SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2007/This Weeks News

‘Wide Open’ buzz powers NASCAR sales, Turner says

Turner executives are crediting the buzz associated with its Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 race on July 7 — which will not have traditional commercial ad pods — as the main reason behind a strong sales effort that sees only some scatter spots left for its six-race NASCAR package this season.

Sponsors get a piece of the Pepsi 400 screen.

So far, more than 50 advertisers have bought spots for Turner’s slate of six races, paying on average about $80,000 per 30-second spot, which is flat with last year, sources said.

Pricing for the commercial-free Pepsi 400 is at a higher rate, though specific figures are not known.

So far, nine advertisers have signed up for the network’s “Wide Open” coverage for the Pepsi 400. That number is down from the 10-12 advertisers Turner originally sought for the ad-free race. But Turner executives say that nine is a good fit for this first attempt, given the amount of legwork needed to produce branded spots that will appear along the lower portion of the screen.

“The amount of work that goes into these partnerships is enormous,” said Trish Frohman, executive vice president of Turner Sports Sales. “We are very comfortable with nine. If a 10th comes in, that would be great, but we are not actively seeking it.”

Turner began pitching this concept to the ad community last fall for its entire six-race schedule. Ultimately, it settled on the “Wide Open” ad sales effort on its biggest race, but it hopes to offer it more next year.

Advertisers in the Pepsi 400 will get branded content pieces produced by Turner as well as on-screen graphics. The messages will run on the bottom third of the screen. The telecast will break for three minutes of commercials an hour, but those spots will be sold only by cable operators.

The nine Pepsi 400 advertisers are Pepsi, Sprint, Toyota, DirecTV, Autozone, Ford, Miller, Principal Financial and Subway.

This year marks the start of Turner’s new eight-year, $640 million rights deal with the stock-car circuit.

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