The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (named for its present sponsor, Sprint) is the stock car racing event of the year, running from February to November and encompassing a total of 36 races that culminate in one – and only one – winner of the “Sprint Cup Championship.” In between the mid-winter start and the late-autumn finish, over forty NASCAR drivers begin the Cup pursuit, and then are winnowed down to sixteen, and then finally one Sprint Cup Champion. Last year’s winner, Kyle Busch, finished in grand style by not only winning the overall grueling Spring Cup Series, but also finishing first in the very last Sprint Cup race of the year -- the Ford Ecco Boost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last season (2015) we had a switch in “drivers” as incumbents ESPN and TNT were replaced by Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). But the change-over didn’t slow down the ratings as the two newcomers were able to keep pace with their predecessors… and then some:
NASCAR Races Rev Cable Ratings
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a flat out ratings winner for ad-supported cable. It’s that simple. Below is a sampling of last summer’s races that appeared on cable, capturing either the highest or second highest U.S. HH rating in its time slot:
Prevalence of NASCAR Sprint Cup Programming
Based on an analysis of Rentrak ratings data, we estimate that ad-supported cable delivered one-half of all television gross impressions associated with the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And between all of the practice runs, qualifying races and individual race events, there is a tremendous amount of programming content – by our count over 370 hours of programming on FS1 and NBCSN:
Sprint Cup Local Market Performance
In past blogs we’ve noted that the Appalachian roots of stock car racing (translation: rum running at very high speeds), and how the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has a regional following that borders on the reverential with super-charged ratings in several southern TV markets, such as Charlotte, Greensboro-High Point, Tri-Cities, Chattanooga and Knoxville. But it would be a mistake to assume that viewer interest is confined solely to markets astride the Southern Appalachian mountain range. A sampling of half the Sprint Cup races from last season reveals that 60% of the Top 20 Highest rated DMAs are outside the South, including such markets as Syracuse, New York; Flint, Michigan and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Local Cable Advertising Demand
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has attracted numerous local cable advertisers across the county. Over the past two years, over 90% of Viamedia’s 70 markets have seen advertising investments in the Series. In all, well over 500 clients have ordered 10,600 :30-second spots -- that comes to 20 commercial spots (on average) for the typical Viamedia client. (Source: B.I.G.SM database -- Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
And in terms of local cable advertising categories, I don’t think it will surprise too many people that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series attracts advertisers from the Automotive and Automotive Aftermarket categories, which together account for 61% of all advertising. What may come as a bit of a surprise is the amount that accrues to Attorneys & other Professional Services (5%), which is significantly more than the percentage company-wide (across all programs):
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
According to Wikipedia, the 68th season of professional stock car racing will bring to an end the Sprint sponsorship and the illustrious career of Tony Stewart – a three-time Sprint Cup Champion. But while the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is in a bit of transition, audiences and advertisers across the nation can depend on ad-supported cable to provide hour after hour of exciting stock car racing throughout the year.
So, as the NASCAR season gets underway with Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network for a second season, it’s that time once again to buckle-up your seat belts, lock the doors and – if you’re of a mind to do so – put on a helmet.
And enjoy the ride!