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DATE News (chronologically)
02/01/10
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Fox network sees NASCAR ad revenue increase
An improved television ad sales marketplace is breathing new life into Fox’s NASCAR sales this season, as the network has sold 80 percent of the inventory for the Daytona 500 and is expecting a full sellout before the race.

Ad sales for the rest of the network’s 13-race schedule are pacing 8 to 10 percent ahead of last year’s levels.

Fox’s NASCAR sales push is being helped by a more active marketplace, which is seeing advertising sales slowly rebound across virtually all sports.

These early returns represent a big relief for the sport and the network considering that last year’s TV ratings were the lowest in a decade.

“We’re definitely going to be in a much better situation than we were last year,” said Neil Mulcahy, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of advertising sales.

Emblematic of the rebounding economy is the automotive category, which Fox said is tripling its revenue commitment from last year. Fox expects to double the amount of auto sponsors that buy into the regular season. Last year, just two autos – Toyota and Ford – bought regular-season schedules.

Both are back this year, as is General Motors.

Plus, Fox said GoDaddy.com, Nationwide and Cialis also have stepped up as new advertisers with significant buys. GoDaddy is in the first year of a primary sponsorship on Mark Martin’s No. 5 car, while also sponsoring Danica Patrick’s entry in the Nationwide Series. Nationwide, the title sponsor of
NASCAR’s No. 2 series, has an extensive ad campaign under way with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister Kelley.

Unlike other sports, NASCAR team sponsors are not required to purchase a network advertising schedule.

News that Fox’s NASCAR season is doing well did not come as a surprise to Tom McGovern, managing director for Optimum Sports. McGovern, who places buys for NASCAR sponsors like McDonald’s, FedEx and the Amp Energy brand, said he mainly is attracted to NASCAR’s ratings, which consistently are among the highest-rated events in the first quarter of the year, even if the ratings have dropped recently.

“NASCAR has the biggest rating around early in the season,” he said. “Its ratings are down. But it’s reliable. Sports ratings fluctuate from year to year.”

Fox said advertisers also have been responding to on-track changes designed to make the racing more exciting this season. Fox is basing much of its sales pitch this year on convincing advertisers to
commit to more on-screen enhancements beyond 30-second spots.

The overall consensus is that Fox is seeing an ad sales marketplace that is radically different from last year.

“Daytona was never an issue last year. After Daytona was a bit of a struggle,” Mulcahy said. “But so many advertisers who might have spent $4 million two years ago spent $2 million last year. It wasn’t that people left the sport so much that people cut back.” SceneDaily

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