SBD/May 23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

History Leveraging Nationwide Series Race, On-Air Integration To Reach Male Viewers



History -- the cable net formerly branded as The History Channel -- is continuously striving to be TV’s “Premiere Destination for Men,” but History VP/Marketing Chris Epple noted there remains a key challenge in attracting a male demographic: the net’s lack of sports programming. That is why the net’s partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway to sponsor its annual spring NASCAR Nationwide Series race has become a key component of History’s promotional efforts. This weekend marks the fourth year History has held entitlement rights to the race (the original in ‘11 was called the “Top Gear” 300 to promote the racing series of the same name). The activation around the race remains the net's flagship sports play, despite recent activations around Super Bowl XLVIII and UFC 169. Epple called this year’s activation a “full 360” for its multi-faceted approach, which will include promotional efforts on the ground, in the air and -- for the first time -- on the History channel itself.

ALL HAIL DALE: The latest integration around the race is centered on “American Restoration,” a reality program about an antique restoration shop in Las Vegas. The shop's owner, Rick Dale, presented the winner's trophy to Brad Keselowski in ‘12, but actually designed and built the trophy for the ‘13 race. This year, a yet-to-be-scheduled “Restoration” episode will chronicle Dale’s ‘14 trophy-building process, from inspiration to victory lane presentation. While Epple admitted the net’s programming side would have to work out any legal issues with NASCAR, he anticipates the program including scenes of Dale at the NASCAR HOF and in victory lane. The net’s on-site activation Saturday will feature footprints of several History programs and allow racegoers to engage with talent from some of those shows. In terms of media exposure during the race, Epple cited an independent audit of last year’s race as showing that the net received $18M in media value. He added this figure “returned our investment many times over.”

GRAND ASPIRATIONS? History’s arrangement with CMS is a year-to-year deal, and while Epple said that the net has been thrilled with the partnership, it is always considering ways to improve its presence in sports. Among the options being considered is upgrading its sponsorship from a Nationwide race to a Sprint Cup race. History currently pays a larger-than-average entitlement fee for its Nationwide race, as the race at CMS is high-profile and offers promotional opportunities across two weekends -- the All-Star Race weekend and the Coca-Cola 600 weekend. Epple: “The fact that for seven or eight days NASCAR is front and center in that market is critically important.” Still, a Sprint Cup entitlement fee would likely carry a mid-six to low-seven-figure price tag.
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