Danica Patrick is racing’s darling: she’s 233 percent more well-known than the average motorsports athlete, generates major social media buzz and revs up TV ratings. With Patrick marking her Daytona 500 debut this weekend, Nielsen took a look at “the Danica effect” on ratings, buzz and marketing.
Patrick proved to be TV ratings gold for the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011. The 12 races she participated in during the 2011 circuit had 17 percent higher viewership than the ones she didn’t race in, with an average viewership of 2.1 million.
Patrick’s popularity carries into social media as well. In looking at pre-event Daytona 500 buzz for five big-name drivers—Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Trevor Bayne and Patrick—Patrick accounted for 11.5% of all buzz about the Daytona 500 in 2012, according to NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company. This was the highest of any of the drivers measured.
A major endorsement star, Patrick is known by 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score. The average awareness level of an auto racing athlete is 9 percent, as is the average awareness of a female athlete, so she is well above the curve. Her N-Score is 115, earning her “Superstar” status in the N-Score system, behind only Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon among active race car drivers.