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MBPT Spotlight: Advertisers Rev Their Engines For Fox’s Telecast Of Daytona 500: Big Race Is 95% Sold

Fox has sold 95% of its ad inventory of the Daytona 500 telecast on Feb. 23, with 30-second commercials averaging about $525,000. Last year’s telecast drew 16.7 million viewers, the largest TV audience for the Great American Race since 2008.

In conjunction with the race telecasts on Sunday, Fox Sports will televise a special on Saturday night Feb. 22 titled the Daytona 500 Bash at The Beach. The special, which executive VP of Fox Sports ad sales Neil Mulcahy says is slated to become an annual event, will offer highlights from two nights of pre-race parties on Daytona Beach, along with musical performances by Cee-Lo Green and Justin Moore, scenes from a Saturday afternoon fan fest at which several drivers will appear, a recap of the 2013 NASCAR season, and a look at the upcoming campaign.

Featured sponsors of the Bash at The Beach telecast will include Budweiser, Ford and Sprint, title sponsor for the sport’s premier NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

The Sprint Cup trophy will be on display at the party for fans to take pictures with. In addition to autograph sessions with various drivers, there will be a gaming lounge highlighted by Oculus Virtual Reality technology simulating NASCAR driving, a social media concierge, brand booths and free giveaways.

Among the drivers scheduled to participate are Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, reigning and six-time cup champ Jimmie Johnson, perennial Most Popular Driver award winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer.

Rick Kloiber, senior VP, Fox Sports ad sales, say the Bash at The Beach event “was conceived to create a new level of excitement around the race” for both fans and marketers. He said all of NASCAR’s sponsors were given the opportunity to participate.

Mulcahy says the goal of the Friday and Saturday events is “to create the same type of celebration heading into the Daytona 500 race as there is for other big sports events,” with parties, entertainment, lots of VIPs and fan interaction with the drivers. “We thought it would be a great way to start off the weekend.”

Advertisers were able to buy different tiers of packages or combinations. They could buy on-site sponsorships for the Bash events and a combination of on-site and TV spots during the race telecast; they could also take advantage of on-air integration opportunities.

Big Bash Theory
Fox Sports added the music components in the hopes of drawing in some younger fans and even some additional casual fans, Kloiber says.

The Bash special initially was set to be televised on cable network Fox Sports 1, but “the concept and all the parts just kept growing, so we decided to blow it out big on broadcast,” Kloiber says.

Mulcahy says the regular NASCAR season ad inventory on Fox, which televises the first half in addition to the Daytona 500, is about 85% sold, which is up about 5% from last year at this point. Fox averaged 7.8 million viewers with its NASCAR telecasts from February through June. It also is a big draw for male viewers. Last year, during the NASCAR season, when compared to broadcast primetime, Fox’s NASCAR telecasts would have ranked second among men in both 18-49 and 25-54, with only CBS’ The Big Bang Theory drawing more men.

So far, says Kloiber, there are 14 new advertisers in the NASCAR telecasts this season and some of them are in the insurance, technology and retail categories. “We always had the home improvement chains, but this year more of the general market chains have come on board,” he says. Other categories showing growth are quick service restaurants, movies and beer.

Kloiber says in addition to NASCAR being attractive to marketers wanting to reach men, it is also a live sport that most consumers are not going to DVR, and that has helped drive ad sales for the coming season.

Fox Deportes will also televise the Daytona 500 in addition to 12 other NASCAR Sprint Cup races. And for the first time, the Fox Sports GO app will offer live streaming coverage of the big opening race, offering users the choice of the English-language Fox telecast or the Fox Deportes telecast.

Nearly 60 cameras will be used by the Fox Sports production team to cover the Daytona 500, including assorted high-tech cameras, and more than 150 microphones will be placed around the track to capture the roar of the crowd and the buzz of the engines.