SBJ/Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2017/Media

Fox sees strong NASCAR ad sales, offers ‘all-out package’

A month from the start of the NASCAR season, Fox Sports has seen renewed advertiser interest in the sport, with ad sales pacing 15 percent ahead of last year. That’s significant considering last season’s drop in ratings.

Mike Petruzzi, Fox Sports’ senior vice president of ad sales and sports management, said the ad sales team has been challenged in the last 12 to 18 months to “think a little differently and figure out a way to make NASCAR unique to advertisers again, and I think we’ve done a good job of that.”

Fox’s “double box” splits the screen to show ads yet maintain a window to the live race.
As the appeal of 30-second ads have changed, Fox has looked for innovative ways to get brands to advertise. While so far not driving the ad sales gains this season, Fox is offering an “all-out package,” which allows a brand to run custom content for the entirety of a typical commercial break.

The content would run on Fox’s “double box,” which shows ads on a split screen next to live race coverage. Fox has been using the format for five seasons, and sources said NASCAR executives have asked the sport’s two TV partners, Fox and NBC Sports Group, to try to increase the amount of time the double box is shown so viewers at home can watch more race action.

“With the ‘all-out package,’ we say, ‘If you buy out the race break, we’ll stay at the track and run custom content that runs in the second-screen experience,’” Petruzzi said. “The race is still going on … and the advertiser’s still obligated to buy the break; we’re just not running it with 30-second commercials. We may run it with two minutes of long-form content.”

Petruzzi declined to project how much more race action could be shown as a result of the all-out package, but he thinks it would lead to “more live action due to the success of utilizing the double box and driving revenue in other areas.” Still, the package is not an easy sell, as only about 25 percent of Fox’s NASCAR advertisers currently accept double-box advertising.

Fox said it may have one brand take advantage of the new package for the Daytona 500, but it was not ready to reveal the brand’s identity.

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