Avid NASCAR fans “continue to increase their consumption of social and digital media.” The study by marketing and communications firm Taylor showed that more than half of the respondents said that they “visit social media sites regularly for NASCAR content and 78 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds said they turn to outlets such as Facebook and Twitter for NASCAR information.” Most of them also “use those outlets to share NASCAR information with others.” The study, which is “based on a survey of 1,500 self-described avid NASCAR fans, was fielded for Taylor by the global research company Toluna.” It is “the fifth year the firm has done the study.” Avid NASCAR fans “remain loyal to sponsors, saying they are more likely to buy the products of a brand that sponsors their favorite driver.” Approximately 78% of avid fans said that they “would recommend the sport to others," up from 71% a year earlier (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue). In Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote a “potential problem" in the survey's findings that NASCAR is looking to address is “more and more fans depend upon their mobile devices and want access to them while at the track.” With Sprint sponsoring NASCAR's "biggest series, there are numerous complaints about lack of service each weekend by fans who utilize another carrier." Taylor, whose clients “include companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike and Amazon, conducts the survey each year to help detail the sport’s consumer engagement for current and new clients.” Half of fans surveyed said that they “were ‘more’ or ‘much more’ interested in NASCAR today than they were one year ago.” This "increased to 61 percent in the subset of 18- to 34-year-olds” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/5).

PUNCH LINES
: In Ft. Worth, Drew Davison reported SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith on Saturday “had several notable suggestions to improve NASCAR, from encouraging more altercations among drivers to lowering the speeds to adding new twists to truck races.” Smith said, "Maybe some driver at the end of the race gets out of the car and hits somebody. We used to have a lot of that. A.J. Foyt, going way back, was probably the start of all that. A.J. used to win the race, and then he'd get in the pit area and whip you again. We need some more. I call it drama, but a little fisticuffs or whatever. Let them express themselves.” Smith added races could “have a little bit more free-handed stuff that creates a lot of drama." Smith: "The helmet throwing. We need more helmet throwing” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/4). SPORTING NEWS’ Bob Pockrass wrote what Smith “doesn't want to see is drivers being interviewed when mad and getting themselves in trouble with sponsors and fans.” Smith: "I see on TV they are promoting Kurt Busch (and a new nickname) 'Outlaw.’ I hope it comes off all right. But right now I'm wondering about that. Is that going to do Kurt Busch harm? He's a talented driver and I think we make too much of some of the things he says sometimes. But you never want to stick a mic or a camera in front of a guy when he just came out of a racecar. … That's the wrong time to interview. That's when you get the worst” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/3).
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