Fox Sells Out Daytona 500

NEW YORK Fox has sold out its Sunday, Feb. 17 telecast of the Nascar Daytona 500, with 30-second spots selling for $550,000 each, up from $475,000 last year, sources said.

The network has also sold about 90 percent of its ad inventory for its Nascar race telecasts through the end of March. Overall, for its 17 race windows into June, Fox has sold close to 85 percent of its ad inventory, which is more than 20 percent ahead of last year. Ad inventory for the regular Nascar race telecasts is selling for about $200,000 per 30-second commercial, up from $175,000 last season, a 14 percent increase per unit.

Nascar sales have been buoyed by strong advertiser interest in several categories, including prescription and over-the-counter drug companies, fast food, wireless, financial services and retail.

The strong ad sales for Nascar follows last season that saw TV ratings for Fox’s telecasts decline, from a 6.4 household rating to a 5.8, and viewers decline to 9.7 million per telecast from 10.6 million. But those numbers are still solid ratings and viewership, particularly because Nascar telecasts are watched by harder to reach young men, which many advertisers covet. Fox’s male 18-34 rating last season was up 7 percent to a 3.1.

Also contributing to Fox’s ratings declines last season were three rainout telecasts that had to be rebroadcast. Two of those were moved from Saturday night in prime time to Sunday afternoon, and a third telecast aired on a Monday.

The TV sports marketplace continues to be strong, and with prime-time entertainment program ratings continuing to decline at a greater rate than sports ratings, advertisers see TV sports as a viable alternative. Other than the National Football League, Nascar telecasts offer the second highest ratings for regular season TV sports programming.

Fox officials would not comment on the network’s Nascar sales.

The first Fox Nascar telecast will be this Saturday, Feb. 9, in prime time, when it airs the Budweiser Shootout from Daytona. Fox will also air on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 10, the Daytona 500 qualifying races. Both telecasts are sold out.

Sources said Fox sold out the Daytona 500 prior to the Super Bowl, which is the earliest the network has accomplished that.

Fox has the rights to televise the first third of the Nascar season, which includes the Daytona 500 qualifying race and Daytona 500 and 12 other Sprint Cup races, in addition to the Budweiser Shootout and two Nascar Craftsman Truck races.