SBJ/February 5 - 11, 2007/This Weeks News

Fox’s ad lineup nearly full for Daytona

Fox’s Daytona 500 ad sales are pacing ahead of 2005, the last time it carried the race, with only a “single-digit” number of ad spots left, network executives said last week.

Daytona 500 spots are selling
for close to $500,000.

The network has been selling in-race 30-second spots for close to $500,000, providing further proof that the ad community considers the Daytona 500 one of the country’s marquee sporting events.

“It’s definitely on the calendar,” said Larry Novenstern, executive vice president of national electronic media at Optimedia.

Novenstern has not bought into Fox’s Daytona broadcast this year, but he puts the race in the same category with (in chronological order) the Super Bowl, Final Four, NBA Finals and MLB All-Star Game.

Alternating between Fox and NBC, the last five Daytona 500s have averaged a 10.8 rating nationally, which is a better rating, for example, than the last five NBA Finals (8.7 on ABC and NBC), according to numbers supplied by Fox. Last year’s race on NBC pulled an 11.3 rating/23 share, making it the highest-rated race in NASCAR history.

“It’s all about supply and demand,” Novenstern said. “What kind of ad demand can Fox get. They have to convince advertisers that half a million dollars is worth it for an 11.0 rating.”

Similarly, Carat’s Mike Law said he placed some retail clients in the Daytona 500 because it’s one of the only events guaranteed to get an 11 rating until the next NFL season starts.

Average household ratings for NASCAR Nextel Cup
Source: Fox

“If you’re a NASCAR advertiser, the Daytona 500 is a good place to kick-start your campaign,” he said. “It’s a great rating. It costs a lot of money, but it’s not too far out of whack.”

To help drive ad sales, Fox has been packaging the Daytona 500 with two other events affiliated with the race: the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 10 and Budweiser Pole Qualifying on Feb. 11. It’s unclear what Fox is charging for spots in those two events.

Fox launches its NASCAR season with the Budweiser Shootout, while the Daytona 500 is set for Feb. 18. Fox has 14 Nextel Cup events on its schedule, ending in June.

Fox is being tight-lipped about who bought positions in the race. So far, 10 advertisers are planning to unveil new campaigns during the 500, network executives said. In addition to the traditional beer, quick-service restaurants and automotive parts categories, Fox is seeing a lot of interest from technology companies, movie studios and financial services.

At least one new advertiser, Toyota, has signed on for the race.

Fox is reporting that its NASCAR season is 90 percent sold out, which is good news considering the ratings dip that the sport suffered last year. Fox’s NASCAR ratings dropped 7 percent, from a 6.0 to a 5.6 (see chart).

Ad buyers don’t seem concerned about last year’s drop. Carat’s Law said he’s more encouraged by the multiyear trend that shows increased ratings rather than last season’s drop-off.

Fox executives blamed the drop on several factors, including the rainout of two popular races, in Atlanta and Talladega. Fox executives also point to shorter races in 2006, as eight of the 10 races that dropped were shorter in terms of time. The Coca-Cola 600, for example, was 46 minutes shorter than 2005, and its ratings were off 16 percent.

Fox also expects help from using the Daytona 500 as a promotional platform.

Fox executives say their NASCAR ad sales are having a positive effect on the network’s baseball schedule, which starts in April, two months earlier than it had been starting.

“It’s enabled us to reach out to advertisers who want to be in both,” said Fox spokesman Lou D’Ermilio. “It also gives us a lot of cross-promotional opportunities.”

Fox also is trying to sell cross-platform sponsorships via, though it could not provide specifics.

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