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SPORTS WRAP Daytona 500 Goes ‘Green’
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SPORTS WRAP Daytona 500 Goes ‘Green’

This weekend, NASCAR revs up its 2009 season with its most popular race, the Daytona 500. And when it comes to the race’s TV ratings, it’s clear that NASCAR likes to go “Green.”

In an analysis of the last ten Daytona 500s, Greenville, SC and Greensboro, NC emerged with the highest average household ratings among metered markets of 23.8 and 22.4, respectively. Rounding out the top five over that same time period are Orlando (20.0), Charlotte (19.6), and Knoxville (19.4).

Highest Avg. Household Rating: Daytona 500, 1999-2008
Rank Market HH Rating # of Households (000s)
1 Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville 23.8 195
2 Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem 22.4 142
3 Orlando-Dayton Beach-Melbourne 20.0 249
4 Charlotte 19.6 190
5 Knoxville 19.4 100
6 Indianapolis 18.4 188
7 Jacksonville 17.8 107
8 Dayton 17.6 91
9 Nashville 17.3 154
10 Richmond-Petersburg 16.5 85
Source: The Nielsen Company (2009).

But it’s not just Southern cities that are captivated by NASCAR’s season opener. Though it’s ranked the lowest among the 56 metered markets in terms of household rating, New York City ranks first in terms of total household impressions with an average of 326,000 homes tuning in to the last ten races. Philadelphia (266,000 homes) and Chicago (233,000) are two other cities above the Mason-Dixon Line in the top-10 of markets showing strong average household interest in the Great American Race.

Highest Total Household Average: Daytona 500, 1999-2008
Rank Market # of Households (000s) HH Rating
1 New York 326 4.5
2 Atlanta 289 14.5
3 Los Angeles 277 5.1
4 Philadelphia 266 9.4
5 Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne 249 20.0
6 Chicago 233 7.0
7 Tampa-St. Pete 223 13.8
8 Washington, DC 218 10.1
9 Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville 195 23.8
10 Charlotte 190 19.6
Source: The Nielsen Company (2009).

Ryan Newman won last year’s Daytona before an average of 17.8 million viewers. At its peak, the 2008 race had a 13.0 HH rating with 22.8 million sets of eyes watching. HD-capable homes were 22% more likely to watch last year’s Daytona than the total U.S. average.

Perhaps most excited for the new season are NASCAR advertisers. Whether it’s naming rights to various races, to patches on crew members’ uniforms, to logos emblazoned on the cars themselves, it’s no secret that NASCAR is an attractive vehicle for marketing products. According to Nielsen, NASCAR fans spend about 10% more on consumer-packaged goods than non-fans. Additionally, avid NASCAR fans are 4 times more likely than casual NASCAR fans to purchase a product endorsed by a NASCAR driver.