SBJ/May 20-26, 2013/Media

Feld looks to extend deal with Fox Sports for Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series races

Feld Motor Sports executives plan to meet with Fox Sports executives in the coming month to discuss an extension of their TV rights.

Fox’s Speed network pays $1 million a year and shows 11 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series races live. Despite replacing Speed, a motorsports channel, with Fox Sports 1, an all-sports channel, this August, Fox plans to show the 2014 supercross season on Fox Sports 1, and its top executives have said they like the property because of its appeal among 18- to 34-year-old men.

The series averaged a 0.24 rating and 329,000 viewers over 12 races shown on Speed in the 2013 season.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
That’s good news for supercross executives. Their rights agreement with Fox ends after 2014, and striking a new TV deal is the sport’s top priority this offseason.

“Our goals are simple: We want a network to embrace, feature, promote and take the sport to the next level, and money,” said Ken Hudgens, Feld Motor Sports’ chief operating officer. “This is a sleeping giant in this world. You have a property that has everything that media companies are looking for: sellout attendance; young, marketable athletes; young fans.”

Hudgens will be joined in the TV negotiations by supercross’ media adviser, Hillary Mandel of IMG. Fox will be represented by Executive Vice President David Nathanson.

The 2013 supercross season on Speed averaged a 0.24 Nielsen rating and 329,000 viewers over 12 races, down 20 percent from the 0.3 rating and 12 percent from the 374,000 viewers that the sport delivered last year. The most viewed race was held in Atlanta in late February and averaged 507,000 viewers.

Feld Motor Sports complemented the live races on Speed with nine hours of tape-delayed coverage on CBS. Those races, which air as part of a time buy, averaged a 0.6 Nielsen rating and 938,000 viewers. That was down from a 0.7 Nielsen rating and 966,000 viewers in 2012.

Despite seeing a dip in TV ratings and viewership, the supercross series extended its success at the gate. The series increased attendance 2 percent from 2012 to 848,485 spectators over 17 races. Average attendance was 49,911, a record for the sport.

The sport posted strong attendance numbers despite making a last-minute venue change during the season. Six weeks before its race at Dodgers Stadium in January, it had to cancel the event because of facility improvements being undertaken at the ballpark. It wound up moving the race to Anaheim and drew 37,789 spectators.

“That impacted attendance at that event, but overall we had an all-time record and we’re playing to a very high percentage of capacity,” Hudgens said. “There’s not a lot of room to grow the live event numbers because we’re maxed out in a lot of places, so any growth is good. At least one of these additions to our schedules in 2014 will bump it up.”

For the first time since 1991, supercross will return to New York next year. The series scheduled a race in April at MetLife Stadium. Hudgens said the sport will try to make the most of its return to the New York market, scheduling driver appearances on late-night and daytime TV shows, bringing marketers out to the race and hosting demos or events in Times Square or Grand Central Station.

“This is a gigantic upgrade to the schedule,” Hudgens said. “It’s something we wanted to do for quite a while and something our sponsors and teams have wanted for a while. To be able to put supercross in MetLife is a boon to the series.”

Hudgens said the series has 80 percent of its sponsorship revenue secured for next season and no major renewals to work on in 2014. He said the series continues to look for sponsors in the telecommunications and insurance categories and hopes it can complete agreements in those areas later this year.

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