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Revved Up: One Day, Three Races, $300 Million in Multimedia Sponsorship Exposure

4 minute read | May 2017

Speed, thrills and the potential glory of hoisting a trophy aren’t the only things at stake when it comes to auto racing. This is especially true on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, which is the most valuable day of the year in global motorsports, featuring marquee events from Formula One, INDYCAR and NASCAR. In fact, sponsors appearing in the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 stand to garner more than $300 million in exposure on just one day.

When it comes to motorsports, TV plays an important role in winning that exposure. But recent research conducted by Nielsen Sports—using an omnichannel approach to sponsorship measurement that takes into account live event broadcasts, highlight shows and social media activity—found that social media is also helping them reach the finish line strong. Based on Social24 sponsorship measurement this season, sponsors in Formula One and NASCAR are experiencing 2%-5% of incremental value added to their television exposure from social media. And some brands with aggressive social media campaigns tied to motorsports have experienced nearly a 50% valuation boost from social activation beyond their TV exposure.

“We are evolving how we measure the value of sponsorship to reflect how fans are consuming sports. Live television still dominates, and the lift of sponsorship exposure through social media is in a nascent stage; however, we expect those values to grow as brands and rights holders work together to maximize digital and social opportunities,” said Peter Laatz, executive vice president, Nielsen Sports North America.      

In 2016, the Indianapolis 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Monaco Grand Prix generated more than 230,000 Tweets in the U.S. on race day. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 was the top social sports program of the day.  

Through U.S. television alone, the Indianapolis 500 drove more than $45 million in media value last year across 289 unique brand iterations. It was the most valuable race of the INDYCAR season, with Indianapolis 500 viewership nearly four times higher than the season average.

The Cola-Cola 600 was the third-most valuable race of the 2016 NASCAR season by QI Media Value, behind the DAYTONA 500 and the GEICO 500 at Talladega. A combination of 286 unique brands received TV exposure in the U.S. market, generating more than $51 million.

With a wide global audience, the Monaco Grand Prix is the most valuable race of the day for sponsors. Nielsen Sports tracks Formula One programming in over 60 markets around the world, and last year sponsors received more than $191 million in television exposure through the live race broadcasts and highlight shows associated with the Monaco Grand Prix.  

While an avid auto racing fan could conceivably “do the double” or “do the triple” and consume more than nine hours of live auto racing action, it is rare for someone to watch all three events.

A Nielsen study shows the three races combined on May 29, 2016, reached a total of 23 million U.S. viewers with 18% watching both Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 coverage (not the Monaco Grand Prix). However, 2% watched at least part of all three races.   

“Dynamic shifts are underway in all three of these motorsports series to drive fan interest and engagement. The absence of heavy audience overlap presents an opportunity for cross-promoting events and for sponsors to reach new consumers by activating in multiple racing leagues,” said Laatz.

While no NASCAR or INDYCAR driver will be trying to compete in both U.S.-based events, the Indianapolis 500 is getting a lot of global attention, including media credential requests from more than 15 different countries, with two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso electing to compete in the Indianapolis 500 over the Monaco Grand Prix this year. Alonso is among the most popular personalities in global motorsports and has over 5.7 million followers on social media.

Formula One starts out the annual most valuable day for motorsports on Sunday, May 28 with the Monaco Grand Prix at 7:30 a.m. ET, followed by INDYCAR’s Indianapolis 500 at 11:00 a.m. and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at 6 p.m.


Insights from this report were derived from;

  • Motorsport24: QI Media Value May 29, 2016 (Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR)
  • Social 24: 2017 season QI Media Value Formula One, NASCAR to date
  • Nielsen Social: Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings from May 29, 2016, measuring total program-related activity on Twitter
  • Nielsen NPower: Reach P2+ using a six-minute qualifier May 29, 2016 (Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Fernando Alonso social media followers as of May 18, 2017 (combined Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)

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